Snowpatch Spire - Kraus McCarthy

August 2003

Snowpatch Spire glowing in the spectacular morning light. The Kraus-McCarthy is around the other side.

Emily and Easton hiked out a couple days earlier than Marcus and I to go and scout some hotsprings.On our last climbing day, Marcus and I decided to try something on Snowpatch Spire, instead of the NE ridge on Bugaboo. It turned out to be a good choice as it provided some definate variation in the style of climbing that we had seen so far on this trip.

The weather was very unsettled as we set out in the morning, and as we geared up at the base several rainstorms filled the skies around us with dark, omnious streaks. It was, however, still dry, so we felt obliged to take off out gloves, stop shivering, and get climbing.

Marcus starts up the route in the cold morning air.

Marcus lead the first two pitches, which were mostly 5.6 or easier. However, where the topo indicates "easy" on the second pitch, it actually leads into a tenuous 5.8 rounded section that's somewhat difficult to protect. Marcus did a good job of smearing and jamming his way up to the two bolt belay below the roof.

When I joined him at the belay, the sight was rather dismal. It had been dry for over a week, but still the crux roof was dripping wet. I decided to check it out, hoping to climb around the water streak somehow. Luckily enough, I was able to climb dry rock up and right of the wet corner to eventually reach a big stem and big jug atop the roof. Above, more reachy stemming up a corner leads to a belay on a big ledge. The X's on the topo here seemed to indicate only some manky old rusted pins that lay directly in the watercourse, though this may have changed... I've heard that the route has since been equipped with bolted rap stations every 25 meters, but I don't know for sure.

Dave leading the 5.8 roof pitch. A very fun move!
Photo by Marcus.

From this ledge, the topo in the Green & Benson guide seperates from reality. There is an anchor (with orange sling) up the ramp and right as the topo shows. This will lead you off route, as it did to us. The correct route supposidly goes up the ramp about 1/2 way to that anchor, then climbs back left up rounded terrain to a two bolt anchor on a ledge. Marcus and I, however, were not so fortunate as to be on the correct route. We established our belay at the orange sling, and tried to figure out what the next pitch should be. There was an obvious bail sling above, so I lead off left, crossing several vertical ribs/overlaps trying to find the way. Eventually I just picked the protectable looking one and shot up. The corner crack was dirty and overhanging, but the solid hand jams and stemming kept it down to 5.9. A difficult move to pass the overhang at the top lead to easier climbing... for a while. I knew I was leading off into space, onto the walls of the gulley, but it was too late to get back left. Near the end of the rope I did some akward A0 to pass a chockstone and set up a belay on small nuts. The ridge crest was about 1.5 pitches out, but it looked improbable as to wether we'd be able to join back up with the route, so we decided to bail and come back another trip.

Besides, after dropping Easton off at her truck that morning, Emily had hiked back up to meet us with a watermellon and cold beers... so we ended our mini-epic and rapped on down.

Marcus rapping back down.

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