American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Canada, British Columbia, Purcell Range, Snowpatch Spire

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1939

Snowpatch Spire. The foot of the snowpatch which is encased in the E. side of the peak was reached by C. Cranmer and F. H. Wiessner from the notch between the main peak and the tower to the E. The route taken begins about 50 ft. below and an equal distance S. of the notch, using a sequence of Steilrinnen and cracks, which lead after ca. 220 ft. of difficult climbing to the sharp edge of the ridge, which runs down from the first overhanging zone. The route then follows the sharp edge to its end 30 ft. higher (ca. 250 ft. below the snowpatch). The overhanging zone (about 25 ft.) begins here and cannot be climbed without artificial aids, but as we were curious to see the snowpatch and the final face above it more closely, I forced my way over the overhang, keeping close to the left, with the aid of six pitons and rope-slings. Above the overhang easy slabs lead to the lower edge of the snowpatch, from whence one has a clear view of the final face above— ca. 350 ft. I am sure that it has many places that are not climbable, and can be overcome only by more artificial maneuvers, which we could not and did not want to consider. We had used up our pitons on the lower part of the climb, and had no desire to make an ascent which was not a matter of good climbing but merely an affair of driving iron in the virgin rock. There is little satisfaction in such methods ; anyone with strength and ability to swing a hammer can do it, and it takes neither skill nor brains.

Our conclusion is that an ascent of Snowpatch Spire will only be possible with the use of a whole magazine of pitons and karabiners. Undoubtedly the side on which we started offers the best possibilities for such an attempt ; on the other faces (the W. particularly) which, at first glance, seem to offer good routes, one probably will not even find the necessary fissures for pitons, and only a drill and the chiseling of steps would make an ascent possible—what horrible thought !

F. H. W.

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