American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Canada, British Columbia, Bugaboo Group, Snowpatch Spire, Power of Lard

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1997

Snowpatch Spire, Power of Lard. We arrived at the Bugaboo parking lot late in the afternoon of August 23 and had our first view of the Spires. The no-see-ums and black flies ate us alive, but we didn’t care. The next morning we got up early, pulled the gear out of the car and hiked up to the camp. Two days of strenuous load hauling ensued. Seventy-pound packs filled with a gasoline powerdrill, 30 bolts, two sets of friends, 800 feet of ropes and endless shit like quick-draws, natural pro, pitons, crampons, ice screws and ice-axes (you never know what you might need!?) beat us into a work-a-day rhythm. After searching for two days and convincing ourselves it was possible, we settled on what seemed a ludicrous line. Right of the aid-route Tom Egan’s Memorial (5.10 A3) was a slightly overhanging pillar with a lot of crack systems gaining the northeast shoulder of the Snowpatch Spire. It was an amazing wall with easy access, too. We started our project with a 5.8 off-width. All the possible free sections turned out to be wet, so Gunter started nailing up his first aid climb on Tom Egan’s Memorial to have a look at the possibilities there. He did a great job for somebody who had never aided before. Pitons kept pulling out slowly under his body weight like a time-bomb, forcing him to react quickly with another manky piece. After finishing the pitch his nerves were frazzled; he declared himself happy to never aid climb again. Upon jumaring the pitch to clean it, I thought his variation was more A3 than Al (I was really glad that I could hang on the rope and not on these doubtful devices).

Getting off of Tom Egan’s, we finished four pitches when a small lightning storm persuaded us to rappel. The next day ended similarly when we got washed out of the big dihedral on the sixth pitch by melting snow. After a rest day, we decided to try the first pitches free and to aid the wet dihedral. The freeclimbing attempts worked well. Gunter redpointed the fourth “Voor die Rokers” (For the Smokers) pitch (5.11c) first go. My attempts on the third pitch (5.13a) always ended after the crux moves in a dirty crack.

Motivated, we attacked the upper pitches. The fifth pitch turned out to be an excellent stemming comer at about 5.11b. Leading half way up the sixth pitch I got washed out again: a waterfall forced me to rappel. Hence we named the pitch “El Cano” (wet crack). Because of this we had our doubts as to whether the route would go. Would the pitch ever be dry enough to free climb? We rappelled down to clean the third pitch again and with a little bit more concentration I managed to do the first ascent of “The Man-Sized Weedkiller.” Everything was now free climbed to the sixth pitch!

Two days later the dihedral was dry for the first time and the climbing was easy enough to finish the pitch in the first attempt. This was the turning point of the route and the free ascent was saved. Above this was an overhanging left facing comer, the last pitch of “Hobo’s Haven” (A4). Although his first aid-climbing experiences hadn’t been too encouraging, it was Gunter’s turn to aid again. We expected a difficult aid pitch, so we backed the belay up with four friends to start Gunter off confidently.

I started with butterflies in my stomach on the last pitch of 5.13c. In the middle of the crack I got stuck. I made a mistake by leaving the jams and starting to lieback too soon. I reached a painfully good fingerlock in anger. Though there seemed to be no difference between this attempt and all the others before, after five more minutes of jamming I found myself at the end of the pitch, the end of my strength and the end of our route—The Power of Lard (V 5.13c).

Toni Lamprecht, Germany

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