Fully stocked up on non-perishables, Nick and Daniel have done all they can to prepare for the mountains
Sunday, August 15, 2016
From the Okanagan, we drove North-East through the mountain towns of Revelstoke, and Golden. Before making one final stock-up on gas and supplies, we finally arrived in Brisco, the turn off into the back-country.
Bugaboo Creek road is a 50km stretch of dirt leading through the valleys to the South-Eastern boundary of Bugaboo Provincial Park. Aside from simple descriptions online of the campgrounds and the climbs, neither Daniel, nor I (Nick) knew what to expect once we got there; it was a completely novel environment. Accordingly, excitement was heavily present during the drive in.
Bugaboo Creek road twists and turns; it widens and narrows; it climbs higher, higher, and higher. We stopped to admire the beautiful Bugaboo falls. Every few kilometers, a break in the trees affords yet another breathtaking view. After a long stretch of road bounded by towering trees, there was a tight bend, and a spectacular view had a profound impact on us...
Houndstooth Spire loomed above us.
I can't remember another moment when I felt so truly small. Houndstooth towered over 6000 feet above us, and slowly its companions Pigeon Spire and Snowpatch Spire moved into view, forming a triad of giants overshadowing our approach.
By 2pm we reached the parking lot and luckily found a spacious spot for the van. "Now what?" I said. Following the example of every other vehicle, Daniel and I made ourselves busy critter-proofing the undercarriage of our van. Large rolls of chicken wire are available to protect against porcupines who love to chew on the tasty rubber of critical engine parts.
Daniel and I then packed the equipment and food needed for four days of camping and climbing. We loaded everything into my large pack and the haul bag. The walk to the campground was 5.5 kilometers long, but it had an elevation gain of 1000 meters. Two Quebec climbers we met in the parking lot suggested the hike might take as long as 6 hours. We left at 4pm and although it was grueling, Daniel and I surprised ourselves; we arrived at Applebee campground after only 3 hours.
Just a few hundred meters from camp, we came upon two older gentlemen loaded down with climbing gear taking a rest on the path. They introduced themselves as Pat and Paul from Washington state. The two easy-going men, 70 and 77 years old respectively, were hiking to the campground as well. We chatted briefly, and promised to seek them out after supper.
The campground is located on 'Applebee dome.' I quickly realized why it is considered a dome. The large plateau peppered with tents affords a complete 360-degree panoramic view of the surrounding spires, glaciers, valley, and distant snow-capped peaks.
Even though the campground was well populated, we easily found a campsite. In no time, we prepared a delicious curry for supper, and scarfed it down. We then found Paul and Pat and as the evening drew to a close, we listened attentively to our new friends' stories of past climbing adventures.
After the day's exertion, Daniel and I struggled to stay awake for the rich sunset over the mountains.
Monday, August 16, 2016
We decided to take an easy day, and opted for a climb that came highly recommended by climbers at camp. McTech Arete follows 6 pitches of crack climbing to a ridge crest and goes free at 5.10-. The climbing was spectacular, especially on the 4th pitch (5.9) that travels 35m up a system of three cracks that taper from off-width to finger jams.
On the climb, we met an eccentric climber from Squamish: "Jessie James!" He was bringing his girlfriend (with less than a season of climbing under her belt) up the route. I knew her inexperience would eventually show. Surely enough, as she arrived at a belay stance, I watched her pull up the rope, then thread it through the ATC on her harness as if giving a lead belay. "I'm on belay, you can climb!" she yelled down. Immediately, I corrected her error, and watched in silent horror as she took both hands off the device to clip a quickdraw onto the anchor above, creating a redirected top-belay.
"Haha, you probably just saved my partner's life hey?"
I didn't answer.
At the top of the climb, Daniel and I took in the view, and goofed around posing for "dramatic shots" on the ridge crest.
After our warm up on the arete, we immediately began making bigger plans. From our minor victory on the ridge crest, the mighty Bugaboo Spire to the West appeared tantalizingly close. We're just getting started here in the Bugaboos.
The three local spires surrounding Applebee campground, from right to left (North to South), are Crescent, Bugaboo, and Snowpatch.
We are Daniel, David, Nick & Erik.
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