Conditions Report - Bugaboos, Sir Sanford, Adamants & Gothics, Abbots Pass / July 28th, 2017.

 

 

 

 

Hi Everyone, 

Just a couple updates from a few areas we've visited in the last week and a half or so.

 

Bugaboos
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Everyone does keep talking about the bugs in the bugs this year... they are pretty bad and worth carrying some spray up with you. They seemed worse up at the Kain Hut and Applebee, the parking lot being not quite as bad. Ascents of Eastpost, Pigeon, Lions Way into a traverse of Crescent Spire, NE Ridge of Bugaboo and the Becky Chouinard and a few of the other usuals all are in good shape, limited water to be found still on the Becky for us at the time. Seems like the season is in full swing with generally better snow coverage on the glaciers and Bugaboo Snowpatch Col than we've seen in a few years.

 

Sir Sanford, Adamants & Gothics Groups
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Spent just over a week between the Great Carin Hut and the Fairy Meadows Hut chasing summits. The weather last week could be mostly characterized as a mixed bag with plenty of rain, thunder and lightning at various times of the day and seemingly not following much of a classic convective buildup pattern as the day warmed up, but a consistent series of weak fronts moving past as the week went on. Early in the week we climbed Sir Sanford over 2 days via the NW Ridge descending the Hourglass. Leaving the Great Cairn at about 4am we we're forced to stop about half way up to wait out the first small storm of the week. Having stopped at 1pm, we thought we'd be back on the move later in the afternoon, but the weather forced us into one of the more cold, wet and unpleasant bivis I've had in a while, laying down 15cm of fresh snow overnight. Climbed from the bivi to summit in 5 hours return and then descended to the Great Cairn Hut the following day. The ridge ended up being in fine and dry shape thanks to a consistent warm winds between the squalls on our second day, while the upper mountain required 4 x 70m pitches on bare alpine ice (we climbed) up to 70˚. Lower angle options were available, down to about 45˚. The upper mountain was supportive neve with limited crevassing issues and the summit ridge straightforward, if not quite exposed. Reversing the line from the summit we elected to rappel near the seracs and down the Hourglass proper as the large, steep snow slopes adjacent seemed unappealing to down-climb in the real heat of the day. 8 or 9 x 35m rappels got us back down through the ice on the Hourglass.

We found in general, exceptionally good coverage on the glaciated terrain we travelled in comparison to recent years. There wasn't a step to be had on Sir Sanford or the Granite or Gothic Glaciers that was on bare glacial ice (aside from chasing some steeper near vertical climbing in places). Firn lines were well below anything we were playing on, and crevasses much easier to deal with than I've seen in the past.

Great Cairn to Fairy Meadows - We had intended to traverse under our own steam from the Great Cairn to Fairy Meadows Hut, but after poking around for the morning trying to get up and over Azimuth Peak, I quite willingly got the satelitte phone out and called our friends at Alpine Helicopters in Golden for a pick up and bump over to the Fairy Meadows Hut. The route as described in the Selkirks North book was a loooong ways off the mark (or I was a loooong ways off route), and made the whole endeavor seem quite reasonable. The fact one of us was in his late 60's notwithstanding, I wouldn't have wanted to go anywhere near it on my own. Crawling up and over deadfall like pick up sticks on steep 35˚+ terrain, around small cliffy chunks of terrain and wandering through overhead slide alder when we actually could get out of the trees seemed less than appealing after the first hour or so. My pride aside... the helicopter was the right choice for us. Other options may be available above the Great Cairn Hut by climbing through lower angle glacier polished slabs, but we weren't willing to give up a day of our program to find out. We'll save that adventure for the next trip in. 

Once over to fairy meadows we climbed the East Ridge of the Sentinel (5.6) along with Damon and Pythias in a day from the hut, and also climbed a line just right of the continuous standard North Face Ice Slopes on Pioneer, all in inclement weather. Unfortunately, our last day saw us turned around on an attempt of the N. Ridge on Adamant on account of rain and fog early on, and electrical activity on the upper mountain later in the day. 

The bergschrund crossings on most of our objectives throughout the week provided the cruxes of our routes, most still relatively easy to pass if you were willing to wander around a bit. On pioneer we climbed a short pitch of likely 5.6 rock with good pro on the left side of the hole to make our way up and over. Fun and kinda sporty compared to the alternatives. The bergschrunds encountered on Sir Sanford, Adamant, and the Sentinel were all protectable with ice screws to make ones way up and over, and not to hairy.

All in all, if you get the cold temps for the big snow and ice objectives, conditions are really good in this venue currently. Lot's of mice in both huts, and worth bringing a healthy selection of traps if you're planning to fly in. We caught 5 in an evening at the Fairy Meadows Hut.

 

Abbots Pass
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We guided a wonderful family of four up to Abbots Pass from Lake O'Hara for a night at the hut. 

The route up to abbots pass in now almost completely snow free. There are still a couple of snow patches remaining, which can be avoided. The snow patches are temping as they provided good boot packing and a nice change from the scree peddling. But be careful that they do not lead you into the line of fire of the gully systems that spit rocks onto portions of the route. 

We witnessed a rockfall event on July 19th at noon, when a refrigerator sized block fell off the flank of Lefroy and rolled down the climbers right side of the scree slope. It was a good reminder to stay on the well traveled route in the center of this slope to limit your exposure to overhead hazards.

We didn't get any first hand reports about conditions on Lefroy or Victory but the route up Lefroy looks to be in good shape and we could see a boot pack up the length of it leading to the summit.

Thats it for now from us. Should have more from the Rogers Pass area, Abbots and potentially Assiniboine (if the fires quit) end of this coming week.

Have a great weekend!

 

Mike Trehearne
IFMGA/ACMG Mountain Guide
Cloud Nine Guides
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