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Anniversary Peak

Don’t know why it’s taking so long for me to get around to actually writing this, but here goes. This weekend’s objective: Anniversary Peak in the Bugaboos, spotted during last weekend’s activities from Mt. Mollison.

The day started early; after a restless sleep due to the seemingly neverending heat, I was actually relieved to get out of bed at midnight and end the charade of sleep. I got up to the Bugaboos parking lot at 2:30 and started hiking. The trail was great, but it led up toward the hut which is on the other side of the valley from my objective, with a very broken, impassable glacier in between. So as the trail left the valley bottom and started its ascent, I stuck on the valley bottom, trying to stay close to the river as to not miss any viable crossing. Alder bashing is never advisable, it took me three hours of maniacal swearing to get the 1200 (horizontal) meters to the rocky scree below the glacier tongue. I saw many crossings that almost went, but on the best one the final stepping stone had a couple inches of fast water on it. I wanted to find something that would be viable on the way back during higher water so I kept searching. Once I reached the top of the creek, with no crossing located, I decided I would go up, over and down the glacier, effectively using it as a bridge to get to the other side. But the glacial ice on the far side was covered by firn snow, or the snow was a bridge over a good size drop. I didn’t feel good about it, so I stuck with a sure thing and kept on up the exposed glacial ice.

 

Finally free of the alder
Looking back at Bugaboo Creek

After ascending a while up the center, the crevasses on the left started to lessen so after a few skips and jumps I was across it and on the fat debris pile that spills off the face. Then it was finally time to go straight up, there were a couple avoidable bergscrunds at the bottom of the face proper and I spotted one with the right takeoff angle to be a nice little jump. Up, up and away. Apparently each vertical meter gained by good cramponing is only about twice the work of a horizontal meter of thick brush…

Bugaboo glacier, Conrad Kain hut on the other side
Halfway up, with the big annual runnel down the middle of the face
Snowpatch and Bugaboo spires
Howser Spire
Eyebrow Peak, 3362m. The rockies don’t have a monopoly on ice giants

After a quick rock scramble to the top to check out the views, it was time to go down. I opted not to include the Gopro footage this time, as suncups all look the same. At 10am, the snow was a touch icy for the first few turns on the steep headwall from the summit ridge, then turning to a couple centimeters of nice corn for the rest of the 650m face.

Airing the shrund
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Then, how to get back down. I wasn’t about to do the same painful alder bash back down, so I went down another route I had planned back at home. If there’s no great way to do an approach, I think out a few so-so ways, and load up my phone with as much google earth print-screens and pictures off the internet I can to make the best field decisions I can. This alternate way down involved staying on a lateral moraine that is plastered to the valley wall. It gave me a nice ramp down, without all the side hilling usually involved in a traversing line. Or at least, it was supposed to. I was able to ski traverse some snow patches a few hundred meters further down-valley from the face, then scrambled down rocky moraine slopes and around a corner. The moraine disappeared a bit when rounding the corner, and I ended up traversing a bit high above the moraine inadvertently, negating the part of the route that would be fast going. Realizing my mistake once I got a decent view, I continued and descended to the moraine… covered in alder. At this point, I realized that this way wasn’t possible going to be better than the way I came up, and I remembered a Mark Twight anecdote. Two climbers are climbing some mountain and were forced through a waterfall, soaking their sleeping bags. Upon setting the bivy for the night, one asks the other, “what are we going to do”? The answer, “we are going to suffer”. No point overthinking a way out of the the big bad unsolvable problem, not much to be done to make it better. Much suffering was had, but it is always good motivation to remember just how hard other mountain men are, helps to suck it up and get ‘er done

The moraine I had hoped to walk on the crest of had overhanging alder over slippery dry glacial till on the steep Bugaboo Creek side, so I went back down to the little valley made where the moraine and the slope above met. It was a drainage for all the slopes above, and still filled with alder, so after some time I decided screw it and after a jaunt to regain the moraine crest, descended straight down the moraine on the glacial till, using the alder for little rappels. There was just not good enough footing to descend without holding yourself on the slope by creative means. At the bottom, I whacked thru more alder to a small side stream and walked in the water of the streambed downstream rather than deal with more alder. The main Bugaboo creek was now definitely flowing too fast for any of the crossings I had declined in the morning, but farther down I found that an avalanche path had pushed a ton of timber across Bugaboo creek, which made for a good log crossing. Then a bit more bushwhacking to the other side of the valley, and I met up with the trail back to the car. From when I took skis off, to the car- 6 hours. 12.5h car-car total

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