Desires, to Dreams, Realized
I had been wanting to come to the “Bugs” for years. That desire outlived the age of this blog, and in many ways, had evolved from a desire to a dream. I hadn’t found the right partner to turn that dream into a reality, and for year’s course those massive granite towers would just be photos I’d look at dream about.
In 2018, on a fairly terrible climbing trip to the Cordillera Blanca, I met Jessica. Within a few months, she moved across the continent, and we joined together not only as romantic partners, but also climbing partners. A couple years later, we got married, and undertook an uncountable number of climbs together. (Most of this blog is of those climbs, at this point.) And after 2022 forced us into the desert crags for the better part of the year, we finally felt ready enough to realize this dream.
Our goal this year would be to climb a few classic moderates and get acquitted with the region in preparation for more lofty goals for the future. Nothing crazy at all. We also had a few others in our back pocket if the weather played ball.
We packed for a 6 night trip, which was not so different than our standard 2 or 3 days trips, but with just a ton more food. Our 70L backpacks, usually more than large enough for the Cascades had trouble closing.
Long drive, easy hike
We loaded up our van. We’d be breaking up the drive in 2 days. It had become a new little extension of our home for us over the past few months. A day and a half, a few burritos later, we found ourselves nearing the end of the bumpy Bugaboo Creek Road. The parking lot was fuller than full, it was overflowing. Our van struggled to make its way around the densely packed cars all individually barricades with chicken wire, rocks, and sticks. We finally found a spot outside the lot, built our barricades, and crashed.
The hike in was heavy, but far more moderate than we expected. No point of the trail was maintained anything less than perfectly. This was a far cry from what we had grown accustomed to in the North Cascades. Our bags were heavy, so the well-groomed trial made it much more manageable. A few hours in, we registered ourselves in the Kain Hut and found ourselves at camp.
Our first objective
Our goal for our first full day in the Bugaboos was to acquaint ourselves with the area, and what better way to do so than with the ultra classic Pigeon Spire West Ridge. I had already found that things felt very similar to home, but a little different. The biggest impactful difference I really noticed was the scale. Standing below these massive spires, it was hard for my mind to really gauge how truely large they were. My first realization was when I saw tiny human dots making their way up the Bugaboo Snowpatch Col. […]Keep reading
Our second objective
We had a great previous day climbing the beautiful West Ridge of Pigeon Spire. We were also afforded great views of Crescent Spire, giving us a chance to spot a couple routes we had out eyes on for the next few days- Lion’s Way and Ear’s Between. We planned to target Lion’s Way, a classic moderate objective close to camp.Keep reading
Our final objective
Eastpost Spire’s SE Ridge received a single star in the Atikson Piché guidebook, a guidebook not loose with the starts whatsoever. I had also seen it pop up on some various “must do” lists from guiding websites here and there, mostly as rainy day objectives around camp. Eastpost Spire imposes itself over the campsite, with two ridges cutting into the skyline, being an undeniable objective for even some of the most technical climbers who arrive. Most folks seem to scramble up the NW Ridge for the killer views, but how could we deny that single star the guidebook gives to the SE Ridge? […]Keep reading
Overall, this was an extremely fun trip, mostly type 1 fun, really, with the moderate objectives we chose. We couldn’t help but begin planning our next trip during our hike out. We hoped we could be lucky enough to catch another good window while conditions are good again the following year.
The community at the Applebee Campsite is as inspiring as the mountains around. I can honestly say that I’ve never been in a place with that density of not only strong, but friendly and welcoming, climbers. We had the opportunity to make new friends, and spend time with the super cool and legendary Chris Atkinson and Marc Piché. (Their new guidebook was just released after more than 20 years, and I can say first hand that it looks fantastic!)
In this range, there are, what feels like, infinite inspiring lines up the peaks. Pidgeon Spire’s West Ridge truly lived up to being world class. I cannot wait to tackle some of the other more challenging lines in the region that look like they live up to similar epicness.
See you next time, Bugs!
Big thanks to Stowaway Gormet for supporting my 2022 climbing season! This is a brand that I fell in love with prior to my official partnership with them. These are by far the absolute best backcountry meals I’ve ever had, and I’m psyched to be eating them all year! Check out my meal reviews here!
Up next, another fantastic Expedition!
Coming back to the Cordillera Blanca for the 3rd year in a row, this time with Jessica. We very quickly scrapped our original plan we made back home when arriving. With our limited number of days and being close to the end of the season, we decided to be conservative than originally expected and tick off a few of our to-do’s. […]