Alpine Week Part 1: Springbok Arete (SCE Direct) June 30-July 2, 2015
On July 1, 2015, my friend Nathan Brown and I climbed the Springbok Arete (SCE Direct). We had a week off and decided to do two alpine climbs. Springbok Arete was the first one.
Granite on Springbok Arete is solid, very clean, and have great frictions. I was very surprised how great the rock was and also how high the quality of the climb was. It was quite a bushwhack to get into the area, but the climb was so rewarding and worth the effort. It is a very beautiful area with an impressive view of Steinbok Peak. While we were there, we didn’t run into anyone.
Before we head out, we gathered as much information as we could about the area. We used Alpine Select by Kevin Mclane, trip reports online, and also my partner contacted some people for recent condition (Thanks Craig McGee, Rogers Pass Mountain Adventures, and Todd MacKenzie!).
On this trip report, I tried to put as much information as possible, since it was helpful to have other people’s trip reports when we went. If you’re a kind of person who would rather not know the details and enjoy the adventure, you may want to skip some information.
Traveling north on Trans Canada Highway 1, about 44km past Hope, turn right onto Anderson FSR (Nahatlatch FSR in Alpine Select, Old Alexandra Bridge Rd in Google Maps). The first 10km was an active worksite when we went. There were signs, but I’m not sure how long these signs will be there. We reset the odometer here (0km).
Right after the start of the Anderson FSR, there is a fork (2.7km). Take Right. According to Google Maps, it looks like it will be a dead end soon, but it’s not.
Take a hairpin turn as in Alpine Select (6.3km).
You’ll run into another fork (11.3km). Take left here and you’ll start the “many switchbacks.”
Pass the Gate (16km) right before Anderson Camp. Cattermole Logging is not operating there anymore, and the gate was left open when we went.
Cross a bridge (18.2km), take left for North Main Anderson FSR, then cross another bridge.
From here, a couple sections of FSR was washed out. We had to clear/build up rocks so my Jetta can go through. Also, there was a huge rock in the middle of the road. We drove around it, but it maybe hard with a much wider vehicle.
The entrance of right fork (24.5km) is overgrown with weeds and it is a bit hard to see. You will realize that you went too far when the valley is behind you instead of you’re driving into the valley.
We parked before creek crossing, right before the parking lot that was shown in Alpine Select, since the road condition wasn’t great. The creek was dried out.
With driving around on wrong forks, not having a high clearance vehicle, and having a flat tire (so glad we had a spare tire with good air pressure!), it took almost 3 hours to get to the trail head since the start of Anderson FSR (it took us half the time on the way out).
We had two different approach beta for Les Cornes. Beta 1 was from Alpine Select, to hike 1.5km on branch 610, cross a creek, hike on west side of creek then do a couple switchbacks and bushwhack. Beta 2 was to hike on branch 610 (east side of creek) then cut straight up to Les Cornes once we’re directly below the peak.
We tried to do Beta 2 on the hike in since we heard the forest opens up more and it supposed to be easier. However, Beta 1 was more obvious and we ended up on taking Beta 1. It started with easy bushwhack on relatively flat terrain, then to steeper, thicker bushwhack once the switchback starts with occasional boulder fields. It took us 2 hr 50 min to get to the base camp.
For hike out, we took Beta 2. We walked on boulder fields and less bushwhacky old-growth-forest as much as we could, but the bottom 1/3 of the straight line going back to Branch 610, forest was full of small trees that was harder to travel. It took us 3 hr 15 min to get back to our car.
Water source for the area are the creek by Branch 610 or snow if there’s any snow left at the base of climb. When we went, there were snow left and also a brook with snowmelt right by the camp.
We couldn’t see how much snow was left at the base camp area from where we parked, or on Approach Beta 1. We ended up carrying up 6 litters of water each to be safe. You can see how much snow is left from Branch 610 on Approach Beta 2.
We woke up at 5:00am, hiked over to the base and start climbing by 6:45am. Weather forecast was predicting 34ºC so we each had 3 litters of water and were preparing for a hot day. Fortunately, we got lucky with the weather. It started with some clouds in the morning and when clouds cleared up, light breeze kicked in. It was cool enough that we even wore long sleeve shirts on some of the pitches.
We started the route with SCE (Sprung Cock Erect) direct start. SCE direct climbs 3 amazing 5.10 pitches (5.10b, 5.10b, and 5.10c). For more beta on SCE Direct, check squamishclimbing.com. Rock is solid and crisp (not polished like the popular climbs in town!) and the route has fun mix of face climbing on crimps to thin-wider cracks.
Pitch 4 joins the regular Springbok Arete route on the ramp. We linked and simo-climbed the next 2 pitches, then belayed below an impressive corner.
Pitch 5 climbs up the corner then a 5.9 diagonal Off-width.
Pitch 6 has a couple variations. We decided to take the crack on left to a comfortable ledge. Some information we had said this is a 5.10+ off-width, so we decided to haul our packs on this pitch. The off-width turned out to be easier than we expected, but we were happy to climb without our packs.
Pitch 7 climbs a finger-hand crack off the ledge then 5.8 hand traverse left on flakes. Belay at a small ledge with two trees.
Pitch 8 was the crux pitch for us. It is a reachy finger crack and stemming corner. Considering the 5.10 Off-width pitch was easier than we thought, we decided to climb with our packs on…but we should’ve hauled them.
After the corner, I took the left crack as it was mentioned in Alpine Select, but the route seems to have more lichens than the rest of the climb and I wasn’t confident if I was still on the route. I ended up cutting this pitch a bit shorter, but it turned out to be I was on the right area. There was a bolted anchor (a bit rusty) above to the right.
Since I cut the previous pitch shorter, pitch 9 included a lieback flake, then move to right, past the bit rusty bolted anchor to low angle finger crack.
Pitch 10 started with steeper hand crack, then grooves and chimney up on blocks to the top. We linked the last 2 pitches as well. It was a full rope length pitch with a 70m rope.
Then we scrambled to the top. Topped out at 5pm. We linked some pitches and did the route in 10 pitches. It took us 10 hr 15 min to climb the route.
We scrambled up and over the peak to get to the “gut-churning” au cheval.
After the au cheval, we did 3 rappels down to the gully. It seems like the rap anchors were recently replaced and were in good condition.
After the 3 rappels, we scrambled and down climbed in the gully. We took the gully on climber’s left. There was a fixed gear anchor for rappel on our side, but we could see anchors on the other side as well. We did 3 rappels to ground (8:00pm) and hiked back to the camp (8:30pm).
Double rack to #3 Camalots, #4 Camalot, #5 Camalot (Optional), Nuts
We had 70m rope and a tag line, but 60m rope x2 would work.
We stayed at the base camp for the night and hiked out the next day (Jul 2). We rested in Chilliwack, BC for the rest of the day and headed back to alpine in Mt. Slesse the day after (Jul 3). More trip report to come…