Home > News

Snowpatch Spire Has World-Class Hard Alpine Free Routes

Snowpatch Spire stands at 3,063 metres at the centre of the granite Bugaboo towers. There are many classic climbs up the spire, including Sunshine Crack 5.11, Wiessner’s Route 5.8, Surf’s Up 5.9, Snowpatch Route 5.8, The Kraus/McCarthy 5.8. Over the past decade, the east face, which rises above Applebee campground, has had more attention than usual for attempts at hard free routes. A combination of easy access and clean rock can be thanked.

Alik Berg on Welcome to the Machine. Photo Jon Walsh
Alik Berg on Welcome to the Machine. Photo Jon Walsh

Calgary-based crusher Jon Walsh has spent a number of days on the wall over the past few years and has drawn a topo to eight free climbs. In 2015, he wrote this about the wall, “Over the last decade or so, the 500-meter high East face of Snowpatch Spire has been transforming into one of the finest alpine rock faces in North America.

“What used to be a face known primarily as an aid climbing venue, is now covered in free-climbing lines, although mostly difficult ones, usually reqiuring at least a couple pitches of 5.12.” The east face of Snowpatch might be the highest concentration of alpine 5.12s and up in Canada.

The Johnston/Kruk 5.12 was climbed in 2008 and after Kruk wrote here, “We topped out (700m, 14 pitches, V 5.12- A0; I’d guess half the route new) and ran the ridge north.” The next route on the topo is Senduro Norte 5.12, which you can read about here.The next line up is Welcome to the Machine 5.11, which connects a series of steep cracks and has been climbed a number of times now. It was first climbed in 2015, read about the first ascent here.

Next are Minotaur Direct 5.11 (read about here) and Minotaur 5.12. The next three routes are all test-piece 5.12s known as Labyrinth, Men With Options and Sweet Sylvia. Next up is Canada’s hardest alpine crack line Tom Egan Memorial Route 5.14 (read about it here). Then there is the Power of Lard 5.12 and East Columbia Indirect 5.12. Be sure to follow Walsh on Instagram for raw alpine content here.

Snowpatch Spire
East face of Snowpatch Spire. Photo/topo Jon Walsh