Type: Trad, Alpine, 1100 ft, 8 pitches, Grade IV
FA: Buckingham, Gues, Page, and Wipple 1958
Page Views: 3,726 total · 27/month
Shared By: Meredith DB on Dec 9, 2007
Admins: Kate Lynn

You & This Route

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This version of the Buckingham route doesn't go all the way to the summit of Snowpatch, but has climbing only up to 5.8.

The climb ascends the far north side of the west face of Snowpatch Spire. The route faces NW and can be cold. It is recommended as a good introduction to Bugaboo rock, but although the climbing is fairly easy it is more loose and less aesthetic than other Bugaboo climbs

Start at top of the Bugaboo-Snowpatch col. Head up the face for about 70m (usually done in 2 pitches) to gain a large scoop/depression feature that heads up and left. After about 3 more pitches, the depression ends at a dihedral system. Climb out right (not directly up the gorgeous dihedral) and follow flakes and chimneys parallel to the ridge for a couple long pitches (5.7). Stay left of the large black pinnacle. The last pitch leaves from a ledge system: look for two bolts to the left that protect 5.8 slab moves up the face to the top of the tower.

Rappel the route with 2 ropes from fixed anchors. As of August 2007 not all the anchors were in great shape - consider bringing gear or webbing to improve some of the anchors. Also beware of the many rope-eating flakes when rappelling.


This climb ascends the far north side of the west face of Snowpatch Spire. The route faces NW and can be cold. Start at top of the Bugaboo-Snowpatch col.

The start of the climbing is not incredibly obvious - see the beta photo to see what the first pitch looks like.


A standard trad rack is fine. There are fixed anchors in many places along the route, including the top of the tower. Two bolts on the last pitch protect the crux moves.


Ken Trout
Golden, CO
Ken Trout   Golden, CO
Getting to the top of the Snowpatch's North Summit, via this route, is a rare event. Rappelling down the east side into the icy chimney/col is extremely committing. The account below mentions leaving a fixed rope here. Without a fixed rope, if a party can not get up the C1 crack, then they will have to rappel Sunshine Wall!

If you make it up the aid crack, and get to the summit, there is no need to reverse the route today. Instead rappel the Becky-Greenwood/Super Direct .

Here is the first ascent story as told by teton guide Bill Buckingham
(FA SFaceDenali = gnarly dude, his friends too), AAJ, 1959:

"During the second week of July, Earle Whipple, Bob Page, Arnold Guess, and Bill Buckingham packed nearly a monthÂ’s food to Boulder Camp in the Bugaboos. For the next two weeks we familiarized ourselves with the area and climbed most of the peaks by their regular routes. On July 23 Page and Buckingham attempted the unclimbed north summit of Snowpatch Spire. From the Bugaboo-Snowpatch co1 we examined our proposed route on the northwest face near the north ridge. Starting a few feet south of the col, we climbed several pitches of jam-cracks and ledges towards the base of a smooth yellow tower on the north ridge. Here a small overhang gave access to a large easy chimney which paralleled the ridge for about 200 feet, eventually merging into the increasingly steep face above. From the top of the chimney we continued three more pitches up steep cracks and over thin, precarious flakes to a comfortable ledge at the base of a short, smooth wall. After several futile attempts we finally surmounted this little wall lby using two expansion bolts for direct aid. There followed a piton traverse to the left into an easy layback. There a short scramble brought us to the summit of a subsidiary pinnacle. The narrow gap beyond appeared most formidable, and because of the late hour we retreated, rappelling as we had come.

A couple of days later Page and Buckingham returned, reaching the previous high point in 31/2 hours from the col. We rappelled into the notch, leaving a fixed rope here for use on the descent. A piton traverse to the left brought us to a fine direct-aid crack which was climbed by the use of seven pitons to where it widened sufficiently to permit jamming for the last forty feet. Now at the base of the final tower, we easily climbed a long curving ledge on the east face. A short scramble brought us to our goal. In all we used two bolts and about 25 pitons, most of them for direct aid. After basking in the sun on the summit for half an hour, we descended the same route in ten long rappels, returning to camp at dark. This route was repeated the following day by Whipple and Guess." Feb 28, 2010
DannyUncanny   Vancouver
The route and rappel descent was littered with slings and quick links when I was there August 2011. The guide suggests double ropes and we brought them, but I think you could probably make it down fine on a single 60 m assuming that all the stations we saw were sound. Bring a bit of spare webbing incase they aren't. The long raps gave us a lot of trouble with stuck ropes.

On one of the rap stations about 100 m down from the summit, there is a very large loose block held in place with some cord. It's probably a time bomb when that cord wears through. Aug 24, 2011
On 27 July 1990, Nils Preshaw and I rapped off the top into the gap at the top of the Gran-Hudson chimney. We then free climbed a 35 m open book containing old aid at 5.8: from this there is easy scrambling to the north summit, and then as noted above, you can rappel the Beckey Greenwood - which is fun, and offers little chance of rope hang ups. My advice would be never to try to rap back down this route, unless you find the open book iced up. Oct 5, 2013
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
I think it's confusing to say the "route doesn't go all the way to the summit of Snowpatch". It would be better to say the "route ends at the lower (North) summit of Snowpatch Spire."

In 1985 I climbed a route called in the guidebook the "NW Corner" of Snowpatch Spire. It sounds like this route but I am not sure. I seem to remember a plastic flamingo on the N Summit (or maybe it was the main summit?)! Feb 5, 2015