Will Stanhope frees Tom Egan Memorial Route on Snowpatch Spire in Bugaboos
- Tuesday 18th August 2015
Aug 18th; 2015
Will Stanhope, climbing with his long-term Bugaboos-sufferer - Matt Segal, has freed the Tom Egan Memorial Route on Snowpatch Spire in the Canadian Bugaboos mountains.
Will Stanhope on the TEMR. Photo Innes Papert/Will Stanhope’s FB page
As we previously reported – click through here for that report – Will Stanhope and Matt Segal have been battling away in the Bugaboos for the past four years trying to free the Tom Egan Memorial Route – a climb which was first done in 1978 by Daryl Hatten and John Simpson at A3.
As with Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson on the recently completed Dawn Wall climb, Stanhope and Segal had been attempting a route with extremely difficult free-climbing in challenging weather conditions (in this case storms and rain rather than heat) albeit with the added complexities that the TEMR is in a mountain environment which impacts logistics and access issues.
Snowpatch Spire. Photo Will Stanhope FB Page
Stanhope and Segal returned to the Snowpatch Tower in late June and got stuck straight into the hard climbing. Posting on FB on July 2nd, Segal talked about their highs and lows of their initial 2015 forays: “Big week in the Bugaboos filled with lots of ups and downs. This project is an emotional roller coaster, testing everything we've got. Progress is slow, it seems with every step forward we take two steps back. This week in the mountains we endured some crazy electrical storms, the torment of bad conditions and the ill-fated moment of granite crumbling beneath my fingers (pitch still goes just a touch harder). But on the bright side I made the team's best effort on the face pitch, only a few moves from sending and @willstanhope got the long awaited first ascent of the crux splitter pitch we call Blood on the Crack (5.14-).”
Will Stanhope on the first ascent of the “Blood on the Tracks” 5.14- pitch. Photo Tim Kemple/Will Stanhope FB Page
The TEMR – considered to be the hardest alpine route in America and one of the hardest in the world - is essentially a 1500-foot splitter (thin finger) crack protected by a blank face pitch beneath the start of the hair-line crack. That pitch had taken Stanhope and Segal considerable time and effort to climb in previous attempts. The 13-pitch route starts up Sweet Sylia and then traverses across to the headwall cracks on the Tom Egan. Stanhope describes the route; “The face pitch is the crux at 5.14. The next crack pitch, dubbed ‘Blood on the Crack’ is the second hardest pitch and goes at 5.14-. The next two pitches are 5.13 and 5.13-R respectively. From there we rejoined Sweet Sylvia. The angle eases off and a handful of 5.10/ 5.9 crack pitches lead to the Yellow Tower.”
The view from the office. Photo Matt Segal FB Page
During the team’s final four day push on the route Will Stanhope was able to free all the pitches; sadly however, Matt Segal didn’t quite make it through. Posting on social media Matt Segal said: “Huge props to this lanky Canadian @willstanhope for sending the Tom Egan Memorial Route, a line we'd been attempting on Snowpatch Spire in the Bugaboos for the last few seasons. After four long days on the wall enduring lots of shitty weather I just wasn't able to stick the crux face pitch before we decided to move on due to the deteriorating weather forecast.
Life on the TEMR. Photo Will Stanhope FB Page
I've never put so much effort into one climb and am extremely heartbroken for not sending with Will but I'm super honored to have witnessed his ascent and to have shared so many days on the wall with him. Plus I'm feeling pretty fortunate we stuck the descent in an absolutely mind blowing electrical hail storm!”
Finally, Segal hinted on social media that he’ll be back next year however; “I guess I just wasn't meant to send this year but am trying to look on the bright side: Spending more time in the Bugaboos isn't the worse thing in the world.” If Segal does decide to return next year, he should have any shortage of top-shout climbers to accompany him if Sonnie Trotter’s reply on Instagram is anything to go be; “Really proud of you both. Inspiring in so many ways. Let me know if you wanna go back, I'd be honoured to give you a gentleman's catch. Stoked.”