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Snowpatch Spire
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Sunshine Crack 

YDS: 5.11- French: 6c Ewbanks: 22 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 22 British: E3 5c

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 11 pitches, 900', Grade IV
Consensus:  YDS: 5.11- French: 6c Ewbanks: 22 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 22 British: E3 5c [details]
FA: Alex Lowe, S Scott, July 1980
Page Views: 24,067
Submitted By: Steven Lucarelli on Oct 3, 2006

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The last pitch, hands and fists for 100', then han...


This climb is one of the best I have ever done! It follows a continuous crack system for almost 900 feet and has everything from fingers to offwidth. The following description is as my partner and I climbed it which was in six long pitches with a 60m rope. Done this way we thought that every pitch was in the 5.10 range. Bring two ropes to rap off (we had a tag line) and some warm clothes since you'll be in the shade for most of the climb.

P1: Climb up a steep right facing dihedral with two cracks and pull through a slight overhang on the left. Continue up an obvious crack bypassing the first anchor. The crack gradually widens to an offwidth as the wall gets steeper. Work your way up the solid 5.10 OW and pull onto lower angle rock to another anchor. I thought this pitch felt about 5.10c.

P2: Continue up the crack for about 10' until you get to another crack that angles slightly up and right. Hand traverse right until the crack starts heading straight up again and follow it past an anchor into a perfect 2" crack. Layback to the right off a wide crack and into a dihedral and belay at the anchor. (Note: I was about 5' short of the anchor so we had to simul-climb to reach it).

P3: Continue up the dihedral till you get to another overhang. Power through a crack near the left side of the overhang and then traverse back right to gain another crack that continues up and belays about 20' below the crux roof. This pitch is probably hard 10.

P4: The crux of this pitch and the whole climb is obvious. Climb up 20' until your beneath a large corner roof. Plug a couple pieces at the lip and fire it, I didn't think this was to hard, just don't hang out or fiddle with gear until your back on your feet. Climb past an anchor and up another overhanging bulge to a good belay stance.

P5: Follow the cracks up and slightly right in a left facing dihedral from what I can recall. The crack will gradually go back left following a large flake until you get to a stance beneath a splitter wide-hands/fist crack.

P6: This pitch is the icing on the cake. Jam the steep hand and fist crack for about 100' until the crack splits left and right. If your spent you might want to consider going left at about 5.8 but it would be a shame to miss the crack heading right. Hand traverse right with great exposure and into a perfect hand crack that heads up and back left. As the crack comes to an end place one last piece and pull a few hard face moves to top out. This pitch is long but a 60m rope will just make it.

At this point you can rap back down the way you came up or jump onto one of the other routes nearby if you want to go to the summit.


This route is on the north side of Snowpatch Spire and not to hard to spot from the ground, just look for the offwidth. Head up the Snowpatch-Bugaboo Col and traverse left about halfway up to a ledge covered with loose rock. The start is almost directly below the offwidth/chimney that can be seen from the ledge and to the right of a large block dihedral. To get down just rap the route, two ropes are probably needed.


Bring doubles from probably about .5" to 3" and at least one 3.5", 4" and 4.5" (you might want two 4.5's for the OW). All the anchors are slung webbing or fixed nuts and pins so you might want to bring some extra webbing.

Photos of Sunshine Crack Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Sunshine: the the sweetest crack in the Bugs!
Sunshine: the the sweetest crack in the Bugs!
Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch 6. Some of that notorious Bugs weather. Matt...
Pitch 6. Some of that notorious Bugs weather. Matt...
Rock Climbing Photo: Gomoll slaying p2.  Sunshine Cracks (11-), Snowpat...
Gomoll slaying p2. Sunshine Cracks (11-), Snowpat...
Rock Climbing Photo: The last pitch as seen from Bugaboo Spire
The last pitch as seen from Bugaboo Spire
Rock Climbing Photo: My well worn hands after Sunshine Crack.
My well worn hands after Sunshine Crack.
Rock Climbing Photo: So good
So good
Rock Climbing Photo: .
Rock Climbing Photo: North side of Snowpatch Spire seen from lower part...
BETA PHOTO: North side of Snowpatch Spire seen from lower part...
Rock Climbing Photo: Final moves on the last pitch.
Final moves on the last pitch.
Rock Climbing Photo: The pitch 2 offwidth.
The pitch 2 offwidth.
Rock Climbing Photo: Unknown Climber on Pitch 2. Bugaboo Corner follows...
Unknown Climber on Pitch 2. Bugaboo Corner follows...
Rock Climbing Photo: D. Snipes on the 1st pitch of Sunshine Crack
D. Snipes on the 1st pitch of Sunshine Crack
Rock Climbing Photo: The obvious line
The obvious line
Rock Climbing Photo: Andrew G. coming up the layback on pitch 3.
Andrew G. coming up the layback on pitch 3.
Rock Climbing Photo: Following the third pitch
Following the third pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: upper pitch of Sunshine crack
upper pitch of Sunshine crack
Rock Climbing Photo: This is the bonus 50' 5.10 corner (followed by 4th...
This is the bonus 50' 5.10 corner (followed by 4th...

Comments on Sunshine Crack Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Aug 23, 2015
By George Bell
From: Boulder, CO
Mar 23, 2007

I've climbed "Bugaboo Corner", where is that in relation to this climb? Don't they share some pitches?
By Steven Lucarelli
From: Moab, UT
Mar 28, 2007

Yes they start in the same place and share the first two pitches. On the third pitch Sunshine crack breaks right after about 20' or 30' and follows a hand size crack that traverses up and right into a different crack system.
By Dane Peterson
Aug 6, 2008

This is one hell of a route. Definitely some of the most spectacular pitches I have ever climbed with every pitch being high quality. There are two stainless bolts w/ rap rings at every anchor (man those Canadians know how to do it) and two ropes make rapping very quick. We took two #5's and I sure used them (my OW technique is pretty pathetic) We ended on pitch 6 when we got 5 inches of snow in a few minutes but this line made the whole trip.
By Steven Lucarelli
From: Moab, UT
Jan 12, 2009

Those stainless bolt anchors must be new since I was there in 2006.
By Devan Johnson
Aug 3, 2010

As good as it gets, anywhere...
By Devan Johnson
Aug 3, 2010

And at the top- definitely go right!
By Peter Winter
Aug 19, 2010

As the above description reduces it to 6 pitches I would suggest the following version referencing the guidebook:

Link pitches 1 & 2, so easy climbing to the offwidth (need #5 camalot but there is a chalkstone with tat halfway up) and then belay at the second chain anchor.

Pitch 3 on it's own, as it's draggy, belay at the chains.

Link pitches 4 & 5

Link pitches 6 & 7 as the belay for pitch 6 would be a gear belay and it's all straight.

Pitches 8,9,10 on their own.

Note! The final pitch requires #4 camalots and you'll be bumbing them if you don't have a bunch, unless you like to run it out and the right hand variation takes #2's. Mega!
By Michael Ybarra
From: on the road
Aug 30, 2010

I'd strongly suggest linking the last two pitches, for one of the best rope lengths you'll ever get. Otherwise you'll need a gear belay between them and since the first part takes only 4s and doesn't have a ledge, you might as well keep going. Definitely go right.
By Hans
From: Squamish, BC
Dec 19, 2012

Maybe the best climb I've ever done. Every pitch is amazing.

We followed the guidebook description for pitches, with the exception of linking the last two. It would make sense to link pitches 6 and 7 though, and I would do this the next time.

One BD 5 was plenty for the offwidth as there was a fixed chockstone with tat on it that you could clip. This pitch was easier than expected.

Bring all your 4's for the penultimate pitch. That's all it will take. Old 3.5's will fit.

I'm sure it's been said, but it's cold. We had long johns and shared a puffy. The only sun is near the top of the route.
By Hans
From: Squamish, BC
Aug 12, 2013

I stand corrected. BD 3's will fit in the final pitch, in spots.

On the 3rd pitch, the roof that used to be there fell off. There is just a scar there now, with good pro.
By Jared Spaulding
From: Central WY
Aug 6, 2014

If you are here later season, or when the B-S Col is in poor shape, be sure to look for the rappel station near the base that will take you straight down to the glacier below. Two single rope rappels should do it.
By Richard Dana
May 17, 2015

What is the general angle of this climb? slightly off vertical? dead vertical?
By Steven Lucarelli
From: Moab, UT
May 17, 2015

Mostly vertical with a few small sections that are a little steeper and some less than vertical as well.
By Mike Mellenthin
Aug 3, 2015

It hailed on us for the last two pitches, we went left at the end, and this is still the best rock climb I have ever climbed.
By Kevin Kent
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Aug 12, 2015

Some clarification on the pitch breakdown here, I think some of the now bolted anchors may have moved slightly since this route was posted. We climbed this in 6 pitches and it worked well. The easy beta is just belay at every other chain anchor until at the base of the 5.8 headwall, climb the 5.8 headwall like normal, and then link the last 2 headwall 5.10 pitches (going right is mandatory!!)

As for the above description, it was generally good except for P3. I ended up belaying only 100' up below a big roof (chains) that I assumed was the crux roof, and then my partner made up for it with a monster 260' P4 that required simuling. You want to skip this belay and climb through what is actually about a 5.8 roof and belay from the fixed anchor on the slab above that actually is 20-30' below the crux 5.11- (sangbag?) roof finger crack.

Rapping this with a 70 might just work, an 80 would be fine. With 2 ropes you can skip a bunch of stations the way down. Scope out the rap anchors at the base and climber's left (north) of the first pitch beforehand, you can rap straight to these and not have to worry about ropes getting caught in the split boulder thing, and then continue rapping back down to the glacier.

Lastly (fuck this is a long comment), if the B-S col is out of shape it's sketchy to get to the base of this. We climbed a bonus pitch to get up to the normal start. It was 50' of 5.10ish cracks in a dihedral where the wall turns from NE to NW facing, followed by 100' of 4th class to the normal start.
By Whippin
From: Bend, OR
Aug 15, 2015

Definitely follow Kevin's above advice about rapping climbers left on the last rap, we got our rope stuck on the offwidth chockstone earning us a bonus pitch :/
By Nelson Day
From: Joshua Tree, CA
Aug 23, 2015
rating: 5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c

Me and my friend rapped this route with an 80m with no problems. One of the pitches was a little close - I would hesitate to try it with a 70m. It could be done with some shenanigans (single rope rap with biner block and extending your pull line with cordilette or slings). 80 for the win!

Also, the rappel stations go down the front face of Snowpatch all the way to the snow field/glacier at the base. Using these will keep you out of the col on the way down.

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