Saturday, July 30, 2016

Alpine Paradise - The Bugaboos - Part I

Part I of our astounding trip to Bugaboo provincial park. I will try and write up the rest of this part of our trip in the next few days when I have time. So many pictures to go through, and still so much climbing left to do in the Rockies over the next few days.
 The Bugs were a mind bending experience. 

The most beautiful mountains I have ever seen, the Bugaboo group of the Purcell Range. This place is surreal. An alpine playground with perfect rock, solid protection, amazing cracks; all with astounding views.

Day 1 - Arrival.

The night before we dove from Calgary to Radium Hot springs, and then headed down the 50 Km dirt road from the logging town of Brisco to Bugaboo provincial park. We found a nice loggin spur to set camp. We stayed the night, and in the morning set about the task of organizing 7 days of food and climbing gear.

What should we pack?

 After a couple of hours of organizing we hit the road and grabbed a spot in the parking lot. There is an issue with marmots and porcupines eating car tires and hoses, so you have to protect your vehicle with chicken wire.

Sweet, the car is protected
Then the brutal hike up to the hut. Its only about 5 km, but gains more than 2000 feet in that short distance. Its steep, and with 40 lb packs a bit of a slog. Luckily the views are nice, so its not so bad.

The hike up, the Hounds Tooth in the background.
Approach ladder

 After about 2 hours of hiking we arrived at the Bugaboo ACC hut, our accommodations for the next 6 days. It has electricity, hot water, a full service kitchen and room for 50 climbers, luxury. 

The ACC Hut. Our home for 6 days.

Sleeping arrangements

Kyle consults one of the many guidebooks in the dining area of the hut
Kitchen facilities in the hut
 We hung around the hut, relaxed, enjoyed the views.

Day 2 - West Ridge of Pigeon Spire

The thing with the Bugaboos is the weather is bad. It is often really nice in the morning, but then in the afternoon thunderstorms move in. This means alpine starts. So we woke up at 4:30 am to climb out first objective, the west ridge of Pigeon Spire. Sometimes called the best 5.4 on the planet.

The approach involved a 1000' hike up a glacier moiraine, then another 1000' feet up a very steep snow slope to gain the Bugaboo-Snowpatch col. After that, a couple of Km across a glacier to reach the base of the route.

Kyle starts up the Col in the dawn light

Bugaboo-Snowpatch Col, the steep snow between the two peaks
We crossed the glacier and made out way towards Pigeon Spire. The views once over the col, were out of this world.

Approaching Pigeon Spire (left)
Early morning views on the approach
We got to the base of the ridge, and despite very frigid temps, we started climbing. The climbing was very easy, on perfect immaculate granite, so we decided to simul-climb most of the ridge, rather than pitch it out.

Kyle on the climb

I pause to enjoy the view
 We did some down climbing from a false summit, then onto the highlight of the route. A section of knife-edge ridge. A thousand foot drop off on with side, the ridge is just a couple of feet wide. Spectacular. 

On the knife edge
Another money shot of the knife edge
We pitched out a short section of 5.4, then we were on the summit proper. Beautiful. The route really lived up to its reputation. Perfect rock, with an unsurpassed situation. So good. 

Summit glory

Does life get better than this?
 We reversed the route and headed back to the hut

Reversing the climb

Heading back to the hut after a great morning
We were back to the hut after about 8 hours round trip. Much faster than I expected. We relaxed and prepared for the next day of climbing.....

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