Saturday, August 13, 2011
How does one even begin to describe a trip where 7 days of perfect weather, thousands of feet of course granite, and miles of sparkling glacier define existance? I guess I have to try and make tangible the fleeting memories captured by the camera of the climbing we were able to do in this amazing part of the world. Granted, we didn't push climbing standards, we didn't do first ascents, we didn't send the gnar. What we did was exploit the essence of ascent. Hands in rough rock, wind blowing, cold creeping into our feet, smiles on our faces. If climbing isn't fun for you, then you're doing it wrong.
fist view of the Bugaboos
myself, I call this look blue steel
We started the trip by climbing an ultra historic route on Bugaboo spire. The Kain Route was put up by Conrad Kain in 1916 (while guiding clients) and is roughly 5.6. The Kain route features the gendarme, an icon of climbing lore. Mr. Kain was a badass.
Bugaboo Spire. The Kain route follows the right sky line.
Bridget on the gendarme
Myself on the gendarme
Bridget on the summit
Next on the list was the west ridge of Pigeon Spire. We had heard nothing but good things about this mellow route (5.4) and were happy in that it exceded our expectations in fun factor. We were forced to change in and out of crampons as the route still has quite a bit of snow/ice on it.
the west ridge follows the right skyline
Myself riding Pigeons summit block like a Montana bronco
Bridget on descent
myself looking off balance on the whales back
The next day it stormed as we cooked breakfast but by 7:00am the skies we clear and the rock was dry. We grabbed our gear and sprinted for Crescent Spire and the McTech Arete. This was one of the best alpine rock routes I have been on in quite a while, sustained 5.9 and 5.10- climbing on splitter hand cracks!
McTech Arete follows the blunt arete in the center
myself on the crux pitch
Bridget jamming out the roof
Bridget leading pitch 5
Bridget on the summit of Crescent Spire
The next day we awoke in marginal (but still good) weather. The clouds looked like they could go eiter way, heavy rain or sun shine. With this in mind we decided to try a glacial peak. We ropped up on the Pigeon branch of Bugaboo glacier and climbed The Hounds Tooth. It was a fun day hopping over open crevasses and skirting large sags.
The Hounds tooth from the trailhead
Bridget on The Hounds Tooth summit
After The Hounds tooth we had one day left to climb. We were getting kicked out of the park (we found out you can only legally stay for 7 days at a time), we had basicly no food left, and we were getting pretty tired. We decided the last climb should be somewhere on Snowpatch Spire. We choose the Kraus-McCarthy route (5.9). It was a perfect way to end a perfect stay in the Bugaboos.
Snowpatch Spire. The Kraus-McCarthy route ascends the extreme right side of the spire.
Myself on the wet 5.8 roof pitch.
Bridget on a steep pitch midway up
Bridget on the final moves to the summit
We still had a few days left on the end of the trip so we decided to head over to Lake Louise and go sport climbing on the quartzite cliffs. I would highly recommend climbing here (if you can stomach all the tourists).
A grey wolf we saw between Radium Hot Springs and Banff
Bridget climbing at Lake Louise
I would highly recommend a trip to the Bugaboos. We didn't even scratch the surface of the area. A trip back is already planned for next year. Go there, climb, and have fun.
Scott Salzer and I got our climb of "The Dogs tooth" published in a great local magazine called "Mountain Outlaw". A big thanks goes out to everyone who made this story possible (you know who you are).
to read the article click the link below.