We climb the North-East Ridge of Bugaboo Spire on the first day of our first stay in the Bugaboos. Probably not such a good idea given that we made it to the Applebee Campground the day before with heavy packs.

We are well aware of the popularity of the climb (one of the crowded 50s) and are not too keen on waiting for our turn to climb at the base. This means a very early departure.

We leave camp pre-dawn, make our way up the Crescent/Vowell glacier, and simul-climb the two or three 4th-class pitches that lead to the Bugaboo/Cresent col and the base of the climb.

Once at the col, we follow low-angle of cracks to the "rope-up" terrace. The sun is slowly rising. The views of Snowpatch in the early morning sun are magnificient. There is nobody else but us (not yet anyway). We re-organize the ropes, rack up and put on our climbing shoes.

The plan is to climb the 4th hardest pitches, then simul-climb the rest. Eric would lead pitches 1 and 3, I would lead pitch 2 and 4.

Eric takes the fist lead, a nice pitch that starts with a small 5.7 roof. He leads the pitch quickly and brings me up.

I set off on the second pitch, another nice pitch (5.6) that follows a system of cracks and flakes.

The 3rd pitch goes down from the belay and traverses back right to another crack-system.

I get to lead the classic 4th pitch, a great 5.6 crack/corner that involves stemming and liebacking. We take a break atop pitch 4. It is now 9:45 AM and we can see a party of three coming up the approach gully.

From the top of the 4th pitch, we start simul-climbing. The going is easy. We follow mostly a chimney system. There is another harder move to surmount a small roof near the top. It is advertised as a 5.7 move but it felt easier than that to us.

If the lower pitches offer some good climbing, the finish to the North summit is unpleasant. We reach the north summit at 12:30 PM. Past the North Summit, we short-rope and start the long traverse to the South summit. This traverse is more fun, with good rock. Still, we're not really fond of ridge traverses. The views of the Howser Towers and Snowpatch from the ridge are well worth the trouble though.

The descent from the South summit takes for ever; first several raps with some scrambling in between. We meet again two climbers from Maine who had started up the trail the same day as us. They're coming down from the Kain route. Below the raps, it's a very long scramble along or just below the SW ridge back to the Bugaboo-Snowpatch col. We're back at camp just before 6 PM. A long day...

Bugaboo Spire, NE Ridge

July 23, 2004 / 5.8, 12 pitches, trad.
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The NE Ridge of Bugaboo Spire seen from Crescent Spire.
 
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The Bugaboo-Crescent col (picture taken the next morning on our way to Pigeon Spire).
 
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Sunrise from the Bugaboo-Crescent col.
 
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Reaching the col and...
 
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...scrambling up to the base of the route at sunrise.
 
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Looking back at Snowpatch in the early morning.
 
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Eric starting the first pitch (7:10 AM).
 
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Higher on the first pitch.
 
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Lucie leading the second pitch.
 
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Eric starting the third pitch.
 
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Eric on pitch 3, after traversing back right.
 
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Looking back at Snowpatch from the belay atop pitch 2.
 
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Lucie leading the 4th pitch, a great 5.6 corner.
 
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Higher on the same pitch.
 
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Looking West from the third belay.
 
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At the belay ledge atop pitch 4.
 
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Taking a break (top of pitch 4)
 
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Looking back at the approach gully/slabs (three climbers are making their way up).
 
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Eric following the standard crack on pitch 5...
 
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...that turns into a large chimney system.
 
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Views from the belay atop pitch 4.
 
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Simul-climbing (pitch 7)...
 
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...up the upper pitches (pitch 8)
 
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...led us to the North summit (pitch 8).
 
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Just below the 5.7(?) ceiling (pitch 8).
 
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Snowpatch from the summit ridge.
 
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North summit.
 
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Starting the long traverse to the South summit..
 
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Looking back toward the North summit.
 
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Traversing from the North to the South summit.
 
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The gendarme on the descent route (Kain route) with Snowpatch in the background. You will make another rap here to bypass the gendarme.
 
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Views of the Howser Towers.
 
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More great views from the descent route.
 
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Descending the Kain route.
 
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Back on flat ground. The SW ridge of Bugaboo Spire follows the right skyline.
 
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Heading back to camp.
(high res. images are about 300KB)