We just climbed the North East Ridge of the Bugaboo Spire, so we were looking forward to a mellow day up the classic West Ridge of Pigeon. This is an easy yet magnificent climb with gorgeous views and positions.
The approach from Applebee Campground is much longer than we thought. The approach to the col is in excellent condition this time and we do not have to rope up. We are working pretty hard though (tired from the previous day?). Then, what we thought would be a quick, near-level walk across the glacier to the west ridge turns out to be a long snow slog, on relatively steep uphill slopes.
Finally we get there, and leave the snow gear and boots at the toe of the ridge. The views of the Howsers are awesome. We must have taken close to 50 pictures here - just could not stop!
We climb the ridge to the summit in 1 ½ hour. Cool, exposed but very easy (mostly 3rd and 4th class), on very good rock, and with great views. We simul-climbed the ridge with minimal pro (none to 1 piece between us) to the base of the crux friction pitch. Lucie led that pitch with a belay and a couple of protection points. It's easy but very exposed and pure friction. Would be quite mental to solo (too much for me anyway).
We tag both of the pointy summit blocks, take pictures, then make two short raps (single rope) down the slab and back to scrambling terrain.
The best things about this climb are the gorgeous views, so try to pick a clear day or you'll miss half the fun.
Pigeon Spire, West Ridge
|Pigeon Spire. The West Ridge is the right skyline.|
|Looking up toward the Bugaboo-Snowpatch col from the Crescent glacier.|
|Bugaboo-Snowpatch col from the North; depending on conditions, this may well be the crux of this climb. Early season is usually easier (before things get icy and the bergshrund opens)|
|Ascending the snow slope just below the Bugaboo-Snowpatch col in excellent conditions. We did not have to rope up.|
|Ascending the Upper Vowell glacier toward Pigeon Spire, with Snowpatch spire in the background...|
|...and gorgeous views of the "back" (North-East) side of the Howser towers.|
|Closer view of South Howser Tower from the Upper Vowell glacier.|
|Getting ready at the base of the ridge (South Howser in the background).|
|Starting to simul-climb the easy ridge.|
|Eric descending the first step on the ridge with Bugaboo (left) and Snowpatch (rigth) spires in the background).|
|The narrow section of the ridge 2/3 of the way up...|
|...best done "à cheval" style!|
|Approaching the first summit.|
|Descending to the saddle toward the second summit.|
|Looking back toward the Bugaboo-Snowpatch col (Bugaboo Spire on the left, Snowpatch on the right).|
|Higher on the ridge.|
|Lucie leading the short 5.4 corner leading to the true summit.|
|Looking back toward the first summit. Climbers can be seen there.|
|More gorgeous views of the Howser Towers.|
|Eric waiwing from the summit.|
|Summit shot with Bugaboo Spire in the background.|
|Climbers on top.|
|Going down the ridge, between the second and first summit, before the "a cheval" section.|
|Eric standing on the ridge with the first summit and South Howser tower in the background.|
|Going down the "a cheval" section.|
|Climbing back up toward the first summit.|
|More downclimbing with great views...|
|...put us back at the base.|
|Back at the base of the ridge.|
|Crossing the Upper Vowell glacier on the way back to camp with the west face of Snowpatch Spire in the background.|