Bugaboo Provincial Park has long been on our list of places to visit. Located in the Purcell Mountains in British Columbia, the Bugaboos is a climbers playground, with a long list of amazing climbs up picturesque spires, surrounded by glaciers and incredible views.
We were especially excited to meet up with Kristal's brother Mark and his friend Trevor, to enjoy the experience with us. We were originally planning to pack in tents and stay in the campground, but a last minute cancellation allowed us to live in luxury in the Conrad Kain Hut, run by the Alpine Club of Canada.
It felt a bit like cheating, going alpine climbing from the comfort of the inside.
Highest on our list was the North East Ridge of Bugaboo Spire, another one of the '50 Classic Climbs of North America'. As such, it sees a LOT of traffic. The climb itself is pretty chill, but with a long approach, an even longer descent, the potential of encountering slow climbing parties and the uncertainty of the weather, more people have gotten stuck overnight on this route than any other climb in the Bugaboos. We opted for a typical early start, and woke up at 4am. Here are Kristal and Mark on the approach, with the sun about to rise.
Despite the early start, there was already one party on route as we arrived at the base of the climb. Thankfully they climbed reasonably fast and Kristal and I made good time.
We got pretty far ahead of Mark and Trevor during the climb, but figured they couldn't be too far behind as we reached the summit at noon. The weather was looking great, so we waited for a while, but eventually decided to start the descent. The descent is a long and slow process, with some awesome exposed traverses and many rappels. The views were incredible.
Unknown party of three returning from Pigeon Spire.
We weren't really sure how far behind Mark and Trevor were, but figured they might get hungry if they were running late, so we left a Clif bar taped to one of the rappel stations.
We arrived back at the hut in time to make supper, and figured Mark and Trevor would roll in a few hours later. We tried to stay up and wait for them, but with the early start and epic day by 9pm we couldn't keep our eyes open any longer. We were surprised and a little worried when we woke up the next morning to discover that they still hadn't made it back! We packed some supplies and headed out after breakfast to see if we could meet them on the descent. We were so relieved to see them coming down the Bugaboo-Snowpatch Col in good spirits.
It turned out they had some route finding issues which slowed them down, and only made it halfway down the descent before they were benighted. Thankfully they found a great ledge to bivy on and were treated to clear night with great views of the Perseids meteor shower. It almost made us jealous! Needless to say we were all pretty exhausted from the previous day, so did some serious napping and enjoyed a well deserved rest day.