Technical climbing info
Mountain: Pigeon Spire
Route: West Ridge
Grade: PD+, 5.4
Nice to make your acquaintance
Our goal for our first full day in the Bugaboos was to acquaint ourselves with the area, and what better way to do so than with the ultra classic Pigeon Spire West Ridge. I had already found that things felt very similar to home, but a little different. The biggest impactful difference I really noticed was the scale. Standing below these massive spires, it was hard for my mind to really gauge how truely large they were. My first realization was when I saw tiny human dots making their way up the Bugaboo Snowpatch Col.
6:30am, the latest alpine start we’ve ever had, I believe. We didn’t rush through the morning, we ate breakfast and sorted our gear as the camp buzzed with life. We headed off…
Finding our way
We headed off… in almost the correct direction. We quickly found ourselves on some slabs below the campsite. This doesn’t feel right. We saw our new Korean friends we had met the day before going down what looked like a much more reasonable snow slow. We awkwardly angled our way down.
The B-S Col’s scale fooled me again, and it proved to be a bit further than I realized. I thought it would be a 15 minute walk away. Dang, everything is big here.
The col itself still was mostly snow covered, almost all the way to the top. It was far more mellow than it looked from afar, but it did have the constant looming threat of rockfall, proven by the skirt of rocks below it.
After a bit of loose screw climbing in our crampons, my eyes caught a glimpse of the skyline over the Vowell Glacier. Wow.
And just like everything else, the scale was so much bigger than I had anticipated form looking at photos. Everything was so much more massive than I anticipated. So much more glorious.
We saw what looked like a trickle of ants moving up the glacier ahead. We didn’t see anybody start behind us too closely. We decided to give the teams ahead some space and we casually meandered up the glacier taking a million photos.
The climb, and the descent
The climb itself was world class. We opted to simulclimb from the start, and we only ended up pitching out the very last section to gain the summit. Being that high off the glacier in the midst of so many massive towers was experiential. The climbing was never difficult, and there was a lot more of it than we initially anticipated. Pitching this entire route out would take incredibly long. Soloing is an option for many parties. We heard there were two naked French Canadian soloists up there the following day. (I count still wearing rock shoes and a chalk bag as naked.)
The descent was, as expected, was just a reverse of the route, and it went by in just about the same amount of time it took to get up the route. Our rope got stuck on the last rappel, just a few meters above our boots, which I knew I was taking too far when I took it. On the bright side, I got a bonus pitch in at the very end retrieving the rope.
I celebrated our first Bugaboos climb by visiting the toilet with the world’s best view.
World class route, indeed. A+++
This Page was part of the Bugaboos 2022 story:
I had been wanting to come to the “Bugs” for years. That desire outlived the age of this blog, and in many ways, had evolved from a desire to a dream. I hadn’t found the right partner to turn that dream into a reality, and for year’s course those massive granite towers would just be photos I’d look at dream about. […]
We had a great previous day climbing the beautiful West Ridge of Pigeon Spire. We were also afforded great views of Crescent Spire, giving us a chance to spot a couple routes we had out eyes on for the next few days- Lion’s Way and Ear’s Between. We planned to target Lion’s Way, a classic moderate objective close to camp.
Eastpost Spire’s SE Ridge received a single star in the Atikson Piché guidebook, a guidebook not loose with the starts whatsoever. I had also seen it pop up on some various “must do” lists from guiding websites here and there, mostly as rainy day objectives around camp. Eastpost Spire imposes itself over the campsite, with two ridges cutting into the skyline, being an undeniable objective for even some of the most technical climbers who arrive. Most folks seem to scramble up the NW Ridge for the killer views, but how could we deny that single star the guidebook gives to the SE Ridge? […]
Big thanks to Stowaway Gormet for supporting my 2022 climbing season! This is a brand that I fell in love with prior to my official partnership with them. These are by far the absolute best backcountry meals I’ve ever had, and I’m psyched to be eating them all year! Check out my meal reviews here!