Pigeon Spire, West Ridge

Technical climbing info

Mountain: Pigeon Spire
Elevation: 3,156m
Route: West Ridge
Length: 500m
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…

Jess making her way up the B-S Col.

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:

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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!

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