Technical climbing info
Mountain: Eastpost Spire
Route: Southeast Ridge and Northwest Ridge Traverse
Grade: PD, 5.6*
*This is the official guidebook grade, however I would consider it “lichen covered low 5th”.
How it got on the list
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?
And the Questionable Weather Rolls in
After climbing Lion’s Way and Pigeon Spire back-to-back, we figured it was time for a rest day. Jessica and I spent most of the day transitioning between reading under the sun and hiding behind large rocks in the shade. As the day passed, eventually clouds had rolled in the previous night and a drizzle set in as the sun began to set. Spirits in camp were still high, and we enjoyed our time with some fellow climbers sitting on the granite in our nearly all matching Arcteryx Goretex shells. Naturally, objectives for the next day came into question due to the rain, including our’s, Bugaboo Spire’s Kain Route. We didn’t actually particularly want to climb the Kain Route, but we did want to know how to get down from the NE Ridge when we’d come back to climb it.
Jessica and I agreed that if the clouds were still around when we woke up, we’d shoot for our backup plan, Eastpost Spire’s Southeast Ridge to Northwest Ridge traverse.
We had the Atikson Piché guidebook in hand, but we noticed that there was no information how to access the SE Ridge from the Applebee campground. Luckily, Chris Atikson and Marc Piché happened to be camping, and proved to be extremely friendly people when we had met them a couple days before. They had been an invaluable resource to us and everybody at the campground, over the past few days. I really appreciated their amazing welcoming attitudes to everybody around them; they truly proved to be gems of people. (They also have a new guidebook fresh off the press, in color!)
We inquired if they had any idea how to access the SE Ridge through the choss between where we stood and the base. “The high ledges look like the cliff out, I wouldn’t take those,” said Marc very informatively. “Everybody’s come back so far!”, laughed Chris.
The choss fight
We took off towards the base of the ridge that we felt like was the most likely access point. The hike turned into a choss scramble extremely quickly, and the choss scramble turned into a choss battle just as quickly again. As we waded through choss under the east face of the peak, it became glaringly obvious why the recommended way to climb was all the way down from the Kain Hut. We poked and prodded our way towards the ridge, cliffing out and encountering choss death-runoffs on numerous occasions.
It was only 8am, but I felt beat to hell after working our way back and forth for a couple of hours. Mosquitoes had been swarming us since camp, and had seemingly followed us up the peak. As Jess following me down a rappel to nowhere in our search for the start of the route, I could see a cloud of mosquitoes buzzing around her, a sight I will never ever forget.
A quick climb and a beautiful summit
Eventually I decided to just give a line a shot up the East face. While covered in lichen and moss, it looked easy enough to climb, and promising enough that it may actually connect to the ridge. “If this doesn’t work, I think we’ll just have to go back”, I said with little faith.
We roped up, not because the steepness, but because the crap on the pitch. I made my way up, placing a few pieces while wondering how well they’d hold in the chossy lichen covered cracks. I probably won’t fall here anyways.
“WOOOOOO!!!”, I let out when I connected to the ridge. I could hear Jess’ excitement from below. Hilariously enough, the ridge looked almost like a walking trail rather than a climb from my new perspective. I belayed her up, and we changed to our trail runners.
The rest of the climb went quick, and had a few short sections of 5.something, but less than what I’d call 5.6. It did provide a number of glorious lookouts over the Applebee Campground, and onto the Vowell Glacier. The ridge went by almost too fast, no more than 30 minutes. We ran into a guided group who we had met on Lion’s Way a few days before who had come up the NW Ridge. We took photos of each other, with the promise of airdropping them to each other at camp.
We made our way over the summit ridge, which looked imposing and exposed until we were really on it. Our jaunt down the NW Ridge was guided by a million cairns.
This climb reminded me of the “adventure hikes” I’d do as a kid with my dad in the mountains of Lebanon. Overall, I don’t think I would actually recommend this route to anybody else, even on a bad day. The few moves of lichen covered 5.something are simply not worth it in my book when compared to just going up the NW Ridge, which provides all the same views and a much more stable surface.
A tiny bit of beta
If you do choose to shoot for this from the Applebee Campground, the following was the best like we could find to access the SE Ridge:
- Our access to the SE Ridge was at: 50.74385, -116.76350
- The new 2022 Atikson Piché guidebook actually has a rough drawn line for the access (which we only discovered later)
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