Pigeon and Howser Spires  Photo Cory Hall

Pigeon and Howser Spires Photo Cory Hall

Canada’s crack-master Peter Croft set high standards. In Squamish he climbed impressive new routes such as The Shadow on the University Wall and in the Rockies he got the first free ascent of Yellow Edge on Yamnuska. It was in the Bugaboos that Croft inspired future alpinists. In one day he linked four peaks in a solo push, South Howser, Bugaboo Spire, Crescent Spire and Snowpatch, which shocked the climbing world. In the years that followed Croft’s ‘big-day,’ other climbers have completed solo and teamed link-ups.

On August 4 and 5 in 2005, Jeff Relph and Jon Walsh made a variation to the classic enchainment of four spires in the Bugaboos. Starting at 8:15 p.m. from Aplebee, they started with the NE ridge of Bugaboo (Applebee to the south summit in 2:05!), descended the Kain route, climbed the Krause McCarthy on Snowpatch, rappelled the route and the Pigeon Snowpatch Col, climbed the Cooper Kor on the East face of Pigeon, down the west ridge, and finished with the Beckey-Chouinard on the South Howser, and back to Applebee in 24.5 hours after starting. They called it 12 pitches due to lots of simul-climbing: 4 on Snowpatch, 3 on Pigeon, 5 on the S. Howser and Bugaboo was soloed.

Then in 2007 Matt Madadaloni completed two record link ups. In Squamish he climbed University Wall, The Roman Chimneys, Northern Lights and Freeway, all free, leading every pitch in 16.5 hours. A week later he visited the Bugaboo Range and climbed 5 routes on 5 peaks free solo in a day. McTech Arete, N.E. Ridge of Bugaboo Spire, West Ridge of Pigeon Spire, The Beckey-Chouinard on the South Howser Tower and the Krauss / McCarthy on Snowpatch Spire.

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This summer Jon Walsh and friends have been logging hours in the Bugaboos, freeing old aid lines and climbing new walls. On July 19, 2013, Canadian East Coast climber, Cory Hall, climbed a solo link-up of four peaks in a day. Here is his story.

Bugaboos Enchainment
By Cory Hall

Cory Hall in Patagonia

Cory Hall in Patagonia

While doing laps on the apron in Squamish I had an idea. I thought was an enchainment of the 4 sought after Bugaboos peaks possible in a day?
With Peter Croft on my mind I had one advantage to when he thought the same idea, I knew it was possible, it had been done at least three times before, but could I do it? I hadn’t a clue.
I sat in a coffee shop in Canmore, checked the weather, looked at a calendar, and came to the realisation that it was now or never. After grabbing food, I drove down Highway 93 South on my motorbike, eventually turning onto the twisty logging road. I dodged logging trucks, and got blinded by the dust in their wake. With the help of several bungee cords, a lot of gear was quickly strapped onto the outside of my stuffed 35-litre pack, and I hiked up to Applebee campground.
The days passed by, I spent one storm day in my tent but the weather was good otherwise. I climbed classics on the west face of Snowpatch. A six hour camp to camp link-up of Surf’s Up, 5.9, nine-pitches, and the Kraus-McCarthy, 5.9, eight-pitches, boosted my confidence. My food dwindled down, it was time to push. The forecast wasn’t splitter for the following day, chance of thundershowers, but I was running out of time.
The day:
4:30 a.m. – Wake-up, hit the sleep button at 3:30 a.m.
5:00 a.m. – Start hiking.
6:00 a.m. – Solo on the first pitches of the NE Ridge of Bugaboo, 5.8, 12-pitches, with frozen fingers, and alpenglow on the peaks.
7:30 a.m. – Breathing hard on the summit, and thinking, the South Howser is far away.
8:00 a.m. – Downclimb Kain Route.
8:30 a.m. – Bugaboo-Snowpatch col.
10:10 a.m. – Base of the Beckey-Chouinard, 5.10+, 21 pitches, 500m or fourth class, after a long approach and descent into East Creek.
10:45 a.m. – Heel-hooking around the arête, and pulling through the 5.10-third pitch, feeling good.
11:40 a.m. – Eating on the Big Sandy Ledge, at the top of pitch nine, and wondering how the heck I’m going to be able to get past the slow moving group of 6 Swiss climbers.
11:50 a.m. – Soloing through their ropes, with their permission.
12:20 a.m. – Hauling my poor pack through icy chimneys.
12:40 a.m. – Back belaying across the 5.10+ traversing pitch 14.
1:00 p.m. – Summit of the South Howser, very sweaty, with storm clouds building.
1:20 p.m. – My inexplicably short 60-metre rope never quite making it to the rappel anchors.
1:40 p.m. – Lost the rappels.
2:00 p.m. – Bergshrund!
3:00 p.m. – Legs pumping on the summit of Pigeon after scrambling the West Ridge, 5.4, 500 metres.
3:40 p.m. – Eating a large block of cheese while descending the glacier towards the West Face of Snowpatch Spire.
4:00 p.m. – Shoes on at the base of the Kraus-McCarthy, 5.9, eight-pitches.
5:00 p.m. – Feeling worked on the final pitch, a 5.8 off-width.
5:10 p.m. – Stoked, fourth summit.
5:40 – Safely back on the glacier, as the rain comes down, and wind howls. The party I passed in the morning still descending the Kain route.
6:40 – A rainbow in front of black storm clouds as I hike into camp.
The stats:
4 summits
41 pitches of technical rock
1000+ metres of fourth class
2230 vertical metres of elevation gain and descent
13 hours 40 minutes