The Bugaboos are one of North America’s top summer alpine rock climbing destinations. They’re located in the Purcell Mountains in eastern B.C., about 300 kilometres from Calgary.
There are hundreds of climbs to choose from on Bugaboo Spire, Pigeon Spire, the Howser Towers, Snowpatch Spire and Crescent Tower, from off-piste to extremely popular. If it’s your first time visiting the Bugaboos, and you’re looking for a challenge, then here are three routes away from the busiest classics that are found close to the Kain Hut and Applebee Campground. All three routes are found in the The Bugaboos guidebook.
Lion’s Way 5.6: If you’re new to the Bugaboos, this is a fantastic introduction route. The six pitches were first climbed in 1968 by the iconic skier and mountain guide Hans Gmoser with Mr. and Mrs. T. Hindset. It climbs a line of cracks, solid alpine blocks and big features up to the summit of Crescent Tower. To descend, head down the gully between the North Tower and the Central Towers, using rappel anchors to pass the steep sections. For a trip report and topo visit here.
Snowpatch Route 5.8: Snowpatch Spire has some of the best hard rock routes in the Bugaboos. The east face houses several up to 5.12 and harder, but one that deserves more attention is the 17 pitch Snowpatch Route. The climb goes by several names, including the Southeast Corner and Wiessner’s Route. The first ascent was back in 1940 by American Raffi Bedayn and Canadian Jack Arnold. Legendary climber Fritz Wiessner made a bold attempt in 1938. The first few pitches are fifth-class, which are followed by several 5.7 until the low angle fifth-class middle pitches. Around pitch 15, the climbing picks back up to 5.8 and 5.7 to a mellow finish. Watch an ascent below.
Northeast Ridge 5.8: A lot of climbers heading to the Bugaboos are aiming for the Kain Route on Bugaboo Spire, but an equally amazing outing is the Northeast Ridge. It was first climbed in 1958 and gained popularity after its inclusion in the book Fifty Favourite Climbs in North America. The 12-pitch route is often underestimated, so be prepared for a long day and a big descent down the Kain Route. It follows splitter cracks and fun slab features.
For tips on climbing your first summer alpine line visit here.