Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I'd been up once before and wanted to go back, so Mary and I headed up to the Bugaboos, an alpine rock climbing playground on the eastern edge of BC in Canada. A relatively short drive and relatively short (though steep!) hike in with lots of gear, so off we went for a week.

It was spitting rain as we hiked up, then full-on sleet and wind as we arrived at the Cain Hut. This is no kind of weather for a tent, so we forked over the $25 per person to stay in a nice warm hut half-full of friendly climbers instead of hiking another hour to set up camp in freezing rain. This is what we call a "no brainer" - the day before, marble-sized hail had destroyed several tents camped above! The next day was similarly crappy, so there was lots of playing cards and napping and being social, wondering if we'd aver be able to climb.

When the sun finally came out, several parties set out ahead of us for the West Ridge of Pigeon Spire, an uber-classic 5.4 that's a great orientation climb for the area. Alas, the preceeding days had coated it in ice! Rather than make a very enjoyable climb epic, the 15 of us stared at it for a while, unwilling to turn back right away, then wandered off to scope out the conditions on other rock. Mary built a scary little snowman, then we wandered around the glacier for a while and took the long way back. Maybe tomorrow...

Went up the Cain route on Bugaboo the next day - I'd descended the route last time I was here, but that meant we skipped all the fun climbing. An interesting pitch or two made it much more fun than I remembered coming down. The next day, back to Pigeon Spire for a lovely day of ridge scrambling. Both days, we took far more time than most people do, and met (waylaid, harrassed, chatted up) pretty much everyone coming or going on the Snowpatch-Bugaboo col that accesses most climbs. Far more entertaining than actually climbing!

On our last day, we decided not to go for the big alpine traverse that we had gotten excited for and spent the day mostly wandering around again, traipsing around glaciers and sunning by a lake. We met some cool folks from Seattle, Boston, Mexico, France, Australia... While I don't support huts in the Cascades or most areas in the US, it is fun to have areas where they exist. Even without big objectives, this is a beautiful place - 'til next time...

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