4 AM again. True to the Chossboys style, Daniel and I (Nick) had attempted to climb the Northeast ridge of Bugaboo Spire the previous Wednesday, but instead got hopelessly lost. After four hours of scrambling up steep, dangerously loose choss in complete darkness, the sunrise revealed how far we were from the climb. Using bail gear left by equally disoriented climbers, we retreated back to camp and made damn sure to scout the proper way for next time.
So there we were, this time following the true approach. The night was quiet and still. A clear sky and soft breeze filtered in from the North and kept us shivering well into our hike. As if to spite our reconnaissance efforts, cosmic forces cast our approach in the beautiful, bright light of a full moon. In the dead of night, Daniel and I were preceded by our shadows all the way to the start of the climb: a softly illuminated right-facing slab.
Wednesday, August 17th, 2016: the false start
Yes, I know what you're thinking... It must have been a Chossboys instinct drawing us to loose rock. Perhaps it was. In any case, we were disappointed by the nose-dive our day had just taken, and headed back towards Applebee.
As some kind of balancing karma, who should we run into on the dejected hike back other than Will Gadd! Too shy to introduce ourselves when we first saw him the previous day, this morning we eagerly greeted our hero, and even shook his hand. We returned to camp with a fresh bounce in our step, and immediately began planning our next outing to the Northeast ridge.
Saturday, August 20th, 2016
Since most of the route follows fourth class terrain, the sections of technical rock climbing seemed to pass quickly. The first pitch is supposedly the most difficult at 5.8, but everyone that morning agreed there was only one such move and everything else was 5.7 or easier.
My favourite pitch was the third. Beginning with a short downclimb, it follows a meandering path, and eventually crosses from the left side of the ridge crest to the right side. I was greeted by a fierce gust of chilling North wind at the belay stance that harried us for the rest of the day.
The middle of the route is a chimney that climbs mostly in the 5.2 to 5.5 range. Rather than belaying such easy pitches, Daniel and I opted to simulclimb and passed two parties on our way up. By early afternoon, we were the second party to reach the North summit.
At the summit, we had a complete view of all the rock formations in the park. I had to take a panorama.
By 3 PM, we had descended the Kain route and were standing in line at the top of the col. We were back at Applebee by 5 PM. In total, the climb took 13 hours camp-to-camp. We climbed at a leisurely pace, and were quite happy not to run into any problems related to traffic-jams as reported on other days.
The Northeast ridge was our biggest day out in the Bugaboos. Unfortunately, inclement weather moved in the following night, and we were forced to pack up and leave. All-told, the route was a wonderful climbing experience for us. Bugaboo Spire is the second highest of the spires with the South summit rising to 3204 meters. Standing at the top, all I could focus on was the prominence of the Howser towers in the distance.
"Damn, I have to stand on one of those peaks!" I thought to myself.
Yup, that's summit fever talking. I'll be back soon.
We are Daniel, David, Nick & Erik.
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