Canadian Rockies Alpine Guides - Mountaineering and Climbing in the Bugaboos of British Columbia, Canada

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Canmore, AB
T1W 3H9

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Guided Climbing Trips in the Bugaboos of British Columbia, Canada.

Snowpatch Spire, Pigeon Spire, Howser Spires and Bugaboo Spire in the Bugaboo Range of BC.  The pictures say it all...

Crossing the glacier on the way to climb Pigeon Spire in the Bugaboos.

The Bugaboos is one of the world's premier alpine rock climbing destinations. The quality of the granite, the wilderness setting, the sharpness of the peaks, and the beauty of the surrounding glaciers all combine to put "The Bugs" on every climbers hit list. There is truly something for every climber, whether it be a mellow ridge scramble, a technical rock climb, or a thousand meter big wall, all are of the highest quality. So join us for the trip of a lifetime into this alpine rock climbing paradise.

Location: South-east British Columbia. 2 hours from Golden, BC; 5 hours from Calgary, Alberta.

Season: July & August

Logistics: The Bugaboos are located 4 hours from Canmore, Alberta, or 2 hours from Golden, BC. Part of the drive is on rough gravel roads and a truck is recommended although not absolutely neccessary. A full day is needed to drive to the parking area and hike into the spires. During your stay in the Bugaboos, you have the choice of camping or staying in the Conrad Kain hut. A absolute minimum of 2 days is required in order to get in, do a climb, and get back out. However, planning for a 4 or 5 day trip is highly recommended and will allow time to complete a few climbs while enjoying this incredible area.

Climber on a guided trip up Snowpatch Spire in the Bugaboos.

The Best Climbs

The Bugaboos have dozens, if not hundreds, of world class alpine rock climbs! The best of the best are outlined below:

Pigeon Spire - West Ridge (II 5.4)

Elevation: 3156m
Length of Climb: 6 - 10 hours round-trip from hut or campground.
Max Group Size: 2
Prerequisites: Basic glacier travel & rock climbing skills.

This is the best 5.4 route you will ever do! A snow slope and glacier lead to the start of this fantastically exposed ridge. The climbing is rarely difficult, but always demands the climbers attention. Located next to the massive Howser Towers, the location is hard to beat. The picture below says it all...

Walking in the clouds on Pigeon Spire's West Ridge.  The best moderate route in the Bugaboos.

Bugaboo Spire - NE Ridge (III 5.8)

Elevation: 3204
Length of Climb: 9 - 14 hours round-trip from hut or campground.
Max Group Size: 1
Prerequisites: Multipitch rock climbing experience up to 5.8. Basic glacier travel skills. Good fitness.

One of North America's "50 Classic Climbs", this is one of the most popular routes in the Bugs, and with good reason! Ten pitches of perfect cracks, corners and chimneys lead to the wild summit ridge which must be traversed in order to gain the descent down the Kain route. Most of the climbing is about 5.6 in difficulty with a few harder sections thrown in to keep you on your toes! The climb follows near the right hand side of the spire in the picture below.

The Northeast Ridge of Bugaboo Spire, one of Canada's best alpine rock climbs.

Crescent Spires & Towers - Various Routes (II, 5.4 to 5.10)

Elevation: 2840m
Length of Climbs: 6 - 10 hours round-trip from hut or campground.
Max Group Size: 1 or 2, dependant on route.
Prerequisites: Ability to follow rock climbing pitches at the given grade of each route.

A great place to enjoy some excellent granite rock climbing without the commitment of the bigger spires. Some of the best routes on the Crescent Spires & Towers include "Lions Way (5.6, 6 pitches)", "McTech Arete (5.10a, 6 pitches)", and "Ears Between (5.7, 6 pitches). This area also has some excellent ridge scrambles of various difficulties.

The Crescent Towers.  Ears Between and Lions Way both reach the top of this granite tower.

Snowpatch Spire - Snowpatch Route (III, 5.8)

Elevation: 3084m
Length of Climb: 10 - 15 hours round-trip from hut or campground.
Max Group Size: 1
Prerequisites: Multipitch rock climbing experience up to 5.9. Basic glacier travel skills. Good fitness.

A long and challenging climb to the top of Snowpatch Spire, which sits immediately above the hut and campground. This climb has about 20 pitches of climbing and the rock quality is excellent throughout. From the top of the spire, numerous rappels are made down the backside in order to reach the glacier and the way back to camp. Another of the Bugaboos mega-classic climbs.

Guide J. Mills leading on the Snowpatch Route on Snowpatch Spire.

Snow & Ice Routes

Length of Climb:
Max Group Size: 4
Prerequisites: Basic glacier travel skills (can be taught on day 1). Good fitness.

The Bugaboos have lots of high summits that can be reached via snow & ice climbing. One of the best and most popular is a traverse of the Pigeon Feather Peaks. The views of the surrounding spires and wild glaciers make for excellent outings. This is a good way to enjoy the Bugaboos without doing any rock climbing, and can also be a good option during poor weather.

On the trail into the Bugaboos with the Hounds Tooth and some glaciers in the background.

Other Routes

  • Bugaboo Spire, Kain Route (III 5.6) - When first completed in 1916 this was one of the most difficult climbs in North America. Now, it is a popular moderate route to the top of this amazing peak.
  • South Howser Tower, Beckey-Chouinard Route (V 5.10) - A perfect line up one of the world's great granite spires. This route offers plenty of challenge and over 20 pitches of steep rock climbing. Two days are required to complete this climb from the campground or hut.

A mountaineering guide at work on Pigeon Spire's West Ridge.

Other Expenses

Hut and/or Camping fees: You are responsible for the cost of huts and/or camping for both you and your guide. In 2009, the rates for the hut are $25 per person per night. Camping costs $5 per person per night.
Transportation: The guides vehicle may be used for a charge of $200 plus gas.
Meals: You may choose to bring your own food, or purchase our meal packages at a rate of $45 per person per day.

The lovely Conrad Kain Hut in the heart of the Bugaboos.

Gear List

All technical equipment & group camping gear is provided free of charge except for boots. However, if you have your own gear, feel free to use it! Rental and purchase information for boots, clothing, and personal camping gear can be found here. If you are unable to locate any of these items or have any questions, feel free to contact us at any time for assistance. When booking a trip, please let us know what gear you would like to borrow.
  • Mountaineering Boots
  • Crampons - provided if required
  • Mountaineering Axe - provided if required
  • Harness - provided if required
  • Helmet - provided if required
  • Sweater/Fleece
  • Rain Jacket, Goretex is best
  • Rain Pants, Goretex is best
  • Long Underwear
  • Gloves
  • Toque
  • Sunglasses (important!)
  • Headlamp (with extra batteries)
  • Sunscreen
  • Gaitors (optional)
  • Water Bottles (2 litres)
  • Hiking Poles (optional)
  • Camera!

Overnight Gear:

  • Tent - provided if required
  • Mid sized Pack, 45 Liters or bigger - available for loan
  • Lightweight Sleeping Bag if staying in the hut, medium weight (-5C or warmer) if tenting.
  • Sleeping Pad if tenting.
  • Booties/flipflops/lightweight shoes for around camp or hut.
  • Earplugs for hut.
  • Food. You can bring your own food or purchase our meal packages, inquire for details.
  • Book for the evenings. (optional)

Rappelling off Snowpatch Spire after climbing the Snowpatch Route
Canadian Rockies Alpine Guides (CRAG) - - Canmore, Alberta, Canada