Friday, September 5, 2008

The Bugaboos!

Seventy Million years ago in the mountains of British Columbia the strikingly clean granite of the Bugaboos was finally uncovered setting the stage for world class North American Alpine Rock Climbing. Just shy of 51 degrees North “the Bugs” are located in the midst of the Purcell Mountains of B.C., a range of mountains sandwiched between the Canadian Rockies and the Selkirks.

Amidst the Bugaboos sit the mighty Howser Towers, (featured in issue 14 of Alpinist magazine). These perfectly symmetrically, sound granite peaks have been inspiring climbing’s greatest talent for decades and are home to the biggest and boldest Bugaboo climbing objectives. Bugaboo spire at 10,511', Pigeon spire 10,354', and Snowpatch Spire 10,120', provide quality routes for everyone. And as if this were not enough to occupy a lifetime of climbing, there are many more spires, towers and rock faces to explore. The Bugaboos are excessively scenic, wild and accessible…a true alpine rock climber’s paradise.

For years AAI has been running successful and exciting trips to the Bugaboos. For AAI’s Technical Leadership program we typically use the area for phase III of the three-part program. Here is what one Technical Leadership graduate had to say after getting back home from the part I, II and III in August 2008:
  • It was somewhere near the sixth or seventh pitch on the Kraus-McCarthy route on Snowpatch spire that I realized something. I just learned how to crack climb a few weeks ago, and here I am making my way up this huge granite spire, with even bigger towers all around me. A few weeks ago I could barely understand how a hand jam works let alone put it into practice, and now I'm pulling down on my hands in cracks as if it were nothing. The Bugaboos were an amazing range of mountains for me to practice all of my new found skills. To know that the same things I had learned in theory and practiced in the Washington Pass area, still applied in such a large mountain setting, was extremely comforting. I truly learned enough that I was both a competent leader and second. And that thought was exactly what I needed in order to feel confident in the Bugaboos.

  • I left the Bugaboos and headed for my hometown of Detroit, MI, only to turn around on the same day of my arrival in order to leave for the Red River Gorge in Kentucky. While I was there I met someone with a trad rack who let me borrow it, and I felt completely confident in my leading abilities. I lead myself and a friend, who had never done any trad or crack climbing in his life, up a five star 5.8 finger crack. It felt amazing to offer someone else the opportunity to find another aspect of climbing to fall in love with. There is no doubt in my mind that my casual approach to trad climbing, something I found so nerve-wracking less than a month before, was due to the practice I had in the Bugaboos. It prepared me in a way that I don't think I will everbe able to fully comprehend or appreciate, until I'm able to go back there one day and enjoy the magnificent quality of climbing. I feel truly spoiled to have had such an amazing climbing experience so early in my climbing career, and can't wait to get back on my own one day.

  • - Andrew Yasso
This season AAI climbers accomplished a great deal in the Bagaboos. The West Ridge of Pidgeon (II 5.4); Ears Between on Crescent Spire (grade III 5.8) and the South East Ridge of the Bugaboo Spire were all climbed several times by AAI teams. Other routes such as the Kraus-McCarthy on Snowpatch (grade IV 5.9), The Mcteche Arete on Crescent Tower (grade III 5.10), The Enjoyable Way (grade III 5.8) ofn Snow Patch and the Kain Route (grade III 5.6) on Bugaboo were climbed as well.

The Bugaboo climbing season runs from late June to the end of September. And while it may be a little late in the year to plan a trip this season, next summer is right around the corner. Hope to see you there!

-- Joseph Anderson

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