American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Canada, British Columbia, Bugaboo Spire, West Face

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1960

Bugaboo Spire, West Face. On August 5 Elfrida Pigou and I made a new route on the west face of Bugaboo Spire. (Although this route started up the west face it was completed on the west ridge. The first ascent of the whole west face was done a week later by Beckey and party.—Editor.) Start was made at the large talus cone at the base of the west face. There we made an interesting discovery, an old pair of rotted climbing boots together with a few bones. This was perhaps the remains of the unfortunate lightning accident just below the summit of Bugaboo Spire in 1948. The body, which fell down the 2500-foot face, was never found at that time. From the talus cone the large diagonal ledge leading up and to the right was followed for some 600 feet. The day was quite cold, and fresh snow and verglass from a storm the day before made progress on this slabby rock slow. At a fairly obvious place we left the ledge and traversed up and to the far left skyline as seen by us, to a large, prominent ledge. Climbing directly up from this ledge, we encountered the only technical difficulties— a 120° overhang enclosed in a wide chimney where we used seven pitons for aid. We soon arrived at another diagonal ledge leading up and to the right for a long distance immediately beneath the "Great White Wall" of the west face—a 1500-foot wall of 90° smooth white rotten granite. The ledge ended in a diedre which led to a ridge. We dropped slightly down on the other side of the ridge into a wide, shallow gully. The face is complex with many minor ridges and gullies. We climbed upward several hundred feet and slightly to the right to what we thought was a subsidiary ridge of the face. Upon reaching it, we found that we were on the west ridge of Bugaboo itself, just below the gendarme and some 250 feet from the summit. In less than a half-hour we were at the west summit watching the setting sun. Return to camp was long after dark. Altogether we had used some 14 pitons on the ascent of the 2500-foot face, half of them in the one difficult section. The climb for the most part had been grade 3 to 4.

Edward Cooper, Seattle Mountaineers

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