American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Canada, British Columbia, Purcell Mountains, Bugaboos, Lost Feather Pinnacle, Back at Bob's

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2005

Lost Feather Pinnacle, Back at Bob's. From August 11-20 Duncan Burke and I enjoyed excellent weather and conditions in Bugaboo Provincial Park. Driving north from Colorado, our main goal was to climb a new route in The Pigeon Feathers group, located east and slightly south of the Howser Massif. The Pigeon Feathers drew our attention for several reasons: walls up to 1,000' high that are virtually untouched, the low-to- medium commitment level of the routes, and their proximity to base camp.

Duncan and I crossed the East Creek Basin Glacier early on August 16 and arrived at the base of the east face of Lost Feather Pinnacle just as it caught the day’s first light. An obvious, left-angling chimney system split the face, offering three long pitches of mostly moderate climbing with a steep 5.10a start, a few 5.9 boulder problems, and an overhanging 5.10b offwidth. We arrived at a huge ledge, where we unroped and moved the belay beneath a 5.10a squeeze chimney, the only portion of our line that it shares with the original route on the peak, called Lost Feather. Duncan continued up a vertical fist crack to a sloping ledge beneath the much steeper half of our route.

The overhanging triple cracks quickly turned into an aid pitch, which required every placement to be cleaned of lichen and flakes of granite. I made steady progress until I encountered The Guillotine, a 20-foot-tall flake that stopped my heart when it shifted as I placed a cam behind it. I eventually climbed to a tiny perch with bomber gear, beneath a soaring dihedral visible from camp in the East Creek Basin. The sun was sinking, our lead rope was stuck behind a flake 100' below, and we had no bivy gear. We retreated and returned two days later.

We quickly climbed to our high point. In morning shade Duncan led the dihedral, again in aiders due to the ubiquitous moss and lichen, which prohibited gear placements without extensive cleaning. To our delight, the intimidating feature went quickly at C1, and would be an incredible free pitch if cleaned. An offwidth roof nearly 1,000' above the glacier provided a tasty challenge, followed by overhanging fists, steep hands, a lower-angled squeeze chimney, and the summit.

We named the route Back At Bob’s (7 pitches, IV 5.11 A2) in memory of Bob Enagonio of Canmore, Alberta who perished on a ski traverse from Rogers Pass to the Bugaboos in May. Bob’s presence will always be felt in the mountains of Canada, especially in his favorite range, the Bugaboos.

Chris Weidner, AAC

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