The Granite Spires

The bugaboos!!
Day 70-77
Originally I thought the bugaboos was a first nations word for boogeyman, however I layer learned that it is a word given during the gold rush meaning ‘dead end’. The granite mountain range in the Purcelles in BC  is aggressive looking and stunning. I’ve never seen mountain faces like there are in the bugaboos.

The trip begins with the group unloading the van and setting up our porcupine protection around the van. Mesh nets and posts are available in a bin in the parking lot for use. Apparently the porcupines enjoy the salty rubber taste of wheels, brake lines and other hoses conveniently located under your car. And they can really cause damage so we mesh the crapola out of the van!

Then a 3.5 hour grueling hike up, and I mean up. Like 90% of the path is a climb, including a steel ladder and bolted chains along the path where things get steep and exposed. Thanks to bc parks I believe?

Photo May 31, 3 05 52 PM
We make short work of the hike up to the cane hut. Not to stay there though,  don’t get excited this is the yam semester and we camp always. So once again we set up camp within eye shot of a hut.
Often walking between open crevaces a foot wide and over snowbridges 5 feet wide with massive holes on each side.
Day one is the hike in the morning and then we chill and relax in the sun and snow. The second day we decide to hike up to the hounds tooth ( a spike of rock with a snowy side that looks, well, like a hounds tooth). We go over the cull between that and another peak and off the back side called Marmolata. A short day so to make things interesting we decide to practice navigating the jagged crevaced edge of the glacier on the way down. Often walking between open crevaces a foot wide and over snowbridges 5 feet wide with massive holes on each side. Roped up were safe but managing the rope to keep things that way requires some attention. Naturally we wind our way through the glaciers edge with ease and back down to camp.
Photo Jun 04, 1 15 47 PM
Of course, we employ the use of bum sliding to quickly get back down. So awesome.
The cloudy mist around the angled bugaboo mountains was ominous and beautiful.
The next days objective was epic,  though the weather was probably our worst. We made it to the peak of East post spire which included a lot of class 4 climbing up and around the side of the peak and finished with a steep climb to the 100sf top where we piled in to have a snack and enjoy the views.  The cloudy mist around the angled bugaboo mountains was ominous and beautiful. After a brief break we scramble back down as the weather came in with wet snow then rain. We decided to accelerate our trip down by sliding down half of the mountain in the now slushy snow, which was fun and easy but soaked most of us to the bone. This time however, we made our way to the Kane hut to dry some gear out and crash the party of a middle aged couple hanging out there.

Funny thing is when we finally left later that afternoon some of us forgot some gear including myself. So a few hours go by and I volunteer to retrieve the forgotten gear for us.

On the way to grab the equipment I climb up to the Kane hut and see the back of the man’s head against the window and he’s tolling his head back….in… enjoyment.  Pretty sure I know what’s happening here. So I start stomping and coughing and making noise to try and alert them to my approach. And as I get to the door of the boot room I see from the corner of my eye the lovely lady dismount the gentleman. I purposely bang around the boot room for a minute or two before knocking. Grab the gear and get out, but just before I duck out I say to them, I tried to make noise to let you know I was here – anyways, have a fun night guys. They laughed and turned red instantly.

often on a ledge inches wide and hundreds of feet up with not much for protection
The fourth day and probably one of my favorite of the entire trip we made an attempt for Crescent Spire. It starts with a morning hike up to the BS Cull, and across the small peak to South. We are headed to the peak of Crescent Spire but to get there we have to traverse and ridge walk along the mountain. It was insane, often on a ledge inches wide and hundreds of feet up with not much for protection we try to continually weave our rope through and between natural anchors, or stagger ourselves on either sides of the rock or ridge. We snake across the mountain, climbing, down climbing, even sliding along a ridges edge on our ass.
Eventually we make the other side of the mountain to head for the peak. What a rush.
After traversing accross a face with a 4 inch ledge we reached the cull between Eastpost and Crescent spires and begin our movement up the spire towards Crescents peak. It looks a lot closer than it is. Climbing the granite rock is amazing, our boots stick to the dry granite surface with confidence. However once wet the granite becomes an entirely new beast offering next to no security.

From granite onto snowy slopes along the edges of the culls towards the summit require skill climbing on class 4 as well as how to navigate the snowy slopes. Manage the rope, keep time with your rope team and try to move as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately because we were leading most of the way up our pace was a little too slow and we had to turn around about 2 hours away from the summit. A tough call but one we’ve had to make before, though I resolve to return to the bugaboos and climb again.

We head off the back side to a convenient repel station. Down onto the Conrad glacier below towards the Malloy Glacier I believe. The we start the walk back. I lead for the first half, a few km across the snow breaking trail at a fast pace, then partially up the back of the cull. Exhausting. My legs were burning and my lungs stressed, however we had to keep moving. Our path accross the back of Crescent towards Eastpost is beneath a large avalanche slide path. Then up and over the Eastpost cull to get to the front faces of the spires and head back towards the Kane Hut.

The day ended with another but sliding escapade down to camp. This time we are higher and further and we get some runs of but sliding hundreds of feet and are encouraged to go fast as we can. One of the guides, Jesse actually gets air off a small snowy bump on the way down.

The last day spent in the company of the giant granite spires came quicker than I wanted. The end of the expedition portion of the trip marked the ending of the course. But not just yet. The last day we split into two teams. One team would make an attempt for the Pigeon spire as high as they could without climbing shoes. The second group would make there around Bugaboo spire, circumnavigating the spire and doing a 5 station rappel down the back side. With two of the team feeling sick and staying in camp the last day I felt a bit of a flu coming on and decided on the more relaxed circumnavigate over the climbing for one day.
The most exhilirating part of the trip was the initial climb in the morning up the BC Cull, a steep snowy climb. Absolutely exhasuting cutting a path into the snow slope, even more so as the warm morning sun began to hit the snowy face of the cull.
The snow almost instantly began point releasing into size 1 and 2 avalanches around us. The first released to our left about 50 feet. Then another to the right about 20 feet away. Keep climbing, hard and fast as you can and do not stop until you get to the top. Another point release to our right about 50 feet. It’s time to get off of this snowy slope! we finally made it to the top of the cull for a much needed rest. Then a quick traverse across the glacier to the back of Buagboo spire for the most scenic rappel I have ever done. The edge of the glacier violently crashes over the edge of the bugaboo spire, mocking the jagged edges of the granite peaks around it. And as we rappelled down to the glacier below, the icy daggers of the glaciers edges break and fall and crash. A truly impressive site, a reminder of the unrelenting power of the glaciers.
Photo Jun 04, 1 11 20 PM
Once off of the back side of the Bugaboo spire we traverse acrross the glacier and down the snow slopes back to camp. The perfect end to a prefect trip. I will miss the bugaboos every day until I return there.