Bugaboo Spire - Kain Route

August 2003

The Kain Route, or South Ridge, of Bugaboo Spire is a quality alpine route with a long scrambling section, followed by several pitches of 4th and mid-5th class climbing in a beautiful and exposed position. The rock is generally excellent (with some looseness in the scrambling portions), and the route finding always a challenge.

Emily and I roped together for this climb, and Easton paired with Marcus. We all "3rd classed it" up to where the ridge steepens, though there were some exposed 4th and maybe a bit of low 5th class along the way.

Approaching the Bugaboo-Snowpatch Col.

Dave leading one of the 5th class pitches before the Gendarme.
Photo by Emily.

After several hundred feet of easy roped terrain, the route steepens and we climbed a series of cracks (up to 5.6) that leads to the top of a small pinnacle in the ridge. From here, an easy but exposed traverse along the crest leads to the base of the Gendarme.

The upper ridge of the Kain route... and Dave looing pasted in.
Photo by Emily.

Marcus on the ridge traverse to the Gendarme... and the weather worsens.
Photo by Easton.

The Gendarme starts with an akward pitch up a wide crack on the right side of the crest. This leads up and into a big right facing corner and a gear belay just left of a big flake (which is on the rapp route). The next pitch climbs steeply up face cracks, past three old fixed pitons of varrying mankyness (small TCUs helpfull here) and out across the slab crux... a challenging pitch for the grade (5.6) but stellar none the less. The tendency here is to go too high on the traverse, but it's better to stay low to keep the moves from being harder than they need to be.

Marcus gingerly smearing over the crux pitch of the Gendarme.
Photo by Emily.

Leading the last pitch up to the summit.
Photo by Emily.

As we descended, the threatening weather finally turned sour and it began to hail and gust. Soon the snow turned to rain, and it poured on us most of the way back to the scramble section. Thankfully we had gotten far down from the top of the spire before the thunder moved over the peak.

Dave and Marcus on the descent with the Vowell glacier.
Photo by Emily.

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