Bugaboos Part 2: Warming Up

I lead along the crest of Pigeon Spire's west ridge. The Howser Towers look ominous behind.

I lead along the crest of Pigeon Spire’s west ridge. The Howser Towers look ominous behind.

Pigeon

Natalie and I got a casual start to our trip. Pigeon Spire is the gold standard easy alpine outing in the Bugaboos. A straightforward ridge of perfect granite rises out of the glaciers to an airy summit. After a trip up the loose, steep and icy Bugaboo-Snowpatch Col we made quick work of the glacier and flew up the ridge with views of the Howser Towers, Snowpatch and Bugaboo Spires and the heart of the Purcell Range.

I traverse the glacier beneath Snowpatch Spire

I traverse the glacier beneath Snowpatch Spire

Spot the pair of climbers on Snowpatch? (lower right)

Spot the pair of climbers on Snowpatch? (lower right)

Kicking steps up to the col

Kicking steps up to the col

Pigeon Spire comes into full view. It’s hard to believe that this type of climbing is becoming a casual half-day outing for me. The West Ridge follows the right hand skyline.

Pigeon Spire comes into full view. It’s hard to believe these types of climbs are becoming casual half-day outings. The West Ridge follows the right hand skyline.

The Howser Towers loom ahead as I scamper across the glacier.

The Howser Towers loom ahead as I scamper across the glacier.

McTech

Natalie pulls through a tricky roof crux on McTech Arete

Natalie pulls through a tricky roof crux on McTech Arete

Alex enjoys the penultimate pitch. Believe it or not, this was just about the easiest climbing on the route.

Alex enjoys the penultimate pitch. Believe it or not, this was just about the easiest climbing on the route.

That evening, Alex (who I’d had the pleasure of getting to know well on Peaks Korzhenevskaya and Communism last summer in Tajikistan) and Vincent arrived. Both meteorologists and snow scientists, they’d just flown in from France. Natalie and I decided to join them on a climb of the legendary McTech Arete on Crescent Spire. This route didn’t require much of an approach, but presented the hardest technical climbing of the trip. Fortunately, rope-gun Natalie led all the hard pitches.

A Hoary Marmot checks me out below Crescent Spire

A Hoary Marmot checks me out below Crescent Spire

One of the rappels back to the glacier.

One of the rappels back to the glacier.

Me, Natalie and Alex coil ropes after rapping off McTech

Me, Natalie and Alex coil ropes after rapping off McTech

Hey, uh, Natalie, how far to that ledge?

Hey, uh, how far to that ledge?

A pika frantically gets ready for the approaching winter.

A pika frantically gets ready for the approaching winter.

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