Bugaboo Spire is one of Canada’s great peaks and our certified Bugaboos climbing guides know this area very well. First climbed in 1916 by Conrad Kain, it has been a treasured objective ever since. There are two classic routes. The S.E. Ridge, Kain’s 1st ascent route still has a sting in its tail. Climbing the 5.7 slab on the Gendarme you’ll wonder how he did it in hobnail boots. The N.E. ridge is one of the best lines on the continent.
Bugaboo Spire is surrounded by other spectacular spires, vertiginous Snowpatch Spire is a little lower but has fantastic technical routes for rock climbers. The W. Ridge of Pigeon Spire is one of the most enjoyable technical scrambles to be found anywhere and the smaller Crescent Spires offer enjoyable climbing at every level. Then there are the Howser Towers which dominate the entire group. One of the most famous climbs in the world, the Chouinard-Beckey route, is on the South Tower’s west face.
This famed group of granite spires is found in the Purcell Mountains west of Canmore and Banff (3.5 hour drive) and can’t be more highly recommended for those of you interested in high quality alpine rock climbing. It is served by an excellent alpine hut or you can camp in one of the most spectacular campgrounds known. This area is ideal for private and custom climbing programs from 3 – 7 days. It is also a great place to experience mountaineering with your kids (10 yrs. plus). Even the less famous routes offer amazing climbing objectives.
Choosing to climb in the Bugaboos is an exciting and incredible journey. Experiencing this climbers paradise cannot be described appropriately in words. Depending on your time allowance and climbing level, we have 3 to 7 day climbing itineraries that will not only meet your climbing objectives but also give you insight into the Bugaboos by one of our Bugaboos climbing guides. Everyone should climb in the Bugaboos! When you’re not climbing, the hiking is spectacular so bring along your family to enjoy this other beautiful side of the Bugaboos. We recommend the following routes and spires:
Climbing Routes & Maximum Guide Ratios
- Bugaboo Spire: This famous and spectacular spire defines the area. Climb the classic Kain Route (5.7) or N.E. Ridge (5.8) (1:2). A Top 50 in North America!
- Snowpatch Spire: Once thought unclimbable has many technical rock routes including the S.E. Corner (v. long 5.7), S.W. Corner (classic 5.9) and the Krauss-McCarthy (5.8) (1:2).
- Pigeon Spire: 3114m. No matter what your climbing grade you have to do the W. Ridge which is one of the loveliest and enjoyable climbs out there (5.4) (1:2). A Top 50 in North America!
- East Post: 2590m. Located just above the hut, the West Ridge is a fun scramble (great with the kids) or more challenging by the S.E. Ridge (5.6) (1:2).
- Donkey’s Ears: 2850m. A scramble up distinctive spires with an unlikely, airy finish (5.5) by the S.E. Ridge (1:2) or an enjoyable 6 pitch 5.7 climb by the S. Face (‘Ears Between’) (1:2).
- Crescent Spires: 2900m. A series of small spires behind the Donkey’s Ears with some classic ridge climbing and some very nice multi-pitch rock routes such as Lions Way (5.6) and the McTech Arete (5.10) (1:2).
- S. Howser Tower: c.3300m. W. Face Chouinard-Beckey line. This superb 22 pitch route is best done with one guide per guest and it usually takes two days with a bivvy. Surcharges apply to this climb for which you must be comfortable and speedy seconding 5.9 and the occasional 5.10 (1:1). A Top 50 in North America!
Hiring a Guide:
Before proceeding, we must mention that we run one Bugaboos Granite 5-day guided climbing program each season. This offers the opportunity to climb on the Bugaboos Spires for the lowest per person daily cost.
When hiring a guide we quote you guide fees plus expenses. The guide fee is a daily rate, which varies according to the number of people per guide. Expenses you will incur include the cost of transportation for yourself and the guide to the Bugaboos, hut or camping fees and meals (for the guide also). We can customize a package for you that includes guide fees, guide expenses, and any extras such as meals, accommodation and rental gear.
These are our basic fees. Surcharges apply to climbs that are unduly long or serious such as the Chouinard – Beckey route on South Howser Tower.
|Number in group||Per Person / day|
|Please contact the Yamnuska Office for 5 or more guests
The above prices do not include 5% GST (sales tax) or Gratuities
OTHER EXPENSES to consider
We do not usually supply transportation to the Bugaboos. We suggest you pick the guide up in Canmore on your way to the Bugaboos. If the guide has to drive up there to meet you a charge of $200 is applied. In the case where you cannot arrange transportation we may be able to do this (however we recommend you provide transport).
The road into the park is a fairly well maintained logging road, however at certain times of year it can be difficult to traverse with a normal low clearance car. If renting a vehicle it is best to go with a full size, Mini-van or SUV with higher clearance. Overloading a small car is not recommended unless you allot for extra time on the drive in.
If you stay in the Conrad Kain Hut the charge is $30 per night (we do not charge for the guide). Camping at Appleby will cost c. $8 per person per night.
Yamnuska can supply all your out-trip meals. Should you choose to supply your own we charge you only for the cost of your guide’s food. We provide highly nutritous and light weight dehydrated meals prepared in our own commercial kitchen. We recommend you use our food system to minimize weight and to ensure you get maximum nutrition.
In planning your menu we will need to know of any special dietary restrictions or preferences you may have (e.g. vegetarian) and of any allergies you may have (e.g. shellfish). These special dietary restrictions incur an additional charge.
The following daily rates (GST not included) apply:
- Guide only: $35/day
- Guide plus 1 person: $90/day
- Guide plus 2 persons: $135/day
- Guide plus 3 persons: $180/day
- Guide plus 4 persons: $225/day
- Thereafter an extra $45/day/extra person.
Food charges will be prorated where less than 3 meals are supplied in a day. Included in the charge is supply of group cooking gear (stoves, pots & pans).
Guides and Guide Ratios:
Yamnuska Mountain Adventures is licensed by BC Parks to operate in this area. Our Bugaboos Climbing Guides are certified by the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides whose ‘terrain guidelines’ we adhere to. Our ratios are outlined in the Climbing Routes section above. We do not exceed the stated guide to guest ratios as we believe this compromises safety and your overall experience.
As Canada’s premier mountain school and guiding organization, we have the best guides. Our staff training, risk management and customer service philosophies are unparalleled in our industry. We pride ourselves on being the most reputable mountain guiding company in the country.
Group safety & technical gear (e.g. ropes & rack) is included in the guide fee. You will need to supply personal clothing and gear (e.g. ice axe, crampons, helmet & harness). Some of these items can be rented and the cost included in your package price.
Yamnuska has a full range of climbing and camping gear for rent.
We will supply you with a quote which will include all expenses such as meals, accommodation and rental gear when we know your requirements. Registration requires a deposit of one third of the quote or, for trips of three days or less, full payment. All guests must fill in an application form and an experience questionnaire.
Balance of payment is required eight weeks before trip commencement. Should you cancel more than eight weeks in advance of trip, a $105 cancellation fee will apply. Cancellation between six and eight weeks before trip commencement will mean a loss of your deposit. Cancellation less than six weeks before trip commencement will result in a loss of all payments made.
We ask that you familiarize yourself with our detailed booking instructions and conditions. Good weather in the Bugaboos cannot be guaranteed and we ask that you review our Mountain Conditions and Weather policy in the Booking Info link at the top right section of this page.
Please note that you will be required to sign our waiver before commencing the program. Please view our sample waiver copy.
If you need any rental gear please let us know early to ensure its availability.
There are two basic types of insurance that most travelers need to consider: Medical and Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance. We offer our guests coverage for both and highly recommend you purchase it.
Emergency Medical Expenses Insurance:
It is wise to ensure that your health plan will cover you in case of illness or accident during your trip. Obtain extra coverage if necessary. In Bugaboos Provincial Park there may be a charge for rescue if you need to be evacuated by professional services.
Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance:
We recognize that our guests’ schedules may change for many reasons; business, family, flight delays, injuries and other unplanned events. For these eventualities the Trip Cancellation/Interruption insurance is a great way to protect your investment.
For all your travel insurance requirements we recommend the Simpson Group. This agency offers a wide range of travel insurance options including Trip Cancellation/Interruption, Travel Medical and Personal Effect Loss for Canadian Travelers. We highly recommend purchasing this insurance. For more information and to purchase a plan, visit the Simpson Group’s website.
Please note that this coverage is for Canadian residents only. For guests who are not from Canada and who are interested in the ‘Visitors to Canada’ insurance package please contact the Simpson Group directly at JSimpson@simpson-group.com and reference your Yamnuska Mountain Adventure’s trip.
Cancellation Insurance available through the Simpson Group.
You will need a minimum of 2 days though we would strongly recommend at least 3. Of this time the 1st day will be taken in getting established in the Bugaboos, either at the Conrad Kain Hut or at the Appleby Dome Campground. It can be possible to do a climb of either Bugaboo Spire or Snowpatch and hike out the same day though we advise against it as any delay on the climb will make this very difficult to achieve.
We suggest at least 3 days. Day 1 for access, Day 2 for a bigger climb, Day 3 for a smaller climb and leave the area. The more time you have the more climbing you’ll get done.
Depending upon the vagaries of seasonal snow conditions it is usually possible to climb in the Bugaboos from late June until early September by when late summer snowfalls have often made technical climbs cold and icy. The optimum time is from early July to mid-August. In dry years the Bugaboo – Snowpatch Col, the easiest access route to Bugaboo Spire, can be threatened by rockfall by early August. When this happens it can limit which climbs we can do.