Bugaboo Spire is likely the most well-known granite spire in Canada. It has inspired generations of climbers with its stunning appearance and high-quality summit climbing routes. Bugaboo Spire is located in the Purcell Mountains just west of the Rocky Mountain Trench.
The North-East Ridge is considered one of the ‘Fifty Classic Climbs of North America’ by Steve Roper and Allan Steck meaning it should be at the top of any alpinist’s tick list. The summit expedition route involves a short glacial approach, 14 high-quality pitches, a stunning summit traverse and a technical descent. Who could ask for more?
Please note that if our scheduled summit climbing program dates don’t work for you, you can still enjoy this technical mountaineering trip. We would be happy to organize a more convenient time for you with a Private Mountain Guide since this is a 1:1 Guide to guest ratio. Please contact our office to arrange.
Bugaboo Spire North East Ridge Agenda
We meet at the Yamnuska Office in Canmore at 7:30 am (or Radium Hot Springs at 10:00 am if you are coming from British Columbia) for introductions, a review of goals and itinerary and equipment check. After packing up, it’s a 3-hour drive through Radium Hot Springs and down the back roads of British Columbia into Bugaboo Provincial Park. A steep but stunning hike involving 5 km and 700 m of elevation gain will put us at the comfortable Kain hut at 2230 m. This will take us between 3 and 4 hours. If time and energy permit we can do one of the objectives close to the hut.
Bugaboo Spire NE Ridge. Need we say more… An early start will see us crossing the glacier at the crack of dawn. We’ll begin scrambling some 4th class terrain overlooking the icy cobalt blue lakes that dot Crescent Glacier. From here we will rack up to begin the numerous pitches of cracks and slabs that will lead us to the summit traverse and the magnificent views of the Purcell Range that surround us. Some rappels and scrambling will take us back to the col and our return hike across the glacier to the hut.
A final shorter objective in the area will be attempted before we descend to the vehicles and return to Canmore. You will likely begin planning your next trip to the Bugaboos on your way back to the car! It is truly a magical area and we enjoy sharing its beauty with other climbers.
Please contact our office to organize this trip.
Instructors and Group Size
The maximum guide to guest ratio is 1:1. The guides are enthusiastic and extremely talented, they hold guide certification from the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides and we are licensed to operate in the area by B.C. Parks. The maximum group size is 2.
The Bugaboos are a sub-group of the Purcell Mountains known for their distinctive granite spires. They are located west of the Columbia Valley and we reach them by driving west from Canmore to Radium Hot Springs then by driving along an improved logging road another 50km or so. Once at the end of the road we hike 3 to 4 hours to reach the Conrad Kain Hut which is located just below the Spires. This area is also famous for heliskiing in winter.
Meeting Time and Place
The program begins at the Yamnuska office at 7:30 am on the first day. The Yamnuska office is located at 200 – 50 Lincoln Park. See this map for location. If driving from British Columbia it may be easier for you to meet us at the Husky gas station in Radium Hot Springs instead. Be there and be ready to go by 10:00 am (MST). If meeting us there it is essential that you let us know in advance. The Husky station cannot be missed; it is at the junction of highways 93 and 95, right in Radium.
Transportation while on the program is not included. We rely on guest’s personal vehicles to reach program locations. We do have high clearance and 4×4 vehicles for hire.
The 45-kilometre road into the park is a fairly well-maintained logging road, however, at certain times of the 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 car, Mini-van or SUV with higher clearance. Overloading a small car is not recommended unless you allot for extra time on the drive in.
Frequent shuttles connect Calgary International Airport and Canmore.
Accommodation & Meals
The Conrad Kain Hut, a large attractive hut in a spectacular position beneath the ‘Spires’, will be the accommodation for the course. Sleeping areas are shared with sleeping mats provided. There is propane and hydro from a small hydroelectric generator to provide power for cooking. You will need to bring a small sleeping bag. All meals, snacks and drinks are supplied from lunch on Day 1 to lunch on Day 3. For guests with dietary restrictions, we are able to modify the program food pack to meet your individual needs. As food pricing and preparation for these diets is more costly, we have implemented the following surcharges. For vegan, gluten-free, lactose-free, soy-free, nut-free or any similar type of single restriction menu requests there will be a $16/day surcharge. For a diet requiring any 2 restrictions a $25/day surcharge will apply. For any 3 restrictions, a $30/day surcharge will apply. Vegetarian meals will not be surcharged. For more complex diets our kitchen staff will assess the restrictions to inform you if the diet can be accommodated and what surcharge would apply.
Accommodation in Canmore is not included. A variety of accommodation options exist in both Canmore and Banff, including campsites, hostels, all levels of hotels as well as condo style accommodation with kitchens or suites. We recommend that you book your own pre and post-trip accommodations well in advance as all levels of accommodations in the Bow Valley fill quickly.
Yamnuska guests receive exclusive rates with Clique Hotels & resorts upon booking an adventure with either Yamnuska Mountain Adventures or Canadian Rockies Hiking by Yamnuska. (Please note that some rates are non-refundable)
Excess luggage can be left at your hotel or our office.
Porters are available for hire to assist with carrying personal clothing, gear and food. The cost is an additional charge of $200 plus tax. Subject to availability. Please call the Yamnuska office to enquire should you be interested.
Equipment and Clothing
We supply group climbing gear such as ropes and hardware but we recommend that you bring your own personal climbing gear (e.g. harness and helmet), clothing and general equipment. We can lend you some personal items should you require. A rental charge will apply for rock shoes. Let us know, in advance, what you will need. It is required that you bring rock shoes in addition to mountaineering boots for this program.
The equipment and clothing you bring with you will play a large role in the quality of your experience. Read the following suggestion list carefully. If you have any questions or need clarification don’t hesitate to call or write. There is room for substitution and changes but if you have any doubt, do contact us.
We suggest layers of light, easily carried clothing that allows for fast and easy adjustment to best suit fast-changing weather conditions. Cotton clothing is not appropriate as it causes rapid heat loss when wet. Feel free to call us if you have any questions about what to bring.
You will need to bring:
- Wool/blend socks – 2 pairs
- Long underwear – top – They should be synthetic such as Capilene or Merino Wool such as Patagonia Baselayers
- Softshell climbing pants – these should be windproof nylon/synthetic blend mountaineering pants
- Mid-weight top – Some type of midweight top, whether it is synthetic Polartec material or Merino wool. The Patagonia R-Series are a good example of a midweight fleece.
- Softshell jacket – Softshell pieces have the advantage of offering great weather protection while still being highly breathable. In the summer, the Yamnuska staff uniform jacket is the Patagonia Simple Guide Jacket.
- Outer jacket and pants – waterproof with a hood on the jacket and side zips on the pants. Gore-Tax, H2NO or similar materials work great. The Patagonia Torrentshell is a good example of a waterproof layer.
- Insulated jacket – This is essential for staying warm while taking breaks or when the weather gets cold and nasty. A midweight synthetic jacket like the Patagonia Nano Puff or a down jacket like the Patagonia Down Sweater.
- Gaiters – ensure they fit over your mountaineering boots
- Mountaineering gloves – lightweight and medium to heavyweight pairs
- Hat – synthetic or wool that covers your ears and fits under a helmet
- Sunhat – with a wide brim
You will need to bring: (Items in blue are available to rent from Yamnuska, we can loan you the items in red). You must give us plenty of notice if wanting to rent or loan gear.
- Lightweight mountaineering boots – Or sturdy approach shoes. Ideally, mountain boots should be lightweight leather or synthetic with a semi-rigid sole. It is possible to buy boots such as the La Sportiva ‘Trango’ which are designed specifically for alpine rock. A sturdy pair of approach shoes would also be appropriate for this trip. As always, the most important feature of a mountaineering boot or approach shoe is comfort. Different brands seem to suit different feet. If buying try a few different pairs and if they are not comfortable don’t buy them. There are many good brands. They include Asolo, Kayland, La Sportiva and Scarpa and 5.10.
- Day pack – Big enough to fit extra clothing, equipment and your food. A 30-35 litre capacity is suitable.
- Backpack – Big enough to fit extra clothing, sleeping bag, and share of food. Internal frame packs are most comfortable. A 55-65 litre capacity is suitable.
- Sleeping Bag – We suggest a three-season bag rated to -7 Celcius. Make sure you bring a stuff sac that will reduce your bag to its minimum size (one with compression straps) so that you don’t use all the room in your pack.
- Rock Shoes – Comfort is essential as you will be wearing these for prolonged periods of time.
- Harness – Petzl offers several suitable harnesses
- Ice Axe – regular glacier axe, minimum 55cm length. Lightweight versions are appropriate for this trip.
- Crampons – must fit your boots
- Belay device
- Sunglasses – with 100% UV protection
- Sun cream – extra strength
- Lip cream – with UV protection
- Headlamp – with fresh batteries
- Water bottle
- Blister kit – ‘moleskin’, ‘second skin’ etc.
- First aid items – keep this small (band-aids, ibuprofen & aspirin/Tylenol, etc.)
- Personal toiletries including hand sanitizer
- Ear Plugs – for sleeping in the hut (optional)
- Trekking pole – must be collapsible (optional)
We supply the following items, but if you have your own, please feel free to bring them: nut tool, belay device with pear-shaped carabiner, 1 x 5m 7mm prussik, 1 x 120 cm sewn sling and 2 x locking biners, 1 x 16-22 cm ice screw.
Please book as early as practical to avoid disappointment. We require full payment on booking. We accept Visa, Mastercard, Electronic Transfers, Money Orders and Bank Drafts. Credit card payments are easiest, especially for international travellers.
We ask that you familiarize yourself with our detailed booking instructions and conditions.
Please note that you will be required to sign our waiver before commencing the program. Please view our sample waiver copy.
There are two basic types of insurance that most travellers 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.
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.
Private guiding options available. Please contact us to discuss this option.
Trip Cancellation Insurance is available through the Simpson Group.
Is it for you?
Guests signing up for this trip must be able to second numerous pitches of 5.7-5.8 rock and have previous experience seconding multi-pitch traditional rock routes. A basic understanding of crampons and ice axe use is also required.