The ‘Bugs’ in Bugaboo Provincial Park, British Columbia are one of North America’s most famous alpine climbing areas. This world-renowned alpine paradise with its awesome granite spires, beautiful glaciers, and lush green valleys, attracts alpinists and climbers from around the world. And for good reason! Our bugaboos adventure mountain climbing program will help you get to know this area while receiving instruction from our certified climbing guides.
The objective of this guided mountaineering program is simple: climbing and instruction on the area’s famous classic rock routes with our guides. In addition to Bugaboo Spire, Pigeon Spire, and Snowpatch Spire, there are many enjoyable adventure mountain climbing routes on other nearby granite spires. Yamnuska’s Bugaboos Climbing Guides have extensive knowledge of this area and its climbing routes.
This guided mountaineering trip is designed for intermediate rock climbers who also have some mountaineering experience.
Our Approach: Guiding and Instruction
We have set up the guide ratios to allow us to adjust to your climbing ability and personal objectives. You may prefer to just get out and climb or you may prefer a little more emphasis on instruction, either way, our ‘small team’ approach will allow you to get the most out of your week. Climbs will be chosen to give you the right amount of challenge and to showcase the climbing the area has to offer.
The program objective is to provide the opportunity to climb challenging routes for all levels of ability and to provide instruction in alpine rock climbing techniques. Instruction will focus on those skills needed for safe, efficient travel over 3rd, 4th, and 5th class terrain.
Day 1: We meet in Canmore at 7:30 am. We drive to Bugaboo Provincial Park (about 4 hrs), then hike up to the Kain Hut (3-4 hrs). You are bound to be blown away by the location. The hut sits perched high on a bench above Bugaboo Creek. Just to the east, the Bugaboo Glacier gouges past Marmolata Spire to plunge in a broken frenzy of ice to the valley floor. It’s behind the hut though that the scene explodes, for dwarfing otherwise spectacular spires nearby are the huge granite walls of Snowpatch and Bugaboo Spires.
Day 2-5: We split into small groups based upon climbing ability, experience, and personal objectives.
Objectives may include but are not limited to:
- Pigeon Spire: West Ridge (the best 5.4 route in North America!)
- Bugaboo Spire: Kain Route (5.7)
- Snowpatch Spire: S.E. Corner (v. long 5.7), S.W. Corner (classic 5.9), Krauss-McCarthy (5.8), plus many other good routes
- Crescent Spires: Lions Way (5.6), McTech Arete (5.10), Ears Between (5.7)
- There are also several other less-known routes offering great climbing at different levels.
Many of these routes require glacier travel to approach the base of these alpine rock climbs.
Instructors and Group Size
The maximum guide to guest ratio is 1:2. 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 8.
The Bugaboos are a sub-group of the Purcell Mountains known for their distinctive 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 climb 3 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. Should it be more convenient, it may be possible to meet the guide and group in Radium, BC. Please contact us to discuss this option.
Transportation while on the program is not included. We rely on guests’ personal vehicles to reach program locations. Guides generally travel in guest vehicles to the trailhead. Park Entry Passes are not included in the program cost.
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.
Please note that program venues may be within National Parks and/or Kananaskis Country. For programs where transportation is not provided by Yamnuska/Canadian Rockies Hiking by Yamnuska, guests will be required to purchase their own pass.
National Park passes are available both online at https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/voyage-travel/admission and in-person at National park gates and some information centres.
Kananaskis Country conservation passes are available online at https://www.alberta.ca/kananaskis-conservation-pass.aspx
Accommodation and 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. You will need to bring a small sleeping bag. There is propane and hydro from a small hydroelectric generator to provide power for cooking. There are some electrical outlets where devices can be charged, however, power from the generator can go down. The hut has both hot and cold non-potable water. Water is boiled for drinking. Should you wish to bring a steripen, water purification tablets, or other water filter system it is optional. All meals, snacks, and drinks are supplied from lunch on Day 1 to lunch on Day 5. 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, there is a surcharge. Our kitchen staff will assess your restrictions to inform you if the diet can be accommodated and what surcharge would apply. Vegetarian meals will not be surcharged.
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.
Excess luggage can be left at your hotel or our office.
Equipment and Clothing
The equipment and clothing you bring to this course will play a large role in the quality of your experience. Read the following suggestions and lists carefully. If you have any questions or need clarification, don’t hesitate to call or email.
Group climbing gear such as ropes and hardware is provided, but we recommend bringing your own personal climbing gear. Please let us know if you would like to use the following Yamnuska gear:
- Mountaineering ice axe
- Climbing harness
- Climbing helmet
- Belay device, 3 locking carabiners, prussic cord, 120 cm sling
We recommend you bring:
- Lightweight mountaineering boots* (must be crampon compatible)
- Rock shoes*
- Multiday pack* (60–70 litres)
- Daypack* (30-40 litres)
- Sleeping bag*
- Water bottle
- Sunscreen, SPF lip balm
- Headlamp (with fresh batteries)
- Blister kit
- First aid items (Our guides carry a first aid kit, but you may bring your own Band-Aids and anti-inflammatory medication if desired.)
- Personal toiletries including hand sanitizer
- Trekking pole (recommended)
- Music player and lightweight reading material (optional)
- Chicken Wire: Chicken wire fencing is commonly placed around cars and held in place by wood and rocks. This is done to prevent wildlife from chewing on brake lines and wiring in the undercarriage of the car.
*These items are available for rent. Please advise us in advance. Gear rentals price list
When mountaineering, it is important to be able to adjust to the changing conditions. We recommend bringing clothing that can be layered to achieve comfort as you change from periods of activity to periods of rest. Cotton clothing is not appropriate as it causes rapid heat loss when wet.
We recommend you bring:
- Long underwear top and bottoms (lightweight synthetic or wool)
- Socks (synthetic/wool, at least two pairs)
- Light synthetic shirt
- Softshell pants and jacket
- Midweight synthetic or down jacket
- Heavyweight insulated jacket
- Waterproof hardshell jacket with hood
- Waterproof hardshell pants (should have a full-length side zip so they can be put on without taking off boots and crampons)
- Gaiters (big enough to fit over large boots)
- Waterproof mountaineering gloves
- Warm hat that fits under a helmet
- Sun hat
- Lightweight running shoes or sandals for hut use
Additional gear info:
Backpack: It is possible to use just one multiday backpack, as long as it is comfortable enough to wear while climbing. If bringing an additional day pack, this should be very light and compressible in order to fit inside the bigger pack on the approach hike.
Sleeping bag: We recommend a three-season bag rated to approximately -2° C. A down bag will be lighter and more compressible for the weight than a synthetic bag. A compression stuff sack is recommended to reduce volume.
Lightweight mountaineering boots: A good pair of boots is essential. One good option is lightweight leather or synthetic mountaineering boots with either a semi-rigid or a rigid sole. It is possible to buy boots such as the La Sportiva “Trango” which is designed specifically for alpine rock and which can take a crampon.
Rock shoes: A shoe that has a flat sole and is not sized uncomfortably tight will be the best choice for a variety of climbs.
Crampons: Mountaineering crampons should have anti-snow-balling plates, and need to be compatible with your boots. We use the Petzl Vasak.
Mountaineering ice-axe: Your ice axe should be 55-75 cm, and should be equipped with an adze. Yamnuska provides the Petzl Summit Axe.
Please book as early as practical to avoid disappointment. A 35% deposit (including GST) is required at the time of booking. The final payment is due eight weeks before the start of the program.
We ask that you familiarize yourself with our detailed booking instructions and conditions.
Risk is an inherent part of all mountain activities. We strive to manage and reduce it however, it is impossible to totally eliminate. Learn more about our safety and risk management approach here. 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, 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 trip.
Private climbing departures are very popular and are available from late June to early September. Please visit our Bugaboos Ascents page for more details.
$2495 CDN covers guided climbing and instruction, hut fees, out-trip meals, and the use of specialized group climbing gear.
Not included: Transportation, Canmore accommodation, Goods & Services Tax (GST).
Trip Cancellation Insurance is available through the Simpson Group.
Please note you will be required to sign the Yamnuska Release of Liability, and Waiver of Claims prior to commencing the program. Please review the sample waiver prior to booking and call us with any questions.
More climbing: Yamnuska guides and instructors are also available for private climbing in the Bugaboos and elsewhere before and after the program.
Is it for you?
Participants need prior basic mountaineering and rock climbing experience. You must be fit and in good physical shape capable of completing long climbing days.