Bugaboos, BC, Canada

Embedded in rugged glaciers, precipitous needles of rock, scored with complex systems of cracks, soar 1,000 meters into the sky. When the gigantic “shark’s teeth” are bathed in a blood-red light as darkness closes in, it is easy to find them intimidating.

Used as an old mining term, “Bugaboo” promises mines with rich re-sources which are, however, very difficult to extract. The first repre-sentatives of the industrialized world to infiltrate the region of the Nunatuks, as they are called by the indigenous population of Canada, were miners spurred by the promise of wealth from bugaboos. But the wealth they hoped for did not materialize, so in 1970 mining ceased in the valley, but the name “Bugaboo” remained. It describes gigantic rocks formed over millions of years from magma, and they will doubtless continue to defy the storms and soar proudly into the heavens for millions of years to come. In 1910 the Austrian Conrad Kain, who had emigrated to Canada, visited the Bugaboos during a reconnaissance expedition. In the years that followed the mountain guide achieved several first ascents. One of his highlights was the first ascent of the Bugaboo Spire.

A hundred years later Johannes and I stood on one of the Bugaboos’ spires for the first time — and a long-held wish came true! And as if that wasn’t enough we also had luck on our side: ten days of fine weather was an unexpected boon. The strategy we had been worked out beforehand for a region whose climate was more Patagonian than Californian was swiftly abandoned in favor of the motto “Seize the day,” or, more aptly, “Run it out.”

We were highly motivated and climbed every day. Once we went back down into the valley again in the evening to get some food — we didn’t want to waste a single day. They were days of intensive climbing and we were frequently frozen stiff, but we were rewarded every day with fantastic lengths of cracks and unbelievably good weather.

The Bugaboos — PLAYLIST:

Approach from Calgary Airport to Applebee Campground, Bugaboos, Purcell Mountains, B.C.

Day 1: Sunshine Crack, Snowpatch Spire, 5.11- (on-sight)

Day 2: Energy Crisis, Crescent Spire, 5.11+

Day 3: Northeast Ridge, Bugaboo Spire, 5.8, 2 hours from base camp to summit (on-sight)

Day 4: Rehydrating, eating, regenerating

Day 5: Fingerberry Jam, Pigeon Feathers, 5.12 (on-sight)

Day 6: Beckey-Chouinard, South Howser Tower, 5.10, 4 hours from start of the face to summit (on-sight)

Day 7: The Power of Lard, Snowpatch Spire, 5.12/13-

Day 8: Cooper-Kor, Pigeon Spire, 5.10, scary wet traverse