Trad, Alpine, 1000 ft (303 m), 18 pitches, Grade IV,
Avg: 2.8 from 6
FA: Ed Cooper, Layton Kor 1960
> N America
> British Columbia
> Columbia Mountains
> Purcell Mountains
> Pigeon Spire
This route is not direct by any means but it has good quality pitches and some bold scary traversing, especially for the second. My partner and I were able to do the climb in 11 pitches by stretching out a 60m rope. The following pitch descriptions are how we climbed the route.
P1/2: Start near the left side of the East Face and climb a right-angling flake and crack system for one pitch. Then continue up more cracks to the left end of a large ledge (5.7).
P3: Traverse to the right side of the ledge and look for a broken-up crack and ledge system that goes up and left, belay here. (4th class)
P4/5: Climb up the left-angling cracks/ledges and belay below a small roof. Continue up a nice splitter that curves left and belay on a large ledge. This is a variation to the original route but is much better quality (5.9).
P6: Climb up a left-facing dihedral to a ledge, continue up a crack that will probably be wet until you get to a slab, then make some thin moves up and right to an anchor made out of old pins and slings. (The anchor is set in a seeping crack and the slings are in really bad shape, it might be better to belay below the slab before the crack ends). (5.7 or 5.8+ if you climb up to the anchor)
P7: This is where the real fun starts. Traverse right for 100' or so with only about three places for pro along the way till you get to a left-facing dihedral. Down climb to a small ledge and set up a belay. (We stretched this pitch past the dihedral and were force to set up a really bad anchor that was more looks than anything, not recommended). (5.8/9).
P8: Traverse right over the dihedral and climb up on an unprotected face for about 20' till you get to some marginal cam placements and a pin a little higher up. Continue up a crack with good pro to a small ledge with two pins and belay. (The book shows a possible tension traverse here that would get you over the dihedral but when my partner pulled on the anchor point for the traverse it ripped out. It was an old copper head, so I don't think that's an option anymore unless it's replaced). (5.10)
P9: Traverse down and right to a crack at 5.10+, or tension to the crack at A0. Follow the crack up into a left-facing dihedral that gradually gets steeper until you get to a good ledge and belay. This is the technical crux of the route if done free. (5.9 A0 or 5.10+)
P10: There are several options here; we took the crack that splits the middle of the face but there is another crack to the left that would work to. This pitch tops put on a wide ridge either way you go and is covered in lichen.
P11: Follow the ridge up and west with no obvious route, but you should be on the north side of the spire crossing to the south side at a notch in the ridge. Continue traversing west till you get to an exposed ledge that ends at a 800' drop down the south face. Climb up a corner with loose rock above the ledge and your on the summit. (We simul-climbed this ridge and belayed the last corner to the summit).
The East face of Pigeon Spire is obvious from the Bugaboo Glacier. Follow a climbers trail west through loose rock to the Bugaboo Glacier, passing the south side of Snowpatch. Continue up the Glacier slightly to the south of the Pigeon Spire to avoid some large crevasses. Traverse north above the crevasses and drop into a small bergshrund to get to the start of the route.
A standard rack of cams from blue or green Alien up to 3" and a set of nuts should suffice. A 3.5" piece might be useful.
The traverse pitch
5.9 variation to get to upper slabs.
The unforgettable "wet friction traverse"
Start of slab traverse and first piece of pro.
at the base of the route
GoPro fisheye view of the exposed traverse on the West Ridge
The final moves of pitch 10. From here it is a short scramble on chossy rock to the summit.
View of Snowpatch Spire from the top of the first pitch.
The strange pin/bolt with a loop of cable that marks the first tension traverse. This section is 5.10 slab if done free.
Lower pitches below headwall
A0 traverse on Cooper-Kor