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West Ridge

5.4, Trad, Alpine, 1500 ft (455 m), Grade III,  Avg: 3.9 from 350 votes
FA: Eaton Cromwell, Peter Kaufmann 1930
International > N America > Canada > British Columbia > Columbia-Shushwap > Bugaboos > Pigeon Spire
Warning Access Issue: SNOWPATCH SPIRE ROCKFALL DetailsDrop down

Description

The West Ridge on Pigeon Spire is one of the most classic climbs in the Bugaboo's. The route is not technically difficult, consisting of mostly 4th-class scrambling but the position and exposure are spectacular. The route follows the top of the ridge nearly the whole way climbing up and over two intermediate summits before topping out on the true summit. Simul-climbing the ridge is probably the best option if you want to go faster and still stay safe.

From the low point on the ridge scramble east to the first summit staying near the ridge-crest, sometimes to the south, sometimes to the north but never more than a few yards away. At the top of the first summit follow slabs down to a saddle and then continue up the ridge toward the second summit. Again stay near the crest until you get to a steep section that is avoided by following a ledge to a corner on the north side of the ridge. The corner will lead you up to the second summit from which some easy fifth-class down climbing to the north will end at a col between the second and main summits.

From the col, move left beneath the summit following icy ramps till you get to the bottom of slab angling up to the right. Climb up the slab continuing up a chimney to a loose gully on the left. Climb up the gully until you get to a 10"-wide left-angling crack. Step right to a large flake and chimney and then back left to a 5.4 handrail. Follow the handrail for about 12' and make a reachy move up and right to easier ground that leads to the summit.

To descend either follow the same route down from the summit or make two single-rope rappels off the summit back down to the icy ramps. From there follow the same route back down the ridge.

Location

From the Kain hut and Applebee campground go up the Bugaboo-Snowpatch Col and follow the Upper Vowell Glacier west toward Pigeon Spire. Walk past the Pigeon Spire to the north to the highest point of the Vowell Glacier and scramble south to the crest of the West Ridge. There is actually an outhouse near the ridge with signs leading to it, so if you see those signs then you're in the right place.

Protection

A very small rack is all that's needed consisting of a set of nuts and one set of cams to 3".

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

West Ridge of Pigeon Spire
[Hide Photo] West Ridge of Pigeon Spire
Approaching the summit of Pigeon Spire.
[Hide Photo] Approaching the summit of Pigeon Spire.
Lisa Foster and Paul Kejla on the descent with Bugaboo Spire on the left.
[Hide Photo] Lisa Foster and Paul Kejla on the descent with Bugaboo Spire on the left.
West Ridge Ascent : Aug 2017
[Hide Photo] West Ridge Ascent : Aug 2017
The new facilities at the saddle...
[Hide Photo] The new facilities at the saddle...
View of Pigeon Spire from the northeast. The West Ridge route follows the right skyline of the spire.
[Hide Photo] View of Pigeon Spire from the northeast. The West Ridge route follows the right skyline of the spire.
Stopping to admire the Howser Towers while descending the West Ridge of Pigeon Spire.
[Hide Photo] Stopping to admire the Howser Towers while descending the West Ridge of Pigeon Spire.
Great exposure on the west ridge of Pigeon Spire
[Hide Photo] Great exposure on the west ridge of Pigeon Spire
On Pigeon's west ridge.
[Hide Photo] On Pigeon's west ridge.
Climber on the west ridge of Pigeon Spire
[Hide Photo] Climber on the west ridge of Pigeon Spire
GoPro fisheye view of the exposed traverse on the West Ridge
[Hide Photo] GoPro fisheye view of the exposed traverse on the West Ridge
Reaching the Summit
[Hide Photo] Reaching the Summit

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Chris Owen
Big Bear Lake
 
[Hide Comment] The best 5.4 on the planet. Nov 22, 2006
Brad Brandewie
Estes Park
[Hide Comment] This route reminds me that it will be OK when I'm old and weak and decide that I only want to scramble around with a rope instead of climbing the steep stuff.

More photos and a TR at piquaclimber.net piquaclimber.net/past/bugab…

Cheers,
Brad Dec 18, 2006
[Hide Comment] Great route, fun and great positioning.

A little edit to the route info, I would find it difficult to call this an IV... probably closer to a II or III. Its similar in nature to the Kain route, but less commitment and much easier technical climbing. Aug 7, 2009
TradByron Andrews
Uxbridge, MA
 
[Hide Comment] I'm with Chris. No matter what you're gunning for, don't miss this one--it's just too much fun! Sep 9, 2009
SirTobyThe3rd M
Salt Lake City
 
[Hide Comment] This is hilarious. On the Bugaboo page Beckey Chouinard is given a grade IV and W ridge of Pigeon is a grade IV. Super funny.

This one is awesome. Took me and my friend 40 minutes to go up and down. B-C took us about 13 hours on route. Aug 19, 2012
Chris Owen
Big Bear Lake
 
[Hide Comment] yeah - how can it possibly be Grade IV? Oct 10, 2012
Matt Hoffmann
Squamish
 
[Hide Comment] Great first route in the bugs. We ran up it our first time up there just bringing a tagline for one rap. Beautiful line and well worth doing despite the technical ease. Oct 25, 2012
Nick Drake
Kent, WA
  5.4
[Hide Comment] Stellar position and views. Solid rock. Couldn't ask for anything more at the grade, heck there is even a toilet at the base now, GO CANADA!

If your rock shoes are remotely snug for performance bring approach shoes or leave your boots on, my toes hated me walking down the slab sections. Jul 13, 2015
Nick Sweeney
Spokane, WA
  Easy 5th
[Hide Comment] Approach shoes are better than climbing shoes for this route. Jul 30, 2017
[Hide Comment] Yes folks, there is a TOILET on the ledges near the base of this climb!!! Pack your own TP, and the rest takes care of itself! Aug 13, 2017
Nate K
Bozeman, MT
 
[Hide Comment] Should be on everyones tick list regardless of the grade you climb. This really is the best 5.4 on the planet Aug 15, 2018
Drew Brayshaw
Chilliwack, BC
[Hide Comment] In the late 1990s Guy Edwards stripped naked and soloed this route, up and back down, in 18 minutes. RIP Fast Eddie. Mar 12, 2021
[Hide Comment] Mostly 4th class scrambling, with a few 5th class moves near the third summit. The approach/cruxes/toilet I filmed here youtu.be/HvT44yCYL7E Aug 2, 2022