Type: Trad, Alpine, 2000 ft, 15 pitches, Grade IV
FA: Fred Beckey, Yvon Chouinard, August 1961
Page Views: 87,742 total · 588/month
Shared By: Steven Lucarelli on Oct 12, 2006
Admins: Kate Lynn

You & This Route

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This is a Bugaboos mega-classic that draws climbers from around the world and for obvious reasons. It's 2000' tall and has pitch after pitch of 5.8 and 5.9 climbing with short sections of 5.10 thrown in here and there for good measure. The elegant line follows a large buttress that soars up the full height of the west face. This is a full value route with excellent climbing, great position and spectacular views. Not to be missed.

P1: From a slab on the right side of the ridge climb up cracks and flakes to the ridge crest and belay. (5.5)

P2: Continue up the ridge crest and belay. (5.5)

P3: Keep climbing the crest until it steepens then follow cracks and grooves to the left of the crest to a belay ledge. (5.7)

P4: Climb just to the right of the crest following a finger and hand crack through a small bulge (5.10-) continue up to a small ledge and belay.

P5: Follow cracks just to the left of the ridge to easy ground. Continue up a flake and chimney to the left of the crest and belay on a sloping ledge. (5.8)

P6: Traverse right on an handrail to a large left facing dihedral. Climb up the dihedral and belay in a little alcove behind a jagged block. (5.8)

P7: Continue up the dihedral to a crack that leads to a large ledge covered with scree. (5.8)

P8: Climb up the scree ledge to its upper end and belay at a bivy site.

P9: Climb a chimney and follow cracks through blocks, belay near the bottom of a steep wall. (5.6)

P10: To the left follow a short but difficult crack to a ledge, traverse right to some opposing dihedrals and climb the right dihedral to a large flat ledge. (5.8)

P11: This is the start of the upper headwall pitches, referred to as the Great White Headwall. On the left side of the ledge climb a strenuous hand and fist crack up a right facing corner to a ledge. Continue up a another crack in a left facing corner till you are able to climb out left onto a steep face to a belay ledge out left. (5.10)

P12: Climb up above the belay and make a balance move right into a corner. Follow the corner past some blocks and a squeeze that's hard but can be done with a pack on. Belay at the base of a gully. (5.10)

P13: Climb up the gully to where it steepens turning into a corner. Follow the second crack on the left wall and belay at the bottom of a right facing corner. (5.9)

P14: Follow the long right facing dihedral to a two pin anchor in a small notch. (5.8)

P15: This is the crux pitch which can be aided but I didn't think it felt to hard. Traverse out left on thin holds and make a difficult move around the arete. Continue up an easy gully to its top and belay. The traverse can also be tensioned at A0. (5.10 or A0)

From the top of the Gully make one rappel off a nest of slings and follow fourth and easy fifth class terrain to the true summit. To descend find the first rap anchor to the east of the summit and make 6 double rope rappels to the glacier. There are numerous rap anchors on the east face so keep an eye out and make sure your ropes reach to the glacier below the bergshrund on the last rap before you commit to it. Some parties put in a V-thread because their ropes didn't reach.


To get to this route take the Pigeon-Howser Col to the East Creek Basin Bivy. From the bivy head north following the occasional cairn and scramble up right onto the ridge. Work your way up the ridge until a large split boulder blocks your path.


A standard rack of nuts and cams up to 4" with some extra 1.5" to 2" pieces.


Birmingham, AL
BirminghamBen   Birmingham, AL
Can someone describe the bivy site? Is this route doable in one push for us mere mortals? How long are the pitches on average? Dec 23, 2008
George Perkins
The Dungeon, NM
George Perkins   The Dungeon, NM
Ben Lyon wrote:Can someone describe the bivy site?
The two bivi ledges at the top of p8 and p10 are sandy and big enough to unrope (the higher one is better in my estimation). The East Creek bivi boulder in the basin below the start is a nice camping spot; if you didn't have a tent and it rained, you could probably hide under the giant boulder (but if you're not carrying all your gear over the top- you have to return there anyway- may as well bring a shelter).
Ben Lyon wrote:Is this route doable in one push for us mere mortals?
Maybe. Climb some 8 pitch routes on Snowpatch first and see how fast they go. The 3rd class at the start and the top of the B-C takes some time, as do the rappels.
Ben Lyon wrote:How long are the pitches on average?
150'. Simulclimbing would be necessary to link pitches. Dec 31, 2008
Dick Stone
Dick Stone   Boulder
This is a AWESOME route! We did it in 2 days - hiking in from the camp area above the hut and climbing the 1st half (mostly simul climbing) the 1st day, reaching the 1st perfect bivy ledge apprx half way up by sundown. Then we finished off the route early the 2nd day leaving plenty of time for rapping down the back side.
Be patient and methodical on the descent rappels - there's many opportunites for stuck ropes and we elected shorter rappels vs. full length ones because of that, and consequently had no problems. Jan 20, 2010
To answer the question about doing this route in a day,yes it is possible. James Garrett and myself did it back in 1991, and it really is a viable option, get an early start. We started about 5 a.m. from the camp between Pidgeon and south Howser with some simul climbing after the first 5.10- pitch and not alot of hangin around. just keep motoring and bear in mind that after the fifteen or sixteen pitches you will have 6 to 800 ft of 5.5 to 5.7 climbing and six double rope raps. We got back to camp at around 7:30 PM and in late July that will leave you with an hour and a half or so of daylight. Enjoy! it really is an incredible line. Jan 26, 2010
Mike Tsuji
Boulder, CO
Mike Tsuji   Boulder, CO
To those who have climbed this route. At the headwall there is a crack that splits the middle of the face. The standard rout follows a crack system that goes to the left of this. The crack that splits the face is called loves lust(???) I think and it goes at 10+. Has anybody done this? It looks great and I am heading back there to repeat this route and want to try this. Any information is appreciated. Apr 4, 2011
Packwood, WA
Ian-Bailey   Packwood, WA
The Descent Route has now been fixed with good anchors. 11 raps w/single 60 m rope down the NE shoulder. Get good Beta at the Kain Hut before you head up. No more rapelling the frigid North face into the mind bending 'chasmic' mother of all bergschrunds!!!!! Jun 15, 2011
This route is AMAZING. The biggest, hardest, best alpine route I've climbed. Amazing line, amazing position, amazing quality.

I climbed this with my partner over Labor Day weekend. From Appleby, just under 24 hours camp-to-camp. It was a good time of year but a couple more hours of sun would have been nice!

Some beta I think is important:

How you work the approach and descent is very conditions-dependent. We were able to ditch our crampons and ice axes at the Bugaboo-Snowpatch col. Several inches of snow had fallen a day or two before, which enabled us to do this.

We did two raps from the Pigeon-Howser col into the East Creek Basin, off boulders, down to steps we had kicked the day before. I have never heard of this idea but it worked very well for us with a 70 meter rope.

I would probably not want to use a 60 meter rope on this route, the pitches are long.

I would REALLY not want to use a 60 meter rope to rap the advertised route down the NE shoulder. All the signs at the trailhead/hut/campground describe the route well, but when the sheet says a rappel is 30 meters, it means it's at least 30 meters... seems questionable to me, I was very glad we had extra rope.

Other than that it's a good rap route with one caveat: the second rappel, that says "go down the narrow ridge" really means exactly that, stay right on the narrow ridge, carefully. It was stressful in the dark and covered in snow. After that the raps were chill. Sep 6, 2011
Squamish, BC
Hans   Squamish, BC
Some beta:

The rappels can be done with a 60m rope, although some are definitely rope stretchers. I wasn't sure about this, and had read conflicting reports.

At 6 AM, we did not need ice axes or crampons to descend into East Creek, nor to approach the route from East Creek, although it was slippery at times.

Recent BC parks rule changes now dictate that a bivy at the Pigeon-Howser col is allowed for this route.

We climbed Pigeon Spire the day before and left our ropes and rack at the Pigeon-Howser col, then climbed the route from Applebee in a day. This seemed to work well.

We soloed the first three pitches, and ended up climbing only 11 pitches, not counting some simul climbing at the top. In hindsight, the third pitch solo was sketchy, and I wouldn't do that again.

We brought a 4, and placed it often.

The 5.10 variation to the squeeze chimney is pretty good. It takes mostly finger sized gear and is a 60m pitch, so choose your rack accordingly.

The route is popular. Expect multiple parties. Aug 19, 2012
harihari   VANCOUVER
A classic but serious-- if you are slow, weak or late, this thing will kick your ass, and bailing would be epic. Also note that if you have cloud cover, no moon, or both, it is VERY easy to lose your way on glaciers post-climb (esp if you are low on food or water). The people we rapped with bivvied at P-H col cos they couldn't find their way in fog back down to their tent in East Creek.

We did this route from Applebee and back in 21 hrs. B-S col was a deathtrap so we walked around the base of Snowpatch and up on south side of Pigeon to P-H col then down.

Approach took 4 1/2 hrs, route 9, getting to top and finding raps 1, rappelling (we simulrapped on one 70 with another party we met) 2 hrs and return to Applebee via icefall bypass rappels (on south face of Snowpatch) 5 hrs. I imagine that approaching and returning via B-S col you could nail this thing in prolly 16-18 hrs.

We brought 2x camalots from .3-#3, a blue alien, a #4 and a few nuts.

For rappeling:

-- find chains (impossible) or cairn-marked slings with a mallion (slung around a solid hunk of rock) just below north edge of summit

-- rap about 15 meters or down climb 5.5 then walk another 10 to a huge slung block.

-- rap off this over two blocky edges to chains (about 15 m). From here on all raps are chains.

-- go about 10meters further (scramble or rap) to find more chains on skier's left of ridge

-- rap ALONG RIDGE DO NOT GO DOWN EITHER SIDE for about 25-30 m

-- rap straight down a corner (this will be on climber's right as you are rapping down ridge) 30m

-- rap down to a ledge 25 m

-- rap or scramble to climbers' left sideways along ledge about 30m

-- do 3-4 20-30m raps straight down; last one gets you over the 'schrund Aug 16, 2014
Front Range, CO.
tbol   Front Range, CO.
Has the rap route on South Howser ever been climbed? It looks like it could actually be pretty good! Especially those splitters at the bottom. Oct 23, 2015
Nick Drake
Newcastle, WA
Nick Drake   Newcastle, WA
Note the beta of going left of the crest on P3. It looks like there is a good hand crack just right/on the crest leading up to the base of P4, it's not. It flares a ton and the jams suck, it climbs more like a shitty flaring offwidth, slow and grovelly. Jul 31, 2017
Andy Hansen
Longmont, CO
Andy Hansen   Longmont, CO
Classic route. Be prepared to be on the route with other parties and make it happen. We had a small rack of stoppers, a few small cams, doubles in .5-#3 Camalots and a single #4 Camalot. This worked well. We also rappelled the route with a 8.9mm 60m cord and had no problems reaching the rappels. The rappel over the bergschrund ended up being exactly 30m with very little room to spare; this could change seasonally but it might not be a bad idea to carry a 22cm, lightweight screw and threader for this. Awesome climbing and wild setting! Aug 2, 2017
Where's Walden
Where's Walden  
Parties start very early for this route. We camped at the P-H col and left camp at 4:00 am. We were the 2nd party on route, and the 3rd was close behind us. (People seem to like to leave Applebee at 2:00 am. It is supposed to be pretty easy to pass parties (especially if you are simuling) until the headwall. If you can't simul 5.7 you should consider a different route. Aug 13, 2017
Matthew Tangeman
Bellingham, WA
Matthew Tangeman   Bellingham, WA
Keep in mind by late season (like, late August 2017) a single 60m may not be enough to get you to a comfy spot on the glacier on the last rap without a v-thread or a steep, icy downclimb. Aug 21, 2017
Goran Lynch
Oakland, CA
Goran Lynch   Oakland, CA
In response to "If you can't simul 5.8 you should choose a different route, you're not ready," I disagree. While I suppose we could have simuled sections of the lower ridge, we pitched it all out until the summit scramble and were on the route for 8 or 9 hours.

This route has it all: exposure, remoteness, pitch after long pitch of great climbing, a beautiful summit. B-C is a strong contender for title of most spectacular route I've ever done. Nov 13, 2017
Nick AW Brown
St. John's
Nick AW Brown   St. John's

August 21st, 2017 trip report. Phenomenal route! Our rack beta is included in the TR, as well as some great photos. Hop this is helpful! 2017 was a great year to climb in the Bugaboos in August, good weather and enough snow remaining in the col. Hope next year is as good! Nov 18, 2017
I hear you can do this in one pitch with a 620 meter rope and a few extra slings Apr 4, 2018
Paul Stoliker
Canmore, AB
Paul Stoliker   Canmore, AB
Climbed BC in the late 80s, 14 hours round trip from P-H col. You need to move FAST to do this route comfortably in a day. We soloed the first 3 pitches then swapped leads for pitches 4 to 15. We usually spent less than 30 seconds switching leaders at the belays. I disagree with the route grading: the hardest move is probably 5.10a. I would change route grades as follows: Pitch-4 is 5.9; Pitch-11 is 5.9; Pitch-12 is 5.8; Pitch-13 is 5.8; and Pitch-15 is 5.10a (one move). Grades on other pitches are probably in the ball park. Great route. Enjoy. Aug 5, 2018
Nate K
Bozeman, MT
Nate K   Bozeman, MT
in the p14 dihedral you can step left onto the wall and follow a hand crack that turns into a kinda weird fist flare chimney thing. This allows you to skip the tension traverse and set up a belay directly below the 5.6 gully, its more efficient and probably goes at 9+. Also the final scramble to the summit felt more like dirty 5.6 than easy fourth and fith but i might have gone a stupid way Aug 15, 2018