Like any big trip the preparation started months ago. Fortunately, work gave us July 3rd and 4th off, so taking just three days of vacation meant nine consecutive days off! First I had to attend my cousin's wedding in Wisconsin, which was great! My grandparents from the other side of the family even drove over form Minnesota to have a couple meals with us too! Sunday afternoon I flew out of Madison and arrived late in Calgary, although at 10 pm there is still plenty of sun in the sky at that hour early in July.
Funny story about climbing partners... I almost always have trouble getting people to actually come on a trip. Trips are expensive, they take vacation time, they are dangerous and there is a very real possibility that weather will shut the whole thing down so you go home without completing the route. I started by inviting the eight most experienced climbing partners I regularly climb with, and three were interested, however, as the date approached, no one was ready to commit but me. So I went ahead and bought my plane tickets. I've spent plenty of time soloing in the past and I'm sure I will in the future too. If you are going to climb a lot, you are going to solo sometimes. What that means is that I travel very fast on non technical terrain, but rope soloing is a pretty slow process, so I end up being pretty conservative about the difficulty of routes that I do. Anyway nearing a month remaining until the trip none of my main climbing partners had bought a plane ticket so I offered the trip to one of my new and less experienced climbing partners... and he actually said yes. If he had not said yes I was going to open it up to all my Facebook friends, because frankly, even a very basic climbing would allow us to do more than me by myself.
Monday we woke up and went for a little 5k run then started the drive through the Canadian Rockies, Canmore, Banff, and the 45 km dirt road to get to the trailhead. As we left the plains of Calgary and entered the mountains around Canmore and Banff I stared at the wall wondering, 'what is so special about the Bugaboos that I've never even heard of any of these mountains that are far more accessible and still huge looking?' It's a good question, until about two minutes before the Bugaboo parking lot when the modest Hound's Tooth comes into view.
|Photo from the hike between the parking lot and Conrad Kain Hut with Hound's Tooth in the background.|
Tuesday we tried the Kain Route on Bugaboo Spire. Unfortunately, I led us off too far to the left and we ended up on the west face and I was standing on top of a giant attached flake with no noticeable cracks, bolts or pitons for 30 feet of challenging climbing. About this time two guys that did the northeast ridge route came down the rappel route, which overlaps the Kain route at that point, about 25 feet to our right. It was getting into the afternoon so we rappelled the last three rappels and then scrambled down simul-climbing with a rope because there is some exposure in places.
|View from our highest belay ledge with Snowpatch Spire below us.|
|Getting ready to mini-epic off of Donkey Ears ridge with Snowpatch and Howser Towers in the background.|
Friday night we had a small celebration of sorts in the hut with our new friends. What a great little place! And for those that aren't familiar I typically do not mention people by name unless it is a pretty public person, or I asked the person in advance, so I won't publish specifics about my awesome new friends.
|View looking out the front widows of the Conrad Kain Hut at Sunset.|
A few more notes on the week, we had amazing weather! Look at this forecast at the hut, it's what really happened:
It's light all the time up here this time of year! Seriously the sun starts coming up at 4:30 AM and finishes going down around 11:30 PM, and oh yeah, we had a full moon this week too. However, the mosquitos are pretty bad, even as high as the hut.
|Panorama from high on Bugaboo Spire showing Conrad Kain Hut, Snowpatch Spire, Pigeon Spire, and the Howser Towers|
And yes, I would go back again!