Eastpost Spire

July 28, 2013

2728m

Bugaboo Provincial Park, BC

The famous Bugaboos is one of the must-visit places in North America. I’d been to the nearby Rockypoint Ridge and got a head-on panorama view of these spires, but never been to the core area. Eastpost Spire is the most popular scramble objective and offers a good introduction. Although there’re other spires being just scrambling, our objective would be Eastpost only. This was the second day of our Invermere trip, after ascending 2000 vertical meters up Mount Nelson in the previous day. Eric had to get back to Invermere by 6pm and we were too tired to do an alpine start, so we definitely wouldn’t have the time for another spire.

Eastpost Spire scramble route

Eastpost Spire scramble route

Originally we were looking at an alpine start and getting the alpenglow photos on Hound’s Tooth and Snowpatch Spire, but we failed. We slept in till almost 7:30 in the morning. What an alpine start this was… Well, the views were still gonna be breathtaking anyway. The approach is very well maintained by the BC Parks. This is probably the “best” trail I’ve ever hiked, with ladders, concrete staircases, chains, and a ton of bridges over all water courses. It’s also one of the most scenic approaches I’ve ever done, with Hound’s Tooth and Bugaboo Glacier being right in front of us most of the way. The elevation gain is more than 700 meters and it took us quite a while to get there. The views were a bit foreshortened and we could see the Conrad Kain Hut being “right there”, but in fact it was quite a long way in.

Hound's Tooth

Hound’s Tooth

Eric hiking up the trail

Eric hiking up the trail

Flowers

Flowers

Bugaboo Glacier

Bugaboo Glacier

Bugaboo Glacier and Hound's Tooth

Bugaboo Glacier and Hound’s Tooth

Climbing up a ladder

Climbing up a ladder

More flowers

More flowers

Snowpatch Spire

Snowpatch Spire

Lovely stream

Lovely stream

Hound's Tooth and Marmolata

Hound’s Tooth and Marmolata

We went into the hut and took a quick glance at the Bugaboo Climber’s Guide. We were also hoping to do another spire at this point so we had to know which one doesn’t have the 5th class rating on it. But for Eastpost, we didn’t actually need that guidebook since the route was simply following the west ridge up. We picked a trail towards Applebee Dome but somehow missed a turn and ended up going towards Bugaboo/Snowpatch col. We soon realized the mistake and left the trail. Should have just backtracked to the junction, but oh well, giant granite boulders punished us soon. It took us quite a while to negotiate the boulder field, and by the time we made to the Dome, the weather had already turned cloudy.

Started to see Bugaboo Spire

Started to see Bugaboo Spire

This will be our objective, Eastpost Spire

This will be our objective, Eastpost Spire

Bugaboo Spire

Bugaboo Spire

Eric hiking through a boulder field, with Snowpatch Spire behind

Eric hiking through a boulder field, with Snowpatch Spire behind

Crescent Towers

Crescent Towers

Panorama view from Applebee Dome

Panorama view from Applebee Dome

We aimed towards the obvious gully to gain the west ridge, and thankfully by the time we hit the ridge, blue skies showed up again. This ridge was probably one of the most enjoyable scrambles I’ve ever done. The rocks were not dead solid but still, they’re granite. With a ton of hands-on, but moderate scrambling only, we made to the base of a big slabs. I didn’t pay attention to the route so went up the slab, only found out we had to backtrack. So we down-climbed it and found a cairn marking the route on climber’s left side. After squeezing through this section we arrived at the summit block. I ditched the poles and backpacks here and changed to rock shoes. The shoes gave better grip and I picked a line following the ridge crest up. This route involves friction moves on very exposed terrain, but the rocks were dead solid. Eric went up the easier route which goes up the face, on his mountaineering boots. The views were needless to say, one of the best I’ve ever seen!!

Panorama view from the scree gully

Panorama view from the scree gully

A closer view at Bugaboo Spire

A closer view at Bugaboo Spire

Rock scenery on Eastpost Spire

Rock scenery on Eastpost Spire

Eric hiking towards the col, with a lovely tarn behind

Eric hiking towards the col, with a lovely tarn behind

Started to see the North Howser Tower

Started to see the North Howser Tower

Crescent Towers

Crescent Towers

Snowpatch Spire

Snowpatch Spire

Brenta Spire

Brenta Spire

Crescent Towers and Spire

Crescent Towers and Spire

Eastpost's shear face

Eastpost’s shear face

Eric scrambling up the typical terrain

Eric scrambling up the typical terrain

Panorama of Bugaboo Glacier from the west ridge of Eastpost Spire

Panorama of Bugaboo Glacier from the west ridge of Eastpost Spire

Higher up

Higher up

Eric coming up an exposed step

Eric coming up an exposed step

Eric scrambling up, with Bugaboo Spire behind

Eric scrambling up, with Bugaboo Spire behind

Some slabby sections

Some slabby sections

Ready to drop to climber's left side

Ready to drop to climber’s left side

Squeezing between shear wall and snow

Squeezing between shear wall and snow

This is the last 15 meters

This is the last 15 meters

Impressive rock formation

Impressive rock formation

Eric coming up the last step

Eric coming up the last step

Bugaboo Spire and a few alpine tarns

Bugaboo Spire and a few alpine tarns

At center in the foreground is Cobalt Lake Spire

At center in the foreground is Cobalt Lake Spire

This lower spire doesn't have a name

This lower spire doesn’t have a name

Shear drop

Shear drop

Crescent Spire

Crescent Spire

Brenta Spire and Northpost Spire

Brenta Spire and Northpost Spire

Towards the other side is less scenic

Towards the other side is less scenic

But we did can see some nice peaks in the distance, somewhere near Catamount Glacier

But we did can see some nice peaks in the distance, somewhere near Catamount Glacier

The higher part of Bugaboo Glacier. Marmolata on left

The higher part of Bugaboo Glacier. Marmolata on left

Snowpatch Spire

Snowpatch Spire

Panorama from summit of Eastpost Spire. Click to view large size.

Panorama from summit of Eastpost Spire. Click to view large size.

The fractured Bugaboo Glacier

The fractured Bugaboo Glacier

The Vowells

The Vowells

Me on the summit

Me on the summit

After enjoying the summit view we started the descent. We both gonna down-climb Eric’s route. There’s a fixed rap station that one can use if bringing a rope. Probably due to the fact I didn’t come up this way, it took me quite a few tries to find holds at the crux move. It’s a bit awkward since the holds are rounded and down-sloping. I have to admit this part is a bit more challenging than expected, but not “that” difficult. We both enjoyed the climb. After descending the fun west ridge we met a group of 4 going up. We were very pleased to have the entire ridge to ourselves though, considering it’s a popular mountain in a hot area, and on a sunny Sunday.

The fixed rap station on the summit

The fixed rap station on the summit

Ready for the crux move

Ready for the crux move

Eric finishes the crux

Eric finishes the crux

Looking back at Eastpost Spire

Looking back at Eastpost Spire

A solo climber raps off one of the many technical routes.

A solo climber raps off one of the many technical routes.

By the time we made back to Applebee Dome, the weather moved in again, leaving only clouds behind. The hike out was a bit boring and long probably due to the heat. I slipped a couple times on the simple hiking trail…

Hiking down the trail. Note the chain and concrete staircases

Hiking down the trail. Note the chain and concrete staircases

A field of flowers

A field of flowers

Almost back to the parking lot. Still had some nice views.

Almost back to the parking lot. Still had some nice views.

At parking lot. Note the cars with chicken wires

At parking lot. Note the cars with chicken wires

We stopped at Bugaboo Falls for some photos.

We stopped at Bugaboo Falls for some photos.

Overall it’s one of the most beautiful areas I’ve ever seen and I’ll come back sooner than later. Now comes the lengthy (8 hours) drive. Eric did a great job driving to near Innisfail, and I took over for the rest back to Edmonton.

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Comments
  1. Jan Triska says:

    Another great scramble and an overall fun mountain, if you have a head for the heights. Did it back in 2000.
    I’m a fan of your site, seeing that most scramblers do not put very detailed or interesting descriptions of their ascents up on the Internet.
    One year, I would like to actually climb something technical in the Bugs. Probably the Pigeon spire, considering my rock skills are kind of low.

    • Steven Song says:

      Thanks Jan. Eastpost is probably my favourite scramble – good rock, great views, short approach, and an interesting crux. I’d like to return there for Pigeon Spire as well. Crescent Spire is another scramble.

  2. Greg says:

    Do you know what the rating of this scramble is?. Did you rope up? My girlfriend is reasonably confident but a rating level would help us decide 🙂

    • Steven Song says:

      Grade is subjective. If you come from BC Coast or WA then I’d say “4th class”. If you come from Canadian Rockies then I will call it a short pitch of 5.3. We did not even bring a rope although I did use rock shoes. A few moves at the bottom felt down-sloping. There’s a good 2-bolt anchor and the granite nature of the rocks means you should be easily protect using cams and nuts, if you want to use a rope.

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