By Pat Morrow
For the past two years, the dreaded virus has forced a shortened version of Bugaboos Teen Climbing Camp to be based in Invermere. We did day trips to the Rockies and Purcells which involved a lot of driving.
With covid restrictions lifted at Kain Hut, this 13th annual program hosted by the Wilmer-based CKCS, was back in the “Bugs” July 22-24.
Emily Schwartz, Calum Ross, Leila Bullock, Cassidy Lemay hail from Kimberley, Michael Johnson, Craig Hale, Nathan Jerabek and assistant guides Erin Kubian and I from Invermere, and ACMG guides Hannah Preston and Andrew Rennie from Golden where their company Rock Solid Guides is based.
Since the beginning of this youth climbing program, the Alpine Club of Canada has graciously provided sleeping space at the hut, and the CMH Bugaboos lodge has once again loaned us spare snow climbing gear, ice and rocks.
No sooner had we arrived at the cabin after the routine two-hour job than I reconnected with Kain Teen alumnus Megan Strachan of Cranbrook for her third year as the cabin’s caretaker and camp site. BTW, Erin also took our program a few years ago, and this time she provided crucial tail gunner and pack mule services.
In a hidden spot near the cabin, I located the geocache prepared by a longtime friend of the Kain Society, historian Dave Humphries of Cranbrook ten years ago. Dave has set up nine geocache sites in British Columbia, Alberta and Austria loaded with information about Kain – to date there have been 5,192 visits. Eighteen intrepid geocachers had located and signed the booklet near the cabin.
Trusty guides Kirk Mauthner and Tim McAllister were sidelined this year due to various circumstances, so Andrew and Hannah who, let’s face it, were a bit closer to teenage age than me, became the “Teen Whisperers” who spoke sweetly to them on the tops.
At dawn on the 23rd we crossed a field of granite boulders en route to the base of Snowpatch Spire. Donning crampons, we ventured up the Bugaboo Glacier and weaved our way through well-packed crevasses (still lots of snow on the glacier and on some of the climbing routes) to our furthest goal and the higher – Hound’s Tooth Spire (2830m).
The gap between the glacier and the rocky strip that leads to the saddle between Hound’s Tooth and the upper Marmolata was narrower than usual due to snow accumulation and only required a sporty step to gain the rock. Once in the saddle, we followed the ridge for spectacular views from the top of the pristine south face of Snowpatch, Pigeon and Howser Spits.
To the north, a flurry of rain darkened the skies over the Vowell group but luckily bypassed to the east dropping light rain into the Septet group rather than us. Sunday’s target, Eastpost Spire (2697m), towered over the colorful patches of tents at Applebee Campground.
The next day, another alpine start put us in Applebee just as hardened climbers and hikers emerged from their tents to brew their first coffee. Climbers and hikers use one of our nation’s most scenic campsites as a launching pad to reach a kaleidoscope of climbs within sight of their tents, to the great peaks beyond Bugaboo Pass, and a route trail passing by Cobalt Lake to the east.
A pleasant short rope session on the hot rock of East Post took us over crucial terrain to one of the best views of the tour – the steep east faces of Snowpatch and Bugaboo Spires, the latter having had its first ascent in 1916 by ACC guide Conrad Kain, and his loyal and knowledgeable clients, Bess and Albert MacCarthy – Albert would lead the first ascent of Mount Logan, Canada’s highest mountain, in 1925.
“This experience has been totally excellent”, Leila Bullock, Kimberley. “Mountaineering is a difficult thing to tackle when you’re young and you don’t have many doors that open in front of you. This trip and these people leading it (Hannah, Andrew, Pat and Erin) really made me see what it is to be a guide and the community that can be built.”
A big thank you to everyone for having the vision and perseverance to keep this “pay it forward” initiative thriving for 13 happy years. Since 2009, we’ve introduced a total of 125 Rocky Mountain Trench kids to the basics of mountaineering in their big backyards.