Crescent Spire is located in Bugaboo Provincial Park, (33,700+ acres) the home of several legendary granite spires. Bugaboo (Glacier) Provincial Park is part of the Bugaboo Alpine Provincial Recreation Area located in the Purcell Mountain Range of British Columbia. The Purcells parallel the Canadian Rockies on the western side. Despite the fact it does not look like its neighboring spires on approach, Crescent was named such by Conrad Kain in 1933 because it forms a spire at its base on the north where it connects to the Bugaboo snowfield. It is the first feature east of Bugaboo Spire and is just west of the Crescent Towers which involve additional climbs.
Despite lacking prominence upon approach, Crescent Spire’s two dihedrals on its south face offer up some of the best 5.10 climbing in the park. The following routes are featured in “The Bugaboos, One of the World’s Great Alpine Rockclimbing Centres”, an exceptional guidebook in my opinion put out by Marc Piche and Chris Atkinson:
West Ridge- 5.4/180m
WIMTA- 5.10-/5 Pitches
Clean and Dirty- 5.10-/6 Pitches
Paddle Flake Direct- 5.10/6 Pitches
Paddle Flake- 5.10/6 Pitches- The first pitch of Paddle Flake is a classic 5.9 corner pitch with tons of pro opportunity and a small roof to overcome at the end. The 2nd pitch is kind of a shorter junk pitch (if there is such a thing in the Bugs) and goes at 5.7. The rest of the pitches are 5.10 and there is no need to divide them into four pitches as Chris and Mark’s guide book (The Bugaboos, One of the World’s Great Alpine Rockclimbing Centres) would suggest. They go easily in three pitches. The first 5.10 pitch climbs to the top of what looks like….you guessed it, a “paddle flake”. But it is the next pitch, the forth pitch, that is a beauty. It is a backwards leaning beautiful corner up a narrow ramp with a huge mantle to finish. The last two pitches are not near as aesthetic or of the same rock quality, but are fairly sustained and can be run to the summit as one pitch. Dow
Left Dihedral- 5.11+/6 Pitches
Westside Story- 5.10-/6 Pitches
Roof McTech- 5.10+/2 Pitches
Energy Crisis- 5.11+/2 Pitches
McTech Arête- 5.10-/6 Pitches- I climbed this route and it is considered the classic of this group, given three stars by the guidebook. Exceptional rock with one of the finer 10a pitches (2nd pitch) found anywhere as well as an optional roof start for the first pitch which is challenging. The first two pitches are definitely the crux of the climb. Dow
McTech Direct- 5.10/6 Pitches
Woza Moya- 5.10-/6 Pitches
Dunlop’s Dangle- 5.10-/6 Pitches
Surprisingly Subsevere- 5.10-/6 Pitches
Northeast Ridge- 5.6/300m
Mechanized bolting is not allowed in the park, therefore, this is specifically a trad climbing area. The glaciers in Bugaboo Provincial Park are retreating as most in Canada are. The Bugaboo Glacier itself has receded over 3000’ in the past 100 years. The wildlife is still exceptional. We spotted a black bear on the road in and wolverine tracks on the Pigeon Fork-Bugaboo Glacier. The weather is more volatile than even the Canadian Rockies due to the park’s closer proximity to the Pacific Ocean. Rock fall and weather remain the two most dangerous objective hazards for most climbing in the area.
Getting ThereBugaboo Provincial Park is located in southeastern B.C., between Golden and Radium Hot Springs, and west of Highway 95. Access to the park is via a gravel logging road, open late spring through late fall, that begins at Brisco, 27 kilometres north of Radium Hot Springs or 76 km south of Golden on Highway 95. You must travel 46 kilmetres on the dirt road to get back to the trailhead. Watch for the small directional signs at intersections.
The trail to the Conrad Kain Hut is approximately 2260’ of gain spread out over 4.6 kms and the Applebee campground is another 820’ of gain from the hut spread out over 1 km. We made the hut in under 2 hours, some parties took 3.5 hours during our visit.
Access to the northern portions of the park via the Vowell and Malloy Creek drainages is possible by leaving Highway 95 at Spillimacheen, north of Brisco, then crossing the Columbia River and turning left on the West Side Road. After travelling 0.8 km, turn right onto Bobbie Burns Creek drainage and drive past the lodge of the same name. Logging roads up Vowell Creek and Malloy Creek lead to semi-open terrain which can be hiked into the park. The status of bridges in inactive logging areas may vary in upper drainages.
Red Tape•Bugaboo Provincial Park is a remote area. Persons intending to visit the Bugaboos must realize there are no supplies, equipment or transportation arrangements of any kind available in the park. Hut accommodation is not available in winter because of avalanche dangers.
•It is recommended that visitors protect their vehicle perimeter with a portable chicken wire fence to deter porcupines and other small animals from chewing on wires and tires.
•National Topographic Series Maps 82K/10 (Howser Creek) and 82K/15 (Bugaboo Creek) are at a scale of 1:50,000 and cover all but the western limits of the park.
•'The Bugaboos - One of the World's Great Alpine Rockclimbing Centres' is a comprehensive and accurate guidebook to climbing and mountaineering in Bugaboo Park. It is written by Chris Atkinson and Marc Piche and published by Elaho Publishing (ISBN # 0-9733035-1-4).
•Weather conditions can change suddenly in this area and lightning storms with hail and snow are common in summer. Only experienced climbers practiced in crevasse rescue and properly roped should venture onto snowfields and glaciers.
•Loaded logging trucks and other industrial traffic may be encountered while accessing this park. Drive with extreme caution and for your safety always yield to industrial traffic.
Climbers should check with the hut keepers on current conditions and destinations before departure. Climbers are responsible for their own safety; rescue services are not readily available. Public communications services are not available.
When to ClimbAlthough CMH offers winter heli-skiing for tourists, Bugaboo Provincial Park is primarily a summer destination for climbers. Despite the necessary glacier travel, the quality of the rock is what most come to Bugaboo for therefore the summer months are prime. Late August was when I climbed in the region for the first time and it was stellar conditions. However, Bugaboo Provincial Park is well known for its volatile weather swings and for the most part, your views from the west are obscured.
CampingWilderness, backcountry or walk-in camping is allowed. Backcountry campgrounds are provided at Boulder Camp below the Conrad Kain Hut and on the bare rock slabs of Applebee Dome, 1km above the Conrad Kain Hut. A per-person fee is in effect at these campgrounds, payable at a self-registration station located inside the Conrad Kain Hut. To prevent contamination of the water supply and damage to the sensitive alpine environment, camping in the park is not permitted elsewhere in the vicinity of the main spires (Bugaboo, Snowpatch, Crescent, Pigeon, Howsers). Bivouacking is not permitted unless circumstances dictate it's necessity. Wilderness camping is allowed in other, more remote areas of the park, such as the Vowell Group. Leave-no-trace wilderness camping ethics should be utilized.
Backcountry Camping Fee: $5.00 per person / night, for all persons 13 years of age or older.
There are hot and cold water taps in the Kain Hut. There are two pit toilets located near the Kain Hut for users of the Hut and Boulder Camp. There is also one pit toilet located at the Applebee campground and in the parking lot at the trailhead.
The Conrad Kain hut is a class “A” (pads, fuel, pots and dishes, running water) hut that sleeps 40. Reservations for the hut can be made through the ACC National Office from 9:00am to 8:00pm, seven days per week. The campgrounds operate on a "first come, first served" basis.
An on-site custodian collects fees for the campgrounds and hut (for those who did not reserve through the ACC office in Canmore) from mid June to late September. Tent sites and hut bedding must be cleared by 11:00am if you are not planning on staying that night.
Open fires and dogs are prohibited in the park. Ski tourers can book the hut from approximately mid March to May.