Pigeon Spire is a 3200’+/- ascent day from the Conrad Kain Hut. From the hut, we ascended by way of the more remote Pigeon Fork-Bugaboo Glacier approach (versus the Snowpatch-Bugaboo col). The glacier terrain is much more challenging and interesting via this route. You bypass a significant ice fall next to Houndstooth (photo) en route.
Leave the hut via a trail that leads initially to the Boulder campsite. Immediately pick up a faint trail that ascends up moraine towards the “Son of Snowpatch”. Once you reach the crest, descend south towards the foot of the Pigeon Fork-Bugaboo Glacier. We soloed up the right side of the ice from the drainage and did not feel the need to rope up until we reached the obvious crevasse area. Aim for the southeastern corner of Pigeon Spire, bypassing the dramatic ice fall on the right that serves as the Pigeon-Snowpatch col. Some snow remained on this glacier in mid August and we did penetrate one crevasse that was not seen. Continue through crevasses, moving ever so slightly back right. As you pass the Pigeon-Snowpatch col icefall the terrain will flatten and you will notice a large boulder straight ahead. Head for that boulder and then start your ascent on much steeper terrain aiming back left for a significant wind ridge on the glacier. Once you gain the crest of this ridge, you will need to move back right all the way to the southern flank of Pigeon Spire to maneuver around a significant crevasse. Several precarious snow bridges litter this crevasse. We chose the last one up against the mountain itself. Keep a direct line as you continue to ascend moving away from Pigeon ever so slightly and then circumvent with the mountain back right gaining yet another wind ridge that leads to the Howser-Pigeon col. This is where the two approaches meet up for the 500 meter 5.4 ascent of the west ridge. There is an open pit toilet at this location.
The ridge goes pretty straight forward. You never vary off of the ridge line but a few meters until the final climb to the summit itself. We started left and gained a large crack or two to ascend to the ridge crest. There are two summits. Solo, we did this route in 1 hour to the summit. There are parties who pitch out the entire route, but there are several locations in which to pass such. Reaching the first summit is fairly uneventful. Descending the first summit to the saddle with the second summit looks intimidating, but is rather tame once you are on it. Even more mysterious is how difficult the ascent to the second summit appears, but again, in reality, it goes fairly easy. There are several stark lighting contrasts making the rock look steeper than it really is, similar to a mirage. The coarse rock throughout the climb is of exceptional quality and easy to climb on.
You will come to another down climbing circumstance just before the true summit. I did these few moves in boots, but most, including my partner felt more comfortable in climbing shoes for this portion. Once down to this mini col, traverse left leaving the ridge crest until you are below an easy chimney that leads up to a ramp that is angled up right and turns left at the top of Pigeon, therefore, this portion will not be in view from below. You will pass one rappel station mid way up this ramp. This is considered the crux of the climb but is well textured for any footwear you deem appropriate. There are two summits, created when the real summit fell from the mountain (taking the summit register with it). Both are easily attained for cool photo ops.
Descend via the ascent route. There are two bolted (by hand of course) rappel stations. One at the summit and another on the ramp below. The second drops you right back down the chimney. Return the entire route from there.
Essential Gear60 meter rope for the Rappels. If not solo, appropriate pro. Helmets and Glacier Travel Gear.
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