The Kain Route is more of a general mountaineering route than one of the long, sustained technical granite climbs the Bugs are known for. If 7 pitch 5.11 cracks are your thing, hit Snowpatch Spire, Crescent or the Howsers. If you want a day out with spectacular views, relatively easy climbing and a quick escape if weather moves in, this is a good one.
From Conrad Kain Hut, ascend the trail to Applebee camp until you reach the base of the moraine that connects to the Snowpatch/Bugaboo Spire Col. From Applebee camp, the approach to the Col is directly across the snow from camp, past Eastpost Spire, Applebee Dome and Crescent Spire. Follow the snowline below the high rock bench that terminates in Applebee camp.
Directly climb or switchback up to the Snowpatch Spire/Bugaboo Spire saddle to start the route. Some crevasses and bergsrunds exist. The safest line is to the right of the morraine, topping out left of the bergshrund that separates the Col from Bugaboo Spire.
Once to the saddle, head right on a good trail past a bivy area and an outdoor toilet.
The route starts as a class 3 talus scramble with minimal cairns. Getting off route to the right or left involves 5.5 and 5.6 climbing. The climbing is sustained hand and foot scrambling.
Once past an initial face of class 3 scrambling, the route follows just to the right of the prominent and obvious ridge ascending from the Snowpatch/Bugaboo Col.
The class 3 section terminates in a small slot chimney with a prominent 'diving board' rock jutting out from the base. Step on the diving board to a solid reach around into the chimney. The climbing is low 5th class and is usually free-climbed and descended on rappel.
The 'diving board' chimney terminates in a small alcove with two chain-bolt anchors on top of a large boulder. This is often a convenient place to stash gear that won't be used in the upper 5th class section of the climb. Exit this alcove from an akward, right facing crack to the left of a short face. It can be boulder-spotted. Look for an additional chain anchor above this wall to aid the descent. Above this anchor is a wide ledge that leads right to a series of vertical cracks. This is where the roped climbing typically begins.
Climb this almost-vertical parallel series of cracks up two pitches. There are many ways to ascend this area but it is convenient to climb towards the right side of the cracks. Chain anchors descend down the center of the parallel cracks. The top of 2 pitches will put you at a chain anchor at the end of a long, 4th class ridge with a view of the gendarme and summit piches ahead.
Solo, simul, or pitch out the 4th class ridge heading towards the gendarme. The route follows roughly the top of the ridge, weaving left and right as crack and ledge systems permit. The ridge terminates at the base of the gendarme pitch. Webbing is visible at the base of this pitch, but a bolt anchor is available just below it that provides a more comfortable belay stance (Note: This anchor is not used during the descent)
The gendarme pitch heads up a short wall above a boulder slung with webbing. Diagonal cracks provide good stances and protection. The top of this short wall veers left into a reach to a good right facing flake. The footing is steep slab smearing. There is a piece of fixed here once the reach is made.
Past this there is a second reach left on steep smears to gain the platform above the gendarme and an anchor bolt.
Solo, simul, or pitch out the traverse from above the Gendarme to the final low 5th class parallel cracks. The climbing is easy but the consequences of a fall are large. The final parallel cracks terminate in the South Summit chain anchor.
It is safest to descend in 6-8 rappels to reach the class 3 scramble down:
1. From a bolted chain off of the south summit.
2. To the (descending climber's) left of a bolted chain off the top of the Gendarme pitch.
CAREFUL. THE THIRD RAP BOLTS ARE (SOMEWHAT HIDDEN) OFF OF THE SECOND RAPPEL (TOWARDS THE RIDGE), JUST BELOW THE WEBBING AT THE BASE OF THE GENDARME PITCH. IF YOU RAPPEL TOO FAR YOU WILL NEED TO RE-CLIMB TO THE CHAINS.
3. Rappel off of the chains below the Gendarme pitch.
4. Run a belay over 4th class terrain along a long,exposed ridge to get to the next rappel area. Along this ridge there is an optional rappel off of a blue webbing anchor left to reach a shelf that will lead to the next Class 5 rappel area.
5. There is a two bolt chain anchor at the end of the 4th class ridge section. The ridge will appear to drop off a cliff. The bolt anchor is somewhat hidden behind a boulder at the end of the ridge.
6. The 6th rap chains are obvious from a plumb-line descent off of the 5th rappel anchors.
7. The final chain anchors are wide right of the final, steep rappel. The anchors are on top of a large boulder at the top of an alcove that is often filled with snow. The drop into this alcove is a steep 3 meters that can be downclimbed, or a 'bridge' two bolt anchor roughly 10M above the drop can be used to rap into the alcove.
The final rappel is through an akward chimney that ends in a 'diving board' rock. One past this rappel, the descent is 3rd class scrambling and relatively well marked with cairns.
Note: Relative to the climb up, the descent can be equally, if not more time consuming due to more difficult route finding and setup of rappel stations. If weather is moving in, plan for a turnaround time equal to or greater that the time to climb up.
Additional Note: Per the bulliten at Applebee camp, three rappel stations near the bergshrund were removed due to rockfall hazard and were replaced with three anchor stations from a large rock band descending into Snowpatch/Bugaboo Col. The rock on this band is rotten and prone to sliding. Only the mid anchor is obvious at this time. It is better to plan to downclimb the steep snow to exit safely.
A set of stoppers and cams ranging from .5 to #3. A #4 can also be useful in some wider cracks at the start of the roped climbing.
A single 70M rope is sufficient for all the rappels. A second rope and/or guide line is not required.
Hard weather gear is manditory, as storms can come in quickly, be severe, and it is not uncommon for NE Ridge or Kain route climbers to find themselves descending in snow, whiteout conditions, or in the dark during any month of the year.