Here we are in our extremely comfortable base camp in the East Creek area of the Bugaboos, a world class alpine granite arena in beautiful British Columbia. Our camp is a magnificent alpine hangout at the Southern tip of the Howser towers, with the marvellous golden pillar of the Minaret towering above and a magnificent vista looking deep into the wilds of the Canadian Rockies interior below.
Access by heli two days ago almost felt like cheating. Canadian Mountain Holidays (CHM) the maple leaf nations primer Heli ski operation have their powerful Bell 212 machine stationed just 12 minutes flight time from east creek camp which being just outside the provincial park boundary allows Heli access. The minimal distance means by Heli standards it’s extremely cost effective to charter the big bird and fly in with comfortable supplies.
We arrived at the CMH lodge after a red eye drive from the iconic mountain town of Canmore and were turned around with remarkable efficiency on behalf of CMH. Before we’d had chance for coffee or quite realised it Jesse, Maury, Will and I found ourselves stepping out of the helicopter above snow line in the dramatic cirque of the east creek with a luxurious amount of equipment and supplies.
Although the forecast wasn’t great for the afternoon we jumped straight on it for a fast ascent of the mega classic Becky & Chouinard on the south tower in two pairs. Half way up the threatening clouds followed through with a heavy down pour quickly turning the riotously fun simul-climbing in a terrifying ordeal. We regrouped sodden in the summit after 3 hours of climbing before promptly getting into a bit of a muddle on the decent spending a further 3 hours to reach camp. A great outing but certainly a schooling in poor weather.
The following day greeted travel weary climbers with glorious sunshine but the obvious threat of thunderstorms. We spent a lazy but productive morning building camp and getting organised. Will and I headed to check out the approach to the north tower and fixed 200m of rope down to the col, drastically increasing the ease of access to and escape from the massive and intimidating North Towers’s West face.
Right at the worst moment, down at the bottom of the ropes a massive electrical storm exploded over head. Hail so fierce you couldn’t look up pounded us as claps of thundered that seemed to last for minutes rumbled around the mountains. Bolting up the ropes to the bivi boulder I saw a enormous fork of lightening strike high on the N tower. Will proudly finished fixing the ropes and caught me up in the cave half an hour later with wide but energised eyes. “That was exciting!”
We skipped back to camp in light rain before a heavy down pour pushed us under the shelter of the tarp tent where we shared fresh food and laughs over the full bar.
It rained all night and it looks dubious for the rest of today, tomorrow the next day but with the promise of high pressure towards the end of the week.
Jess and Maury have motivated to try the first pitch of the amazing looking “denying the millennium” right here on the Minaret by camp whilst Will and I enjoy spectating; waiting for hopefully drier conditions tomorrow.
It feels relatively friendly for the scale of the alpine objectives here but quickly shows its teeth when the clouds gather and the wind picks up. Think we need to treat these beauties with respect and perhaps a little patience on the forecast.
All in all so far so good. Great place, great people and looking good for some great weather soon.
Maybe some big game hunting this weekend???