Made for the Mountains – Week 5
Tackling some of the finest granite alpine climbing Canada has to offer
My name is Tim Ricci and I’m an Internationally Certified Canadian Mountain Guide. My job takes me to some of the most remote mountain venues with some of the most difficult off-road terrain Canada has to offer. To do my job well, I don’t need good … I need the best. That’s why I’m testing out the 2022 Land Rover Defender.
The Bugaboos may be my favorite place to climb and guide.
A cluster of granite spires within Bugaboo Provincial Park in British Columbia, The Bugaboos offer an amazing alpine climbing destination. People travel from all over the world to experience them.
Access is remote. To get there you need to travel to the small town of Brisco, BC, which is 78 KM south of Golden and 28 KM north of Radium Hot Springs. From here, it is highly recommended to have a high clearance vehicle for the remainder of the journey. Perfect terrain for the Land Rover Defender! The final 60-90 minutes will see you follow narrow, winding roads littered with potholes, rumble strips, deep puddles, and tight corners.
We stopped in Brisco to do a final gear check, load up the Defender gear for three people to handle the four days we’d be away. As I’ve come to expect, the Defender managed the journey to the Bugaboos with ease. I have travelled this stretch of road many, many times over the years and this was by far the smoothest drive I have experienced.
Once at the parking lot we wrapped the vehicle in chicken wire to deal with some of the local wildlife. This is a must, so put this on your to-do list if you plan this trip. Porcupines are the primary concern, but ground squirrels and other critters pose a harm as well. They love to chew on rubber bits like brake lines, so leaving your vehicle unwrapped could make for a long journey home!
Once the Defender was wrapped, we began the long approach to the Boulder Creek Campground where we would base ourselves out of for the next three days. During which we’d tackle some of the finest Granite Alpine Climbing Canada has to offer.
The West Ridge of Pigeon Spire
Pigeon Spire is often referred to as the best of its grade—in the entire world—and for good reason. The climbing is superb, and the position is world class. It offers vast views of the other spires in the region: the Howsers, Snowpatch Spire, and Bugaboos Spire to name a few.
The team we were guiding has been working towards this objective for the past year, learning how to rock climb, travel on snow and ice, navigate glaciers, and ascend steep ice faces. On this day, all those skills needed to come together to summit.
The traditional approach was melted out and not in shape, so we needed to travel an alternate route to get to the base of Pigeon Spire. We left camp in the dark and the team was gifted a 10/10 sunrise. Once on the route we had prefect alpine conditions and reached the summit! A super special day and one that they will remember for a lifetime.
Once back at camp we fired up the stoves, ate a great meal and prepared for the following day’s attempts.
East Post Spire
We decided to have a more mellow day after a couple longer days. From our camp we ascended higher up towards the Applebee campground with the goal of climbing East Post Spire.
East Post Spire is one of the first spires encountered on the approach and while it’s one of the easier spires to climb, it rewards you with stunning views of the range. It also looks down upon the famous Applebee campground.
No problems with this one for the team. It was a warm day and we spent a couple hours in the afternoon lounging by one of the high alpine lakes in the Bugaboos with a world class amphitheater to boot.
The last day saw us up early packing up camp and heading back to the Defender. Once back at the Defender we were stoked to see our chicken wire wrapping was undisturbed by the local wildlife. The drive out was a breeze once again. We even took a few larger puddles on and laughed out loud as it covered the Defender in mud top to bottom.
All in all, another amazing journey in the mountains with the Defender. This crew walked away with their heads held high. A year’s worth of training and commitment had all paid off!
About Tim Ricci
Tim moved to the mountains over 20 years ago and has not looked back since. Tim is a fully certified Mountain Guide and holds Canadian Avalanche Association Level 3 and Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians (SPRAT) Level 3 certifications. Since September 2018 Tim has worked as Yamnuska Mountain Adventures Assistant Director of Operations. Located in Canmore, Alberta at the Banff National Park gates, Yamnuska is a premier provider of mountaineering, ice climbing, rock climbing, backcountry skiing, avalanche training and trekking experiences in the Canadian Rockies for over 40 years. Tim Resides in Canmore, AB, where he lives with his wife Wanessa and two kids, Ella and Miles.