Bugaboos Rockfall Destroys Classic Climbs

Climbers’ social media feeds crackled to life Thursday afternoon, with update after update confirming the same sad news: a huge piece of Snowpatch Spire (3,084m, 284m prominence) had collapsed.

The tower in British Columbia’s Bugaboo Provincial Park hosted a slew of classic long climbs. The rockfall event erased many of those, and rendered access to some others a question mark.

No injuries resulted from the incident.

It affected a significant swath of the looker’s right side of the granite spire. The segment peeled off from just below the tower’s ridgeline, leaving a massive debris field below.

Destroyed routes include the Tom Egan Memorial Route, which Will Stanhope and Matt Segal famously endeavored to climb in the 2017 film “Boys in the Bugs.” The entry pitches of Sunshine Crack, a 1980 Alex Lowe Bugaboos classic at 275m, 5.11 (6b+), are also gone.

One prevailing theory climbers have used to explain the high recent incidence of rockfall on other granite formations, like the Stawamus Chief, is that warmer temperatures have caused the rock to expand. That eventually fractures the surface and leads to a collapse.

‘This will shake you up’

Ice climber Will Gadd was one of the first to break the Snowpatch Spire news on Instagram. He pointed out that temperatures in the Bugaboos have been frigid recently.


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A post shared by Will Gadd (@realwillgadd)


“I don’t think this sort of event happens very often even in geologic time scales, massive! It’s been -20 to -40 give or take lately, so the ‘heat’ explanation for other big recent granite rockfalls is looking suspect,” he said.

Gadd proceeded to question that evaluation, but called the event “scary” for climbers regardless.

“This an absolutely immense recent rockfall that takes out a big swath of hard classic climbing,” he said. “If you’ve climbed in the Bugaboos, this will sure shake you up!”

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson spent his 20s as an adventure rock climber, scampering throughout the western U.S., Mexico, and Thailand to scope out prime stone and great stories. Life on the road gradually transformed into a seat behind the keyboard, where he acted as a founding writer of the AllGear Digital Newsroom and earned 1,500+ bylines in four years on topics from pro rock climbing to slingshots and scientific breakthroughs.