Posted on: December 1, 2003

Being a Canadian Rockies climber bred on shattered limestone and blocky quartzite, I spent the spring and summer road tripping, determined to learn how to crack climb properly. After a couple of months of Indian Creek hand jams and Squamish finger locks, I hooked up with Matt Maddaloni for a week of Bugaboo granite. It was Matt's first excursion to the Bugs, and he was understandably blown away. Figuring he shouldn't do a new route until he had climbed a classic, he ran off within an hour of reaching camp and soloed the Beckey-Chouinard Route (V 5.10a A0, 2,500' of technical terrain, Beckey-Chouinard, 1961) on South Howser Tower in less than four hours roundtrip.

With that out of the way, we could focus on the unclimbed 1,200-foot northwest face of Wide Awake Tower in the Pigeon Feather group, a Rostrum-like pillar of splintered granite that had been looked at and talked about, but not attempted. Over six days, we aided, cleaned, scrubbed and fixed ropes, then freed the pitches (on lead) as we went, until we were close enough to blast for the top. This "aidpoint" style produced a high-quality, eleven-pitch free route with six pitches of overhanging 5.11 crack climbing. Highlights include Matt's send of two 5.11+ pitches: Pitch 1, a power undercling protected by a mix of bolts and fixed pitons, and Pitch 3, an overhanging, enduro, thin-hands-to-fist crack.

We named the route Wild Fire (V 5.11+, 1,200') after the numerous out-of-control forest fires that blazed in the valleys below.


— Sean Isaac, Canmore, Canada

Here at Alpinist, our small editorial staff works hard to create in-depth stories that are thoughtfully edited, thoroughly fact-checked and beautifully designed. Please consider supporting our efforts by subscribing.