Canada's most famous grand traverse is a magnificent adventure

Statistics

1

day +

7,193

m

8,449

m

23

max┬░

Difficulty

FATMAP difficulty grade

Difficult

Description

There are longer ski traverses in North America, but Bugs to Rogers is the most famous grand traverse on the continent, and is a landmark achievement in the career of any ski mountaineer.

There are countless variations on the route, and every team that completes the trip will inevitably have to make some decisions "on the hoof" about which exact line to take each day.

The weather in this part of the world is notoriously changeable, and figuring out the trip as you go is part of the Bugs to Rogers experience.

Plan for the best, but prepare to change those plans as you go.

Research into every variation and escape route is an essential part of preparing for the trip - this is definitely a traverse which rewards you doing your homework! Every Bugs to Rogers trip is different, and this is an account of my route on the traverse, which I completed with 3 friends in April 2024.

We flew into the Bugaboos, dropping 1 food cache at the Kingsbury Hut en route, and then spent 9 days deep in the BC wilderness getting ourselves to Rogers Pass.

This is the itinerary we followed, detours, shortcuts and all! The first challenge of the trip is the bootpack up the couloir between Bugaboo and Snowpatch Spires, and it's quite an introduction to the journey! We found deep, powdery snow - others might be more lucky! From the top of the couloir an easy cruise down the Vowell Glacier awaits, and the best line is to stay hard right and traverse directly underneath Bugaboo Spire.

At the far of the Vowell Glacier is a descent into a steep sided valley, the exit from which is steep and - at times awkward.

Good micro route-finding is essential in order to exit the valley efficiently.

Once out of the steep valley, the long journey up and across the Conrad Icefield awaits, and then the enjoyable slide down into Crystalline Creek.

We camped in trees on the eastern side of the valley and got an InReach forecast telling us that we had 2 more good days until a storm arrived.

After much discussion, we decided to eschew the trip over Climax Col, and chose to take a low route to Vermont Creek in order to get us within a day of the Kingsbury Hut.

The plan worked well but following the valley was nowhere near as enjoyable as a day high up would have been.

We did catch sight of a recently awoken grizzly bear in the north branch of Crystalline Creek, but that was only cool with hindsight! From Vermont Creek a loooong day the Kingsbury Hut allowed us to watch the storm from the hut, and stuff our faces with all the treats we'd put in the cache box! The terrain from Vermont Creek to Bobbie Burns Creek is steep in places, but nothing too tricky for experienced ski tourers.

Ski crampons are essential, though, because the 2 cols you cross on the way both steepen considerably towards the top.

The slog up from Bobbie Burns Creek to the Kingsbury Hut is scenic and easy enough, but does feel long at the end of a tough day. After a full day off in the Kingsbury Hut we had a magnificent journey across the Spillimacheen Glacier, down to Silent Lake and then on to Beaver Creek via a long descending traverse through miles of burned forests.

Having camped in Beaver Creek, a pre-dawn start saw us under the huge south face of Beaver Overlook and up onto the Deville Glacier via a short but steep-ish bootpack which required us to wear boot crampons for the first and only time on the trip.

Safely onto the Deville Glacier we poled/skated along through some truly spectacular high mountain scenery to reach the famous Deville rappels.

Rappeling is a simple process if you keeping focused and stick to the basic procedure, so despite the fatigue of the trip beginning to really kick in, we kept concentrating and the rappels passed easily enough.

That second one really is steep, though! From the foot of the rappels is an easy but briefly serac-threatened trip into the Glacier Circle valley, home to the famous hut of the same name.

The hut is dripping in Canadian mountain history and staying there was a highlight of the trip for us all, doubly so because the next morning we simply had to get up, skin 850m and then glide down the Illecillewaet Glacier to glory!