Conraid Kain climbing Bugaboo Spire
Conrad Kain on crux pitch of Bugaboo Spire during first ascent, 1916 – photo by Albert MacCarthy

A Daring Climb

The first ascent of Bugaboo Spire was over a century ago, in 1916. It was accomplished by mountain guide Conrad Kain and his party. Tucked in the Purcell mountains of Eastern British Columbia, Bugaboo Spire rises to 3,204m. It was at this location that nine members of the Alpine Club of Canada went to re-enact one of the most daring climbs in Canadian history.


Their intent was to climb Bugaboo Spire in the same way it was done by Conrad Kain along with Albert and Bess MacCarthy and Jon Vincent. The team geared up with wool jackets, hobnail boots, vintage alpenstocks and hats that would make you swear they had time travelled here. Even the way they slept using fir branches for padding and eating goat stew was as it was a century before.

The Team

The first known re-creation of a mountain climb in Canada using authentic equipment was accomplished by this team. The team included Bryan Thompson, Garry Reiss, Robert Le Blanc, and Natalia Danalachi, with support from Josee Duckett.  They were aided by Tim McAllister and Dave Ray, filmmakers Greg Gransden and Ivan Petrov.


The Documentary Film

For the full film, click on  Hobnails and Hemp Rope.


Film Tour for Canada 150

Cover Canadian Geographic

Shortly after the climb, the documentary film was completed and a photography exhibition was produced. The film, Hobnails and Hemp Rope, was directed by Greg Gransden. The photography exhibition was created by Ivan Petrov. Both film and exhibition went on tour across Canada as a part of Canada’s 150th celebrations. The expedition was featured on the cover of the Canada 150 edition of Canadian Geographic magazine. NumerousTV and radio interviews with expedition members were seen and heard across the nation. The film even went on to tour in Europe, Russia and New Zealand. Greg won the award for Best Director at Vertical – the Moscow Mountain Film Festival.


The success of the Bugaboo Spire Centennial Climb Project led to the formation of the Canadian EH Society. The responses of audiences across Canada and the world made us realize that creating awareness about Canada’s early explorers instills in us the same spirit of adventure which those brave men and women demonstrated.


Now we are hooked and ready to go out there and explore some more.



Photo- Ivan Petrov






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UnWind magazine Jan 2018
UnWind magazine Jan 2018