Alex Luger about his experience in the Purcell Mountain Range in British Columbia, Canada.
Govinda said: “But is what you call ‘things’ something real, something existent? Isn’t it the deception of the Maya, only illusiveness and appearance? Your stone, your tree, your river – are they reality?”
“About this”, said Siddharta, “I do not distress. May things be appearance or not, then I am an appearance, too, and they still are my own kind. That is what makes them so near and dear to me: they are my own kind!”
I am standing at the roadside between the airport transit and a crash barrier. There is no sidewalk. I am seeking for a staircase, a lift, any kind of way out to get one level higher to the departure hall. The reception staff at the hotel advised me to take a shuttle for the two kilometre long route to Frankfurt airport. When I asked if there was any walkway they gazed at me disparagingly and repeated the departure times of the shuttle once again.
I am squeezing my way through the guardrail while buses are speeding past me and I am happy that I only have one bag. Finally I get to the departure hall of Terminal 2. “You have to go to Terminal 1! Take the shuttle bus!” So I sit down on a bench at the bus stop. I am travelling to Asia. The word “connected” pops up in my mind, “everything is connected”! Three days ago I was still in bear country, in British Columbia. Seemingly endless vastness, rugged mountain ranges, rivers…
In-between I did a quick stopover in Vienna to organise my visa for China. I thought this is weird - in the Bugaboos, a region of the Purcell Mountains, we were free. Free to go where we wanted, free in our decisions. It was a simple game, avoiding crevasses, jumping over the shrund when sliding down the col, not falling when simul climbing, simple rules with clear consequences. The freedom to climb and to move in the mountains according to your skills. No shuttle buses, but two legs. No street lighting but a headlight. No traffic lights, but eyes. No TV, but 800 meters steep and rugged granite needles. Rules?! Only those you impose on yourself, rules that correspond with my ethics when being in the mountains.
”An airport is a playground of progress, an organisational master piece. Countless travellers are guided daily through the gates and consigned on the their dedicated seat.” With this thought in my mind I pick up my luggage, at least I can carry that myself, board the shuttle bus and decide to obey the announcements and display panels. “Sir, please wait behind the red line!” I look down at my feet, which are placed one step in front of a red line that I haven’t event noticed. I raise my head and see the officer twiddling his thumbs. Now that I stepped back he summons me to come to the counter.
I’m reflecting on the past weeks in Canada. The Bugaboos. How impressive these mountains are, how stunning the scenery is. Rugged granite formations protrude from the glacier. They remind me of gigantic rhinos. The only proposition in this region, I think, is to not leave any marks. Neither when you are hiking, nor when you are camping/ bivouacking or climbing! You have the freedom to chose your route, your belay stations, where to set up protection, and how to descent. Of course, there is a guidebook with recommendations, but they are ‘only’ recommendations. What make sense to some may seem silly to others.
And to tie in with the quote of my introduction: “If things are illusive, then I’m illusive, too, and that’s what makes things lovable.” I am comfortable in the mountains; I enjoy solitude and above all I enjoy having the freedom to go where I want, climb where I want and think and feel what I want! One of my realities: “being alive and grounded.”
Traversing the Bugaboospire
Approach to basecamp don´t stop walking the mosqiustos will eat you
Jamming on the on sight of "Fingerberry Jam" on Pigeon Feathers
Run-in Johannes focused for the next pitch
Snowpatchspire left , right ridge "Kainroute" Bugaboospire
So steep....crux pitch "Power of Lard"
Approach from Calgary Airport to Applebee Campground, Bugaboos, Purcell Mountains, BC
Day 1: Sunshine Crack, Snowpatch Spire, 5.11- (on-sight)
Day 2: Energy Crisis, Crescent Spire, 5.11+
Day 3: Northeast Ridge, Bugaboo Spire, 5.8, 2 hours from base camp to summit (on- sight)
Day 4: Rehydrating, Eating, Regenerating
Day 5: Fingerberry Jam, Pigeon Feathers, 5.12, (on-sight)
Day 6: Beckey- Chouinard, South Howser Tower, 5.10, 4 hours from start of the face to summit (simulclimbing)
Day 7: The Power of Lard, Snowpatch Spire, 5.12/13-
Day 8: Cooper- Kor, Pigeon Spire, 5.10, scary wet traverse
After eight days the ways turned and it started to snow. Johannes and I climbed almost every day and one day we also descended down to the valley in the evening to get food. We experienced very intense climbing days with freezing cold temperatures, beautiful crack metres and incredibly great weather.
© Words and photos by Alex Luger
Translated into English by Sonja Hamel