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Florian Riegler on pitch 1 during the first free ascent of The Flying Penguin, Bugaboos, Canada
Photo by archivio Riegler
Florian Riegler starting up the crux pitch of the Flying Penguin, Bugaboos, Canada
Photo by archivio Riegler
Martin Riegler seconding pitch 1 during first free ascent of The Flying Penguin, Bugaboos, Canada
Photo by archivio Riegler
Florian Riegler and Martin Riegler base camp, Bugaboos, Canada
Photo by archivio Riegler

Martin and Florian Riegler liberate The Flying Penguin in Canada's Bugaboos

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On 16/07/2018 the Florian and Martin Riegler made the first free ascent The Flying Penguin, the 300m crack climb they established in 2009 up the South Face of Pigeon Feathers.

Nine years after the first ascent of The Flying Penguin on the South Face of Pigeon Feathers in the Bugaboos, this summer Martin and Florian Riegler returned to the Rocky Mountains to complete the first free ascent of their route.

Back in 2009 the South Tyrolean brothers had failed to free the second pitch, grading it A3 and also finding an easier variation on the left that remained with a point of aid. The direct line however, the true "king line" as they defined it in our 2009 interview, remained in their thoughts and so in July they flew to Canada specifically to deal with unfinished business.

Weighed down by 30 kilos of gear and food, the two walked up to Snowpatch Col from where they caught sight of the Pigeon Feathers south face once again. They set off on 16 July in absolutely perfect weather and, after trying the direct version on pitch 2 in vain, opted for leftwards alternative. Florian freed this pinkpoint, i.e. with gear already in-situ, and the two continued to the summit which they reached at 21.00.

Difficulties are now estimated at around 5.12d, translated into French grades this settles in as 7c. Two words for those wishing to repeat the line. Firstly, this isn’t 7c at a limestone crag but 5.12d crack climbing in the mountains... two entirely different ball games. Secondly, the king line, i.e. the crack that splits the obvious roof on pitch 2, still awaits its first free ascent.

Flying Penguins
South Face, Pigeon Feathers, Bugaboos, Canada
300m, 5.12b/A3
Gear: 3 bolts, 12 pegs, camming devices

Links: Instagram Riegler Brothers, FB Riegler Brothers, CAMP, Arc'teryxLa Sportiva

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