South Howser Tower, Complete East Ridge, Bugaboos. Bill Sumner and I climbed South Howser on August 20 via the complete east ridge. This may be the only reasonable short route on the peak when snow and ice climbing conditions are poor. We had intended to climb the standard route (only climbed three times since 1941) but found that the long, steep ice slope above the bergschrund that leads to the shoulder halfway up the ridge was solid water with a thin coating of new snow. As an alternative to this difficult and certainly dangerous route, we crossed the steep ice couloir that runs along the right-hand edge of the east ridge at its lowest point, at the top of the lower icefall. Even with crampons, step cutting and ice screws for protection were required to reach a steep chimney (F6) that led up the rock to the ridge crest. Then three leads over broken rock (F3), mostly on the south side, brought us to a ledge on the ridge crest at the base of a steep, 140-foot slab. Small cracks near the slab’s left edge were climbed (F7) to a slightly overhanging chimney that needed several pitons for aid (F7, A1). Two more leads (F3 to F5) brought us to the shoulder. From here we followed the 1941 route: traverse north across an icy and snowy face for one lead, then two leads up a steep chimney (F8) to a short overhang, requiring two aid pitons (A1). The broken arête above leads to the summit in three leads with a F6 maximum. We made a rapid and easy descent in six 165-foot rappels down the east face and across the bergschrund. NCCS IV, F8, Al.
Michael T. Heath