Bugaboos, Various Ascents. On July 6, Todd Offenbacher, Jay Sell, Bob Schultz and Nils Davis arrived at the CMH Lodge. The four of us met Paul Bingham, a British friend of Todd’s living in Vancouver, who joined us for the first four days. The group chartered a helicopter and flew in to the west side of the Howsers, a.k.a. the East Creek Basin.
The first afternoon and following day it snowed one foot. The subsequent five days provided incredibly clear and dry weather, allowing two teams of two to complete a significant amount of climbing. Jay Sell and Bobby Schultz scoped and began fixing on a line on the South Howser Minaret between the Italian Pillar route and the Southwest Pillar route. We could hardly believe this line had not been done and spent much time studying the guide and the Minaret to discern this possibility. One pitch up, they discovered rap slings and nothing further. Prominent crack systems proved to be bottoming runnels and seams, providing aid climbing up to A2+. They fixed five ropes, at which point they were stopped by weather for approximately four days. The two then jugged to their high point, climbing 600 feet of new ground (in which lay the crux A3 pitch) to join the Southwest Pillar route. They finished on the last three pitches of this route. Doubting the Millennium (VI 5.10 A3) is seven new 50- to 60-meter pitches.
Todd and I completed a new line on Pigeonfeather’s Southeast (right) Peak in three days of climbing over four days. The route is eight pitches, mostly 60 meters in length, with extremely high-quality rock, cracks and free climbing. Wide Awake (V 5.10+ A2) is virtually all clean and would possibly go all free in drier conditions. There was a significant amount of snow and ice on the routes, with water running copiously from the cracks due to the huge amount of precipitation in 1999. The route was characterized by a 220-foot, four-inch crack reminiscent of Indian Creek on the fourth pitch.
Very unstable, cold, wet weather predominated for the latter two weeks of our stay. Todd and I (nearly) completed a new route on the west face of the Central Howser Tower in this poor weather over six days. We encountered moderate free and aid climbing; the route is mostly clean, with three large pendulums and a long section of hooking on the seventh pitch that gave it the A3+ rating. The initial three pitches are comprised of a large comer/chimney system. The main wall is gained on the fourth pitch and with it came exposed, clean, quality aid and free climbing.
We backed off 20 feet from the summit in a blizzard, in the middle of the night, with no bivy gear and one functioning headlamp. Fear and Desire (VI 5.10 A3+) is nine 50- to 60- meter pitches.