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North America, Canada, Northwest Territories, Bustle Tower, Club International

Bustle Tower, Club International. Andreas Taylor and I (Canada) spent the month of July in the Cirque of the Unclimbables doing a bit of climbing and a lot of vegging. After a nauseating air drop of the majority of our gear into Fairy Meadows, bush pilot extraordinaire Warren LaFave dropped us off at Glacier Lake, where Andreas and an airsick version of my former self were left to our own resources. We ferried our gear and scoped our intended object, the unclimbed east face of Mt. Flattop, but quickly changed our minds as the face turned out to be lower angle and more broken up than our blurry photos indicated (not to mention that the entire face was soaked with melt water from the summit snow cap). The beautiful southeast face (1,800') of Bustle Tower, one formation down valley from Mt. Flattop, resembled a large version of Washington Column and immediately intrigued our imaginations. After tracing a line of virgin face cracks and dihedrals up the vertical to overhanging face, we fixed the first three pitches during unsettled weather. After only two days of wet weather, our hoped-for high pressure arrived and we committed to the face for three days of splitter cracks, featured face and huge roofs armed with a portaledge, haulbag and enormous aid rack. Ironically, aid was limited to about 200 feet, and used only because of wetness and moss-choked cracks; an all-free ascent at around 5.11+ would be probable in dry conditions. Fourteen hand drilled 3/8” bolts were used for belays so the route can be rapped; only five pins were placed on the whole route. We named our new 12-pitch route Club International (V 5.10+ A2) after the multicultural base camp and, more so, after our quality reading material. Our final two weeks were spent glutonizing and hibernating in the shelter of our cave as typical northern weather (read: rain, rain, rain) hammered the walls. Numerous false starts ended in soaked failure as we attempted the classic Lotus Flower Tower during brief lulls in the deluge, which became blue sky and dry on our pick-up day.

Sean Isaac*, unaffiliated

*The climbers were recipients of The Mugs Stump Award and supported by The Canadian Himalayan Foundation