Climbing Destinations: The Bugaboos
Situated between Snowpatch Spire and South Howser Tower and separates the Bugaboo Glacier from the Vowell Glacier. The most visited route here is the West Ridge (5.4) which stays right on the knifeedge and finishes with a fun au cheval section. On a busy weekend you can meet a couple dozen of climbers on the route. The line can be a great introduction to alpine rock climbing, and in dry conditions it is a great solo.
All east faces of the massif are covered with snow and ice, and are the only reliable alpine climbing in the range.While North and South Towers are climbing destinations, the Central is rarely climbed.
On the North Howser Tower the best choice is the west face, climbed for the first time in 1971. In the present there are over ten routes there, many of them demanding very good climbing skills. The Warrior (VI 5.9 A3), first climbed in 1973 by Burton, Irvine and Sutton, is a direct line leading to the summit ridge north of the summit. All Along the Watchtower’s (VI 5.10 A2 or 5.12) first ascent was by Robinson and Walseth in 1981. It’s a spectacular 23-pitch climb on outstanding granite – worth doing all free or otherwise. Mescalito (VI 5.9 A3) is a route parallel to Warrior and near the summit it joins another route, Seventh Rifle (VI 5.9 A2). Two other climbs connected to this one are Young Men on Fire (VI 5.11 A4) on the right and The Shooting Gallery (VI 5.10 A2+) that begins 600 feet right of Seventh Rifle and 40 feet left of Young Men on Fire. Most of the over 23 pitches on the route are 200 feet long. It was climbed for the first time in 1994 by Synnott and George.
South Howser Spire’s west face was first climbed in 1961 by Fred Beckey and Yvon Chouinard. The Beckey-Chouinard (V 5.10a), included in the book Fifty Classic Climbs of North America is considered one of the best alpine rock climbs in America. It consists of 16-20 pitches of mostly 5.7 and occasional 5.9. There is one short section of 5.10 that can ba avoided by tension traverse. If you are fast you can climb it in a day, but there is also a place for a bivy, at the top of pitch 10.