First morning views of the Beckey-Chouinard Route (NW Buttress) of South Howser Tower. That thing is huuuge!
Alec ready to climb the B-C!
Looking south at Pigeon Feathers from the ropeup spot of the route. We descended that glacier in the dark on our approach.
Looking SW at Flattop Peak, Flattop SW1, Crossed Fish and Little Snowpatch from the base of the roped pitches of the Beckey-Chouinard Route.
The first roped pitch of Beckey-Chouinard starts here and goes to the right around the giant boulders. I recommend simul-climbing the first two pitches. (the topo considers the 1,000' scramble to the start as P1).
Sunrise at last illuminating peaks to the SW. Flattop Peak, Flattop SW1, Crossed Fish and Little Snowpatch
Following up P2 on the simul-climb (the topo considers the 1,000' scramble to the start as P1).
Following Alec on the lower simul-climb. I'm probably at about the belay for P2 while Alec is in 5.7 terrain and nearly done with P3.
Beckey-Chouinard Route on South Howser Tower. The 5.9-5.10 roof ascends the first tier, then the Great Dihedral makes up the second tier, and then the route wraps around the backside of the Great White Headwall above. Perspective greatly distorts scale from this view!
Alec leading up flaring 5.7 grooves near the end of P3 as we simul-climbed the lower pitches.
Beckey-Chouinard Route on South Howser Tower. The Great Dihedral (below) and the Great White Headwall above really stand out. Perspective greatly distorts scale from this view!
Alec just past the 5.9-5.10 roof on P4.
Looking down the route from atop P4. Below a guide and client are racing up. They gracefully passed us as we finished the Great Dihedral and reached the big sandy ledge.
Following up P5 (5.8). The rock was still a little gritty and flaring here, but it would soon clean up and turn to splitter jam cracks.
Leading P6, climbing a little 5.7 tier to enter the Great Dihedral. Above I had to do a little face climbing traversing between cracks to reach the corner.
The Great Dihedral. 300 ft of fun and sustained. 5.7-5.8 hand jams. I led nearly the entire thing as one long pitch. Lots of leapfrogging cams! Especially #3 C4s. It reminded me of an easier version of Mithral Dihedral.
Beginning the first real pitch of the Great Dihedral. P7
Never ending corner on the Great Dihedral. P7
Looking down the Great Dihedral from just below the top. P7
Alec following up one of the wider sections of the Great Dihedral. The guide is below him at one of the standard belays - a very nice ledge. P7
I just barely ran out of rope below this final lieback-stemming crux at the top of the Dihedral, so I set up a semi-hanging belay. The guide and client passed us here as Alec followed up to the belay and continued on to the large bivy ledge. P7-P8
Reaching the first and largest of the two large bivy ledges. There is another headwall with 5.8 climbing (P9 & P10) to reach the next ledge. Almost time for a lunch break!
Guide and client atop the first of two short pitches (P9 & P10) that take one from the lower to upper big bivy ledges. The Great White Headwall is above.
Guide atop P10,with the follower about to start the supposed 5.9 wide and squeeze. I really didn't find this pitch that hard, but it was pretty fun!
Lovely cracks on the Great White Headwall.
On the Beckey Chouinard, Mark contemplates the start of pitch 11, a vertical fist crack in a corner. (by Alec LaLonde)
Beginning the first wide part of P11. This is solid #4 C4 size. Alec liebacked it (easier with the pack). I torqued my feet and armbarred up the crack. Above is a squeeze chimney before it cuts right onto a crack on the face. Make sure to take the #4 with you for higher up!
The second part of P11. Fun wide fists before the easy stepover below the OW.
Guide and follower ascending the 5.10 finger crack variation of P12. I took the OW & chimney to the right, unknowingly linking 2-3 pitches into one long mega-pitch!
Looking down from atop P11. We're getting pretty high! The ridge was first gained just below the horseshoe-shaped bit of snow on the left.
Alec getting ready to follow P11. This pitch was pretty steep and just under 60m.
Interesting glacier cave and ice flow contours.
Looking down after the first OW (P12). It was surprisingly tough! The #4 cam was tipped out a lot of the time.
Looking up the next section (P13)
This OW (P14) was pretty tricky and often too wide for the #4 C4. Fortunately every now and then I could get a nut or C3 in the thin crack on the left, which also occasionally provided some stemming rests.
Looking down from the crux OW (P14) at the little roof and chimney climbed just before.
Looking down from the crux OW (P14) at the little roof and chimney climbed just before. You can see Alec at the start of the pitch.
Looking up P15-P16 This was a nice break from all of the tough wide below! I had unknowingly linked pitches to get here, which saved a lot of time, but left us surprised about the next pitch, which we thought was 5.6 but was really 5.8-5.9!
Leading easy terrain on P15-P16
Reaching the crux on P15-P16 You must ascend a nice hand crack on the left wall into a tight squeeze chimney before a final 5.6 hands and fists corner.
The final fun hands and fists section of P15-P16
Looking down from atop P15-P16.
The notch you reach at the crux face traverse (to the left behind). I reached this unexpectedly as we had unknowingly linked pitches below, and at first I was worried that we were off route!
Alec traversing out on the crux 5.10 face traverse of P18. You can see the lower-out tat on the piton on the right. This is the only pro for the entire crux traverse. Alec is too high here and found it easier to finish the traverse a little lower.
Alec traversing out on the crux 5.10 face traverse of P18. Alec was too high earlier and found it easier to finish the traverse a little lower here. I found the real crux to be where he is at here, turning the corner.
The pitons that protect the crux traverse or allow one to tension around the arete.
Following up the easy gully after the crux face traverse on P18. This gully is only about cl. 4, so the leader can easily climb high before placing the first piece of pro, to give the follower a better top-rope for the crux traverse.
Alec belaying at the rappel notch.
The final ridge section to the top of South Howser Tower. You rappel to the right here onto easier ledges.
Middle and North Howser Towers.
The ledge system one climbs (P19) to summit South Howser Tower seen from the rappel.
Looking SW from the base of the rappel.
Simul-climbing the final few hundred feet to the summit of South Howser Tower.
The summit of South Howser Tower!
Interesting meltwater patterns on the glacier below.
Pigeon Spire seen from the summit of South Howser Tower.
Snowpatch Spire seen from the summit of South Howser Tower.
Bugaboo Spire seen from the summit of South Howser Tower.
The Vowell Glacier and surrounding spires from South Howser Tower. (Bugaboo Spire, Snowpatch Spire, Pigeon Spire, and the Sphinx (center))
Panorama from the summit of South Howser Tower.
Middle Howser Tower seen from South Howser Tower.
Summit! So psyched.
Looking back at the summit after the first rappel.
Third litte rappel. About 7 left and Alec is looking tired. It has been a long day.
Alec on the first steep rappel off the NE ridge and into the dihedral.
Steep view down the rappels towards Middle Howser Tower. It is one more steep rappel to the large ledge below, where you go rappeller's right on a low angle ledge to the final set of rappels aiming right, straight down to the glacier.
Sunset on Bugaboo Spire, Snowpatch Spire, Pigeon Spire, and the Sphinx (center) from the rappels on South Howser Tower.
Sunset on Pigeon Spire from the rappels on South Howser Tower.
Sunset on Snowpatch Spire from the rappels on South Howser Tower.
Sunset on Bugaboo Spire from the rappels on South Howser Tower.
Fading light on Bugaboo Spire from the rappels on South Howser Tower.
Fading light on Bugaboo Spire, Snowpatch Spire, and Pigeon Spire from the rappels on South Howser Tower.
Fading light on Pigeon Spire from the rappels on South Howser Tower.
Pigeon Spire after sunset as we finished the rappels on South Howser Tower.
Final rappel into the massive bergschrund. Now to climb back out!
Alec on the final rappel over the massive bergschrund. It is quite flat where I am after about 40m.
Alec on the final rappel over the massive bergschrund.
Alec on the final rappel over the massive bergschrund. The last few rappels had brought us down the buttress above from the step on the skyline.