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New Bugaboos Mixed Route on South Howser

On October 16, Takeshi Tani and Toshiyuki Yamada climbed a new route on the South Howser in the Bugaboos.

Their new route is one of the most obvious in the range and surprisingly had been left unclimbed. Tim McAllister, a Bugaboos regular, had visited the area twice in the past year to climb it, but ended up climbing two other new routes.

Tani and Yamada warmed up on The Big Hose D+ 5.9 M5 WI4, which was first climbed solo by Jon Krakauer in June of 1978. The “Hose” climbs an obvious line on the east face of South Howser and is considered one of the most classic alpine routes in Canada. After The Big Hose, Tani and Yamada stashed their gear at the base and returned to the Kain Hut.

Toshiyuki heading up The Big Hose the day before their new route.  Photo Takeshi Tani
Yamada heading up The Big Hose the day before their new route. Photo Takeshi Tani

The following morning, on Oct. 16, they retraced their steps back to the South Howser. After the long approach, they geared up, not knowing if the route had ever been climbed.

Yamada and Tani made their way up six pitches to the summit. They found climbing that was more difficult than The Big Hose. Back in civilization, they did some research and discovered their ascent was a first. They called their new route It Is What It Is D+ M5 WI4R.

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The first pitch was a full WI4 rope stretcher that placed them in a gully. From there, they climbed an M4+ chimney for 60 metres, which was followed by a shorter ice pitch.

The fourth pitch was the crux at WI4R and climbed a right facing corner with an ice smear on the right face. There is run-out gear in the crack, but you have to chop to find it. The fifth pitch was a 60-metre M5 that led to the summit snow slope and one more pitch of easy climbing ends at the summit.

Heading into the upper cruxes on It Is What It Is.  Photo Takeshi Tani
Heading into the upper cruxes on It Is What It Is. Photo Takeshi Tani

Just over one year ago, McAllister and Jen Olson approached South Howser to climb the above route, but made the first ascent of the esthetic Ethereal D+ M6 WI4R, which is farther right on the face, instead.

This fall, McAllister and Pat O’Sullivan returned to climb what was then the unclimbed It Is What It Is, but took advantage of a warm day and climbed the new six pitch 5.11b called The Middle Child on Son of Snowpatch.

Yamada Toshiyuki soaking up the sun on the summit of South Howser after climbing their new route.  Photo Takeshi Tani
Yamada Toshiyuki soaking up the sun on the summit of South Howser after climbing their new route. Photo Takeshi Tani

In 2002, Sean Isaac, Scott Semple and Brian Webster climbed Perma Grin D+ M5 WI4, which heads up the obvious line directly beneath the summit of the South Howser. It has been climbed a number of time over the past decade.

There are a number of summer rock climbs on the face, but over the past few decades, it has become more of a winter mixed wall.

South Howser East Face:
South Howser East Face. A: It Is What It Is D+ M5 WI4R, B: Ethereal D+ M6 WI4R, C: Perma Grin D+ M5 WI4, D: The Big Hose D+ 5.9 M5 WI4