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Leo Houlding and Will Stanhope Free Bugaboos Retinal Circus

Retinal Circus was climbed by Aaron Martin and Zack Smith. The big crack system climbs the Minaret on the South Howser Tower in the Bugaboos. After their ascent, Smith wrote in the American Alpine Journal, “Someone else had attempted the line before but had bailed about eight pitches up, placing bolts and leaving pins and stoppers.

“This helped us tremendously, because we would often short-fix off their anchors and lead in blocks. The climbing here was sustained and mostly high- quality free and aid. The crux free climbing went to Aaron—flared runout liebacking above an uninspiring TCU belay. We topped out on the Minaret at dusk, all smiles but ready for it to be over.” Read the full story here.

Will Mayo and Matt McCormick attempted to free the line in 2007. Mayo said after, “We tried to free climb Retinal Circus on the Minaret first; but, quickly realized that it was a “butt-crack” and we didn’t have nearly enough skill or knife blades for that one.”

Canadian crusher Will Stanhope and U.K. sender Leo Houlding visited the Bugaboos this summer and made the first free ascent of Retinal Circus at 5.12+ in a one-day push after a few attempts. More Bugaboo news to come, as this summer saw a number of big aid lines go free.

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