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S. Howser Spire

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Anyone done the Becky/Chounard(?) route here?

What is the approach from Howser/Pidgeon col to the base of the climb like?

The descent? Route beta?


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The descent from the col to the base of the route starts with steep scree and snow/ice before ending up on mellower snow fields. A lot of people seem to bivi at the col and check out the descent the day before. Probably a good idea.

The climb itself seemed very sustained at the 5.8 to 5.9 level. The pitches were long and I don't remember very many easy ones. The route itself is obvious to follow but all and all I'd say the topo doesn't really do the difficulty of it justice. Lots of hand cracks but nothing bigger than 3.5". I probably bring a couple extra 2" pieces.

The descent is a series of 5 or 6 rappels straight off the summit. The last is over the shrund and wasn't as bad as expected.

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Darin notes that "the climb itself seemed very sustained at the 5.8 to 5.9 level." I did it many years ago and my memory is rather dim, but at the time I had never climbed anything rated over 5.9 and I managed the entire climb - in hard-soled RR's - with only three points of aid. I'm not disagreeing with Mr. Berdinka, as I too recall only a few easy pitches, but I would add that on the other side of the coin, I think there is VERY LITTLE climbing over 5.8 to 5.9 (I don't know what current books give for a rating).

I also recall that we found the descent quite an adventure (I had at that time done very little alpine climbing). Somehow, I believe we managed to get the ropes stuck on 4 out of the first 4 rappels so we spent a cold night on the snowy shoulder prominent in photos from the East. In the morning, we rappelled into the schrund, then cut a bollard on the lower lip, and the rope froze in place so that when 4 of us jumped on it to free it, we all went ass-over-tea-kettle down the glacier. You may be a little more alpine savvy then we were, but be careful and have fun.

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