Like I was saying earlier, the four of us set out from Yosemite to the Canadian Rockies in 1975, packed into Mike’s Nissan. Stopped at the crags around Leavenworth, Washington along the way. There was a lot of bad weather that summer. I recall the death march up to the Kain Hut with 10 day’s supply of food and big wall racks. After sitting in the hut for four days straight in the steady rain, we had eaten all the food and had to go down to get more.
When the weather improved somewhat, Tobin and I hiked over to do the Becky -Chouinard route on the South Howser Tower. We bivied in the cave at the base, and next morning we started up, finding the climbing to be straight-forward cracks on friendly granite. The weather worsened, so we began sprinting to beat the storm. There was a face climbing section near the top that was the crux, but we didn’t find it very hard, especially since we were focused on moving quickly. We reached the summit just as the storm began in earnest, but managed to find the north ridge rappels and get back to the hut.
We had no idea at the time if the route had gone free before, and didn’t find out it was the first free ascent until we talked to some Colorado climbers a week or so later at the Icefields campground. They asked us what we had done in the Bugaboos and when we told them the B/C , they asked, “Did you do it free?” Turns out they had come up intending to do the FFA themselves. Tobin and I casually replied that yes, indeed, we had done it free. I recall Tobin giving me an exuberant high-five when we were out of sight of the Colorado lads.
Nice story, Rick. We tried the route in 1977, unsuccessfully, but did it in 1991. The nominal crux move, as I remember it, is the very last part of technical climbing - a sort of tension traverse/slab leading to the notch. I suspect a lot of people freedom-free it. Even by 1975 I suspect there wasn't much aid left on the route - unless it's wet or icy, the rest is pretty consistent crack climbing.
The first time I went to the Bugaboos was in 1974, with Eric Weinstein. Perfect weather. We did the Kraus-McCarthy on Snowpatch, and the East Ridge of Bugaboo, without any problems. Eric, always ambitious, then tried to talk me into doing a route on the Howsers. I vaguely recall talk around the hut about people doing the Beckey-Chouinard, or freeing it, or some such. Anyway, it seemed much more than I was up for, so we did some other things instead.
Perhaps the ST server could be set to auto-correct postings with common misspellings of "known" names, or even reject them? That way, if you misspelled Coneyard, Buckey, Salada, Robbem, Hardman, Bridewell, Backyard, Tuckits, YouSeeItsMe or other names of well-known cliffs and climbers featured in fine ST publications, we wouldn't see the results. There are lots of spelling and grammatical atrocities perpetrated on ST forums, but it'd be nice to check this plague.
While we're at it, let's stamp out apostrophe abuse. Excuse me, apos'trophe abus'e. Particularly in plural nouns, e.g. "photo's".