Big, Fast, and Free in the Bugaboos


Bean Bowers and Dave Nettle made an 11-hour free ascent of the 34-pitch All Along the Watchtower (VI 5.12-) on the West Face of North Howser Tower in the Bugaboos. Bowers led, followed, or soloed every pitch free, and he onsighted all but a short crux face traverse; he free-climbed those moves from a stance 20 feet before the traverse on his second try. Nettle jumared the route’s hardest pitches during Bower’s block of leads. The two men simul-climbed or soloed numerous pitches at the beginning and end of the route in order to make it to the top in a day.

This is believed to be the first one-day free ascent of the route, which was free-climbed in 1996 by Topher Donahue and Kennan Harvey, and it is the second route on the tower to be freed in a day, after Hey Kool-Aid (5.11+), climbed last year by Bruce Miller and Chris Weidner.

A couple of days later, Bowers, Nettle, and Chris Swetland climbed a free link-up on the west side of South Howser Tower. The trio pioneered a 5.10 start to Bad Hair Day (V 5.12-) on the Minaret formation, followed that route to the Italian Pillar (V 5.11+), and free-climbed this to easy ground just below the summit of South Howser, where high winds drove them down. They called the link-up Bad Italian Hair.Comment on this story