Words by Dougald MacDonald / The Mountain WorldThe Canadian-American trio of Jason Kruk, Will Stanhope, and Matt Segal have completed the first free ascent of the west face of Howser Spire’s Central Tower in the Bugaboos at 5.12+. Tucked between the well-known South Tower (see 50 Classic Climbs) and the El Capitansized North Tower, the smaller Central Tower was only climbed by the west face for the first time in 1999, when two separate lines went up. Kruk, Segal, and Stanhope used a three-pitch variation to free-climb Chocolate Fudge Brownie (VI 5.9 A2), established by Sean Isaac and Brian Webster.
After being weathered off the route once, the three men climbed the 10-pitch face in a long day, with the crux coming with a steep slab traverse to the right to avoid an un-freeable roof. Stanhope and Segal both took whippers from the crux before Kruk was able to link the moves, opening the door to the North Vancouver/Miami Variation.