The Beckey-Chouinard (5.10+, TD+, Grade V) is one of the most spectacular alpine climbs in North America, boasting flawless splitter cracks, a stunning position, and outrageous scenery above magnificent glaciers. We climbed it as a three-person team on one 70m rope, with Abigail tied in on a butterfly knot. I was expecting the route to take seven hours camp-to-camp, but we more than doubled that time because it was Abi’s first season rock climbing – it soon became clear that she didn’t know what a ‘col’ was, had never climbed snow (steep or otherwise), and earned the nickname Sketchy Abi for often forgetting to keep a hand on the brake while belaying. Nonetheless we moved quickly for a three-person team and caught up to the higher parties, hitting a traffic jam high on the mountain. A couple of novice keeners tried to pass us mid-pitch down low, mucked up the maneuver, then became disgruntled and bailed due to rope snafu. Two experienced keeners then cruised past us simul-climbing with no issue (they were doing an impressive linkup of numerous peaks that day!). I opted for the harder 5.10 variations higher up the route and led every pitch. Our three-person butterfly system worked well and we topped out at 9:30pm, having started the roped climbing at 11am and simul-climbed a few sections of the route. The rappels passed without issue except for one stuck rope retrieval and some concern about an oncoming thunderstorm – the distant lightning strikes were both brilliant and alarming. The next climbing party on the route will be elated to find some booty – a brand new #4 ultralight BD Camalot, which was left behind by my second, and a helmet on a ledge, which mysteriously escaped his head. What a memorable adventure with good friends!
Beckey Chouinard Bugaboos South Howser Tower