PermaGrin (TD- M5 WI4, 320m)

S. Isaac, S. Semple, B. Webster, October 2002


PermaGrin climbs a pitch and a half of the descent gully on the east face of South Howser Tower, but generally climbs ice smears to the left. The name comes from an overhanging bergschrund, styrofoam snow, thin ice, pick width cracks that magically neck down, incut granite, good gear, a bluebird sky, zero wind and a warm, sunny summit. Screws, nuts, cams.


Approach: Approach as for The Big Hose on South Howser.


P1: 60m. Up snow and across the bergschrund (wherever it makes the most sense) to the first belay of The Big Hose. On the first ascent, an ice belay made more sense than trying to get up to the usual anchor. Good screws.


P2: 75 degree ice and mixed, 60m. Traverse left across the top of the ice slope toward two mixed grooves. Good gear and granite jugs in the left one. Belay at a comfortable stance with multiple bomber cracks.


P3: 80 degree ice, 50m. Move right to get on a thin, but wide, ice runnel. Follow thin ice in grooves (stubbies). When the ice vein splits in two, move into the left groove to belay in a bomber ½” to ¾” crack.


P4: 75 degree ice, 60m. Move up a couple metres and step right through snow onto the other runnel. Go up low-angle snow and ice. Pass the Big Flake rap station and continue up left into a narrow ice runnel to some tat over a horn. Full screws and tat for belay.


P5: M5, 50m. Pure joy. The leader described the seconds’ as “giggling their way up it”. Continnue up low angle snow through a rocky groove and into a friendly chimney. Choose between: hand jams, pick width cracks that neck down or granite jugs. Good rock gear, a couple bomber threads. (From the belay at the top of P4, another variation is possible by traversing down and right into the smear most visible from the base. Would be WI4ish?? On good ice to the same finishing pitch.)


P6: ???, 40m. Low angle snow, ice and rock to the top.


Descent: Rap as per the standard descent for the tower. Further up and right from topping out an established (tat) station can be had, but snow conditions may dictate rapping off a draped flake instead. Rap to the right of the ascent line heading for the alternate ice pitch on pitch 5. Tat stations and Abalokovs to the base.