Spinstone (IV, Fun+ R, 390m)

S. Isaac, S. Semple, September 2002


Spinstone climbs the gully on the west face of the Howsers between South and Central. The name comes from the constant, in-your-face spindrift at the cruxes and the amazing number of chockstones—both helpful and hindering—that make up the route. (The gully has been rapped before. A couple tell-tale rap anchors are in-situ.)


Avoid doing this route on a warm day. Many of the chockstones (big and small) are frozen in place. The gully consists of five chimneys and five overhanging chockstones. The first two are bypassed via a very fun, very cool, low-angle snow/ice/granite groove. (Raph: Spinstone Direct awaits…) The remaining three involve squeezing and stemming your way up the chimneys and a few steep moves past the stones. Gear varies in size from baby angles to a #3 Camalot. (A #5 would be helpful in a couple places…)


Approach: Approach as for the Beckey-Chouinard on South Howser . Up to the Snowpatch/Bugaboo col, up to the Pigeon/Howser col, down the west side, traverse down and past the rib that marks the beginning of the Beckey-Chouinard. Continue up the next gully and snow slopes to the base. Five hours from the hut. (An awesome tour of a lot of mega-cool climbing terrain. Saskatchewan weren’t nuttin’ like this.)


P1: 70m. Low-angle snow and rock. Belay under overhanging chockstone. Simul-climbing required.


P2: The Intro, 60m. Climb up the corner for a couple metres. Follow a down-sloping ramp under the overhang to the right. Up verglassed rock to snow slope. Low angle snow to an ice belay on the right-hand side of the gully.


P3: Granite is Great, 65m. Up to the left is a wide chimney with a large chockstone (a second chimney with a second chockstone is hidden above). Up to the right is a snow/ice/granite groove. Head up low-angle ice to follow the right hand line until you encounter two flakes. The lower (smaller) flake points up toward a wide crack (12”?) above a slab. The higher flake is larger and leads up to the right into another snow/ice/granite groove. Choose the right-hand option. Continue up the groove to low-angle snow and a good cam belay (#0.75 & #0.5 Camalot) beside a slung flake. (Do not belay off the flake.) Partner will have to simul-climb for a few metres.


P4: Rap Attack, 20m. Rap off the flake (if it’s still frozen in place) and back into the gully. The next belay is a sheltered corner that is a little lower than the rap flake (#3 & #2 Camalot). Be sure not to rap too low or you’ll be below the second of the five overhanging chockstones.


P5: Harder Than It Looks, 60m. Follow low-angle snow and ice to a “mini-headwall” (not the huge one up and left). Bypass the mini-headwall on the right (fixed pin). Continue up to a cool cave belay (screws).


P6: This Must Be The Crux, 30m. Pull past the cave lip on the right (#1 Camalot) and onto a short snow slope. Go up the snow slope and admire the ugly chimney. Squeeze and shimmy your way up the back of the chimney until just below the large chockstone. An OK #3 and a good #0.5 will protect the next few moves. Move into a wide stem and continue up the left-hand seam on good hooks with long pulls. Pull past the lip onto another short snow slope. Continue up to another cave belay (screws). (Rope drag is a non-issue in the chimney, but will probably be BAD past the lip.)


P7: Hmmm… Maybe This is the Crux, R, 30m. From the cave, continue up the right-hand option toward the fourth huge chockstone. Good hook at the lip, but no gear unless you bring a #5 Camalot. Pull through a difficult mantle onto a short granite slab and the slope above. Up the slope to another chimney with, you guessed it, large overhanging chockstones. Climb up the corner, traverse to the right under the chockstones and pull through to the lip. On the left hand side of the gully (5m past the lip) is a protected corner belay (bomber ½” to 1” cracks).


P8: Sweet, I Think We’re Finished, 55m. Follow low-angle snow and rock to a welcomed snow groove to the top of the notch between South and Central. Belay from two fixed pins and a fixed nut.


Descent: Rap the east side of the notch. Two raps (fixed pins and then an Abalakov) to pass the bergschrund and onto the glacier.