Posted on: December 1, 2002

The south side of South Howser Tower. The Minaret, a distinct and separate feature, appears as part of South Howser Tower from this angle. Flags indicate the top of the Minaret (lower) and the summit of the Tower (upper). Routes shown are as follows. 1 Beckey-Chouinard Route (V 5.10a A0, 2,500' of technical terrain plus 1,000' of fourth-class scrambling, Beckey-Chouinard, 1961) 2 Lost in the Towers Variation (V 5.10 A1, Kamara-Walseth, 1980) 3 Catalonian Route (V 5.10 A2, 2,500', Burgada-Cabau-Masana-Wenciesko, 1983) 4 West Face [unfinished] (IV 5.10+, 1,000', Doub-Stoble, 1979) 5 Bad Hair Day (V 5.12-, 2,500' to the summit of South Howser Tower, Scully-Wirtz, 2002) 6 South Face Left/Italian Pillar (VI 5.10+ A4, 2,500' to the summit of South Howser Tower, DeFrancesco-Stedile, 1987) 7 Martin-Smith (V 5.11 A2, 2,500' to the summit of South Howser Tower, 2001) 8 Doubting the Millennium (V 5.10 A3, 1,200' to join with the Southwest Pillar route, Sell-Schultz, 1999) 9 Southwest Pillar (VI 5.8 A3, 2,500' to the summit of South Howser Tower, Jones-Rogan, 1972) 10 Cameron's Pillar (IV 5.11+, 1,500', Donahue-Donahue-Tague, 2000) [Photo] Lizzy Scully

In August, Heidi Wirtz and I made the first free ascent of South Howser Minaret. The seventeen-pitch Bad Hair Day (V 5.12-, 1,800') took two full days to climb. In addition to one 5.12- pitch, the route offers two sustained 5.11 pitches and numerous 5.10 pitches, including a heinous traversing runout pitch to the Italian Pillar. Wirtz and I onsighted every pitch on lead except the 5.10+ slot offwidth 300 feet below the summit. After falling three times and lowering back to the belay, I finished the pitch clean. Wirtz fired the crux pitch early on the second morning, after a cold and sleepless one-bivy-sack-on-a-three-foot-ledge night.

Though connected to South Howser Tower, the Minaret is considered a separate pinnacle. So far it has seen four aid ascents and numerous attempts at free ascents, including the unfinished route known as the West Face. Bad Hair Day starts with the first three pitches of the West Face, traverses right into new territory for approximately ten pitches, and then finishes on a route—possibly the South Face Route (V 5.10+ A4)—closer to the east face.


— Lizzy Scully, USA

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