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Judge  Howay Revisited..ted..ted

(Text appeared originally in CAJ 1993)

by Kobus Barnard

(all photos copyright by Kobus Barnard)

"That's correct, sir.  I was really, truly, honestly, going to be reasonable this summer. I had it all planned. I was going to go to the Bugaboos with my friend Richard--we might even have used the hut.  It's not my fault I keep doing this! It's John's fault. That's right, John Clarke.  He showed me a picture of Judge Howay's north face. He said wicked things like 'this face has your name on it.' He said 'Paul and I are going into the north side to do this lovely granite horn--perhaps you know of it?' The gall! He said 'we can all do the horn, and then you can do the face with Richard.'"

"I hear that Richard refused to get involved."

"I can't help it if he doesn't really love me. But one of my friends heard of these developments and practically begged me to take her. So if it is not John's fault, it's Muriel's fault."

"Do go on."

"So John, Paul, Muriel, and I met at the head of Stave Lake, scammed a ride up the road, and hiked up the bush. On the second day we climbed the 5800 hundred foot peak directly north of the Judge. We think it should be called 'The Witness.'"

"You're not serious! You mean you bush-crashed up a measly 5800 foot wooded bump and think it should be treated as a first ascent? Sounds more like a Boy Scout project to me."

"Well 5800 feet may not sound like a lot, but then we climbed the 6200 foot one beside it. We think that one should be called 'The Defendant.'"

"Geez, climbing and naming peaks under 6500 feet as if you are a bunch of real pioneers. Well then, what did you do next?"

"Muriel and I went to try this line on the north face of the Judge, while John and Paul went exploring. The weather wasn't too good, so we went up a 1000 feet just to take a look. The next day the weather was a little better."

"So you and Muriel agreed to give it a serious try?"

"I tried to point out that in spite of the clouds, the weather was sure to get better. I tried to convince her that not knowing how we were going to get down was a minor inconvenience. Surely you see my point?"

"So you went home. I assume that this trip was enough idiocy for one season?"

"When Muriel's husband, Andy, saw the close-up photographs of the face, he insisted we go again with him. Can't you see, I had to go again?"

"So what was the strategy going to be this time?"

"We would canoe the lake, hike the logging road, ford the Stave River, bush hack directly up to the base, climb the route with all our gear, descend to the col between the two peaks, climb this other route that goes from the col directly up to the summit of the north peak, descend again, and drop into the valley on the south-east side, via the route pioneered by Howie Rode's party in the 1950's. It would probably be the first traverse of the peak!"

"I see. I think you may have to be with us for some time. Well, how did it all work out?"

"Pretty good. The first route required a bivi, but we had a great spot for it. There was lots of easy climbing, which was a good thing, since it was perhaps 35 rope lengths, excluding scrambling. We went up the obvious, sweeping buttress, which became a ridge of multiple gendarmes. This led to a large snowpatch. We kept to the right of the snow, going pretty much straight up. It never got harder than 5.7/5.8 and the rock was great. See, you don't have to go to the Bugs for good climbing."

"So the approach caused no difficulties?"

"Well Muriel did get hit by a rock, and we used the rope for some technical mud. But hey, when we got to the base, there was no line up. We call the route 'Weenies on Trial.'"

"So the route ends on the summit?"

"It ends up at the base of the false peak to the east of the main north peak. We scrambled up this, and found a cairn--at least it looked like one--rather small, but I fixed that."

"Hmmm. You seem to be rather abnormally interested in the presence or absence of certain structures on the summits of mountains. How did the second route go?"

"We started on it, but then I dropped a rock on Muriel."

"That was not very nice!"

"Well, it wasn't me, it was the rope! But since I was climbing, I guess it was my fault. My friends don't really blame me though--pretty nice, huh?"

"So two rocks fell on this trip, and they both hit Muriel?"

"Yeah, we now call her 'rock magnet.' It's great climbing with her, since you know in advance were the rockfall is going to end up, heh, heh."

"Hmmm. A morbid sense of humor, a very bad sign. Well how was the poor women after this incident."

"She got a pretty nasty bruise on her arm. She really couldn't climb, so we went down. Her arm took a few weeks to heal up."

"Since you did the 'Kindl Buttress' on the south side of the south peak in 1988, and have now done 'Weenies on Trial' on the north side of the north peak in 1991, I assume that this was it for the Judge. You did not go back, DID YOU?"

"It's not my fault, it's my girlfriend Emily's fault. I was tired from the previous trip, but I had agreed to do a trip with her. Can't you see? I couldn't back out."

"You went back."

"She allowed me four days off. Then we went back for the route out of the col. This time we approached via the route pioneered by Paul Binkert's party in 1971, the normal route. We camped high on the north peak. It was great because we were above the clouds, and there was a full moon, and we could take pictures of the sunset and sunrise and ..."

"Yeah, yeah. Did you try the route?"

"It was great! We got beautiful rock, good protection, interesting climbing for 8 to 10 pitches, and it was never too hard, perhaps stiff 5.7. The wall was incredibly sculptured--you could go anywhere, and ..."

"Will you save that stuff for the Alpine Journal! I really don't know what you climbers are on about half the time. I assume that, given your egos, you have named this route?"

"We like 'Forgive Us Our Trespasses.'"

"Is this because no rocks fell, or perhaps because you couldn't wait until Andy and Muriel could go with you?"

"You can make what you like of it. Did you know that 1991 was the first year that two separate parties made it to the top of the Judge? A trio from Vancouver Island made the top in mid summer. Things are getting crowded!"

"Good grief! I cannot imagine a more insignificant class of information than who climbed which peak by what route on which day. I am afraid that you will have to remain here until you are cured. But don't despair, we ease our patients back into a normal state of being, gently."

"So I get to climb, huh?"

"At the Rock House on Sundays, and on special occasions we let our patients top-rope clean granite within 100 feet of the parking lot."

"But it's not my faaaaaaaaaaaaault!"