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Video: Climbing All Along the Watchtower

June 20, 2018

Found in Activities, Stories

“I would be lying if I didn’t say I had a huge pit in my stomach as soon as I saw it,” MEC Ambassador Sarah Hart says about her first good look up North Howser Tower and the line ahead: All Along the Watchtower.

Watch the story of two climbing soul-sisters – Sarah Hart and Jenny Abegg – on their ascent of this mega route, and what it means to attempt a huge, remote summit in the Bugaboos together.

We followed up with Sarah to find out more about this route:

What was your state of mind going into this climb?

Climbing on the west side of the North Howser Tower had been a goal I’d built a long-term plan around to prepare and get fit for. I had a lot of desire to climb this particular route. The west side of the Howser Tower in the Bugaboos feels like the Canadian version of Patagonia, and being back there feels like you’re really in the mountains, alone.

How do you stay focused when you’re tired and still have tough pitches ahead?

That’s why alpine climbing is so cool – I feel like the situations and positions that the sport puts us in forces us to have 100% focus. I actually don’t have to try very hard to be emotionally and mentally present. It happens naturally for me. I’ve been told in the past that mountain-Sarah is much more pragmatic and calculated than everyday-Sarah, who tends to be a little goofy with a “whatever-happens-happens” approach.

What was going through your mind on the ridge?

I was exhausted and pretty much just wanted to get to the top, and get off. Half the journey is getting up, but the other half is getting down safely and efficiently. There isn’t time or energy to waste on savouring it. It’s all business for Sarah-on-a-mountain-top.

Any memorable behind the scenes moments?

I sure do have a favourite off-the-camera moment. On the summit ridge, [filmers] Josh and Delano were well ahead of us because Josh has been on that ridge many times and knew where to go. Jenny and I had never been up there, so we were getting lost and wasting some time navigating the complex ridge. I rounded a corner at one point, very tired, and Josh and Delano were waiting for us all smiles. Josh had the camera out. I looked up at him and said totally straight-faced, “Now is not the time to film, Josh.” Ha! I think he was a little surprised at my directness. We definitely laughed about that one on the way back to Applebee.

What were your most trusted pieces of gear on this climb?

Sarah Hart organizing gear in the Bugaboos

MEC Light Obsession: I never really took this jacket off. I’m a sweaty person when I’m moving, but this jacket, more than most others, breathes well. I definitely put it through its paces on this trip. (If you’re looking for other breathable insulated layers, check out more ultralight insulated jackets here.)

MEC Alpinelite 32L Backpack: There will never be another Genie Pack, but this sure gets pretty close. It’s super minimal but still a very comfortable pack that hauled well in the upper corner pitches.

Petzl Micro Traxion: One of my most cherished and trusted pieces of gear, especially for long routes in the mountains. The versatility of the Micro Traxion makes it useful for so many scenarios: hauling, simul-climbing, rescue systems, etc.

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