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Belgians Go Free on the Minaret

The work of Belgians Nico Favresse and Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll in August, 2008: two free routes on the Minaret, Bugaboo Provincial Park, Canada. The variation marked with green, Millennium Escape (5.12-, 11 pitches, 600m), connnects two preexisting routes with five new pitches; marked with red is Doubting the Millenium (ED1: 5.10 A3 or 5.12c, 11 pitches, 600m), which Favresse and Villanueva O’Driscoll later climbed for its first free ascent. [Photo]

In August, continuing their successful North American climbing tour (read more about Favresse’s second ascent of Cobra Crack in the August 2, 2008 NewsWire), Belgians Nico Favresse and Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll freed two lines on the Minaret–a steep subpeak of South Howser Tower–in Bugaboo Provincial Park, Canada. On their first free attempt at Doubting the Millenium (ED1: 5.10 A3, 11 pitches, 600m), they were distracted by an unusual stalactite feature, which pointed them through five new pitches and onto the upper Southwest Pillar (ED1: 510+ A3). Except for one pitch the pair climbed the route onsight, swapping free leads, at 5.12-. They returned later in August to free their original objective, which went at 5.12c with some sketchy gear–three copperheads and a rivet–at the crux.

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