Yamabushi, Yamnuksa, 5.13a, 300 metres
In about 1999 Raphael Slawinski and Will Gadd started work on a new line on the last major buttress of Yamnuska without a route on it. It took 11 more trips up on the wall, but in the end they finished off what Gadd considers the best rock route he had ever done in the Canadian Rockies. The climbing is sustained, five of the eight pitches are 5.12 or harder, and even the 5.11 pitches are involved, and the sometimes friable rock adds to the excitement.
P1 5.10, 60 m Climb the shield right of Balrog, easy scrambling across the ledge (skip the anchor, that’s for rapping), up and left to a semi-hanging stance just right of the Balrog crack. Long slings reduce rope drag.
P2 5.13a, 25 m Right up the shallow dihedral to the big roofs, get motivated and climb ‘em! (note that two ropes are required to rap from the top of this pitch, a single 70 rope will be hanging in space). Prussics can be handy for the second if he or she falls off into space and is left dangling there, but a tight rope will keep things in check.
P3 11d, 50 m Up and generally left on perfect grey rock for about 20M, then back right a bit and up to “lunch ledge,” the only ledge on the climb. A bit run reaching the ledge but not so hard, a cam might be nice. This pitch always seems hard. There are extendo slings on the anchor to keep the rope knot from catching on rap.
P4 12b, 35 m Fun climbing on excellent rock to a semi-hanging stance under a roof. This is the last stance where rapping is straight-forward. With a single 70M rope the ends will just reach Lunch Ledge, fun rappel.
P5 12b, 30 m Three different fun cruxes. This pitch was very scary to clean on lead, some of the bolts may seem a bit close, but they were used to avoid dying while sending down huge blocks on lead. Excellent rock, and good luck on the last move to the anchor…
P6 12b/c, 30 m Strenuous and gymnastic climbing up overhanging dihedrals to a baffling crux move before the belay. Down-clipping would be required to rap from here, even with two 70M ropes the ends hang too far out from the wall to reach back in. Down-clipping works OK.
P7 12b/c, 35 m Just when you thought it was over…Very technical with small holds, devious. This pitch is harder than 5.11 but I’m not sure what it really is, I look forward to hearing someone else’s opinion…
P8 11c, 50 m Surprisingly hard, the first seven pitches take a toll. There is a two-bolt belay at the top of the steep rock, definitely stop here and bring the second up rather than topping out immediately, the last few meters of walking up to the top offer some of the finest rubble found on Yam. There is a bolt just below the top under a cairn to safeguard the last bit.
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1999: Gadd and Slawinski bolt the first pitch and start work on the second and third pitches.
2000-05: Gadd and Slawinski work for four more days from the ground-up, and experiment with rap-bolting, which is not very successful due to the angle of the wall. Gadd also works on the route with Kevin Wilson for a cold day.
2006, September-October: Gadd and Richards spend 11 days cleaning and bolting. Kevin Dyck also puts a day in, as does Sarah Hueniken. Gadd finally does a complete no falls bottom-to-top ascent on October 12, leading every pitch with Josh Briggs jumaring.
“Yama” is Japanese for Mountain, “Bushi” for monk. The Yamabushi in Japan are warrior/monks who train with extreme asceticism; they run a marathon a day for 60 days straight, eating only small amounts of rice. Plus the name has “Yam” at the start, which is what locals call the cliff. Yam has a long and proud climbing history for Canadian climbers, it’s the crucible in which many Canadian climbers were forged over the last 50+ years.
Source: Will Gadd, Vimeo, Wikipedia