Home > Mountain

Mark Bramble Repeats Nearly 90-Pitch Yamnuska Traverse

Mark Bramble of Canmore has made the second ascent of It’s All McConnell’s Fault, a massive traverse across the south face of Yamnuska. The route is over 2.5 kilometres long and has difficulties to 5.11 A0. The traverse took Bramble seven days over the past few months. The mountain is about 45 minutes west of Calgary and has long been the centre of Rockies’ climbing action.

It's All McConnell's Fault on Yamnuska.
It’s All McConnell’s Fault on Yamnuska.

The first ascent of the traverse was in 2004 by Allan Derbyshire and Choc Quinn. They climbed along the wall in nearly 90 pitches at 5.11a A0. The route is likely the longest rock climb in North America. Many of the pitches are 5.9 or easier and until 2016, few climbers seemed interested in repeating the grand traverse.

Dow Williams around pitch 50 near Red Shirt. Photo Mark Bramble
Dow Williams around pitch 50 near Red Shirt. Photo Mark Bramble

Bramble climbed about 54 pitches with Kevin Lotis and about 11 pitches with Dow Williams. Bramble then climbed through bad weather with Landon Thompson for a few pitches. He completed the traverse with Jorge De la Mora over 20 pitches and finished on Tues. Oct. 4 at night in falling snow. At the end of the traverse is a gap over the hiker’s trail, of which Bramble said, “It doesn’t count if you didn’t stem across to the last pinnacle.”

Pitch 75 of the Yam traverse. Photo Mark Bramble
Pitch 75 of the Yam traverse. Photo Mark Bramble

In total, Bramble climbed the traverse between 88 and 90 pitches. His first attempt was a single-push of the route earlier this summer, which you can read about here. To climb the route in a day would require a team to climb every pitch in about 15 minutes for 24 hours straight.

The route has difficult and run-out traverses that head up and down, including complicated rappels. Bramble is the third person to complete the traverse and first to do it within one year. The first route up Yamnuska’s south face was Grillmair Chimneys 5.6 by Leo Grillmair, Isabel Sprit and Hans Gmoser in 1952. The most difficult route up the wall is Blue Jeans Direct 5.14a, which has only been sent by Sonnie Trotter. Read more about Yamnuska by Andy Genereux here.

Mark Bramble at the end of the traverse. Photo Jorge De la Mora
Mark Bramble at the end of the traverse. Photo Jorge De la Mora