B.C. has been experiencing one of its worst wildfire seasons on record, with people still under evacuation orders throughout the interior. The smoke is blowing east and is blanketing the mountains from Revelstoke to Canmore, with many climbers cancelling their objectives.
It’s one thing to see the smoke and hear about the fires, but some outdoor enthusiasts have been sharing videos and images of the flames and hell-like skies.
Vernon-based slope-style mountain biker Brayden Barrett-Hay shared this video while driving along the Coquihalla Summit, not far from the famous Yak Peak, which is often busy with climbers in summer. He said that a number of homes where he’s based have been evacuated.
Yak Peak is one of B.C.’s must-climb mountains when conditions are right. It has a huge west-facing slab that rises above the highway and is full of great trad routes.
CardiYak Rythem is one of those climbs that heads up a monster slab. The 17-pitch granite route was established by Rob Birtles, Lyle Knight and Gary Wolkoff and climbed in September 2014. It will test your friction climbing skills.
The big route climbs sustained slabs, flakes and crack between Hole in My Heaven 5.10a and Reality Check 5.10. Despite having hard 5.11 slab climbing, it’s possible to climb it at 5.10c A0 by pulling on bolts through the cruxes, which might be worth it to enjoy the positions if the free grade is too daunting.
B.C. climber Knight has established many climbs over the years and has climbed Yak Peak above the Coquihalla Highway a number of times. Yak Peak stands at 2,039 metres and is the highest point along the Zopkios Ridge. Yak rises dramatically above the highway with its huge clean slabs, many have compared it to domes in Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite.
Knight and his partners wanted to create a difficult, safe climb up the wall. Yak Crack, a 12-pitch 5.9- has many loose runout sections and the 13-pitch Reality Check 5.10+ has an infamous 35-metre runout.
“Rob and I started sussing out a line in August 2011, and we quickly installed 12 anchors along our route to facilitate quick escape, given Yak’s unpredictable weather,” Knight wrote for the American Alpine Journal.
“I visited Yak Peak 12 times with Rob and/or Gary Wolkoff to complete the route. The first three and last three pitches of our 17-pitch route were climbed ground-up, as we were able to sufficiently bolt those sections on lead. The rest was established top-down, and we redpointed the harder pitches to figure out the best balance of gear and bolts.”
There’s great friction climbing and microedges with nearly no loose rock. The pitch-11 fingertip corner is one of the best on the peak.
Many climbers are still heading out to nearby crags for short sessions. For a few tips on how to get a few laps in when the skies are smoky visit here.