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Unrepeated Yamnuska Traverse Attempted in Single Push

Yamnuska is a south-facing wall on the eastern edge of the Canadian Rockies about 45 minutes from Calgary. At its highest, the peak stands just shy of 400 metres from the base, but is 2.8 kilometres long. At either end are short one pitch routes and in the middle are long multi-pitch routes. In the most recent guidebook by Andy Genereux, there are nearly 200 routes up the iconic mountain’s limestone wall. In 2004, Allan Derbyshire and Choc Quinn completed an 82-pitch 5.11a A0 traverse of the entire face of Yamnuska. It’s All McConnell’s Fault is one of the longest routes in Canada that has a pitch-by-pitch description. Most of the 82 pitches are 5.9 or easier, but until this year there has been little interest in repeating the route.

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

Mark Bramble of Canmore has long envisioned climbing the line in a single push. With multiple sections of down-climbing, traversing and rappelling, the route finding is complicated. Bramble spent many hours reading and memorizing the long route description for a July 2016 attempt. With Kevin Lottis, they started up How the West Was Won and after two days made it to the Grillmair Chimneys area in just under 40 pitches. They had stashed water and camps along the way before their attempt and bivied at the base of the wall on their only night out. Bramble noted that to climb the 82-pitch route in a single 24-hour push would require both climbers to complete each pitch in only 15 minutes. He noted that a three or four day ascent is the more likely. Bramble and Lottis are the first climbers, on record, to traverse half of Yamnuska in only two days. Some might refer to their climb as It’s All McConnell’s Fault Light, like climbing half of Freeway in Squamish is called Freeway Light.

One example of a pitch description from Rock Climbs of Mt. Yamnuska by Genereux reads: “Pitch 30: 5.5 25m Climb as for pitch 3 of Chockstone Corner. Move out right then climb down a groove and traverse right to reach a chimney on the left side of a large pinnacle. Belay on a large jammed block at the top of the pinnacle.” Bramble plans to complete the second half of the traverse sometime this year.