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Dangerous Bolts Added to Yamnuska, Removed

Two climbers new to the sport were seen adding under-drilled hardware to a classic climb on the Alberta peak

Photo by: Nick Baggaley

On May 29, two climbers were spotted heading up Calgary Route, a classic 5.6 on Yamnuska, wearing bike helmets and drilling random bolts (see above).

Merrick Montemurro, who’s repeated a number of the peak’s test-piece lines, and who recently climbed Riptide VI WI6 and Slipstream VI WI4, reported the incident on social media.

He said, “A party of two climbers on Yamnuska today attempting the Calgary Route brought a power drill with them and chose to start placing protection bolts in the chimney. When confronted (from our adjacent route) about what was going on, the party declared they were placing bolts as they pleased. The party was obviously extremely green. They were wearing bike helmets, got off route, thought the scrambling to approach was free-soloing, declared they’d passed their previous ‘high point’ which was the base of the route. A constant stream of verbal nonsense between leader and follower, including the second telling the leader how much slack to pull in every move.”

Word quickly spread in the Bow Valley climbing community, which led to Nick Baggaley and Greg Barrett heading up to take the bolts out. What they found was unique in the modern climbing world. Not only were the bolts dangerously under-drilled, but the climbers had left homemade quickdraws consisting of carabiners and cord tied with hitches and bowlines.

Top Canadian climber, Will Gadd, said, “If anyone knows these guys I’ll give them a free day of whatever form of climbing instruction they need including bolt removal. What they did is clearly ‘bad wrong very bad no!’ But, they had the vision, stoke and ‘Go for it’ to get up on a big cliff and climb with clearly close to zero education. While misguided, I have to admire that level of stoke, even as their actions are wrong, bad, etc. They need some engagement and pulling into the fold, but they’re likely not bad people out to destroy Yamnuska and our way of life, just ignorant of basic climbing practices. Again, wrong, bad, no, NO, bad climber, don’t do that. And no I’m not going to do free days for anyone bolting classic Yamnuska routes.”

When asked how high the “green” climbers had made it on their first Yamnuska route, Baggaley said, “There were eight bolts. Totally looked like they bailed off the last bolt before the first choke. If they continued, they’d have been climbing far bolder than they did on the first half.”

Yamnuska closed on June 7 until next year because Alberta Parks is upgrading the trail system.

Quickdraws left on Yamnuska Photo Nick Baggaley


Lead photo: Nick Baggaley