The Canadian Rockies are one of North America’s premiere ice, alpine and rock climbing destinations. There are countless classic big wall climbs and alpine faces, and the climbers who established most of the most famous lines, all started their adventure climbing on Yamnuska. If you’re not fammiliar with Yamnuska, it’s a south-facing peak just west of Calgary with a storied past. Scroll down to read more about it.
Climbing Pioneers of Yamnuska is a new film that will be released on International Mountain Day, this upcoming Dec. 11. In the 1990s, legendary climbing author Chic Scott travelled across Canada doing research for his book Pushing the Limits. As part of that research, he talked to hundreds of climbers and recorded every interview on film or audio.
All of those recordings have been collecting dust at the Whyte Museum in Banff. Over the next few seasons, the museum will be remastering those old videos and editing them together to make a series of films featuring historical Canadian climbers.
The first film will be Climbing Pioneers of Yamnuska, and the second is rumoured to focus on top ice climbers of the 1970s and 1980s, such as Guy Lacelle. We’ll be sure to have the video on Gripped once it’s online.
First technical climb: Grillmair Chimney in 1952 by Leo Grillmair, Isabel Sprit and Hans Gmoser
Hardest climb: Blue Jeans Direct 5.14b
Classic route: Kahl Wall 5.10
Rock: Limestone, bulges, slabs, corners, loose and solid
Protection: Very bad to OK
Bolts: Most anchors, some protection, few fully bolted
Approach time: 45 to 90 minutes, steep scree trail
Season: February to November, season depending, mostly March to October
Closest town: Exshaw
Longest route: It’s All McConnell’s Fault 5.11 A0, 88-pitch traverse
Descents: Walk-off north slopes on scree trails
Exposure: Steep climbing high above valley. Often Feels very exposed
What to expect: Yamnuska has a lot of loose rock, run-outs and hard route-finding. Storms can creep up from the north. Never climb below another team and always bring a pack with a warm jacket, food, water and communication device. Yamnuska should be taken very seriously and don’t underestimate the grades. A 5.8 on Yamnuska could have 10-metre runouts, loose rock and hard-to-find anchors.
Gear: Double ropes for multi-pitch climbs. Always wear a helmet. The rack will depend on the route, but most routes require a double rack with many long runners. Check the guidebook.
Guidebook: Rock Climbs of Yamnuska by Andy Genereux