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The Lighter Side of Climbing: Driving a Land Rover up to Yamnuska

In the 1960s, three climbers tried to drive a truck up to the base of one of Canada's most iconic walls

Photo by: Urs Kallen of the Land Rover below Yamnuska

The following story was written by legendary Calgary climber Urs Kallen about a day in the late 1960s when he and his buddies decided to try to drive a Land Rover to the base of Yamnuska. The 500-metre slope below Yamnuska is steep and loose. At the time, the area was not part of a park or protected area.

So Eckhardt Grassman, George Homer and I set out to do the third ascent of Forbidden Corner. It was first climbed in 1964 by Don Vockeroth and L. Mackaw and repeated by Brian Greenwood, John Moss and Nat Nicholas. George and I thought it would be a good idea to drive right to the bottom of the climb, Eckhardt was all excited and started up the trail, this was the original trail from the quarry.

On the way up we past Brian and Billy, they actually had to jump of to the side to let us pass, they were on their way to make another attempt on CMC Wall.

Soon after the Land Rover tackled the really steep part and it got stuck with all four wheels spinning, so I told Eckhardt to turn the vehicle sideways and we started walking up to climb Forbidden Corner, which between we found really hard because we had our Galibier Calcaire boots on.

Back down, Eckhardt proceded to turn the car around and he pulled the handbrake so that we could get in, but he soon realized that this was no good and the car started to roll, for a moment Eckhardt had to make a choice, stay with the car or jump, and jump he did.

He got out while the car was bouncing strait down the hill, picking up a lot of speed and it slammed in to the bushes and knocked over some small trees and it came to a stop. We were killing ourselves laughing.

Eckhardt tried to get in to the car but the trees were too tight against the doors, so eventually he climbed through the back hatch.

As he tried to back up, the trees were standing back up behind it and it was going nowhere, so he slammed it to forward and drove through the bushes until he came out just above the Quarry.

So ended another exciting day on Yam.

Climbing Red Shirt on Yamnuska in the late 1960s. Photo Urs Kallen

The Lighter Side of Climbing will be a series that focuses on the fun, funny and goofy side of climbing. If you have a story you’d like to share, send it to brandon at gripped dot com and call it “The lighter side of climbing.”

Lead photo: Urs Kallen of the Land Rover below Yamnuska