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The Route: Spring Climb Up Yamnuska’s Kahl Wall

Kahl Wall

Kahl Wall is one of one of the most historical classic routes on Yamnuska in the Canadian Rockies.

It was originally climbed an aid/free route by Don Vockeroth and Tim Auger in 1971 and later freed by Barry Blanchard and Kevin Doyle 10 years later.

Auger was brought onto the project by Vockeroth because of his impressive background in big walls on Canada’s West Coast, including the second ascent of Grand Wall 5.11 A0 and first ascent of University Wall 5.10 A2 (now 5.12).

The route was named after Heinz Kahl, an early Yamnuska climber who died of cancer at age 33. Kahl in German also translates to bald or bare, which is appropriate for the blank pitches.

The sixth pitch on Kahl Wall is one of the best 5.10s in the range. It climbs intricate limestone crimps and side-pulls to a small roof with a splitter crack.

The eighth and ninth pitches climb a wildly exposed corner and with the grades 5.8 and 5.9 present exciting challenges.

There is fixed gear all over the place, mostly from climbers getting off route and having to bail, but the line is relatively easy to follow with bolts and pitons throughout. But you still need a rack of gear and two ropes.

On April 14, under cloudy skies and with fresh snow on the summit and down Kahl Wall, New Zealanders Jaz Morris, Rose Pearson and Josh Worley climbed the nine-pitch classic.

Morris said, “Well I’m pleased to say my first proper rock route in Canada was every bit as epic as it should be.

“Rose and Josh and I got on Kahn Wall on Yamnuska. After a delayed start due to spontaneous tire deflation and a few route-finding issues on the first couple of pitches, the sun disappeared and it started snowing.

“Then the climbing got harder and the roofs got steeper and icier. Then we topped out to post-holing in the snow. Fun.”

Kahl Wall has been climbed during every month of the year, but best times are April till October.

The climb starts 10 metres right of the climber’s approach trail. Pitch descriptions below these photos by Morris on their snowy-day ascent.

Rose Pearson ready to climb
Heading up pitch-five 5.8 on Kahl Wall
On the crux 5.10a pitch
On the upper corner
Cold belays on Kahl Wall
Wintery upper corner on Kahl Wall
Snowy upper corner on Kahl Wall
Down the east trail on Yamnuska

Kahl Wall Pitches

Pitch 1: Climb the obvious chimney/crack and make a tricky move left. Pass ring-bolt anchors to an obvious corner. (5.5 30m)
Pitch 2: Head up and left and then right past a piton over the pillar. Continue up and left around a corner to a belay. (5.7 35m)
Pitch 3: Climb the corner out right and up onto a ledge. Traverse along ledge to a chimney. (5.7 40m)
Pitch 4: Stem up the chimney and exit right to a ledge. Head right for 10 metres to a belay.
Pitch 5: Climb steep 5.8 up a corner before moving our right onto an arete. Continue up past bolts. (5.8 30m)
Pitch 6: Climb up past bolts and piton, placing some small nuts, up to a corner. Move right onto a slab and back left under a roof to the steep corner. (5.10a 35m)
Pitch 7: Move up and right past a corner and onto a slab. Follow thin holds to the base of the upper corner. (5.10a 35m)
Pitch 8: Head up the obvious corner. Save some bigger gear for the upper tricky roof. Sustained and steep. (5.8 45m)
Ptich 9: A classic Yamnuska pitch with some funky corner climbing. Use a three- or four-inch piece of pro and pull the overhang. (5.9 20m)

Sunny spring day on Kahl Wall Photo Sarah Hueniken

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