This is a 2500’+/- ascent day. Belfry is a “2 star” 5.8+ route featured in the local Yam guide book and a “1 star” route in the “Bow Valley Rock” guidebook. My partner on this route and I concur with that sentiment. We got our moneys worth regarding all four pitches of technical climbing. The fact you had to scramble up half of Yamnuska’s face on low 5th class ground I saw as a plus, not a negative. There are days (in my circumstance I had just climbed Brewer Buttress the day before) where you are actually looking for shorter routes, whether due to weather, conditioning, etc.
Belfry was the fourth route established (Greenwood-1957) on Yam and is one of the most identifiable routes on Yamnuska via a significant pinnacle (rock tower called the “belfry”) marking the top of the route as well as a large roof stuck in a corner on pitch 3. It is part of a group of routes called the Necromancer area just to the east of the “West End” routes.
We actually went off route to start the first pitch of this route (photo). The entire wall is littered with bail off slings. I believe my notes will definitely clear up the first pitch start considerably. From there the route is fairly straightforward.
Follow the climber’s path to the base of Yamnuska. Turn left and follow the trail along Yamnuska’s base for quite some bit, passing Suicide Wall, CMC Wall and Direttissima, all the while looking for the “Belfry” rock tower (very prominent feature) on the skyline. You are also looking for a prominent cone coming out of the base of Yamnuska. As the trail attempts to skirt it below, you should see some faint trails that lead up to the right side of this cone feature. You can start anywhere really. Some teams pitch this out as there are some mid 5th class moves. We soloed on different lines for 200 meters until we got to the base of the technical climbing. Both of us picked up tons of non-fixed gear used for hasty bails along this 200 meter portion. However, I found this nothing more than a scramble and would be comfortable down climbing it as well, but your depth of experience might dictate otherwise.
345 METERS, Including the Scramble Portion
1st Pitch- 45m- 5.8/ Climb the wide crack up and into the sustained chimney. Climb over a small roof problem and continue to the top. Take up a corner there that moves up and left on ramping ground to a steeper crack. Move left under the crack and over a steep bulge to a fixed piton on a slabby ledge.
2nd Pitch- 25m- 5.8+/ Climb the steep corner straight up above for 15 meters to right below a dirty overhang. Take the overhang (crux) and continue. As the climbing eases, move left slightly and up into a small position inside a huge roof. There is one bolt and easy placements for a station.
3rd Pitch- 30m- 5.8+/ In my opinion, the crux pitch. Follow the crack up into the roof further, moving out right below it (protect here) and make a committing move out of the roof to the right onto the face and into a steep corner ( 5.8+). Take the corner through an overhang and move slightly back left onto small ledges where we built our own station (perhaps we missed a fixed station, but don’t think so).
4th Pitch- 55m- 5.7/ Climb the corner above your belay and turn a decent sized roof to the left (crux move-piton). Then up a loose right facing corner moving out right on to the face for better rock. Here you will top out at three cool stepped slabs. Move out left a little to gain the 2nd slab, then back right to gain the 3rd one. Follow a nice floor crack left to the last move or two that put you onto the summit. There is a chock stone to protect the final few moves. You will have to do a sitting belay off the summit.
Essential GearFull set of Cams, 00-9 Metolius for example with a BD 3 or 4. Full set of nuts. You will find some fixed protection, so you do not need to overdo it with the gear. Helmet, rock shoes, etc. We used a single rope. Despite having to gain over 1500’ to the base of the climbs on Yamnuska, wear trail runners versus boots so you can haul them with you. You will not return to the base of the climbs.
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