This is a 2500’+/- ascent day. Forbidden Corner is one of the few “3 star” 5.9 routes featured in the “Bow Valley Rock” or “Yamnuska Rock” guide books. The name might be slightly misleading as you do not follow one specific corner for long. Forbidden Corner can serve as a tedious route finding experience. Barry Blanchard told me he just recently quit carrying a hammer and pitons up the route when guiding despite the fact the route has been established since 1964. The partner I went with had to bivouac on the route 5 years ago and could remember little of the route. As with most routes on Yamnuska there are several variations. Being consistent with most of my contributions, I can describe the pitches I led (6 pitches) well and have several photos of the pitches (4 pitches) I did not lead. As with Direttissima, Forbidden Corner is a Yamnuska classic. Forbidden Corner was originally named Verboten Corner in 1964 by Don Vockeroth and Lloyd Mackay. Supposedly, these talented Canadian climbers were climbing at or near the vertical limit during the mid 1960’s.
The route is popular and therefore “bail off” slings litter the route adding confusion to an already difficult route to follow. Follow the climber’s path to the base of Yamnuska. Turn right and follow the trail along Yamnuska’s base for approximately 600’ to where it descends slightly below a blocky buttress on your left. To the right of this buttress above is the prominent “Forbidden” corner. Start on the right of this blocky buttress.
1st -2nd Pitch- 50m- 5.8/ I combined these first two pitches. Scramble up the corner of the buttress to a treed ledge. From the ledge follow a crack (5.6) to the top of a small pedestal with a bolted belay. Move left and up through an indention in the steep wall above (R). Traverse quite a distance back right below a yellowish wall to enter the base of Forbidden Corner itself. Take a finger crack (5.8) to move up and right to a bolted belay on a ledge.
3rd Pitch- 30m- 5.8/ Start climbing Forbidden Corner directly above the belay station. Avoid the crack on the left wall of the corner which is Forbidden Fruit. Continue in the main corner via sustained climbing passing several pitons. Climb over a bulge to a small belay ledge (pitons).
4th Pitch- 30m- 5.9/ This is one of the toughest pitches presenting a particularly exposed traverse. Continue up the corner for a short distance (10’). The corner looks to go and it does, but is dirty and presents little pro options. The route moves dramatically right past a slightly featured face to a solid flake. The traverse is the crux of this pitch. I climbed high, clipped a piton higher in the corner and then down climbed a meter to make the traverse. Once over to the flake, it is relatively easy going up a short corner to a loose ramp that leads back into the corner to a bolt/piton belay. My 2nd knocked down a significant part of the ramp here and therefore took a fall on the ropes. Stay right to avoid the same issue.
5th Pitch- 35m- 5.9 Variation/ Now climb a right facing corner past a small roof and either go left for easier ground or take the corner to the top. We took the corner, which allowed for plenty of gear placement, to a bolt belay at the very top on a good ledge. This corner is sustained climbing.
6th Pitch- 35m- 5.6/ This is a real junk pitch that ventures way out left as you start zig zagging your way to the top of Yamnuska. Move left via easy ground to a significant leaning pinnacle. Climb the outside (left) of it (5.6) to avoid getting your rope stuck via going inside it. Then proceed up an easy chimney to a nice sized ledge with a single bolt belay that is easy to back up.
7th Pitch- 35m- 5.6/ More interesting than pitch 6, but still involves plenty of traversing. Traverse out left (5.6) past a piton or two below a yellow overhang to a short corner. Climb the corner up to a small ledge and bolt belay.
8th Pitch- 20m- 5.8/ You thought this route traversed up to now? Pitches 8 and 9 are much more challenging traverses. I led 8 and followed 9 and don’t have much love for either of them. There are pitons all over pitch 8 that can be misleading. Start climbing the corner and move out early (below the overhang and more pitons and out right) onto the face to climb a flake that is not all solid (read hollow). Before the top, start traversing due right on small ledges. There is some long slung out webbing coming down from a piton above that you can clip into as well as a few pitons, although they seem to come late in the traverse (read run out). Move onto a small uncomfortable ramp with a bolt belay.
9th Pitch- 50m++- 5.9/ This is the crux pitch in terms of exposure via the first traverse moves. Step down slightly and move right via a couple of 5.9 moves to a pinnacle feature and climb it to the top. The first moves are the most difficult, but the pinnacle is also sustained. Descend and continue the traverse right until it is easier to ascend to multiple ledges. Now traverse back left past the 8th pitch belay, past a piton to a decent ledge below a right facing corner. You will have to build a station here, no pitons or bolts. This can be a full 60 meters depending on exactly where you placed gear along the way.
10th Pitch- 25m- 5.7/ Classic Yamnuska finish, nice slanting corner to the top. Move from the corner half way up and climb the face to catch a belay station or just top out. There were a couple of pitons here.
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 double ropes which I always advise on longer routes on Yamnuska so you can make a quick weather exit if need be. Also helps considerably with rope drag on these routes. Despite having to gain over 1500’ to the base of the climbs on Yamnuska, wear trail runners so you can haul them with you. You will not return to the base of the climbs.
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