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Highlander

 

Page Type: Route

Location: Alberta, Canada, North America

Object Title: Highlander

Route Type: Trad Climbing

Season: Spring, Summer

Time Required: Most of a day

Rock Difficulty: 5.11a (YDS)

Number of Pitches: 9

Grade: II

Route Quality: 
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Page By: nbrown81

Created/Edited: May 4, 2014 / May 17, 2014

Object ID: 896276

Hits: 197 

Page Score: 71.18%  - 2 Votes 

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Overview

A great old school trad route. A Steve DeMaio classic. Instead of putting in a pile of bolts they left a bit of spice for the climber. Great gear throughout. 2 heady sections exist.

Getting There

As for Mt. Yamnuska.

Route Description

Pitch 1 - 2. As per Direttissima. (see other route descriptions for that one.) 50m & 40 m.
Pitch 3. 50 m or so. We took the pitch 3 variation of Direttissima instead of climbing directly above the anchor. Walk around the corner right to the first corner going up. Great climbing, good rock, gets you to the right side of the slab in Andy's Yamnuska guidebook description. Keep on following the crack (there's one on the left too) - more great ear and climbing. Up a slot at the top of the slab (suspect blocks to start) to a 3 pin anchor. Above this, the only gear options are up a short right-facing corner (small cams). Committing lower-end 5.10 moves lead off left (a little heady here) to some respite, some gear, and easy ground to the anchor.
Pitch 4: The fab crux. 35m This cool pitch is all trad. Rare to find a fully traditionally protected pitch of this grade on our limestone. 5.11a, then sustained hard 5.10 climbing up the overhanging stem corner above. Blue and yellow TCUs useful above, but a variety of gear options exist. Well protected all the way up. Cool stems, tiebacks, jams, chimney and body jamming. Lots of good rests, just keep it together. Single bolt anchor at the top backed up with No. 3 camalot.
Pitch 5. Easy traverse left (5.8). 15 m. Good gear on bomber limestone. Another one-bolt anchor backed up with a cam.
Pitch 6. 5.9/R. 35m. This one felt a little heady again (I think I was dehydrated - the moves felt harder than they should, made me a little nervous). Anyhow, Andy's description for this pitch is bang on. Up the crack system, traverse out left under an overhang (some surprisingly tricky moves, not great gear), to the base of a right trending ramp. Up the ramp (5.9, weird balancy moves, a nut placement is available but awkward). Above this some loose blocks must be climbed (gear suspect), eventually traverse off left to a two-bolt anchor.
Pitch 7. 5.8/9. 50m. Watch out for Andy's description here. It is wrong in his guidebook. He says the original pitch traverses left from the anchor, around a corner, and up into a shattered slot. This is the way you want to go. In his book he says this is no longer recommended, but he is actually referring to the previous pitch, which was originally climbed by going way left and taking a wandering, run-out path up the rock and eventually into the shattered slot you reach on this pitch. Andy recommends "going up and right into the main corner" for pitch 7 (this pitch). Like it's really easy. If you follow that beta you must overcome some overhanging walls above the belay. These are very hard. I wandered up there to find white limestone and down-sloping holds everywhere. Go this way if you want more challenging overhanging 5.11 climbing. I lowered off a bail nut placed by a previous party, obviously misled by the same erroneous guidebook instructions. If you head off left from the belay, go around the corner, you encounter good rock, copious good gear, and straightforward 5.8 climbing up into the corner system above, where progress eases to 5.6 or so on excellent rock. At 45 m or so you head up a small small to a big belay ledge with a bolt over on the right side (backed up by good gear).
Pitch 8. 45m. A great pitch. Old style ethics again. Sustained climbing in the easy 5.9 range continues all the way to the anchor. Good gear can be found throughout the pitch. A 4m runout at the top (but on positive holds, 5.7 at most) leads up to the anchor on a big ledge. 2 bolts.
Pitch 9. 15m. Up the slot left of the ledge. Good gear leads 3 or 4 m up the slot where an obvious traverse ledge leads out to a bolt (remember to put in a piece at the top of the corner as directional for your second). Further left and up to a bolt and finally the Super SDAG anchors. You could try the original finish, but both Andy's and the old Bow Valley Guidebook don't recommend this original finish. It looks steep and blocky. Apparently loose, and 5.10a. You'd probably shell your belayer down on the big belay ledge.

Essential Gear

Set of nuts, extra medium to small. I did place a No. 4 RP on pitch 6 where nothing else would go. Double cams from yellow metolius (or equivalent) to No. 2 camalot. No.3 and 4 camalot. The 4 came in handy in a few spots but other options exist there, so you could leave it at home and save the weight. Single blue metolius was taken. Two 60 m half ropes. Double rope technique is very useful on this climb.

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