Jazz Beat of the Nun’s Groove is a (possibly should be classic) decent west end route on Yamnuska. Stealing two pitches from Broken Wing to allow for a direct start makes Jazz Beat as good of a route as any I have climbed at the west end and considerably better than the nearby and more popular route at the grade: Pony Express, 5.10a, 6 pitches. Jazz Beat actually intersects on several occasions one of my favorite 5.10 routes on Yamnuska, Missionary’s Crack, 5.10a, 7 Pitches. A significant rock fall incident in 2009 destroyed part of the wall in this area, however I can’t say I felt Jazz Beat of the Nun’s Groove was affected.
Everett and Campbell established Jazz Beat of the Nun’s Groove in 1996. Supposedly a drugged hospital patient suggested the name to one of these FAers for whatever the name means. If you utilize Broken Wing’s direct start option, the route sports a considerable amount of fixed gear, all of which we found in decent shape in 2010. However, the crux pitch (6th) of the route required a full rack to protect. The traverses on both the 5th and 6th pitches are airy and exposed and typical of Yamnuska climbing. “When in doubt, traverse!” as quoted in Andy’s guide book.
The first two pitches via Broken Wing are fully bolted. The third and fourth pitches require mostly all gear at lower grades. The fifth pitch is mostly run out on fixed gear. The sixth pitch gear belay and climb requires a full rack to protect properly. I ran the seventh pitch out to the top of Yam without any gear at all. It is much quicker and safer to walk off than to rappel this section of Yamnuska, although there are many rappel options if commitment due to weather is a concern. Andy mentions bringing a hammer and pitons, but I chose not to and got along without.
There is a decent (normally flagged) trail below Yamnuska that takes off left at the base of the main scree descent. This is the best approach for the western routes. At the Y in the approach trail, take the left option versus the normal right one. Continue until at the base of the first patch of loose scree. Look for the flagged faint trail down and to the left (2nd left). Continue following the flagged trail as it ascends the western treed rib below Yamnuska. This trail will eventually peter out as you approach the west end of Yamnuska. Catch the scree trail heading west and look to ascend to below the pinnacle used for the very popular Easy Street (5.6) and Windy Slabs (5.6) routes. Broken Wing has a bolted 5.10a pitch just to the right of this pinnacle and is the most direct alternative ascent to Jazz Beat of the Nun’s Groove.
Route Description900’+/-, 7 Pitches, 5.10a
1st/2nd Pitches- 60m- 5.10a/ I combined these alternate direct pitches with a 70m rope (60m should work as well) and clipped nothing but fixed pro. Stealing this direct line from Broken Wing is the preferred method to complete this route in good form. Jazz Beat of the Nun’s Groove’s first two original pitches are 5.5 and 5.7. Broken Wing’s first two pitches are 5.10a and 5.9. Both pitches are fully bolted. Start just to the right of the starting pinnacle for Windy Slabs and Easy Street. Follow the bolts up solid and fun crimp edges to a flake/crack further up and continue past a fixed belay. Climb up a short wall and cross the ledge to continue up a tightly bolted slab face (the last two bolts will be the crux) to a much larger ledge and set up a gear belay in a groove down and right from the ring bolt belay for Broken Wing’s third belay. You can also use two old pitons lower on the ledge.
3rd Pitch- 65m- 5.8/ We divided the route up differently than in the guide book and believe our sequence makes for more comfortable belays on fixed gear despite a bit of rope drag. We did this pitch with a 70m rope. Therefore, if trying to reach the same belay as we did with a 60m, keep that in mind. Make a 5.8 move up and over a flake and into the groove at a lesser grade. Follow it up and right into a left facing corner/chimney. Maneuver the large loose blocks up and right at the top of this feature to access a right facing corner. Down climb a bit to access the corner and then climb up to a decent ledge with a fixed belay (Rejection of Faith).
4th Pitch- 30m- 5.8/ This pitch was not described well in the guide book. Enter the chimney to your left and start stemming up the east side of it at a point where you can look up and see a crack and some decent foot ledges on the outer side. The fixed belay is hidden from view, so it is difficult to trust the route at this juncture, but it clears up as you stem up a bit. Protect the stemming with a couple of small pieces in the crack on the outer wall, then move to the main wall to locate the fixed belay. We combined this section of pitch four with the fifth pitch but I do not advise such. A 70m was not long enough and the traversing is severe cutting off communication and producing rope drag.
5th Pitch- 55m- 5.9+/ These final two pitches are the crux of the climb. Traverse up and right following spaced out bolts across steep 5.9+ terrain. Be aware that you are crossing Rejection of Faith’s bolt line which is at a much higher grade. Pick your traverse line carefully as you cross the arête to the right. The fixed pro is spaced out with few gear opportunities to protect the exposed traverse. We clipped a bolt high on this traverse on Rejection of Faith which made the line we chose perhaps a bit stiffer. Once you turn the arête, the steepness eases quite a bit. Head up into the Missionary’s Crack crux pitch, an obvious right facing corner/off width with an eagles nest near the top (2010). Be aware, a large amount of rock came careening off this section of Yamnuska in 2009. Enter the corner and make a few steep moves before setting up a gear station at or below a busted pin in a small foot ledge out right (before any off width moves). You are looking to set up the leader for a traverse out left to the arête and blind corner.
6th/7th Pitches- 70m- 5.9+/ The guide book has these last two pitches at 80m, but I was pretty sure my partner had yet to simul climb on the 70m rope I combined them with before I reached the top of the cliff meaning I think they are less than that. Traverse out left from the base of the crack before the off width on Missionary’s Crack. This is a bold lead in that you have no pro, the rock is shit and you have no vision of the corner out left that you are trying to reach. But after a few traverse moves at the grade, you can mantle some shattered rock to a small scree ledge that leads up to a tall right facing corner. There is a bolt in the base of the corner as well as at the top. I found neither served much purpose. The first few meters of accessing the corner was the crux of the route. Climb through extremely chossy limestone with no worthy gear placements until a .4” shows up after several moves at the grade. The rock and pro both improve the higher you get. Towards the top of the corner, there is a bolt up and right, but also solid pro fairly straight up from the corner to another scree ledge. Build a gear belay in the chimney up and left or continue on with a 70m rope to the top of the cliff. I placed no pro through this 5.6 section and found it easy for the grade. A .75” helps with the final belay at the top of the cliff.
Climbing Sequence(Due to weather concerns; interest in speeding up the climb, I did not take any photos of the last three pitches which really involved the crux of the climbing on this route)
DescentWalk off the western flank of Yamnuska. You can leave your packs at the base of this route as it is not much extra energy to re-ascend from the trail below to the base of the climb. Descend via a large scree gully back down to the lower trail that heads east back to the trailhead. I always take small gaiters for this ascent so I don’t have to dig rocks out of my shoes.
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