Kahl Wall is one of the more historical classic routes on Yamnuska. It was originally put in as an aid route by Vockeroth and Auger in 1971 and freed by Barry (Blanchard) and Doyle ten years later. Although quite the accomplishment in be freed in ’81, today it is just another moderate rock route by Canadian Rockies standard. The route was named after Heinz Kahl, an early Yam pioneer, and loosely translated in German means “bare” which is an appropriate description of two sections of face climbing on the 6th and 7th pitches.
I have climbed a majority of the Yamnuska routes and the 6th pitch on Kahl is 2nd to none with the exception of the excessive fixed protection put in by overzealous (aspiring to be free) aid climbers. This pitch combines intricate face climbing on bomber limestone with a fantastic corner and small roof to finish it off. The 8th and 9th pitches, for their respective grade, 5.8 and 5.9, are also fantastic pitches, each with their own overhang/roof problem. Both offer a plethora of opportunities for placing gear.
The guide book for Yamnuska mentions that experienced climbers get lost on this route quite often. In contrast, I found it fairly straight forward except for the 2nd pitch which covers easy ground. One tends to want to stick to the corner above the first pitch longer than they should before doing a long traverse out left to position them self below the rest of the line. The pitons left all over the place sort of tell the story.
One of the neat things about Kahl is in fact its start, which is basically just 20m right of where the main climber trail meets Yamnuska (still a hump for those not familiar with the crag). There is a small scrambling ramp running east to west that takes you to the base of two corners. Start up the right corner for the 1st pitch.
1000’+/-, 9 Pitches, 5.10a
1st Pitch- 30m- 5.5/ I took a 70m rope so I could combine the first two pitches. Rope drag becomes quite severe as the 2nd pitch follows a long traverse, but I would do it again this way to save time on the belay. Make sure to start in the corner to the right, versus left, from the top of the short scramble section. It is also easy to get off route by ascending too high on this pitch. In fact I did that and saw a makeshift piton rappel in which to retreat. If you see it, it is still fairly easy to down climb back to the point where you need to make a traverse. That is the 2nd pitch anyway, the first pitch is nothing more than running to the top of the large open corner on easy ground. There is a ledge and piton to the left.
2nd Pitch- 35m- 5.6/ Climb up and left for just a short while. When it becomes easier to climb right (piton-2008) over the pillar you are on, don’t. Look to traverse left with good hands and just smearing for your feet on bomber rock. This section might feel more like 5.7+ than 5.6. Angle left and up on bomber textured limestone to a narrow ledge of sorts. Traverse out straight left, around a bend and into an alcove below a steep corner with a piton belay.
3rd Pitch- 40m- 5.7/ Climb the corner above placing gear at will passing a large ledge and ending up on quite a bit smaller one. If anything, trend right. Now you are below a much steeper yellowish corner. Move out right 5m along the ledge to the base of the wide chimney and a piton belay.
4th Pitch- 45m- 5.7/ Stem up the wide chimney. I only placed gear at the top knowing there would be some rope drag if I did otherwise. Exit right below the obvious roof on broken ground that leads up to a ledge. Follow the ledge right as it dips and rises again over to a large ledge below a wide left facing corner and bolt-piton belay.
5th Pitch- 30m- 5.8/ Now the real climbing begins. Actually both of the 5.8’s from this point on are pretty entertaining. Combined with the 5.10a’s and 5.9 pitch, the rest of the route is quite a bit of fun. Climb easily up into the corner. As it steepens, look for a bolt closely followed by a piton. Move out right of the corner onto the arête/face. The rock here is fairly loose. The belayer should position him/her self accordingly. Follow the smaller left facing corner above to its terminus. Move right to a bolted belay below a bolted line.
6th Pitch- 35m- 5.10a/ Unfortunately aid climbers have been up here and placed a few bolts and pitons that were not necessary. Still, this is one of the finer pitches on Yamnuska. Climb up bomber textured limestone to a flake, take the flake to the right and continue straight up. As of 2008 the bolts kind of show you where to go. About half way up and through the face climbing portion, you come to a rest ledge. The whole pitch is sustained for the grade. Continue up the corner above making some good gear placements, but also coming across several pitons and more bolts. Eventually the corner closes regarding pro. You can stay in the corner at a slightly higher grade (what I did) or you can swing out right onto the textured face and climb up to two fixed pieces. Make sure to long sling here before you traverse back left under the roof and make a fun move or two (protected by .75”) to overcome the roof and up to a bolted belay ledge on your left.
7th Pitch- 35m- 5.10a/ This pitch is not very sustained when compared to the prior one. Make a grade move or two off of the belay in the corner. Place a 3” in the corner with a shoulder length sling. Follow the corner up until it steepens and clip a piton with a double length sling, but ignore the other pitons above. Traverse out right leaving the corner behind on small foot ledges grabbing textured limestone ridges for balance. Move on over to below another piton and climb up and through it angling right to slab face climbing on textured limestone. Head straight up through two bolts and some protection via 5.9 face climbing. Skip the last rusty bolt to the right or place a screamer on it, it is pretty much shot. Angle back left and top out onto a huge belay ledge with belay pitons to the left.
8th Pitch- 45m- 5.8+/ This pitch climbs the obvious corner to the right. It looks easy and this first portion is. As it bends back left, you get more into a chimney situation that requires solid stemming skill to pull the roof above. This pitch offers tons of protection until this point. Pull the tricky roof, for the grade, to the left and onto a decent bolted belay stance below another corner and roof with tat (chockstone) in it. A fairly sustained pitch for the grade.
9th Pitch- 20m- 5.9/ A great finish to the day. Climb the corner above using a 4” and 3” to protect the 5.9 roof pull overhang. A chockstone is slung, but the 3” you get in is good pro. It is a little run out until you can place the 4” and it barely fits. A 5” would do better, but I would not carry it the entire day just for this use. Once through the crux overhang, angle right up easier ground to the top. There is a decent tree to your left to assist with the belay.