Not surprisingly, Genereux gives Lord of the Rings a whole chapter’s worth of space in his local (Yam) guidebook. And of course he gives his route three out of three stars in terms of quality. He even goes further to say “this is not a sport route”, something my partner and I kept repeating to each other in a sarcastic sort of way as the route is bolted to oblivion in typical Genereux fashion. I will give him credit in that this is by far the straightest line I have ever climbed at Yam, as I was constantly looking directly down at our backpacks, which is unheard of at Yamnuska, a wall full of infamous traverses. Genereux put Lord of the Rings in during 2003. The name could easily reflect the fact that he placed rappel rings at every fixed station, again unusual for Yamnuska. But I believe the naming has more to do with his fascination with the books/movie as Lord of the Rings runs parallel to Balrog (a character in the Lord of the Rings book I was told), a Brian Greenwood route from the 1960’s. I did not even know the book was that old and of course have never read it.
Despite the gratuitous rappel rings, the route can be walked off and should be walked off (to the west) due to the nature of rock on Yamnuska and how close this route is to Balrog and anyone who might be climbing on it. Bolts are plentiful on every pitch and at times were skipped by us with question marks as to their necessity, a common problem with Genereux routes in general. I would have to say this route was true to the grade. Normally I see Genereux's routes as quite soft, but this route kept bringing it, at the grade and is fairly sustained for a 5.10+ route on Yam. As far as a rack goes though, Andy recommends a full set of cams to 4”? We did not understand that recommendation much and placed little gear on this route and sure never had need for the 3” or 4” piece ourselves. A full set of C3’s, single .5” to 1” along with a set of nuts would have given us everything we needed plus room to spare.
I placed no gear on pitch one. If you run the route this way, you could say it is a bit run out. Pitch two offered the most trad like pitch of the route, with the need to overcome an overhang corner on suspect rock. Pitch three was all bolts again except for a 1” piece that could be placed up high. Pitch four gets into the crux of the climbing, involving three long pitches at 5.10d, 5.11b and 5.10d, all relatively sustained and mostly bolted. Pitch four turns a corner to the outside (left), up and back right. Pitches five and six are comprised mostly of zig zag face climbing moving around shallow corners and grooves. Pitches seven and eight are non-consequential compared to the previous three pitches but still sporty at their respective grades.
Lord of the Rings is located on the section of Yamnuska known as “Suicide Wall”. Follow the climbers trail up 1500’+ to the base of the wall. Turn left and follow the wall past the first ramp (Bottleneck) to the second ramp (Chockstone Corner) which is a pure slab ramp with scree on top that angles right up to a point. Lord of the Rings angles up left away from the Balrog corner which is just left of the Chockstone start. There are two sets of bolts, follow the left set which is the first 5.9 pitch of Lord of the Rings (photo).
Route Description1000’+, 8 Pitches, 5.11b
1st Pitch- 40m- 5.9/ Follow the bolt line as it trends left, a bit run out if you don’t place any gear, but easy climbing for the grade. Pass one ledge and continue into a dihedral formation. Look for a fixed ring bolt station out left for a semi hanging belay stance (ignore the bolt up-right, will just cause rope drag while bringing up the 2nd).
2nd Pitch- 30m- 5.10c/ This is the most trad-like pitch of the route. Follow a bolt or two as it leads you into a precarious overhang. Protect in a fractured block to the right with a .75” and pull the overhang on somewhat friable holds. Continue up stout climbing to overcome an overlap which leads to a corner and up to the fixed belay.
3rd Pitch- 30m- 5.8/ Easy climbing up a slab pitch clipping bolts as it first trends left and then back right a bit where you can protect with a 1” in a large corner that contains Balrog’s piton belay before traversing back left to the fixed belay at a semi hanging position.
4th Pitch- 50m- 5.10d/ The fun starts! Traverse left from the belay, clip a bolt and then tackle the fragile rotten colored rock above that leads you into the substantial corner. Even though this is a corner, it is also bolted fairly well. Use long slings as you follow the corner up and pull out of it to the left to overcome the roof above. Climb back right over the roof on the crux moves of the pitch. Follow a shallow corner to a small ledge belay. Use solid double rope management here to avoid undesirable rope drag.
5th Pitch- 45m- 5.11b/ Follow the relatively easy corner above for approximately 20 meters before moving left to a bolt and then trending out right on the crux moves of the route. Follow the bolts as they trend right and across a shallow groove on thin holds. Then move up via sustained climbing to a small ledge below an overhang. Pull the overhang in the corner above to reach a hanging belay. After the initial corner, this was a sustained pitch.
6th Pitch- 50m- 5.10d/ Does not ease up any from the previous pitch. Pull a bulge up and right past two bolts. Make a no hands awkward mantle onto a small foot ledge where Balrog crosses the route with a piton. Continue straight up via tough moves past several bolts before you start trending right again into a short groove. Move back up and left to find the next hidden bolt. Then back right to follow a small seam and move up to belay at the base of an obvious corner left of the Balrog main corner. A zig zagging route to say the least.
7th Pitch- 50m- 5.10a/ Follow the easy left facing corner up on loose rock past bolts, but of course you can supplement the pitch with quite a bit of small gear as well. Stem through a constriction and follow the easier ground up onto a large ramp running right. Find the fixed belay on the wall above.
8th Pitch- 40m- 5.10c/ Move up the ramp to the main Balrog corner and find a seam on the left wall. Again, Andy bolted it where one could easily place gear, thus you have quite a bit of pro. Double rope management is critical to avoid rope drag on this pitch. Make nice steep face and crack moves up and then left as it starts to follow much easier ground to the summit and fixed belay on top. The true summit of Yamnuska is just to the west.
DescentHike west to the true summit. This is one of the few technical routes on Yamnuska where you can easily tag the summit without much extra effort. Proceed down the western flank and circumvent back around to the base of the face of Yamnuska and by the time you reach your packs, you would probably rather descend the climbers trail versus backtracking to the scree bowl descent.
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