I had climbed one of the infamous pitches to Milky Way when I completed Forbidden Way, which shares the second to last 5.10 run-out traverse pitch. But instead of finishing Forbidden Way via the last pitch of Milky Way, we chose the more direct (5.11) Forbidden Fruit exit on that trip. Therefore, I was gung ho to revisit Milky Way if for no other reason than to climb its first and last pitch which would represent new 5.10 ground for me on Yamnuska. In the middle of leading the run out 5.10 traverse (6th) pitch, I remembered how I swore off ever seeing this pitch after I led it the first time the previous year. Short memories have a unique way of lessening the angst.
Joe Josephson, author of our local Canadian Rockies ice climbing guide book, put in the FA of Milky Way in 1998 stealing several pitches from Kahl Wall as well as intersecting Forbidden Corner along the way. The first pitch is fully bolted up typical limestone face and then follows a short corner to a large ledge. The second and third pitches start the long consistent traverse out right to join up with the third pitch of Kahl Wall. We simul climbed the next two pitches of mid 5th class to the top of the 6th pitch of Forbidden Corner. Instead of following Forbidden Corner out left, Milky Way goes right on a sketchy run out traverse pitch over 5.10 ground. I have led this pitch twice in two years and don’t plan on leading it again. I took off a hand hold on lead and my second took a whipper as he took off another one. This pitch is long and the rope drag quite undesirable as you work up and right to a semi hanging belay just below the arête. The last pitch follows spaced out bolts up and right over the arête, passing a rap anchor and then ventures back left following chossy rock up several crux moves (5.10c) with solid rests in between until a very reachy and dirty move is required to mantle up to easier ground.
Finding the start for Milky Way is simple. It is just left 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. Take the ramp and continue left to a shattered pillar with a bolted belay at the base of the first pitch.
Route Description1000’+/-, 7 Pitches, 5.10c
1st Pitch- 50m- 5.10a/ I placed little if any gear on this pitch with nine bolts covering 165’. The crux of this pitch involves the first few moves off the deck (typical) through several bolts protecting somewhat hidden side pulls. After the initial face climbing, trend right up a short corner following the fixed pro to a ledge. Mantle up to more face climbing that leads to a larger scree laden ledge. Belay off of a tree.
2nd Pitch- 40m- 5.7/ Move right and up a wide corner/narrow chimney built of loose blocks. Easy climbing runs up the left side to the top, then traverse right and join into Kahl Wall’s route up nice cracks in the corner to a narrow ledge. Move right again into a chimney of sorts and stem up to a bigger ledge. Move right to fixed pitons.
3rd Pitch 45- 5.7/ Utilize long slings and minimal pro to avoid severe rope drag. Climb up an easy chimney on its left side. Near the top, exit right onto a loose ledge. Continue with an easy traverse right. Down climb and cross a notch and up climb the opposing side to a fixed station.
4th-5th Pitches- 90m- 5th/ We simul-climbed these two pitches. Keep angling right up a scattered scree ledge that leads to a ramp. Continue past a left facing chimney to another ledge. Climb a short block to the right to yet another large ledge. Continue on easy ground past a small tree and climb up a short chimney to twin cracks. Take the right crack up and right to a comfortable ledge with a fixed belay which is the top of pitch six on Forbidden Corner.
6th Pitch- 45m- 5.10a/ I have led this pitch twice (Forbidden Way) and it did not seem to get any easier the second time. Step up and right on somewhat precarious rock to clip a bolt (both I and my second tore separate hand holds off here). Continue straight up to clip a slung (extended-2010) bolt. If this bolt is no longer slung, keep in mind it would be best to fix some cordelette to the bolt as your traverse needs to be made much lower. Start the rightward traverse (10m) by stepping down a move or two to find a small toe rail. Continue on the exposed, blind, run-out and steep traverse until you reach easier ground in which to ascend to a small ledge with a third bolt. You can place a yellow C3 along the way, but that was not a placement I would trust to hold a fall. From that third bolt, continue on a rightward angle through some chossy rock clipping another bolt in a shallow corner. Then use positive edge climbing on much better rock to move up and right to a much more significant corner. Place gear here and make a move at the grade out and right to the bolted semi hanging belay (3 bolts at the belay).
7th Pitch- 40m- 5.10c/ Move up and right from the belay clipping a bolt on the arête and bypassing a rappel station below Forbidden Fruit (5.11). Start to angle up and left clipping spaced out fixed pro (9 bolts total) via steep face and intermittent crack climbing above broken ledges. Just about any fall on this last pitch could potentially be an ankle buster. Therefore, the hard 5.10 moves are almost always followed by small rest ledges. Eventually you reach a short corner that is the crux of the entire climb. Jam up the finger crack positively until you must make a long reach up and left on a loose sloping narrow ledge to mantle your way above the short corner. From there the ground eases up to a fixed hanging belay below the top of Yam.