This part of Yamnuska, just to the east of the West End, is hindered by chossy climbing on the lower reaches. Due to lack of consistent good rock, Necromancer Wall might be the least climbed section of Yamnuska. However, it is worth the effort on a few of its routes to reach mid height as the upper wall gives way to much better climbing.
Mom’s Fears is a relatively new route, put in by Genereux and Marshall in 2003 while they were actually trying to retrofit Mum’s Tears, an old Yamnuska classic put in by Vockeroth and Locke in 1968. Like most routes on this section of Yam, Mom’s Fears starts out following relatively easy ground through four pitches before you reach the solid climbing on the upper wall. It is really a combination of a little new ground with existing pitches on Necromancer and Mum’s Tears. The first pitch can be easily soloed by the competent team. The second and third pitches are quite unremarkable 5.8 ground, but full 60m pitches. The fourth pitch is a loose 5th class scramble to move the belay another full rope length to the large bench above. I ran up the wrong ground on the 5th pitch (also the start of Mum’s Tears), so it can be hard to determine the start based on Andy’s description in the Yam guide book. Once you get on it, the 5th and the 6th pitches of Mom’s Fears make up great climbing at the grade, but are a bit contrived to say the least with considerable fixed pro and traversing involved. Both are a full 60m length and if you are not acquainted with solid double rope management, you will be suffering horrendous rope drag. There are optional belay opportunities on both pitches to split up the climbing more. The final two pitches are in fact the last two pitches of Necromancer, making for a decent 5.9-5.10 finish on all four of the final pitches representing the top half of the climb.
There is a relatively new flagged trail below Yamnuska that takes off at the base of the scree descent. This is the best approach for the western routes. At the Y in the approach trail, take the left Y versus the normal right option. Continue until at the base of the first patch of loose scree. Look for the flagged faint trail down and to the left. Continue following the flagged trail as it ascends the western treed rib below Yamnuska. This trail will put you right at the base of the obvious corner system that makes up Missionary’s Crack among other routes. Turn right to access the start of the Necromancer Wall routes. Mom’s Fears itself starts at the end of the obvious ramp if you are willing to solo what the guidebook calls the 5.4 first pitch, the slab ramp all the way to a single bolt. You can still retrieve your packs on return at the base of the ramp on this part of Yamnuska before making the scree plunge descent back to the lower trail. In other words I would not advise climbing with them.
1250’+/-, 8 Pitches, 5.10a
1st Pitch- 35m- 5.4/ We suited up at the base of the ramp and soloed this first pitch to a single bolt. I cut and retied the existing looped cordelette which serves as your first real station.
2nd Pitch- 60m- 5.8/ If one of your ropes is not a true 60m, you might have to simul-climb this pitch just a bit. Run up the easy left facing corner (not 5.8) to a right facing corner on solid rock below a roof. There is a bolt on the left wall. Climb up the corner, clipping the bolt and traversing (crux of the pitch) over the mini arête of the left wall to easier ground. With solid double rope technique, it would have been best to only have clipped the right rope to this point to avoid serious rope drag. The rock above now is precariously loose and in large chunks. Take special care to not dislodge one of these killers on your partner who has little room to navigate below. You finally arrive at a large ledge with a fixed belay.
3rd Pitch- 50m- 5.8/ Move right 5m and start climbing just left of the corner to avoid the bad rock. Eventually move into the corner, surpassing some rotten spots (5.8) to another fixed belay near the top of the corner. Again, watch knocking down any loose rock on the 2nd.
4th Pitch- 65m- 5.4/ An ugly pitch needed to move the belay up to the large bench land above. Did not seem any more difficult than 4th class to me, but it is damn loose and difficult to find the fixed station. The book says 60m, but be prepared to simul-climb to reach it. This is the only pitch my partner led and she got a bit lost as the notes talk of going straight up. In reality, you need to veer quite a bit left to find the fixed station which is in a horrible spot. I simply recommend veering a bit left (to avoid causing rock fall on your belayer), then go straight up to the top (which is a large scree bench crossing the wall) and do a sitting belay. Many routes work off of this bench and it is significant enough in size, most would feel safe to wander around off belay.
5th Pitch- 60m- 5.9/ I believe Andy’s notes are confusing in describing this pitch and thus I did actually climb the wrong 60m at my first attempt. He speaks of “brilliant” climbing on a crack that splits the headwall. Well, there is such a crack, but it is more in the 5.10 range. It was fun, but as I neared the top, I could see I was under nothing but choss for the next pitch. Thankfully somebody else had done the same and left a rap piton. The only telltale sign that this good crack was probably not it was that it was quite muddy on the finger a time or two. The corner/crack you want is actually right above a pinnacle to your left. Instead of belaying where Andy put the fixed belay, just scramble up a small chimney between the pinnacle and the wall and set the belayer there, a much better belay on a huge ledge. You are really climbing the arête of sorts, eventually traversing over a rib to the left to overcome the obvious roof above. There are some bolts just below and left of that roof used for the tricky traverse. Head up the well protected corner crack until you reach the first bolt, then traverse left clipping another bolt and make a bold mantle up on the rib and stem into the shallow corner to your left. There will be no more trad gear opportunities, rather you must climb steep ground, if anything trending back right, past a few hard to spot pitons to the next belay. Damn important to run your doubles correctly or rope drag will be an issue. If you are not willing to climb that initial corner crack on just one strand, you might best use an optional belay which can be established at the first bolt. The 60m belay is a semi-hanging belay stance at a bolt and piton (2009).
6th Pitch- 60m- 5.9/ This is mostly a sticky limestone face pitch with mostly fixed gear. Move up and clip the bolt above, then traverse immediately left on blank ground if anything stepping down a move (cruxy) to another bolt that is hard to see. This traverse is a bit run-out for the grade. Gain the nice hand sized crack/corner and do a few jam/lie-back moves to reach the top of this feature. Then face climb up and left on run-out sticky limestone face. Turn the arête out left to escape the roof and continue up to hard to see bolts, traversing hard left at the 4th bolt (2009) around yet another arête of sorts into the corner that represents the 2nd to last pitch of Necromancer. There is a piton (2009) and plenty of opportunity for a gear belay. This pitch involves a lot of rope drag, no matter how good you are with doubles.
7th Pitch- 20m- 5.9/ Climb straight up the corner from the belay. Place a solid 3”-4” piece and continue to a large belay ledge and set up a 2” gear belay in the base of the crack.
8th Pitch- 50m- 5.10a/ Solid double rope management will make this pitch go smoother. Start up the fantastic hand crack (by Yam standards), utilizing stemming moves to pull the first smaller roof. Place two pieces or so on the right strand. Once above this roof, make a fun hands move left protecting the other strand, to circumvent the broken roof above to the left. Then follow easy loose ground above to rejoin the corner and top out the route on quite chossy ground. There is a .3”-.4” crack on the summit ridge you can use versus a sitting belay.
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. Continue east from there and descend via a large scree gully back down to the lower trail that heads east back to the trailhead.
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