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 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 better climbing. Necromancer Wall is defined by the Belfry corner on its left and the old Calgary route chimney on its right.
The 11 published routes on Necromancer Wall range from four to 11 pitches. Belfry is one of the more popular routes (5.8+) and Necromancer route (5.10a) up the middle of fhe wall has quite a following as well. State of Confusion (5.10b) combines some of the better pitches from three different climbs to find the best rock on the wall.
There is a new (2008) 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. You can still retrieve you packs on return at this point on Yamnuska before making the scree plunge descent back to the lower trail. In other words I would not advise climbing with them.
Route Description(s)Necromancer Wall, Left to Right as you Face the Wall
- Belfry- 4 Pitches- 5.8+/ Andy mentions that it would be a 3 star in his book if it were longer. My partner on this route and I concur with that sentiment. We got our monies worth regarding all four pitches of technical climbing. The fact you had to scramble up half of Yamnuska’s face on low 5th class ground I saw as a plus, not a negative. There are days (in my circumstance I had just climbed Brewer Buttress the day before) where you are actually looking for shorter routes, whether due to weather, conditioning, etc . Dow
- Sunny Side of the Alps- 9 Pitches- 5.10c/
- Dazed and Confused- 10 Pitches- 5.10b/
- Corvus Corax- 9 Pitches- 5.10b/A2/
- State of Confusion- 11 Pitches- 5.10bX/ Of over forty long trad climbs I have completed on Yamnuska, State of Confusion was the first route I found a bit sandbagged. The route starts out with a fantastic, long and sustained first pitch at true 5.10 climbing. You traverse right over a few fixed pieces into a corner/crack that looks easier than it actually is. When you are done with it, you will be surprised how sustained it turned out to be by Yam standards. This first pitch is an aesthetic obvious crack when viewed from approach. The second and third pitches were uneventful. The fourth pitch is another rope stretcher (55m) with stout 5.9 slab moves to finish. This one has a little bit of everything. It starts out in a hand crack, then takes on a dihedral and finishes on pure slab through spaced out fixed pro. A solid pitch to be sure. The fifth pitch is uneventful. The sixth and seventh pitches are the crux of the climb, and both a bit stout for the grade I thought. The sixth pitch involves sustained climbing over the second half (30m). After you move up and left to below a classic corner, climb it to a funky traverse move back right protected by a bolt (2010). This move lands you back in the corner proper. Sustained climbing leads up to a roof (bolt-2010). Then committing moves on slippery hard to protect intermittent cracks takes the roof to the left. Your C3’s will come in handy for the whole route, but I would have hated to have tested my piece here. The move is committing and exposed to pull up the left side of the roof. The seventh pitch is a X pitch in my opinion. The guide book references the ability to protect a short closed, mostly featureless, corner with wires but I disagree. The corner is an ankle buster waiting to happen. The only fixed piece is a piton at its base. A #2 C3 protects a long fall, but if you miss the hard move above it, you will no doubt bust an ankle. You can easily run up the left side of this corner and hook back in to the belay station above. Pitch eight was a fun and relatively easy pitch at the grade (5.9). Take on the medium to large crack above and then traverse run out ground at a lesser grade up and right to a 5.9 slab move that leads to a waist high boulder (old pin). Save a large piece to fix a belay in a huge rotten block to the right. The ninth pitch involves an airy, but short, horizontal hand traverse out right below the huge rotten block. Fix a belay on the other side. This is where I ended up doing the “death pitch” on Dazed and Confused versus the suggested Slovenian Finish. I broke this disastrous finish down into two pitches. Run up the left facing chossy corner with horrible pro. Then bring the second up to the huge loose blocks at the top of that corner on a ledge. Then down climb to the right and head up another chossy corner to the top of Yam, but with better pro options. Take a huge breather when on top. Dow
- Necromancer- 11 Pitches- 5.10a/ Necromancer, like most routes on this section of Yam, starts out following easy ground through six pitches before you reach the first 5.10 portion. These six pitches can be easily combined into four with a 60m rope if you simul climb the first two pitches for a few meters and stretch out the third pitch so you can easily combine the fourth and fifth pitches. The third pitch is the only good one in this lower section, a fun 5.7 corner climb. The first 5.10a pitch (pitch 7) is the crux pitch, climbing steep broken and run out terrain before it eases off on well protected slab. The next 5.10a pitch (pitch 8) is a fun, but short, stem box followed by an airy traverse left over a large roof. The final 5.10a pitch (pitch 11) maybe has 15m of good jam and stem climbing before easing way off. I led the 5.10 pitches and did not find the route sustained as mentioned in the guide book and other on line resources, but rather thought of the route as fairly mellow except for the two airy and run out traverses (pitches 8 and 9). Dow
- Peter’s Way- 9 Pitches- 5.10bX/
- Mom’s Fears- 8 Pitches- 5.10a/ 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. Dow
- Mum’s Tears- 10 Pitches- 5.9/
- Rocket Man- 8 Pitches- 5.9R/
- Calgary Route- 8 Pitches- 5.6/
- Alpine Club of Canada
- Environment Canada