Pumpkin is officially labeled the “Unnamed” route on Yamnuska’s west end by the local guidebooks. Most locals know it as the Pumpkin route as it slides past the painted pumpkin on its last pitch. This very large pumpkin was painted on the wall at the top of the last pitch in 1968 and is kept up as a tradition. The painting was in fresh condition in 2006. It serves as a landmark (orange spot) while navigating the complex web of western routes below on Yamnuska. Of course a popular time to climb this route is Halloween night, if you have a good moon and can keep your hands warm.
Pumpkin was first put up in 1961 by Brian Greenwood and Jim Steen. It is a 6 pitch route (700’) rated at 5.7 in “Yamnuska Rock”. I combined the 6 pitches into 4 with 60 meter double ropes. Yamnuska Rock calls it 7 pitches due to the scramble up the ramp. I had actually set out to do Grey Goose that day but it is not all that uncommon to run into traffic at the start of Grey Goose since that is the start for several routes. Pumpkin is set up to bypass any traffic jam by scrambling up a left leaning ramp that leads to the base of the climb and above any parties getting started on Easy Street, etc. below.
As you approach the wall from the climbers trail, top out and traverse along the face for quite a distance to the west end. You will bypass Direttissima and Belfry which are obvious routes on Yam’s central face. Continue around a section that butts out south a bit (Belfry’s start) until you come to a subsidiary trail that takes off for the wall on your right. Look for that left leaning ramp just left of some spruce trees (on your right). Scramble up this ramp to a ring bolt belay on your right at the top of the ramp.
1st and 2nd Pitch Combined- 57m- 5.7/ Move left from the belay and climb the right facing chimney (like most 1st pitches on Yam, it is somewhat polished). You can stay in the corner or move out onto the chimney itself. At the top you can use a bolted belay by a large block for the 1st Pitch or continue over easy ground (5.4 ledges) to a piton belay that will put you directly under the 3rdd Pitch.
3rd Pitch- 35m-5.5/ Climb the crack directly above the piton belay into a shallow groove that leads left into the base of the large chimney. Climb the corner to a piton belay below a small roof. The route we took was a little sparser than 5.5.
4th Pitch- 43m- 5.5/ Take the wide crack right, into a chimney and up to a chock stone (good piece to sling) and continue up past a piton. It steepens and widens at the top. Move left and up to a bolt belay that is on a comfortable ledge left of a large boulder in the middle. This ledge is below a bolted sport route (Pony Express) that runs up a rib. This is also the belay station for the final pitch on Western Union.
5th and 6th Pitch Combined- 55m- 5.7/ Move back right into the broad chimney. Ascend the chimney as it narrows below a roof and move out onto the face climbing to your right and climb steep ground on good holds. This is the crux of the climb. Climb past several pitons and move back left into the chimney after several meters. The last pitch has several options. I took the more common option which is to climb a chimney directly above, squeezing through a slot to reach a broad ledge directly below the “huge up close” painted pumpkin. I then took an easy groove on the left to a corner and climbed up to reach a single ring bolt belay on a wall to your left that can be backed up with a medium sized nut. This is the same top out as for Western Union.
Essential GearFull set of Cams, 00-9 Metolius for example with a BD 3 and/or 4. Full set of nuts. You will find some fixed protection, so you do not need to overdo it with the gear. Helmet, rock shoes, etc. We used double ropes which I always advise on longer routes on Yamnuska so you can make a quick weather exit if need be. Also helps considerably with rope drag on these routes, particularly if you are going to combine pitches as I did. Despite having to gain over 1500’ to the base of the climbs on Yamnuska, wear trail runners versus boots so you can haul them with you. You will not return to the base of the climbs.
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