There are over 130 published routes on Yam’s southern face as of 2010 with more being developed every year. The complexities of the differing walls, corners, roofs and features on Yam’s limestone make it a popular climbing area with a world reputation.
Albeit the rock at times is quite suspect. The “East End” of Yamnuska (Yam)
is chock full of less committing routes. Three of the more popular east end routes are Smeagol
. A route that ranks above Dickel in my opinion is Flight of the Bumblebee
which is a relatively new route at the east end (2004). Further to the right of the Bumblebee is yet another relatively new three pitch trad route on the east end that gets an asterisk in the guidebook, the Grond (5.10b)
put in by Walsh, McCrae and Senyk in 2004. A far better route however is a mixed route just to the right of the Grond that runs up an obvious arête of sorts, Alphabet Soup
put in by Perdue in 2001.
On potentially bad weather days, the east end makes a lot of sense in terms of successfully getting some routes done. We combined Alphabet Soup originally with the Grond, but got hailed off before starting the second pitch. On another suspect weather day, we climbed Alphabet Soup, D is for Dog and the C Route.
The first pitch of Alphabet Soup is really stellar by Yam standards in my opinion
. I got the opportunity to lead both of the pitches of this route. The second pitch is just average. The first pitch runs almost a full rope length up an arête of sorts with several challenging moves on what I thought was decent rock (by comparison), but my partner (we each led the pitch) was not as impressed with jugging on a few of the pieces, so to each his own on that comment. As with most Genereux routes, both pitches have plenty of fixed pro on them, but the first pitch takes quite a bit of pro as well. It almost would protect the whole way which would really make it a top of the line trad pitch if it had been left alone. The second pitch is mostly an easy 5.9 slab with one short move at the grade if even with a mix of bolts and gear. Rap the route. Two double rope (60m) raps reach the ground.
As you traverse eastward below Yamnuska’s southern face, it diminishes in height which forms the “East End” section of shorter climbs. The 32 published routes (2010) at this end range from one to four pitches. The best approach is to follow the main climbers trail up to below Kahl Wall
which is close to the center of the wall. (this is a 1500’-1700’ gain just to start the day)
Traverse right along the base of Yamnuska all the way as it ascends steeper ground and curves left. On your left is a nice blank face down and left of a stepped yellow roof. Look for a bolt on this face. Flight of the Bumblebee is in the middle of A Route and A Crack with an easy to identify arch to the right of A Crack. To the right of that deep arch is where Grond starts up a left facing dirty corner/crack. Move over to the arête to the right on sort of a protruding tower for Alphabet Soup.
Route Description310’+/-, 2 Pitches, 5.10c
1st Pitch- 55m- 5.10c/
This was a great pitch by Yam standards in my opinion. Start out via some intermittent corners and cracks towards the right face of the tower. Keep climbing just left of the arête proper on some nice cracks and jugs. The climbing starts out and stays steep.
Eventfully the holds become a little more sloped and technical. Use an under cling or two
to move up and left and then back right into a small corner of sorts. The moves are mostly of the balancing type. Fixed pro (bolts 2010) protect any of the hard moves well with several small trad pieces filling in the rest of the pitch nicely.
Once the ground eases, run over the ledge above to the wall in front for a fixed belay.
2nd Pitch- 40m- 5.9/
This pitch did not feel much like 5.9 which is relatively consistent with Genereux’s ratings being a bit soft. Follow the bolts up and left onto slab. There is a thin fun crack which presents the crux move of the pitch.
After that, just continue up into chossy rock. You can go left (bolt) or right, I chose right. Fixed belay rap can be located at the top of the cliff.
Either rap Alphabet soup with double 60m ropes, two raps, or walk off to the northeast and back to the base of the cliff’s east side.
60m double ropes are usually best for Yamnuska (you are not in Kansas anymore). A single rack of cams including some C3’s to 2” should supplement the bolts fairly well for a competent climber at this grade. Mix of slings and draws. Helmets a must on Yam as always, particularly for the belayer! I advise rapping back to your packs via Alphabet Soup, so no need to haul much up on these short routes.