Pony Express, 5.10a
Some routes on Yam (Yamnuska) simply did not need to be put up. The main culprit is Andy Genereux. Andy is a little too fond of his drill and has littered Yam with inconsequential routes. However Broken Wing, despite being sandwiched between several other routes, is a creative line that offers a variety of climbing on decent rock (by Yam standards). Although he calls it a mixed (pro wise) climb, we used just one C4 #.75.
Most of the route is well bolted. If he would add one more bolt, it would be a true seven pitch sport route. He referenced a 4” piece which I found no use for at all. Interesting enough, he also calls for a single rack of 1” to 4” and wires. He completed the route in 2005
I have climbed this first pitch before via Jazz Beat of a Nun’s Groove (5.10a)
. It is also an alternative start to the fully bolted line named Pony Express (5.10a)
which stays to the left of Broken Wing after that first pitch. Broken Wing starts with bolts just to the right of an easily identified corner. The second and third pitches are rather non-descript bolted 5.8’s. The fourth pitch is a solid 5.8 pitch with good rock and fun moves. The fifth pitch is the crux of the route and a bit sandbagged in my opinion at 5.10c-d.
Andy throws 5.10d out there (and he is almost always soft on his grades and does not truly lead at this grade himself without aid)
on the topo but calls it 5.10c in his notes. Think closer to a 5.11 traverse on down sloping limestone choss for at least three bolts worth.
The whole route including this pitch is relatively well bolted however, but due to the traverse you will most certainly need to back clean the first clip on this crux pitch.
The sixth pitch is supposed to be 5.10b, but is ten times easier than the previous one. Most of it is at 5.9. The last pitch is just an average 5.9 bolted pitch on Yam.
There is a decent (normally flagged) trail below Yamnuska that takes off left at the base of the main scree descent. This is the best approach for the western routes. At the Y in the approach trail, take the left option versus the normal right one. Continue until at the base of the first patch of loose scree. Look for the flagged faint trail down and to the left (2nd left). Continue following the flagged trail as it ascends the western treed rib below Yamnuska. This trail will eventually peter out as you approach the west end of Yamnuska. Catch the scree trail heading west and look to ascend to below the pinnacle used for the very popular Easy Street (5.6)
and Windy Slabs (5.6) routes. Broken Wing has a bolted 5.10a pitch just to the right of this pinnacle.
Route Description700’+/-, 7 Pitches, 5.10d
1st Pitch- 30m- 5.10a/
I have led this pitch before via another route. It seems a bit soft for a bolted 5.10a. It is completely bolted. In fact I led all the 5.10 pitches on this route and only placed a .75 (one time on the 5.10b pitch).
Otherwise we just clipped bolts up the entire route. Just follow the bolts as they trend right, then back left up to a comfortable fixed belay.
2nd Pitch- 30m- 5.9/
Again, follow the bolts up and cross a ledge, then trend up and left around a small arête, then straight up to another comfortable fixed belay. This pitch also felt soft for the grade.
3rd Pitch- 30m- 5.8/
This pitch is a bit confusing if for no other reason than it has some 4th class ground that is not bolted with too many options of places to go
. Follow approximately four bolts up as they trend left and traverse below a large loose collection of blocks. Head up right
behind the blocks and onto the center
of the face formed by the two large corners above. You pass one bolt in the middle of the face via some fun climbing for the grade in a short crack, then mantle up onto a ledge to a fixed belay. This is not a very sustained pitch.
4th Pitch- 35m- 5.8/
Avoid the temptation to get into the right corner. Just follow the bolts up decent cracks (by Yam standards) as they trend right, then left to a semi hanging fixed belay. This is a sustained pitch for the grade. You could place a C4 #.75 here to supplement the bolts if you wanted to.
5th Pitch- 25m- 5.10d/
Andy calls this 5.10c/d on his topo, but it felt more like 5.11 and will feel even harder to you if you are not used to Yam’s chossy limestone.
My second broke off a hold. Move left to start, but reach down and back clean that first bolt as soon as you clip your second bolt.
It protects your ankles at first but then would cause serious rope drag on the hard traverse back right. The 3rd through 5th clips involve a difficult rightward traverse on down sloping chossy limestone holds
. After the fifth clip, the climbing starts to ease up to 5.10-. I skipped a bolt way out right and went straight up. There is no need for the 4” piece Andy talks about in his notes on this pitch, it is well bolted. The fixed belay is on a small comfortable ledge.
6th Pitch- 30m- 5.10b/ This pitch felt soft for the grade, particularly compared to the previous one!
I led both. Follow the bolts up a few 5.9-10 moves above the belay and continue through the rotten rock feature up and left. Tread carefully as your belayer is directly below and these are large blocks.
Mantle through this choss and climb up to a left facing corner directly above. This is where a trad piece is mandatory if you want to protect the corner. The climbing is more like 5.9 than 5.10. One single C4 #.75 was perfect to protect the corner higher up whilst otherwise still clipping bolts.
Mantle at the top of the corner to a comfortable fixed belay.
7th Pitch- 30m- 5.9/ Avoid the temptation
to run up the large right facing corner and continue to follow the bolts via pleasant rock up and right to the top of Yam.
Climbing Sequence I
Climbing Sequence II
Walk 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. Descend via a large scree gully back down to the lower trail that heads east back to the trailhead. I always take small gaiters for this ascent so I don’t have to dig rocks out of my shoes.
Rappel options are numerous if you had to bail. The fixed stations were equipped with rap rings (2012). I only placed one piece of trad gear, on pitch six up a 5.9 corner, a C4 .75. I felt the rest of the route was well bolted. A dozen draws with a few of them extendable. Helmets a must on Yam as always. Biner your shoes to your harness (with a locker!) for the walk off. Never want to try and rap Yam if you can avoid it.