Corkscrew, 5.12a (A0), 7 Pitches

Page Type
Alberta, Canada, North America
Route Type:
Trad Climbing
Time Required:
Most of a day
Rock Difficulty:
5.12a (YDS)
Number of Pitches:

Route Quality: 1 Votes

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Corkscrew, 5.12a (A0), 7 Pitches
Created On: Jul 9, 2009
Last Edited On: Mar 29, 2013


Corkscrew, 5.12a (A0)3rd-4th Pitches- 50m- 5.7

Corkscrew can be found in a more obscure section of Yamnuska that easily gets lost between Red Shirt and the East End known as the Yellow Edge area (clearly identifiable by the yellow tint to the rock at the right edge of a large bowl in the face). Corkscrew is a fairly historical route in that it was put in by Vockeroth and Greenwood in 1967, and not to be freed until 30 years later by Ben Firth and Dave Crosley in 1996.
Corkscrew, 5.12a (A0)5th Pitch- 25m- 5.12a or 5.8/A0
Wood Lilly

We combined the first two pitches with a 70m rope without having to simul-climb, by climbing more left than the guide book suggests for the direct variation to straighten your line. We also combined the next two pitches, even though the 3rd pitch involves a long traverse, by judicial placement of pro and the use of double length runners. The final three pitches really need to be done separately. The 5th pitch is the 5.12 pitch and is quite stout across the retrofitted (2009) bolt ladder. Several of the bolts were not replaced, so it will still take some courage to free it and the true free line is substantially below the ladder without much pro. The fact that Ben freed it on those old bolts (30 yrs old! supposedly the first bolts installed on Yam) showed some courage indeed. The transition from the 5.12 section back to 5.8 climbing can be assisted with a tension rope above (2009). This crux pitch of Corkscrew can be easily aided at 5.8, A0. The final two pitches are long and wandering with mostly fixed gear to follow (pitons). You will get a close up view of the crux pitch of the Bolt Nazi, 5.11c/R at the 4th and 5th pitches of Corkscrew.

Follow the climbers trail up 1500’+ to the base of the wall. Turn right and follow the wall to the Yellow Edge area which refers to the right ride of the huge bowl before the east end of Yam. The direct start of Corkscrew starts below a slung pinnacle, just left of the pinnacle and left of a tree. If you start here, you can combine those first two pitches with a 70m rope. Alternatively, you can start father to the left up an easy ramp system for two pitches of climbing and this was the original line.

Route Description

800’+/-, 7 Pitches, 5.8 A0

1st-2nd Pitches- 70m- 5.8R/ Did not see this as being 5.8 or run out on the first pitch as referenced in the guide book topo. We started directly under the 2nd pitch and ran up easy ground passing the belay ledge to a fun corner/crack for the grade (5.7) passing a bulge and piton to a comfortable belay with a fixed piton and gear crack, maybe one meter short of 70m with the 2nd (70m rope) still on the ground.

3rd-4th Pitches- 50m- 5.7/ Make an exposed traverse out right for quite a distance. You won’t be able to protect it with trad gear. The pitons are hard to see, but they are there (2009). There is a bolt as well, but I missed it. Stay low when in question and follow the good micro ledges. Eventually cross over a bulge/arête and climb up to a solid ledge below an obvious left facing corner. Continue up the corner for pitch four placing a 2” and 3”, saving a 2” and 4” for the belay crack above. The upper section of this corner is a little overhanging and slick with a deck ledge below that portion. Do a gear belay on top of the corner which is really a detached pinnacle of sorts. The bolt ladder for the crux pitch starts at your head.

5th Pitch- 25m- 5.12a or 5.8/A0/ This pitch is about 10m shorter than the guide book has it at. Tough 5.12 to free in my opinion, rock a bit polished from all the aid smearing and a couple of the bolts are quite questionable. The retrofit in 2009 was not completed in whole it appears. Easy aid at any point you flail on the free attempt, just yanking on a draw and/or stepping into a shoulder length sling. Cross over approximately nine bolts as they trend up and right past an old station. Make the transition back to free climbing into the off-width, then traverse out right via a tension rope (2009) or make a downward 5.9 move to gain a small ledge with a piton. Continue right and trend up right towards a fixed belay and corner up and right. The bolted pitch to your right when you start and eventually cross over is the Bolt Nazi, a pretty stiff pitch in its own right.

6th Pitch- 35m- 5.7/ Move straight up with the crux move of the pitch coming off of the belay. Follow your nose right, then left, finding intermittent pitons as they zig and zag up the dark and textured limestone slab. Climb past a bulge on its left and belay on a decent ledge above.

7th Pitch- 45m- 5.8/ Locate a piton up and right. Clip it and then traverse directly right around the arête to easier ground, following pitons the whole way as the route trends up and right to the top. There is a bolted belay on the wall at the top of the route.

Climbing Sequence


Walk off the east via the scramblers trail. It is not worth rapping, way too much loose rock. It is easy to walk off and do another route or two at the east end in the same day before losing the 1600’+/- approach gain.

Essential Gear

Tons of fixed gear on this route. Single rack to 4” should be sufficient with double 2”. Draws, shoulder length slings and several double length slings help in combining the traverse pitch. A 70m rope also helps combine the first two pitches. The A0 is just that, A0, you don’t need aiders. Helmet is a must on Yam really. Biner your shoes to your harness for the walk off. Never want to rap Yam if you can avoid it.

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  • Corkscrew, 5.12a (A0), 7 Pitches

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