There are over 130 published routes on Yam’s southern face as of 2008 with more being developed every year. Will Gadd just spent seven hard fought years completing Yamabushi, an 8 pitch 5.13a route. 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). On the opposite end of the spectrum, one of the older routes at the east end is Dick’s Route
, aptly named for Dick Howe and Dick Lofthouse who established the line early in Yam’s history in 1970.
We combined Dicks Route with Gargoyle for a relatively uneventful day at Yam as we were scooped on the Kaul Wall
route. The great thing about the east end is that you can leave your bags at the base and run laps up the wall walking off to the east back around to the base of the wall without rappelling and worrying about knocking rocks down on any other unsuspecting climbers. The first two pitches were pretty much junk in my book, but the last pitch was enjoyable.
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 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. Traverse right along the base of Yamnuska. Left of the prominent corner system known as Gollum Grooves is an overhung yellowish wall with three exit cracks/chimneys. Smeagol follows the left most crack slicing through three overhangs for one of the steepest and best pitches on Yamnuska for the grade. Gargoyle takes the next exit west, up a steep corner, which is also quite entertaining. Dick’s Route starts up Gollum Grooves (prominent left facing corner system) as Smeagol does, then takes the center of three cracks.
Route Description400’+/-, 3 Pitches, 5.9
1st Pitch- 35m- 5.7/
Easy to get distracted on this pitch since there are a half a dozen routes in this area. Basically start up the Gollum Grooves as you would for Smeagol, real easy climbing. The guide book gives you several variations to set up an anchor, but the best is to just keep going straight up, past a pinnacle on your left
vs moving hard left. Set up a gear belay at the base of a corner/crack.
2nd Pitch- 35m- 5.8/
Climb the corner crack above to a dog leg right half way up. Move around the roof to the right and climb a short steep corner until you reach the overhang with a bolted belay at the base. This ground can be a tad loose, so tread lightly
to not dislodge any large limestone blocks.
3rd Pitch- 40m- 5.9/
Climb diagonally up and right to reach the obvious crack above. Climb this crack until you hit a roof, then move right again into another crack. Climb this crack past a piton on the right. Make the crux face move right to easier ground above.
Belay from the top. Alternatively you can go up a chimney capped with a roof and turn it for the finish. There is a chock stone to sling here.
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.
This is a messy part of Yam with quite a pit of tat and pitons sticking out everywhere. The route will take as much gear as you want to put in. I would not take more than a single rack to 3” with a set of nuts. Mostly shoulder length slings. A single 60m rope will do. You can easily return to the base of the climb, but biner your trail runners to your harness for the walk around. It is a distance with quite a bit of scree.
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