There are over 130 published routes on Yam’s southern face as of 2009 with more being developed every year. Will Gadd 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.
The purpose of this beta page is to catch the many shorter and/or easier routes that obviously do not deserve their own write up.
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.
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 five 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. As you keep following the wall, it turns up the hill and there you will find quite a few single pitch routes, not the least of which is a really fun crack pitch called A-Crack.
East End Routes, Left to Right as you Face the Wall
- Freak Out- 4 Pitches- 5.9+/
- Pangolin- 5 Pitches- 5.10b/
- Boomerang- 4 Pitches- 5.10c/
- Gargoyle- 3 Pitches- 5.10a/ Gargoyle was put in by Joe Josephson and company in 1996. He mentions that the “rock quality suffers a bit at the start” and unfortunately that does include the crux climbing at the start of the 5.10a 2nd pitch. The 3rd pitch has an interesting traverse out left. Dow
- Smeagol- 3 Pitches- 5.9/ Smeagol is one of the straighter lines you will find on Yamnuska and is fairly easy to identify once you are below the east wall. Right 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. Dow
- Dick’s Route- 3 Pitches- 5.9/ 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. The first two pitches were pretty much junk in my book, but the last pitch was enjoyable. Dow
- Dickel- 3 Pitches- 5.8/ Another route put in during 1970 by Dick Howe and Dick Lofthouse. It is a pleasant enough route through three relatively easy pitches to the top of the East End. The 2nd pitch (an open book corner) is the gem of the route. Dow
- A Route- 3 Pitches- 5.7/
- Flight of the Bumble Bee- 3 Pitches- 5.9/ This is a relatively new route that cost Andy Genereux a broken ankle trying to put it in, thus the name “Flight of the Bumblebee”. In fact Brad Warne and Pierre Champness finished his idea for this route in 2004 whilst he was recuperating. It is relatively sustained in that each pitch has moves at the grade, but the route is not that sustaining overall. The first two pitches are excellent and the first half of the last pitch has the crux move of the route, but the finish gets quite chossy. As would be typical of any young route at Yamnuska, the 2nd and 3rd pitch could both use some more cleaning (2008). Dow
- A Crack- Single- 5.9/ Real fun steep hand crack through a squeeze of sorts, then the ground eases up to a fixed rappel up and left. (photos) Dow
- Iron Monkey- 3 Pitches- 5.9/A1/
- Grond- 3 Pitches- 5.10b/ As with most routes on the east end, the first pitch is the crux. I led this 40m pitch and consider it quite dirty, even by Yam standards. It follows a crack/shattered left facing corner that still needs a lot of cleaning (2010). Due to the tentative nature of the rock, I placed a lot of gear and the crack takes it, mostly medium to large stuff obviously in that quality of rock. The pitch starts with a delicate move to gain the crack and then once you pull over a small tree/bush onto a small ledge, you finish on some decent quality slab up to the belay ledge. The guidebook speaks of making an anchor, but there is a ring bolt belay/rap station (2010) to your left. The second pitch moves out right to gain a ramp/dirty corner that angles back left, up and over a loose pinnacle and to a gear belay on a ledge a few meters down the other side of said pinnacle. The last pitch runs up a corner past a large suspect chock stone and into the gully proper to finish on easy, but loose, ground up the gully and to the right to a set of rap rings which serve as the descent of the Alphabet Soup route. Two double rope (60m) raps reach the ground. Dow
- Alphabet Soup- 2 Pitches- 5.10c/ 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. Dow
- B is for Billy- 2 Pitches- 5.9/
- C-Plus- 4 Pitches- 5.7/
- C Route- 3 Pitches- 5.8/
- D is for Dog- 3 Pitches- 5.10a/
- Old Style- 2 Pitches- 5.7/
- Traditional Values- 2 Pitches- 5.6/
- Thanksgiving Day Special- 2 Pitches- 5.7/
- Come Down Before You Die- Single- 5.6/
- Ben’s Route- Single- 5.7/
- Bombshell- Single- 5.8/
- Eastern Portal- Single- 5.7/
- East Ender- Single- 5.9/OK route. Gives you a bit of trad above the pillar. Then some bolted face moves higher up. Not very sustained for the grade. Dow
- Learning Crack- Single- 5.7/
- Morning Star- Single- 5.10a/
- Rats Nest Crack- Single- 5.9/This is a decent single trad pitch at the east end. I led it and then we top roped it with a 70m. Gear to 4". Real fun roof jam sequence for the grade. Dow
- Raven’s Flight- Single- 5.10c/
- Crimping and Jamming- Single- 5.9/
- Eastern Jam- Single- 5.9/
External Links100’s of Canmore multi-pitch rock climbs, ice climbs, alpine climbs and scrambles, just scroll down to routes
Best Eats in Canmore: Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company, all organic fare, not just a pizza place, but a true best of the best mountain local dining experience, great on site owner and customer service with a smile, not easily obtained in Canmore
Best Eats in Banff: The Bison, all organic/free range fare, with a detailed description of their suppliers. Recently expanded (2010), I recommend sticking with the downstairs. Better menu, prices and social ambience. Maybe retire to the bar upstairs for sunset or late night. Bison chili is amazing!
Best Coffee in Canmore: Beamers, the locals favorite, super wholesome lunch stuff, local guys, no attitude on service
Best Climbers Hangout: Summit Café, most likely place to find me or my brethren shooting the bull about beta. Best breakfast place in town, good coffee as well, serve Mennonite meats from Valbella, which is the best place to buy free range products anywhere in the world, right here in Canmore.
Climbing Gear: All way too expensive in the Bow Valley, but if you must, Mountain Magic in Banff is far superior to service and actual knowledge about climbing than the two in Canmore.