There are over 130 published routes on Yam’s southern face as of 2010 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). 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.
During a suspect weather day (were eventually hailed off of Alphabet Soup
, 5.10c) we set out to climb the Grond along with a few other east end routes. 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.
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 (2008) 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.
370’+/-, 3 Pitches, 5.10b
1st Pitch- 40m- 5.10b/
I did not like this route or pitch much. It still needs a lot of cleaning and probably will never be a solid climb.
Start up via a few meters of easy ground. To get positioned into the crack proper involves an awkward move or two at the 5.10 grade. The corner is quite shattered above. Medium to large cams are all you will feel like placing. You get a hand jam or two which are essential since the rock on the face around the crack is so precarious.
Eventually move above a tree/bush onto a small ledge below some solid limestone slab. Make a few run out moves up this slab to a much larger ledge and use the fixed belay/rap to the left. Watch out for ants!
2nd Pitch- 40m- 5.8/
The rest of the Grond if fairly uneventful, but quite loose
. Move up and right to gain a ramp/corner angling back left. It is quite loose. Climb up this corner until you can descend the other side of a loose pinnacle/pedestal. Belay off of gear down on a ledge.
3rd Pitch- 30m- 5.6/
Run up the corner to your left, past a precarious large chock stone of sorts and into the gully proper. Ascend the easy gully, but move out right towards the top so you can belay off of the top rap rings for Alphabet Soup. Two double rope raps will get you down from there and then you are set up for Alphabet which is a much more pleasant route!
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 .5 to 5” with double 1’s to 2’s pretty much took care of me on that stout first pitch (I did not have a 5” on me but would have appreciated one)
. Did not use any wires. Mix of slings and draws. Helmets a must on Yam as always, this is a loose route! Watch the rock fall on the 2nd pitch down to the belay.
I advise rapping back to your packs via Alphabet Soup, so no need to haul much up on these short routes.
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