Red Shirt Wall, 5.8-5.11d

Red Shirt Wall, 5.8-5.11d

Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 51.12361°N / 115.11667°W
Activities Activities: Trad Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
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Red ShirtRed Shirt, Yamnuska, 8 Pitches/5.8+

The Red Shirt area covers the part of Yamnuska from Forbidden Corner to the huge bowl in the cliff towards east end. The route for which this section of Yam was named is one of the more popular and historical routes on the wall, Red Shirt, 5.8+. Greenwood, Kahl and Lofthouse, all early pioneers of Yamnuska established the line in 1962, before an old man like me was even born! Red Shirt also includes the history of the first climbing fatality at Yamnuska. John Kula died in a fall while leading the last pitch (a long traverse-photo).
Pitch 8 traverse

The seven published routes on Red Shirt Wall range from five to eight pitches and are all pushing above the moderate range once you get beyond Red Shirt. For a classic 5.10 experience the wall features Excalibur (5.10c) and the Bowl (5.10c), both routes inhabiting solid rock by Yam standards. Dreambed (5.11b) and Jimmy the Cruisers (5.11a) are also considered solid routes on good rock.

Red Shirt Wall routes top out on the east side of the summit of Yamnuska and thus the preferred descent is via the east walk off. Consequently the approach used is the primary trail that zig zags up to Yamnuska’s center and meets the wall almost at the start of the Kahl Wall route itself. As you approach the wall from the climbers trail, top out and traverse east along the face and the first route on Red Shirt Wall you will run into is just 30m to the east of Forbidden Corner, Brown Trousers. The Red Shirt route itself is about 100m east of Forbidden Corner in its own right facing corner. The V-shaped chimney on the second pitch clearly markes the route. Grey Scale is the last route of the Red Shirt Wall before the Bowl Area routes begin.

Route Description(s)

Dreambed, 5.11b
Red Shirt
topping out
pitch 5 traverse

Red Shirt Wall, Left to Right as you Face the Wall

  • Brown Trousers- 7 Pitches- 5.10dR/

  • Dreambed- 8 Pitches- 5.11b/
  • The first pitch is given a 5.10 grade but definitely feels more like 5.9. It is a short, but pleasant pure trad play on an easy corner. The second pitch has a 5.11 grade, but felt more in the upper 5.10 range. The fun move here comes via a traverse below a scoop out to a mini arête out right, a fairly physical move on good rock. The third pitch involves a real short face that might have one move at the grade (upper 5.10) which lands you on a decent ledge. The fourth pitch has a hard to clip first bolt off the ledge for shorter folks, but runs nicely if you stay left at the start, up to a corner below a sizable roof. Use long runners and traverse left under the roof and continue on with some rope drag on easy ground to combine with the easy 5th pitch (full rope stretcher). The sixth pitch angles way out left, easy ground at first, following mostly bolts which land you at perhaps the best climbing of the day, a fantastic slab wall with small features to navigate, the most critical being a traverse left to a shallow seam, making an aggressive finger lock and drastic move up on broken slab (read slick) to a comfortable belay. The last two pitches can be combined with solid double rope management. This long pitch consists of a challenging 5.8-9 move soon off of the belay (traverse right over bulge), then easy climbing up to the mid station and finishes with a great slab-corner pitch (again, more like 5.9 hand and finger jams than 5.10) that leads to a bolted belay just below the top of Yamnuska. Although the topo shows both the first and last pitch as 3” cracks, I never placed anything larger than a 2” on either pitch. Dow

  • Crusin for a Bruisin- 5 Pitches- 5.11c/

  • Jimmy the Cruisers- 6 Pitches- 5.11a/

  • Red Shirt- 8 Pitches- 5.8+/
  • Red Shirt is a 5.8+ route featured in Andy Genereux’s “Yamnuska Rock” as well as “Bow Valley Rock” as a “2 star” route. I would definitely concur regarding the first 3 pitches, but from there it goes down hill (almost literally!) in regards to long traverses among 3 of the final 5 pitches. Only the 2nd pitch is rated a 5.8+ with sustainability. There are only a few 5.8 moves on the rest of the route. So if you are looking for your first 5.8 on Yam, this might be the route for you. Unfortunately though, the traverses on Red Shirt account for more accident reports on Yamnuska than any other route. Five reports, including one fatality, were recorded to 2006. Dow

  • Grey Scale- 6 Pitches- 5.11d/

  • Excalibur- 7 Pitches- 5.10c/

External Links

  • Alpine Club of Canada

  • DowClimbing.Com

  • Environment Canada

  • Essential Gear



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