West End, 5.6-5.11c

Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 51.12361°N / 115.11667°W
Activities Activities: Trad Climbing
Seasons Season: Summer
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The last pitchWestern Union,5.8

There are over 130 published routes on Yam’s southern face as of 2009 with more being developed every year. In recent years 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 “Wast End” of Yamnuska (Yam), like the East End is chock full of less committing routes.
Broken Wing, 5.10dBroken Wing, 5.10d

The 20 published routes at this end range from one to 82 pitches (crazy canuk traverse of Yam). Missonary’s Crack is one of the better moderate routes (5.10a) and Easy Street is probably the most popular (5.6). The West End is notorious for its incredibly large painted pumpkin which normally gets a fresh coat every year in October, thus the Pumpkin (aka unnamed) route.

There is a new (2008) flagged trail below Yamnuska that takes off at the base of the scree descent. This is the best approach for the western routes. At the Y in the approach trail, take the left Y versus the normal right option. Continue until at the base of the first patch of loose scree. Look for the flagged faint trail down and to the left. Continue following the flagged trail as it ascends the western treed rib below Yamnuska. This trail will put you right at the base of the obvious corner system that makes up Missionary’s Crack among other routes. An advantage to the West End is that for the most part you can leave your backpacks at the base of the route as they are relatively easy to retrieve on descent.

Route Description(s)

Pony Express, 5.10a
Missionary’s Crack, 5.10a
The 5.9 Layback Finish...
Pony Express, 5.10a
Jazz Beat of the Nun s Groove, 5.10a

Missionary’s Crack, 5.10a

West End Routes, Left to Right as you Face the Wall

  • It’s All McConnell’s Fault- 82 Pitches- 5.11a/A0/
  • (no that is not a typo, it is the infamous traverse of Yamnuska completed in 2004)

  • How the West was Won- 6 Pitches- 5.9/

  • False Promise- 5 Pitches- 5.7/

  • Direct Mail- 5 Pitches- 5.10c/

  • Windy Slabs- 6 Pitches- 5.6/

  • Easy Street- 6 Pitches- 5.6/
  • After 5 pitches of Easy Street which takes you to BBQ Ledge, you can finish via one of the "West End Finishes." In the link I describe the more challenging 5.9 layback to the right, but other options from 5.6 to 5.8 exist. Dow

  • King’s Chimney- 7 Pitches- 5.7/

  • Western Union- 5 Pitches- 5.8/
  • Western Union is one of the better routes on the “west end” of Yamnuska to improve your lead grade level. It is also a good route to do for more experienced climbers during early or late season conditions due to its ease and length of route. Pitches 3, 4 and 5 all give you something to work on that is out of the ordinary. Several of the belay stations are shared with other routes. The start is the same start for several routes as well including Easy Street. Dow

  • Grey Goose- 7 Pitches- 5.7/

  • Pony Express- 6 Pitches- 5.10a/
  • Pony Express is one of my least favorite moderate routes on Yamnuska. The climbing was not sustained or unique in any fashion really. Once I reached the crux pitch and thought I was going to be rewarded for climbing some rather bland pitches below, the rock quality turned a bit ugly. Andy Genereux felt the need to put this route in (among a cobweb of other routes) in 2003. He added a left hand variation finish which I apparently missed or would have given it a go at a higher grade (5.10b). I recommend you go for it if you find the need to do this route as the 5.9 original finish was nothing to write home about. Dow

  • Broken Wing- 7 Pitches- 5.10d/
  • I have climbed this first pitch before via Jazz Beat of a Nun’s Groove (5.10a). It is also an alternative start to the fully bolted line named Pony Express (5.10a) which stays to the left of Broken Wing after that first pitch. Broken Wing follows the bolts just to the right of an easily identified corner. The second and third pitches are rather non-descript bolted 5.8’s. The fourth pitch is a solid 5.8 pitch with good rock and fun moves. The fifth pitch is the crux of the route and a bit sandbagged in my opinion at 5.10c-d. Andy throws 5.10d out there on the topo but calls it 5.10c in his notes. Think closer to a 5.11 traverse on down sloping limestone choss for at least three bolts worth. The whole route including this pitch is relatively well bolted however, but due to the traverse you will most certainly need to back clean the first clip on this crux pitch. The sixth pitch is supposed to be 5.10b, but is ten times easier than the previous one. Most of it is at 5.9. The last pitch is just an average 5.9 bolted pitch on Yam. Dow

  • Rejection of the Faith- 7 Pitches- 5.11c/

  • Pumpkin (aka unnamed)- 7 Pitches- 5.7/
  • I combined the 6 pitches into 4 with 60 meter double ropes. Pumpkin is set up to bypass any traffic jam by scrambling up a left leaning ramp that leads to the base of the climb and above any parties getting started on Easy Street, etc. below. This very large pumpkin was painted on the wall at the top of the last pitch in 1968 and is kept up as a tradition. Dow

  • The Toe- 3 Pitches- 5.8/

  • Jazz Beat of the Nun’s Groove- 7 Pitches- 5.9/
  • Jazz Beat of the Nun’s Groove is a (possibly should be classic) decent west end route on Yamnuska. Stealing two pitches from Broken Wing to allow for a direct start makes Jazz Beat as good of a route as any I have climbed at the west end and considerably better than the nearby and more popular route at the grade; Pony Express, 5.10a, 6 pitches. Jazz Beat actually intersects on several occasions one of my favorite 5.10 routes on Yamnuska, Missionary’s Crack, 5.10a, 7 Pitches. A significant rock fall incident in 2009 destroyed part of the wall in this area, however I can’t say I felt Jazz Beat of the Nun’s Groove was affected. Dow

  • Missionary’s Crack- 7 Pitches- 5.10a/
  • Missionary’s Crack contains one of the most debated grade allocated pitches on Yamnuska, its 6th pitch. If you spend a lot of time in the desert as I do (Lady Wilson’s Cleavage for example), the 6th pitch of Missionary’s Crack is just another pitch of 5.10a or b off-width, climbing over an eagle’s nest to boot. If a typical Yam climber however, you might find the moves much tougher than you are used to at this grade. Both my partners that day have tons of Canadian Rockies experience, however spent a lot of time trying to maneuver the 6th pitch as 2nd (s) and felt the grade was closer to 5.11a. Academically speaking, it just depends what you are used to. Rock has been lost on this pitch, including a flake used to layback on the original ascent, thus published grades are all over the place. Dow

  • The Tongue (Left)- 4 Pitches- 5.9/

  • Hanging Out- 5 Pitches- 5.10c/

  • The Tongue (Right)- 3 Pitches- 5.6/

  • Extender- 7 Pitches- 5.11a/
  • External Links

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