April 18, 2010

Climbing Grey Scales Yamnuska

There is a sport that exists in the Canadian Rockies unlike any other. It resides in a place outside of time, outside of mind, lurking in the deepest, most terrifying recesses of self. Not quite climbing. Not quite mountaineering. Not quite grovelling.

This sport of course is Yamneering and could perhaps be likened to an extremely hot yoga class filled with dudes in Lululemon.

If this sounds like a wholly-unappealing-bordering-on-nauseating-pursuit, you would not be far off.

But for some strange reason (probably boredom) I come back to this place, this hallowed ground, year after year. If you asked me why, I could not give you a good answer. The rock is shoddy, the approach is steep and rarely does one come across women in this strange and hostile land.

Eventually, one must either change the question or be satisfied living in a world without answers.

So instead of asking WHY climb on Yam, perhaps it would be better to ask HOW to climb on Yam. Simple. A) Find a route grid-bolted with as many shiny new bristlers as possible. B) Make sure the line seeks out as much dark, grey, prickly limestone as possible (even if this means making a borderline girdle traverse of the cliff). C) Recruit a much better climber than oneself who will pretty much lead the entire climb but let you cherry-pick the occasional pitch (ie: the short pitches where you can clip a minimum of two bolts from any stance).

With these three things in mind, I hired top-gun Josh Lavigne for a lap on the big stone yesterday. We climbed Grey Scales, a 6 pitch 11d, which featured excellent rock (for Yam) and nary a single gear placement. The route is now in great condition with chalk marks on all the hard to see holds. Definitely the closest thing to a true sport climb on the cliff. Props to Andy G for the quality line.

Josh following the 3rd 11b pitch.

Climbers climbing a climb.

A rare photo of Josh belaying with both hands and not reading the instruction manual for one of his many cameras.

Josh pumping through the 11d crux.

Following Josh's lead through the crux. As a back-up to the top rope, I also climb with a light-weight base rig just in case. Josh Lavigne photos.

Taking a nap after the crux.

Grimping the last few moves to the chains.

As my Mother often says, "The weather was so beautiful you could puke." Josh Lavigne photo.

Until it started to rain.

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