Major New Route on Yamnuska

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Will Gadd has completed a seven-year-old project to establish a new free climb up the most daunting buttress on Yamnuska, the Canadian Rockies’ famed adventure crag. After a 5.10 warm-up pitch, Yamabushi (8 pitches, 5.13a) has one pitch of 5.13a, four pitches of 5.12, and two pitches of hard 5.11 on blocky, friable limestone, protected mostly with bolts in “sporty sport route” style.

Gadd and Raphael Slawinski started working on Yamabushi in 1999, aiming for a series of big roofs to the right of Balrog, near the middle of the 1,000-foot cliff. Over the next six years, they pushed the line from both the bottom and top during occasional outings; however, rap bolting proved impossible due to the difficulty of finding the right line on the overhanging ground. This fall, climbing mostly with Cory Richards but also other partners, Gadd worked 10 more days on the route, cleaning loose rock, placing bolts, and working the moves on individual pitches. On October 4, he climbed the entire route but fell on the seventh pitch (5.12). After a week of rest and recovery for tired and torn hands, Gadd returned and redpointed every pitch, with Josh Briggs belaying and jumaring.

“In the end we finished off what I consider the best rock route I’ve ever done in the Canadian Rockies,” Gadd wrote in an email. “We put a lot of work into cleaning loose rock and equipping the route…. There are many routes on Yam that emphasize run-out climbing on loose rock; I wanted something physical and hopefully enjoyable that would attract climbers from the around the world to the great climbing the cliff offers.”

Read Gadd’s take on Yamabushi’s development at

Sources: Will Gadd;

Date of Ascent: October 12, 2006Comment on this story

Yamnuska is a 1,000-foot limestone cliff between Calgary and Canmore, Alberta. The arrow marks the location of the new route Yamabushi (8 pitches, 5.13a).Photo courtesy of Dougald MacDonald.

Major New Route on Yamnuska

Film: How Matt Cornell Free Soloed One of America’s Classic Hard Mixed Routes

"The Nutcracker" explores the mental challenges of solo climbing and the tactics Cornell used to help him send the route.