Albertawow

Yamnuska Mountain Scramble

  Ratings:    Ratings 4 Star
Level: Difficult Time/Dist: 3 to 4 hours / 6.5K return Elevation Gain: 545m

Trailhead: Park at the Yamnuska parking lot located 45 minutes west of Calgary on the #114 Seebe turnoff. Bow Valley Provincial Park.

Description: Yamnuska Mountain is located on the edge of the Rocky Mountain and foothills in Bow Valley Provincial Park. It is the first mountain on your right when entering the Canadian Rockies from Calgary. It's most prominent feature is it's wide south facing 152m cliff face that is very popular with local rock climbers. Locate the trail towards Mount Yamnuska continue on about 1/2km until you will reach a signed junction that reads climbers to the left and hikers to the right. This sign may be confusing if you're looking for the easiest way to the summit. The easiest route to the summit is to the left where the sign shows the climbers route, more info on this route below. Once you reach this sign, hikers and scramblers have two options for summiting. If you're afraid of heights and want to avoid dangerous exposure, then take the easier west left side route (sign shows climbers) that traverses along the bottom of the cliff face and then works it's way up around the backside towards the summit. Climbers do take this route however they branch of this trail towards several climbing routes. Hikers continue on past the bottom of the cliff face avoiding the climbing routes. Be prepared for a strenuous grind up several steep and loose scree slopes. Your pace going up will likely be the classic one step sliding back for every three up. Once you arrive near the top of the long ridged summit avoid all temptation to look over as a fall from here would lead down the 152m cliff face. The second option is for experienced scramblers only and requires caution. Route finding skills and being comfortable while traversing small cliff ledges is a must. Avoid Mount Yamnuska if it is snow covered. When you reach the signed intersection showing climbers left and hikers (scramblers) right, take the right hand route.

The trail works its way up through an aspen and spruce forest towards the bottom of the east side of the cliff face. From here you will see a large cut in the rock with a boulder blocking the middle section. Work your way up around around the right side of the boulder then through the cut. Keep following a well worn scree trail up the slope then pass between a spine like buttress. Keep on the trail as it gains elevation until you come to a cliff with a bolted chain on your left. This narrow ledge is approximately 35ms long with a bolted chain that one can hang onto while traversing the ledge. The ledge disappears in spots and requires a side step to the next foot hold. Once you traverse the chain ledge locate the trail again and work your way across and up to the summit. Route finding skills are needed here and you may find yourself above very steep loose slopes that lead to cliffs further below. There are no chains here so once again caution is needed. Views from the summit are stunning. Seebe dam and the Bow River are in view below. The prairies open towards the east and the Rocky Mountains rise to the west. Expect to see climbers top out over the summit ridge. From the summit, the fastest way down is by the west route. Follow the summit trail down the steep scree slopes that leads down the northwest side of the mountain. You'll quickly arrive at a small spine that would make a nice bivy site. The trail turns left here as it descends around the west side of the cliff face. Stay on the well worn trail as it works it's away along the bottom of the cliff face. Not a good idea to stop here, the danger of falling rock is very high. Keep going, avoiding a few smaller trails that drop down to the valley on your right. Once you pass through a small wet bowl created by an underground stream, you'll be on top of the prominent trail that you viewed from the parking lot. Lots of fun here as you run and hop straight down this loose scree slope. The trail then enters tree's again and arrives at the signed intersection. Follow your way down to the parking lot. Interesting to note that the official mountains name is Mount Laurie. Before 1961 the mountain was called Yamnuska,' derived from the Stoney Indian word "yamnathka" that describes steep cliffs or "the flat faced mountain". The Stoney Indians renamed the mountain in honor of the founder of the Indian Association of Alberta, John Laurie.

 

Near Here: Local campgrounds include Bow Valley Campground, Elk Flats Group Campground, Lac Des Arc Campground, Bow River Campground, Three Sisters Campground and Mount Kidd Campground. Trailheads to Ha Ling Peak, East End Of Rundle, Mount Lady McDonald, Prairie View Mountain Bike or HikeMount Baldy, Aylmer Lookout and Lake Minnewanka are all located near here. You are in bear country.


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Yamnuska Mountain Bow Valley Provincial Park
   
   
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Mount Yamnuska Parking Lot  
   
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Climbers and Hikers Left - Scramblers Right

 
   
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Mount Yamnuska East Side  
   
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Mount Yamnuska North Side Before Chains  
   
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  Mount Yamnuska Chained Ledge East End Of Ledge
   
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Mount Yamnuska West End Bivy Site  
   
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Mount Yamnuska Cliff face West End  
   
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Mount Yamnuska Cliff Face  
   
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Mount Yamnuska Cliff Face Underground Stream
   
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