Yamnuska is one of the most popular peaks in the Canadian Rockies for climbers and hikers. Its south-facing wall is kilometres long and over 400 metres tall at its highest. One of the boldest sections is called Suicide Wall, which recently got a new route thanks to Rory O’Donnell and Cory Rogans.
O’Donnell and Rogans are no strangers to technical and committing routes – in 2021 they climbed the East Face of Babel, a notoriously run-out 5.11+ alpine line, and earlier this year they teamed up for Prime Rib, a big 5.11 on Mount MacDonald in Rogers Pass established by Colin Moorhead and Jon Walsh in 2004.
O’Donnell and Rogans’s new route on Yamnuska is called People of the Sun and climbs six pitches up to 5.12c. Jon Walsh accompanied them for the final first ascent push at 5.12 A0 after they established the route between Aug. 20 and Sept. 18. O’Donnell and Rogans returned the next day to free the crux at 5.12c. They climbed it ground-up, drilling on lead. It follows a line between Astro Yam and Quantum Leap. During some of their final days of pushing the climb to the top, Katie Reeder joined O’Donnell and Rogans.
About the Route, Rogans said that the bolts are where you need them and were mostly drilled from stances with the exception of the crux, which we aided and a few others. “Some tense moments,” Rogans said. “Rory broke a foot hold while drilling from a stance on the third pitch. A fall there would’ve been unfavourable.”
As O’Donnell said in his route description, “The climbing is hard and engaging from start to finish, but very worthwhile with mostly excellent rock the whole way… It took a lot of time and hard work to establish, but we feel it is an elegant addition and maintains the boldness of the existing routes on the wall.”
You can find a full route breakdown on TABVAR here, but the pitches go at 5.11b 40m, 5.11b 40m, 5.10cR 20m, 5.12c 40m, 5.11 45m, and 5.11cR 45m. The crux fourth pitch’s description is: “Make hard moves right above the belay, and follow the line of bolts through the intimidating looking roofs making multiple crux sequences with just enough holds to keep you going. After the crux climbing continue up towards the anchor, trending right first and then diagonally left. There is a bolted belay. The last part of the pitch is quite runout but climbs on excellent rock.”
Read a story by Yamnuska climber Andy Genereux about some of the mountain’s history here.
People of the Sun added on topo in Andy Genereux’s Yamnuska guidebook