Hike Mt. Yamnuska

Rate this Adventure Canada Yamnuska Trailhead

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Yamnuska's place at the gateway to the Rockies, incredible views and novel chainwalk make it a Calgary classic.

This Alberta classic start just a few minutes off the Trans Canada. 

The trail begins gently through forests of Aspen. In spring and fall these are particularly lovely. Steadily the trail heads upwards bringing you to a three-way junction. Head right, and follow the trail Eastwards, as it zigs into open terrain giving you stellar views of the Rockies foothills, before zagging back westwards towards the mountain. 

The trail heads straight for the base of Yamnuska's long ridge, at a outcropping of rocks called Raven's Crag. From a distance this appears daunting, but as you are approaching it's just a quick hop over some boulders in a gully. You do have to use a hand, but you're tucked safe between a couple rocks and it doesn't feel the slightest bit exposed. 

From here you follow a trail that runs lengthwise across the Northern face of Yamnuska. In winter it is not recommended to visit this area after significant snowfall, and always wear crampons or microspikes of some kind, as well as a trekking pole or an ice axe.

The trail can be exposed at times, but for the most part is fairly straightforward. Two thirds of the way along you encounter the "Chain Walk". A thick chain is bolted into the rock along a section no more then a one to two feet wide. For those not used to scrambling it can be quite exhilarating. The Chain provides a solid hand hold that one can easily make their way across with. 

From here it's pretty straight forward towards the true summit. After you've savoured the views your going to start the descent. The first section starts pretty quick and you quickly get funneled into a steep scree (gravel) slope. But this is the finest, lightest, and most consistent scree in the Rockies.

Experienced "Yamaineers" will charge down this like it's snow, letting the very absorbent scree cushion their impact so they can speed down hill. The trick is to keep pumping your feet like your squishing grapes, and always plunge your foot heel first. 

The first scree slope abruptly ends, and you make your way down the west side of Yamnuska, curving around back eastward underneath the impressive South face. If you go early in the day you may catch a glimpse of the many rock climbers that frequent this face. 

Carry on down towards the second scree slope. This is the longest of the two. Some of the lines of scree have more than others, and some have patches of dirt. Don't take the first line that presents itself. If you traverse eastwards you will find better lines for "scree running".

At the base the trail becomes a regular path again gently sloping downwards were it meets up with the eastward trail to Raven's Crag, and the quick descent to the parking lot. 

GPS track found here: http://www.movescount.com/move...

Pack List

  • Hiking Boots
  • Gaiters are nice for the scree run
  • Layer System (Base, Mid, Outer Shell Layer)
  • Water, Snacks and Lunch
  • Trekking Poles
  • Gloves
  • Crampons or Microspikes
  • Trekking poles or ice axe (always take an helmet if you're using an  ice axe)
  • Avalanche training would be a very good idea of there is any significant snow. 

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How to Get There

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Added by Tam McTavish

Long time outdoor industry worker, based in Vancouver, BC. Certified gear nerd, just trying to legitimize my addiction by actually taking stuff outside. On foot, skis, crampons, nylon, wheels, ropes or water, as long as I'm in topography I'm happy.

Activities:

Hiking

Skill Level:

Intermediate

Season:

Year Round

Trail Type:

Loop

Distance:

5.4 Miles

Elev. Gain:

855 Feet

Features:

Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Picnic Area
Scenic
Wildlife

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