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Honouring the Early Climbers of Yamnuska

The Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies premiere of “Climbing Pioneers of Yamnuska”
4r-kallen and davidson
Urs Kallen came to Canada from Switzerland in the mid-sixties where he soon joined the energetic young men and women at the Calgary Mountain Club. Partnering with Billy Davidson,Urs pioneered hard aid climbs on Yamnuska, most notably CMC Wall (1972) and Yellow Edge (1974). In 1970 he co-authored the first guidebook to Yamnuska with Brian Greenwood and in 1977 he updated this book with a new edition of his own. Image - Urs Kallen (left) and Billy Davidson.

Iyamnathka, the “flat-faced mountain” aka Yamnuska is a sacred site for the Stoney People is a notorious and beloved mountain, whose routes are most climbers' bucket list.  A recent documentary using old video interviews taped by Chic Scott pays homage to some of the earliest known climbers of this formidable mountain. His film about these pioneers is coming out soon.

Scott’s interviews help honour Austrian climbers Leo Grillmair and Hans Gmoser who didn’t take the easy route, but choose to scale the steep rock face instead. Hailed as the first to climb the mountain, the duo would go on to scale it with climber Isabel Spreat in 1952, and again in 1957 with Heinz Kahl. Each time they took a different, but no less difficult, route. A former climbing partner of Gmoser, Franz Dopf, is also discussed in Scott’s film. Dopf and Gmoser climbed the south face of Yamnuska in 1953.

The mountain never lost its allure; climbers continued to challenge the mountain through the years, including Brian Greenwood who set a whooping 13 new routes along the south face. Also praised in the film are additional route developers Dick Lofthouse, Don Vockeroth, Urs Kallen and Billy Davidson.

On International Mountain Day, December 11th, 2021, the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies will premiere “Climbing Pioneers of Yamnuska” online, launching the “Pushing the Limits: The Legacy” project. Learn more here –