Yamnuska Traverse
Following pro alpinist Barry Blanchard up Mount Yamnuska.

Return to Mount Yamnuska

Dispatch by Delano Lavigne

Photo by Sergio David Spadavecchia

I wasn’t much older than 19 when I made my first trip—nay, pilgrimage—to Canmore.

I had been living in Colorado, where I was working as an imported ski bum. In October, the shoulder season for both the U.S. and Canadian Rockies, I decided to head north, via a 30-hour bus and a 12-hour layover spent in an open bivy outside of Great Falls, Montana, to visit my brother who had only recently moved to Canmore.

When I arrived at Calgary’s downtown bus station, my brother was waiting for me in his jalopy—what you might expect from any dirtbag climbing college student’s first vehicle. But what did we care? So long as the car had four wheels and the ability to maintain forward momentum at a reasonable pace, it was good enough for us.

Within two hours of having completed the third-longest and third-most difficult Greyhound bus ride of my young life, we were loading our packs for what would be become my first of many climbing adventure in the Canmore Kananaskis region.

Our objective: Mount John Laurie, a.k.a. Mount Yamnuska.

For whatever reason, the mountain is, objectively speaking, beautiful.

Yamnuska sits at the foot—the true foot—of the Rockies, and features at its highest point a 300-metre vertical wall that runs a kilometre wide, end-to-end. The base of the mountain is a steep hike that passes through aspen groves, dwarfed spruce trees and a classic Rockies scree field.

It has been, and continues to be, one of my favourite mountains. Maybe I’m attached to it because of the role it played in my development as a young climber, or maybe because of the connection it helped create between me and my brother.

For whatever reason, the mountain is, objectively speaking, beautiful.

And if my impressions and sentiments toward the mountain do not amount to much by way of inducing “mountain envy,” consider the fact that one of the world’s most prolific alpinists, Barry Blanchard, has climbed Yamnuska more than 500 times. After having the privilege of climbing it with him today, my love for Yamnuska, Canmore and Kananskis has only grown deeper. 

If you want to follow our expedition live using #opxCanmore, check us out on social media:

Want to read more? Check out our full expedition to Canmore Kananaskis: 

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