After six years of non-stop climbing in the Canadian Rockies, one starts to seek out non-published routes on a frequent basis. Some of the best rock to be had in the Canadian Rockies has yet to be climbed. This area is truly that vast of a region. Thanks to Andy Genereux for establishing just such a route in 2002, Cory’s Groove, on the southwest face of Mount Cory.
Cory’s Groove follows a prominent bedding plane just west (left) of a tall dark streak on the huge wall known as “Hoover’s Dam” located below one of Mount Cory’s subsidiary peaks. This face can be easily studied from the TransCanada or 1A. Hoover's Dam is one of the most stunning natural seamless walls of limestone in the Canadian Rockies. The route tracks from below the natural dark streak left below Hoover's Dam and eventually straightens out for the final 2-3 pitches. The foreshortening tricks you into wondering where nine pitches fit in, but in reality, the route is a “full” nine pitches, with no more than a meter left in the rope on most belays.
This route does consist of some serious objectional hazard considering that you are in fact climbing the drainage of this face. Every time the wind kicks up, you will be reminded of such as pebbles pelt you from above. If rain is moving in, you had better exit the route as quickly as possible. If you think it might rain later, you had best haul your shoes/boots up for the walk off option. As you climb the lower pitches, it is obvious that this section of the route is basically water runnel limestone. Of course it goes without saying you cannot be below another party on this route no matter the weather conditions.
Take the Bow Valley Parkway exit off of the TransCanada 4kms west of Banff. Follow the Parkway (1A) west towards Johnson Canyon. After 3.5kms, the road divides and reunites. At about 4.5kms total, there is a pullout on the left side. Park here and you will be directly below the route.
There is no trail to the route. Break through the trees across from the pullout and into the power line easement. Ascend the grassy slopes straight away intermittingly trudging through forest until a scree gully forms on your left. Drop down into the gully for easier transport and ascend up to a steep, but short water worn wall. Ascend a quick 5th class move or two here and continue up the gully to the base of the climb below the dark streak on the face. This part of the ascent takes approximately 2000’+/-.
Route Description455 Meters, 9 Pitches, 5.9
All of the belays serve as your rappel stations. The pitches are long, thus no reason to diverge from such on rappel. They are all double bolted and rappel ring equipped (2007). Of course double ropes are required to rappel the route. The route can also be walked off with just a a few rappels.
1st Pitch- 55m- 5.4/ We soloed up this pitch. From atop the drainage, angle left on the bedded plane via easy ground with few 5th class moves past three bolts up to a decent ledge (spruce tree) and belay anchor in which to suit up.
2nd Pitch- 60m- 5.6/ Continue at a leftward angle past 8 bolts on slab with water polished holds to a small belay ledge. We also soloed this pitch.
3rd Pitch- 60m- 5.7/ Again, very easy to follow past at least another 10 bolts on water runnel limestone, angling left on solid rock.
4th Pitch- 60m- 5.7/ You can place your first gear here in a water runnel and continue past a bolt to a ledge. Follow the main groove of the corner (left) passing another 8 bolts to a belay ledge.
5th Pitch- 55m- 5.9/ Finally the monotony of the route breaks. Continue up moderate ground past three bolts to where the corner steepens. Make several 5.9 stemming moves past three additional bolts to enter the shallow corner above. Sustained 5.8 climbing finishes the pitch past four bolts and several gear placements to a hanging belay below a fin of grey rock.
6th Pitch- 40m- 5.7/ Climb straight up the fin on steep ground, but easy holds, clipping 5 bolts along its arête until the route lays back and you can drop down to your right and scramble up to the station on the wall to your right. Nice huge ledge, but still exposed to rock fall in bad weather.
7th Pitch- 60m- 5.9/ Follow the corner past a bolt to a steeper section that can be stemmed with alternated face climbing up sustained ground placing natural pro versus bolts to a hanging belay (photos).
8th Pitch- 55m- 5.8/ Continue on sustained ground up the corner as it continues to straighten past 6 bolts and several gear opportunities. When the corner ends, look to your upper right for the station on the wall at the very top edge of the main wall.
9th Pitch- 30m- 5.9/ Have the belayer convert the 2nd and/or 3rd onto his/her harness and efficiently scramble on loose ground to the base of the best pitch of the route (photos) and set up a tree belay here. The best pitch of the climb is a vertical crack/corner that takes gear from bottom to top and is on a small wall detached from the main wall you have been climbing. You still have one bolt low and three high where the crack gets dirty. Place several small-medium nuts and several cams. Take a #4 with you if you have it to protect a bad jug you have to pull on. Real aesthetic, sustained and enjoyable pitch.
DescentWe rapped the route, but you can walk off north and descend a gully to the southeast which still requires several raps. The route is best simul rapped paying out the ropes due to prevalent winds and lack of good fall lines.
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