The most popular climb on these high rock faces of Cory is Cory’s Groove (5.9) which follows a huge break that splits two walls. Brandon Pullan and Urs Kallen put up a mixed (protection) route to the right of Cory’s Groove and right of the huge blank face (Hoover’s Dam) in 2009 named Niagra on the Bow (5.9). In 2010, they followed up with this sport climb to the left of Cory’s Groove on the Cory Crack wall (to the right of Cory Crack).
Like many routes in the Canadian Rockies, you have to suffer through some rather mundane terrain to access a great pitch here and there. Old Man Stipple offers up such a gem on pitch 6, a fantastic relatively closed corner pitch that pulls a small roof/bulge to more crimp climbing for full value. The other 5.10+ pitch (pitch 4) offers some decent climbing up a short face via horizontal crimps. The rest of the climbing if fairly uneventful. We did witness a bald eagle skirting the cliff in July and witnessed big horns on the drive in and a moose on the drive out.
These two adjoining walls containing the previously mentioned routes can be easily studied from the TransCanada or 1A. Hoover's Dam is one of the more stunning natural seamless walls of limestone in the Canadian Rockies and is located on the right face. The two faces are separated by a huge feature/corner, Cory’s Groove. You want the left face. 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 approximately 5kms total, there is a pullout on the right side next to a drainage. Park here and you will be directly below the route. Aim for the right side of the shaded arch (topo included).
There is no trail to the base of the wall. Break through the trees and grassy slopes straight up to the base of the wall, staying slightly right to avoid unnecessary ravine loss and gain. Continue to aim for the base of a treed ridge that runs up the right side of the wall, left to right. We bypassed the first pitch by continuing up an obvious 4th class water worn gully to the left and tied into the 3rd class second pitch up to the base of the wall and thus did not rope up until below the main wall itself. Follow this treed ridge to the top and locate the bolts directly above a tree. The first couple of bolts are fairly spaced out on easy terrain. This is a 1-2hr approach.
Route Description (s)1200’+/-, 8 Pitches, 5.10+
1st-2nd Pitches- 140m- 5.8/ Maybe they just wanted their route longer, can’t say the motive. But it made no sense to me to start roping up and climbing until we were at the base of the wall itself. We took the obvious water worn gully to the left and scrambled up as for Cory Crack and turned right to follow a faint trail up the third class treed rib to the base of the wall.
3rd Pitch- 60m- 5.8/ This is a fairly non-descript broken ground pitch. I ran up it in about 5-10 minutes. Locate a bolt high on the slab above a tree. From there follow the broken slabs and bolts to a comfortable belay ledge and fixed station below a short steep slab. I noticed a bail biner about 2/3rds of the way up. I collected it and then replaced it on the way down. This is explained in the descent notes below.
4th Pitch- 30m- 5.10+/ Climb the steep slab above via fun small horizontal pockets. Proceed to the next short steep slab and make a slab move or two at the grade off the deck to clip the first couple bolts. Proceed up to a broad ledge below a huge blank wall. Belay off of a tree.
5th Pitch- 15m/ Traverse right via an exposed thin ledge past a tree to a fixed station below a hidden bolted corner at a small stance.
6th Pitch- 25m- 5.10+/ This is by far the best (sustained) pitch of the day and what makes this climb worthwhile if in fact it is. Start with a tricky move off the deck up the closed corner. Follow the corner up to below the roof/bulge. Brandon mentions a “hidden crimp” up and left to pull the bulge, but I just hand jammed the crack above and mantled the small roof. Continue up the corner, locating face crimps on sticky limestone on the left side of the relatively closed corner that make for interesting moves until you can easily move up and right of the crack to a comfortable fixed belay.
7th Pitch- 45m- 5.9/ Run up the short chossy corner and move left to start climbing the arête above. They placed a bolt or two way out right, but the arête proper is the better climbing. Either way, it eases up to the fixed comfortable belay above.
8th Pitch- 55m- 5.7R/ Kind of a junk pitch that finishes the wall. From the belay, check out the teetering huge flake out right if it is still there and consider the fact you will shortly be rapping over many of its brethren. Traverse left up broken ground clipping a few spaced out bolts. Zig back right up a ramp of sorts to the top. Not many, if any 5.7 moves. Rap station is a bit out right versus up where you naturally might trend.
This is a double or twin rope descent. Rap the 8th pitch, watch for loose rock. Rap the 7th pitch, watch for loose rock and sticking your ropes. Rap past the 6th pitch belay to the broad scree ledge below. Drag an end of the ropes skiers right until you can rap off a single bolt on pitch one to the ground. Thus why the FAers left a biner there I assume. I retrieved it and then replaced it at the same spot myself. Return via the approach.
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