Every year when I start my summer edition of climbing in the Canadian Rockies, it never seems to fail that the first week of weather is a bit iffy and at least one of my partners has a bead on a brand new route. In 2010, Prospect by Ian Perry (and his father Chris) was served up. Ironically enough I lived in Prospect Heights for six years in Canmore. However, the route Prospect is actually located across the valley high up on the exposed cliff walls of Grotto Mountain. Bataan is the better known sport climbing crag on the south facing aspect of Grotto’s upper cliffs. However there is a lesser known area that has yet to be published (2010) called the Hideaway to the west of Bataan. Like Bataan, Hideaway is almost exclusively a single pitch sport climbing mecca at the higher grades. Ian and Chris Perry established Prospect as a four pitch sport climb in June, 2010 that can be rapped with a single 60m rope.
The route is well protected and relatively soft for the grade which is typical for the Perry’s. The crux moves (5.10c) are at the end of the third pitch. Although heralded by the FAers at Hideaway as “great” rock, I found the second and fourth pitches lacking in that capacity. The fourth pitch might have the hairiest climbing on the route via a traverse out left and then up on precarious chossy holds. Although well bolted, this sharp limestone is not the kind of rock a climber wants to test out his top line skills on. It is almost impossible to come away bloodless even when one hasn’t fallen!
Hideaway and Prospect are a hump, much like Bataan, just to climb sport routes. Park at the Alpine Club’s main office on the outskirts of Canmore at the base of Grotto Mountain. Hike down the road to a trail located between the Alpine Club and Pony Club. Hike up this trail, up the hill to a signed Y. Take the right and cross over one drainage and up and down to a much more significant one. Although the FAer’s discuss heading up the drainage, a trail has been cut just to the east of this significant drainage. Take that trail, staying left at any intersections, following the drainage north via the right bank. By taking this trail, you will avoid a waterfall obstacle. This trail drops you right on top of said waterfall. Head up the drainage, up and right which really widens at this point until you can follow a fainter switchback trial up the slopes on the left past bolted routes on Hideaway Wall. If you come to where boulders choke up the canyon with a hand line on the right, you have gone too far in the drainage. Once on the switchbacks, continue gaining quite a bit of elevation past the walls and several caves on the left until below Prospect which is just right of an obvious cave and about the last bolted route prior to the left wall ending into the large perpendicular headwall of the canyon above.
Route Description380’+/-, 4 Pitches, 5.10c
1st Pitch- 30m- 5.10b/ The first pitch offers the best rock on the route. The last few meters of steep rock on the pitch offer a small crux move or two. The whole pitch is very pleasant 5.9-10 climbing on sticky and sharp limestone. Ten bolts to a ramp and fixed rap station.
2nd Pitch- 25m- 5.10a/ This is the worst pitch of the route. Run up four bolts through chossy ground to a large ramp. Follow the fifth class ramp up past the rap station to a fixed belay station below the next steep pitch.
3rd Pitch- 30m- 5.10c/ This is the crux and best pitch of the route. Follow eight bolts up to a bulge via easy 5.9-10 climbing. Take the bulge with some delicate and well thought out moves through two more bolts to the fixed rappel.
4th Pitch- 30m- 5.10a/ This final pitch is perhaps the most tense lead on Prospect. Make a heady traverse out left via a couple of bolts. Then follow the rotten steep corner up through the crux of the pitch. The rock gets better after these initial few vertical meters. Stem up another short corner. Eleven bolts to the final rap anchor.
Make four raps via a single 60m rope.
External LinksGreat Topo at Tabvar
100’s of Canmore multi-pitch rock climbs, both trad and sport, just scroll down to routes
Best Eats in Canmore: Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company, all organic fare, not just a pizza place, but a true best of the best mountain local dining experience, great on site owner and customer service with a smile, not easily obtained in Canmore
Best Coffee in Canmore: Beamers, the locals favorite, super wholesome lunch stuff, local guys, no attitude on service
Best Climbers Hangout: Summit Café, most likely place to find me or my brethren shooting the bull about beta. Best breakfast place in town, good coffee as well, serve Mennonite meats from Valbella, which is the best place to buy free range products anywhere in the world, right here in Canmore.
Climbing Gear: All way too expensive in the Bow Valley, but if you must, Mountain Magic in Banff is far superior to service and actual knowledge about climbing than the two in Canmore.