Cheese Grater - 5.8, 105m (3 to 4 pitches)

Cheese Grater - 5.8, 105m (3 to 4 pitches)

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 51.17333°N / 115.69458°W
Additional Information Route Type: Sport Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Additional Information Time Required: Less than two hours
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: 5.8 (YDS)
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 4
Additional Information Grade: I
Sign the Climber's Log


Guides Rock is a brilliant and beauty slab located on a low outlier of Mt. Cory. The crag provides a variety of short, moderate routes and a selection of some of the best routes in the Bow Valley. Developed over the decades, with several test piece and ground breaking routes established over the years.

Cheese Grater was first ascended by Cindy Fagan and Michelle Garbert in 1995. Originally sparsely bolted, the route was updated by local Banff climbing guide Mark Klassen in 2015 with more bolts on the original pitch plus now two additional pitches.

Cheese Grater is primarily steep and mildly textured limestone slab. The crux pitch is the first pitch with mostly delicate slab movements, but all well protected. The third pitch (new route addition) has a fun steep corner, then slab, shares some fun water worn runnels similar to For Sure, but not as difficult to ascend. The final fourth pitch is also new and provides some interesting and fun slab moves. Though well bolted and set up for four pitches, it is easy to combine pitch 1 and 2, but requires at least 60 metres of rope.

Getting There

Park on the Bow Valley Parkway, Highway 1A (now with restricted hours in the spring; March 1 - June 25 8 p.m. to 8 a.m) 3 km after leaving the TransCanada Highway (from eastern, Banff townsite, end of the Bow Valley Parkway).

Park on the left (south) side of the highway and take the obvious trail up to the buttress, about 200 metres of gain on a steep, but good trail, For Sure is just left of Aftonroe, on the far right end of the buttress, where trail ends. Approximately at 51.173329 , -115.694576

Route from highway
Guides Rock from the parking area

Route Description

The recent (2012) and excellent guidebook, Banff Rock, by Chris Perry provides great history, approaches, route beta and great topos for all the best rock climbing in southern Banff National Park.

Quote from guidebook for Cheese Grater:

Cheese Grater is the first climb in a small area of sport routes centred route the classic gear route "take it for granite". Is is quite easy for its grade and makes a good beginner route that can be done in two pitches.

This route was update in 2015 with more bolts on the lower section and few bolts to allow protection to reach the fifth anchor on Aftonroe. Great update information on TABVAR (The Association of Bow Valley Rock-climbers) website. Quote from website PDF update:

With permission of the first ascensionists a few bolts were moved/added to better protect the climbing on the original first pitch. The anchors were updated on both original pitches. Three additional pitches were added and these lead past the big ledge halfway up the cliff and join Aftonroe at the top of that route’s pitch 5.

An updated description follows:
Cheese Grater 5.8+
10 QDs

Not as high-quality as Aftonroe but nevertheless a fun outing that is harder than its neighbour. The 8+ rating is given for a few tenuous but well-protected moves on the first pitch. If you are comfortable with high-angle friction climbing you may feel it is easy, if you have been spending too much time pulling on plastic in the gym it may feel harder! Start: This is the furthest left bolt line. Begin at the end of the gravelly ledges at the base of the cliff, where it drops off into the gully. There is a single belay bolt at the base of the route.

1. 5.8+ 25 m. Climb high angle friction and edges, initially slightly right of the bolts. At the fifth bolt step left and get into a stem between two runnels (crux). A few moves up you get good finger edges. Continue past bolts to the ledge above.
2. 5.7, 20 m. Go up to an overhang and a bolt. Either pull over the roof (5.7) or climb to the left of it (easier). Above there is slab climbing with short steeper bits, protected by bolts. Climbing on the left is a bit easier (5.6) than climbing directly on the bolt line (5.7).
3. 5.8, 30 m. Climb the corner past two bolts. Scramble across a ledge to another bolt at the start of a steep wall with a wide crack and ear of rock on the left. Some thought provoking and potentially awkward climbing utilizing the ear, the wide crack and the face on the right leads past 2 more bolts. Make a few moves up a break then step right to below a smooth face. Climb this past two bolts to a small ledge.
4. 5.8, 30 m. Ascend to a bolt, then move left into a grey runnel. A few moves up this then step back right at the second bolt. Now go up steep friction climbing with some good edges for the fingers and several more bolts.

Either rappel the route with one 60 m rope or continue on to Aftonroe: 5. 5.3, 20 m. Carefully avoiding the gravel, walk up the ledge to a short corner on the right. Clip a bolt and move up the corner to an easy ledge. Traverse the ledge right past bolts to the top of pitch 5 of Aftonroe. Finish on that route.

On our trip Brad led and combined pitch 1 and 2 together, I led pitch 3 and Brad led pitch 4. We had just climbed "For Sure", my lead, and we both agreed the crux on that route was much tougher than the crux first pitch of Cheese Grater. We both disagree with a 5.8+ for the crux. Otherwise the updated description quoted above provides a good description. We climbed the four pitches and rappelled the route.

Descent is rappel off top anchor, a 60 metre rope should reach easy ground.

Brad just above P1 crux OSWB heading up pitch 3 Fun water runnels on P4

Essential Gear

Sport climbed equipped, 10 quick draws, belay and rappel gear. Helmet as the upper ledge is loaded with small rocks and pebbles.

External Links

TABVAR update for routes

TABVAR update for Mt.Cory and Guides Rock

MEC - description of Banff Rock guidebook