Hoka Hey! - 5.9, 410 m (9 pitches)

Hoka Hey! - 5.9, 410 m (9 pitches)

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 51.18332°N / 115.7002°W
Additional Information Route Type: Trad Climbing, Sport Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Difficulty: II
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: 5.9 (YDS)
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 9
Additional Information Grade: II
Sign the Climber's Log


Hoka Hey is bound to become a moderate classic in the Bow Valley, overall an excellent route that provides a challenge for most 5.8 climbers, but nicely bolt protected so you never get too desperate. Located on the West Face of the south peak of Mount Cory, near the famous rock route of Cory Crack. With low elevation and south west exposure, this route is dry from about March to November. This fun multi-pitch route has a relatively short approach and provides excellent quality rock, mostly on steep, compact well featured slab faces or corners. A scramble to the summit of Mt. Cory is quite easy if seeking some extra cardio. With some careful route finding the descent is a non-technical walk off. The climbs have several escape options, but with the approach and descent are a bit more involved than many other multi-pitch cliffs. 7-10 hrs round trip.

Getting There

Park at the Muleshoe Picnic Area 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) 5.5 km after leaving the TransCanada Highway (from eastern, Banff townsite, end of the Bow Valley Parkway).


Take the Muleshoe trail, which starts beside the outhouse. Follow it across the highway and through forest on the other side. It will soon start to traverse a steep hillside. After a few minutes you will come to a trail junction marked by a sign with a hiker icon. Turn left here and go steeply uphill on grassy slopes and open forest. Eventually it traverses above a broad, open gully with expansive views to the north. Watch for a small rock cairn beside the trail close to the head (top) of the gully (about 40 minutes). At the cairn turn right into the forest and clamber over a log. Then follow a faint game trail for a minute until you descend to cross a gravel wash (remember this spot for the descent). Find the good game trail on the other side and go up and across a steep bank for a couple of minutes then turn left (uphill). From here you will follow a broad, faint ridge through the open forest, trending a bit right at first. Keep trying to follow the ridge, weaving between the burnt forest on the right and the green trees on the left. The cliff is up and right but don't head towards it until you are near the same elevation as its base. At this point traverse almost straight across a steep sideslope through deadfall and small trees (flagging and cuttings). Once on the grass slope beyond head towards the cliff, crossing a small gully just before you reach it. To get to Hoka Hey, continue down along the base of the cliff to a large bay with a broad, tree filled gully above. Scramble or get a belay a short ways up 4th class ledges and slabs to gain the gully. There is a single belay bolt on a small outcrop on the right side of the bottom of the gully if you want to belay the 4th class. From here walk up on the right side of the gully to near the base of the cliff above, and then traverse left to a dead snag and another single belay bolt. This marks the start of the 5th class climbing.


There are two good options: Climb to the lower sub summit above the route. From this lower summit, walk NE down to the first col between Cory South and Cory Main peaks. Judicious route finding from here will keep it to walking rather than scrambling. From the col follow the base of the wall descender's left a short way, then make a long descending traverse descender's right along a treed ramp below cliffs and above a steep gravel wash. Eventually you will be pushed into the gravel wash, go down it until you can see a rockslide of grey boulders to your left. Get out of the wash and walk down beside the rockslide into the mossy forest, which leads to the main drainage. Follow this on either bank to where you crossed the gravel wash in the morning on the approach. Head back right through the forest to the Muleshoe trail which leads back to your vehicle. Second and faster descent. From the top of the route go up a very short ways and then left (north), look for a ledge system that enables you to cross to the north side of the ridge, and work your way into the basin and drainage to meet up with the drainage.

Route Description

Description below is a direct quote from the Banff Rock web update Hoka Hey! 5.8+ FA: Banff Climbers Club, 2014 Hoka Hey means “let’s go” in the Lakȟóta Sioux language. It was often combined with the phrase “it’s a good day to die” as part of a war cry shouted while riding into battle. The pitch names come from the Nakoda (Stoney) language, which is a Siouan dialect spoken by the local indigenous people. A note about Moss Crack: Banff Rock describes the major corner system at the start of this route as being part of Moss Crack. I don’t think it is. The description of Moss Crack in the 1970 CAJ states: “A new route on the southwest face. First ascent September 1969. D. Steenkamp and J. Moss. Grade II, F6. This climb takes a crack line starting approximately 100 yards to the right of the ‘Cory Crack’ and just to the right of a prominent inside corner.” Seeing as it is described as a 5.6 crack to the right of a prominent inside corner I believe Moss Crack is the same climb as Arboreal Delight, named two years later by another party thinking they were climbing a new route. That said, John Moss (FAs of Babel E Face and Balrog) certainly could have led the big corner even with virtually no gear. But I don’t think he did that day. That said the big corner has been climbed previously - FRA Geoff Thornton-Trump and Isabelle Lemelin, early 1980’s. Anyone been up there previous to that? Gear: 60 m rope; 14 draws; 4 long slings; Camalots: #0.4, #0.5, #0.75, #1, #2 (grey to yellow) Start the route at a single bolt beside a dead snag below broken ground leading up and left to the big corner. See approach for additional information. 1. Yéθka (Those Without Blemish) Climb up a short ways to a bolt at the beginning of a left leaning ramp. Climb the ramp past horizontal cam placements to a ledge. Go up the wall and corner above, past bolts to a ledge. Some loose rock. 50 m, 5.6, mixed 2. Ĩ-ktomnĩ (Trickster) Climb the interesting ramp on solid stone to a semi-hanging belay. 20 m, 5.6, mixed Escape: You can get back down to the gully using the anchors and a tree in three 30 m raps. 3. Wakã Tãga (Big Spirit, aka John Moss Corner) Climb the long, sustained, fantastic corner on immaculate rock. Belay on lower angled terrain on the left. Some climbers will feel this pitch deserves the 5.9 grade but if you are familiar with limestone stemming corners it is 5.8, albeit every single move is that hard. John Moss died of cancer in South Africa in 2010; he may have climbed this pitch in 1969! 55 m, 5.8+, bolts Escape: Go left from the anchor and downclimb and/or rap off trees to the base. 4. Ĩyãħé Nakoda (Mountain People) Keep climbing the fantastic upper corner. The first few moves getting into the corner are as hard as anything on the route. Belay at the right end of a ledge or continue to the anchor at the left end of the ledge. 55 m, 5.8, mixed Escape: From the anchor at the left end of the ledge, rap off and then downclimb and/or rap off trees to the base. 5. Wotawa (War Banner) From the anchor at the left end of the ledge, step left to the arête on the edge of Cory Crack and climb it to the anchor at the beginning of Mountaineer’s Route pitch 5. 35 m, 5.6, mixed 4th class a couple metres straight left to a bolt, clip it and then step down and left to cross Cory Crack, clip another bolt, and then move left to an anchor. This is the same traverse as Mountaineer’s Route, done in the opposite direction. Escape: Scramble down climber’s left (north) to a tree with a chain at the edge of a gully. A 30 m rap down and climber’s left brings you to a chain anchor. Another 30 m rap goes to an easy gully. Walk down this gully trending descender's right (north) to the forest below and the approach route. 6. Wasiju (Ugly Hairy One) From the anchor climb up and left over ledges and short walls, past a few bolts. Some loose rock. 50 m, 5.6, bolts 7. ɣuya (Golden Eagle) Make a hard move left past a bolt, then easier climbing leads up a left facing corner above. 40 m, 5.8, bolts 8. Hoka Hey! (Let’s Go!) Head up and left to the crack, jam up that, then step right onto the face and go up to an anchor. It is mandatory to shout the war cry part way up the pitch. 55m, 5.8, mixed Move your belay up and left 15 m across the large ledge to a single bolt anchor near a dead snag. Escape: Walk right on the big ledge, rap off a tree into Cory Crack, and climb easily up a few metres to the chain anchor at the top of pitch 7 of Mountaineer’s Route. Rap that route to the easy traverse. Go across the traverse to the left then scramble down ledges climber’s left (north) to a tree with a chain at the edge of a gully. A 30 m rap down and climber’s left brings you to a chain anchor. Another 30 m rap goes to an easy gully. Walk down this gully constantly bumping descender's right (north) to the forest below and the approach route. 9. Éhagé Nakoda (The last Nakoda) Climb up and right to the top. 50 m, 5.7, bolts 3rd and 4th class along the nearly horizontal ridge above leads to the summit in 30 minutes.

Climbing Sequence

Pitch 1 Easy breezy pitch, don’t think it is 5.6. Funny since other pitches are sand bagged, odd that the first pitch is rated harder that it is. Simple pitch, a few bolts and gear is easily available if we need it. View to start of climb, the single bolt anchor is near the dead tree. Can see most of the first four pitches in this photo. (l) Easy climbing on pitch one. (r).

Pitch 2 Another easy pitch, maybe a couple of 5.6 moves near the end of the short pitch. The belay stance on the top of pitch 2 is awkward, too bad since the belayer is at this station longer than any other on the route, since the next lead is the toughest of the route. View down pitch 2 on second. (l) The bit awkward position of the belay station at the top of pitch 2. (r).

Pitch 3 The money pitch! Okay, the guide book states this, “Some climbers will feel this pitch deserves the 5.9 grade but if you are familiar with limestone stemming corners it is 5.8, albeit every single move is that hard”. In my opinion this pitch is at least 5.9, or even 5.9+. I have talk with two long time Banff rock climbers, one stated it is just a hard 5.8, another thought it was solid 5.9 or more. I usually cruise most modern 5.8 bolted pitches, but this pitch seriously kicked me in the butt, thankfully it is well bolted so you don’t worry too much about falling. Strenuous through out, hard pulls, mostly no foot holds, only stem/smears, often no great hands, was happy to get to the station. Most 5.8 leaders will work hard on this pitch, but feel hard core then finished. View up pitch 3 from second with the rope above. (l) Traverse to anchor from station on top of pitch 3, out of the corner, into a bay with the bolts. (r).

Pitch 4 Solid, fun 5.8 pitch. I think a least a grade easier than pitch 3. Easy to get gear where needed, several well placed bolts at the harder moves, overall a lot of fun. View up pitch 4. (l) LK leading up pitch 4, just above the anchor. (r).

Pitch 5 Easy pitch to get across the gully of Cory’s Crack, overall fun and easy to protect if you feel the need. No photos.

Pitch 6 Straight forward, fun pitch, feel less than 5.6 as well. No photos.

Pitch 7 From the station up to the first bolt is super thin and awkward slab face climbing, the next 10 metres is fun face climbing, then the left facing corner is tough, again, in my opinion, a few moves of 5.9 to get up the corner, but overall a fun pitch and well bolted by bolts.LK at station at bottom of pitch 7. (l) View up start of pitch 7. (r).

Pitch 8 Fun, tough, mixed bolts and trad pitch. A 5.9+ climber may get by without gear placements, but I was happy to use them. A few perfect cams placements protect the section without bolts (up about 15 metres up from the belay), this section is sustained and has several hard moves, including foot and hand jams, cool climbing, but likely at the 5.9 grade. Grade lessens past the jam moves. No photos.

Pitch 9 Really fun pitch, probably more than 5.7, move really fun and interesting moves and great holds on cool ledges and blocks make the pitch feel cruisey, but it is steep. OSWB leading up beginning of pitch 9.

Essential Gear

60 m or 70m rope; 14 draws; 4 long slings; Camalots: #0.4, #0.5, #0.75, #1, #2 (grey to yellow), belay and rappel gear, helmet.

External Links

Banff Rock update



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