Illusion Rock is my favorite climbing wall in Grotto Canyon
. It is a true vertical wall with crimpy holds that are not as polished
as the guide book leads one to believe (Zapped 5.10a and Impending Impact 5.10a). It also provides a neat 5.7 gear corner (Jackorner) for beginner trad lead practice. Illusion rock does not receive much sun, so reserve it for a warm day. It is the last wall in the canyon before it opens up to the Hoodoos above, perpendicular to Lower Narrows
From where you parked, trek north up hill to the mouth of Grotto Canyon. Enter the canyon by following the creek bed as it winds into the steep walls. The trail moves back and forth from each bank. Hemingway Wall is the first climbing wall on your left. It is buffered on the left by a swatch of mature trees. A myriad of short trails meander in and about allowing you to clearly scope out this wall. Continue north towards the canyon headwall (fork). Before you reach the headwall the canyon bends slightly east. The Paintings Wall is on your left. The Peanut which features one route is in between Hemmingway
and Paintings Wall
. Continue to the headwall and turn left into Lower Narrows Wall. A right turn here goes to Grotto Falls, home of several ice climbing routes in the winter. Turn left, passing Lower and Upper Narrows and you run into Illusion Rock Wall. Jackorner is a corner that seperates the wall in two with the more difficult routes to the left and the easier routes to the right. These are all well bolted decent length sport routes with the exception of Jackorner which is a trad crack and Grander Illusion which requires gear.
Route Description(s)Routes Listed Left to Right
- Harder Than it Looks- 5.10c
- Monkey in a Rage- 5.11a
- Grand Illusion- 5.10a
- Grander Illusion- 5.10c
- Guitarzan- 5.10b
- George of the Jungle- 5.10c
- Jackorner- 5.7 A fun starter trad lead with gear up to 3”. Straight up corner crack that splits the wall in the middle.
- Zapped- 5.10a The guide book suggests using Jackorner to protect this climb, or just top roping might be simpler since you have plenty of other 5.10 leads next to it. These first two 10a’s this side of the corner are nice and positive crimpy vertical pitches.
- Impending Impact- 5.10a Only two bolts covering some distance, so a bit run out, but worth it.
- Smooth Move- 5.10b
- Tiny Tim- 5.9 Easy for the grade, not really worth the time.
- Yonge Street- 5.8 Very fun 5.8, a little messy at the top. The routes at Illusion Rock rappel with a single 60 meter rope. Most all routes do in Grotto except for West Coast Idea, 5.10c, which is worth doing, so you might consider bringing double ropes if Lower Narrows is your destination. West Coast and Jackorner require gear up to 3” as do several of the other routes at Lower Narrows. Illusion Rock is part of the neat scenic corner in the steep section of the canyon to hang out on a warm day (does not receive any sun). The rock is pretty solid throughout Grotto Canyon relative to the Canadian Rockies, but of course a helmet is always advisable. Sport Climbs in the Canadian Rockies is the book you need. You might get by without it if Dr. Topo has everything you need in terms of which routes you want to do. As of 2006, Dr. Topo did not have the better routes farther into Grotto Canyon.
- DowClimbing.Com- Grotto Canyon
- Canadian Alpine Accident Reports are also extremely helpful and feature no less than 5 accident reports (2006) regarding Grotto Canyon.
- Kananaskis Provincial Park