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Cory, Mount

Looking back over a shoulder on the ridge.

Summit Elevation (m): 2880
Trip Date: Sunday, October 21, 2018
Elevation Gain (m): 1500
Round Trip Time (hr): 8
Total Trip Distance (km): 16
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 3 – you fall, you break your leg
Difficulty Notes: Upper easy to moderate scrambling, depending on route choice and snow cover. There’s enough confusing route options to rate it “moderate”. 
Technical Rating: SC6; YDS (3rd)
Map: what3words


I very rarely repeat mountains. Very, very rarely. I just don’t see the point. The name of my web site provides insight to the whole point of hiking, scrambling, skiing and climbing for me – exploring new areas. But every once in a while I get an itch to do a repeat for whatever reason. Sometimes it’s just that the mountain is that much fun but usually it’s because I didn’t get great photos or views the first time. Such is the case with Mount Cory. (For the original 2004 trip report click here.)

While driving back through Banff after a great day trip on Chimper Peak in Kootenay National Park, Wietse and I both commented on how bone-dry Mount Cory looked – at least for the bottom 2/3. For years now, I’ve regretted not getting better photos and views on this scramble. It was one of the first mountains I ever did and I didn’t have a good handle on how to adjust white balance on my digital camera at the time. We also had some pretty cloudy weather which didn’t help the photos either. I wasn’t sure I’d have the energy to climb another 1400m on Sunday after an exhausting trail-breaking experience on Chimper, but I filed the idea in my head and kept driving.

Mount Cory Route Map
Mount Cory Route Map

Sunday morning I slept in until 08:00 and then decided I shouldn’t “waste” such a nice day sitting around the house. Everyone else in my family had plans that didn’t require me, so I put together my gear from the day before including ax and crampons and jumped into the truck, hoping to start up Cory by 10:00. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was slightly underestimating the size of this objective, only looking at the total height gain and the distance of under 10km. I figured 6 hours should be more than enough to bag it – and I would have been right on the money in completely dry conditions. I also didn’t read my own trip report very carefully – where we took 6 hours just to get to the summit from the parking lot. Ah well. I wanted the experience to be as “new” as possible and it certainly was!

As I started from the pull-out along hwy 1A, I thought back to what I remembered from 2004. All I really remembered was how steep the initial ridge was, the snowy downclimb between summits and descending an alternate scree gully on return. All other memories were pretty much gone. I followed the breadcrumb track on my ViewRanger basemap to find the start of the lower south ridge which involved going past a locked gate from the parking lot and then a short walk along a cutline under some large power lines. From the powerline right-of-way I found a faint trail leading to the bottom of the ridge and continuing upwards on dirt and scree, which I followed.

The powerline with the start of the south ridge at right, visible through the trees.
The powerline with the start of the south ridge at right, visible through the trees.

The next few hours were a steady grind up. I made the huge mistake of wearing my insulated pants – figuring with a high of only around 5 degrees it would be cool enough to justify them. NOT. I could have worn shorts most of the day! Soon I was in my t-shirt, sweating in the hot sun and still air on the extremely steep south ridge trail. My legs were still sore from breaking trail in shitty snow on Chimper the day before and by the time I finally arrived at the upper plateau I was questioning my choice of objectives for this particular day. But the weather was sublime and I was enjoying the mountain all by myself so I decided to continue.

Hiking up the steep, hot south ridge of Mount Cory.
Hiking up the steep, hot south ridge of Mount Cory.

It’s only after the plateau (where I enjoyed the company of a herd of very unconcerned sheep) that the route on Cory becomes a bit convoluted. With fresh snow starting soon after the plateau, the route became even more diverse. I was following fairly fresh tracks in the snowy sections on the ridge but they didn’t always take the easiest path and I ended up forging some of my own route until the snow became much more consistent higher up. The good news is that it was pretty easy keeping things easy to moderate up to the shoulder beneath the false summit.

Views west from the plateau at the top of the south ridge.
Views west from the plateau at the top of the south ridge.

From the upper shoulder under the false summit things got a bit more interesting. Firstly, I ended up gaining and losing more height than I’d remembered from 2004. Secondly, thanks to copious amounts of snow, the route became more constrained, especially when it concerned traverses on steep slopes vs. balancing along crumbling ridges. The first hint of this was on the shoulder itself, where I’m sure there’s a simple traverse in dry conditions but I was forced up onto the crest of the shoulder and faced with a tricky downclimb at the end of it. Just as I was downclimbing the shoulder I noticed two figures high up under the false summit coming down slowly.

Looking back over a shoulder on the ridge.
Looking back over a shoulder on the ridge.
Looking ahead to the false summit at left. Note the rock wall just ahead.
Looking ahead to the false summit at left. Note the rock wall just ahead.
From on top of the small rock wall looking to the false summit.
From on top of the small rock wall looking to the false summit.

I continued up to the false summit, now in much more snow. I didn’t quite need my crampons yet, but it was getting close. As I met the two figures coming down, we chatted briefly and they indicated that the traverse to the true summit was a bit challenging and would definitely require the ‘pons. I was secretly glad, since I’d lugged them all the way up to this point! I continued upward on snow and rock, the scrambling being much more interesting than I remembered from my first time up here – albeit in much drier conditions. After scrambling up a few steeper sections on the ridge I arrived at the false summit to some pretty stunning views of many familiar peaks from Assiniboine to Temple and many more in between. It had taken me just under 4 hours to reach the false summit – longer than I’d expected it to. Looking over at the true summit I wasn’t convinced it looked any higher, but alas, it’s been accepted by the scrambling community as being slightly higher and even I have it listed as around 7 feet higher so I knew I ‘had’ to make the traverse in order to get some good photos from it. It didn’t look very easy with all the snow…

The False summit above and true summit at right.
The False summit above and true summit at right.

The traverse to the true summit wasn’t easy or straightforward in the winter conditions I had – certainly no longer a scramble, but rather easy alpine mountaineering with ax and crampons required and some delicate moves on rock and snow to avoid getting into more serious trouble. Again, I noted easy looking slopes off the ridge top to my left (west), but they were loaded with snow and a pretty severe wind slab that was reactive when I tried the traverse. I gave up and followed the tracks that led along the undulating ridge, including a few tricky downclimbs before finally arriving at the easier slopes to the summit. The views from the summit were, as expected, spectacular and I was glad I made the traverse. The views north over Fifi and up the Forty Mile Creek were especially intriguing. It had taken me 4.5 hours to reach the summit – much longer than I’d expected.

Summit views towards Banff. Assiniboine at distant center right.
Summit views towards Banff. Assiniboine at distant center right.
Looking over Mount Louis with the 40 Mile Creek running off to the left.
Looking over Mount Louis with the 40 Mile Creek running off to the left.
Summit views looking west down the TCH at left and 40 Mile Creek at right.
Summit views looking west down the TCH at left and 40 Mile Creek at right.

The return was quicker, as usual. After leaving the false summit behind, I rapidly descended back to the shoulder before taking off the crampons and putting the ax away. The shoulder was much easier to upclimb than downclimb and soon I was slowly transitioning back to grass from snow. I took a lengthy 30 minute break high up on a grassy shoulder, enjoying my Starbucks and the quiet calm around me. I was sure I wasn’t going to experience a day this pleasant in the alpine again until next Spring or Summer so I wanted to soak it in thoroughly. Reluctantly I left my little piece of Heaven behind and continued the steep descent to the plateau.

Gorgeous views over Banff towards Mount Rundle.
Gorgeous views over Banff towards Mount Rundle.

From the plateau I followed the very steep track back to the powerline cut block far below. For a short section I managed to plunge-step the gully that I remembered from 2004, but I ended up traversing back to my ascent track in order to avoid the canyon lower down. I wasn’t sure what kind of shape it was in and didn’t want to bother with any bushwhacking. I’m sure it’s fine. I arrived at the truck, back in my t-shirt, for a round trip time of almost 8 hours. Overall I really enjoyed Mount Cory for the 2nd time. It felt like a new mountain to me and the summit ridge was fun alpine scrambling with some pretty sweet views.

Cory, Mount
52 photos
Group photo (Kellly, Sonny, Dan and Vern) at the false summit - 2004.
Group photo (Kellly, Sonny, Dan and Vern) at the false summit - 2004.
Vern and Sonny on the summit of Mount Cory - 2004.
Vern and Sonny on the summit of Mount Cory - 2004.
Looking down the very dry south ridge.
Looking down the very dry south ridge.
There are short stretches of forest on the ridge.
There are short stretches of forest on the ridge.
The outlier at upper left means I'm approaching the plateau.
The outlier at upper left means I'm approaching the plateau.
Mount Bourgeau is spectacular in the morning lighting.
Mount Bourgeau is spectacular in the morning lighting.
Sheep on the plateau don't mind me at all!
Sheep on the plateau don't mind me at all!
Views west from the plateau towards the Castle Mountain massif.
Views west from the plateau towards the Castle Mountain massif.
The false summit is a long way off yet.
The false summit is a long way off yet.
Lots of this. The gullies and terrain can get confusing to the false summit.
Lots of this. The gullies and terrain can get confusing to the false summit.
Looking back towards Sulfur Mountain at left and Massive Range at right.
Looking back towards Sulfur Mountain at left and Massive Range at right.
Hitting more snow as I approach the upper mountain.
Hitting more snow as I approach the upper mountain.
A very distinctive wall of bubbled rock at right. False summit visible.
A very distinctive wall of bubbled rock at right. False summit visible.
Looking back over a small whaleback on the ridge.
Looking back over a small whaleback on the ridge.
Looking west (L) and up to the false summit.
Looking west (L) and up to the false summit.
Note the small rock whaleback ahead of me. When dry you can traverse under it, I went on top.
Note the small rock whaleback ahead of me. When dry you can traverse under it, I went on top.
Two people coming down from the false summit.
Two people coming down from the false summit.
Views to the false summit from the end of the small rock wall.
Views to the false summit from the end of the small rock wall.
Looking back at the tricky downclimb at the end of the small rock shoulder.
Looking back at the tricky downclimb at the end of the small rock shoulder.
Ascending steep snow to the false summit, looking back over the shoulder.
Ascending steep snow to the false summit, looking back over the shoulder.
The false summit at center-left with the true one at right.
The false summit at center-left with the true one at right.
Looking back at the steep snow descent from the false summit down towards the true one.
Looking back at the steep snow descent from the false summit down towards the true one.
Summit views east (L) and south (R) include Edith, Norquay, Cascade, Rundle, Sulpher.
Summit views east (L) and south (R) include Edith, Norquay, Cascade, Rundle, Sulpher.
Summit views south (L), west (C) and east (R).
Summit views south (L), west (C) and east (R).
Castle Mountain, The Finger, Protection, Pulsatilla, Ishbel,Cockscomb, Mystic, Bonnet, Noetic. L-R
Castle Mountain, The Finger, Protection, Pulsatilla, Ishbel,Cockscomb, Mystic, Bonnet, Noetic. L-R
Looking back to the false summit from the true one.
Looking back to the false summit from the true one.
Mount Ball.
Mount Ball.
40 Mile Creek marches off to the left along the Sawback Range. Louis at foreground center.
40 Mile Creek marches off to the left along the Sawback Range. Louis at foreground center.
Sira Peak rising at right, Flints at distant left.
Sira Peak rising at right, Flints at distant left.
Flints Peak at right of center with Cuthead to its left.
Flints Peak at right of center with Cuthead to its left.
Bonnet Peak is just visible over the rounded foreground summit at left of center. Noetic to its R.
Bonnet Peak is just visible over the rounded foreground summit at left of center. Noetic to its R.
Mount Ishbel at foreground left with Pulsatilla at distant left. Noetic rising at right.
Mount Ishbel at foreground left with Pulsatilla at distant left. Noetic rising at right.
Pulsatilla at right, Protection Mountain at left.
Pulsatilla at right, Protection Mountain at left.
The Castle Mountain massif with Eisenhower Tower at left.
The Castle Mountain massif with Eisenhower Tower at left.
Cascade Mountain.
Cascade Mountain.
Dramatic shot past Mount Rundle.
Dramatic shot past Mount Rundle.
The Goat Range marches off towards Old Goat Mountain right of center.
The Goat Range marches off towards Old Goat Mountain right of center.
Lougheed, Sparrowhawk and Bogart to the south.
Lougheed, Sparrowhawk and Bogart to the south.
Working my way back along the tricky summit ridge to the false summit.
Working my way back along the tricky summit ridge to the false summit.
Mount Peechee.
Mount Peechee.
Inglismaldie and Girouard.
Inglismaldie and Girouard.
Assiniboine with Eagle at right.
Assiniboine with Eagle at right.
Descending the ridge.
Descending the ridge.
Great views along the Goat (L) and Sundance (R) Ranges.
Great views along the Goat (L) and Sundance (R) Ranges.
A panorama from the Goodsirs at left to Deltaform and Hungabee and Temple at right.
A panorama from the Goodsirs at left to Deltaform and Hungabee and Temple at right.
Approaching the small whaleback on the ridge.
Approaching the small whaleback on the ridge.
Looking past an outlier to Pilot and Copper at left.
Looking past an outlier to Pilot and Copper at left.
Gorgeous views towards Banff and Rundle Mountain.
Gorgeous views towards Banff and Rundle Mountain.
A stubborn larch with Rundle in the distance.
A stubborn larch with Rundle in the distance.
Mount Rundle and the Bow River.
Mount Rundle and the Bow River.
The Sundance Range from the descent.
The Sundance Range from the descent.
The powerline cutblock on descent with the start of the south ridge at right through the trees.
The powerline cutblock on descent with the start of the south ridge at right through the trees.

3 thoughts on Cory, Mount

  1. Vern, you’re a machine!
    I only climbed half of Mt Chimper and the following day I barely managed to do a half hour workout.
    I envy you youngsters:)

    My next trip just before the weather changes (Wednesday?) I may attempt Cory which seems less likely to have avi danger rather than reattempt Chimper.

    • LOL – not a machine and I am old… 🙂 I’d say Cory definitely has less avy potential than Chimper.

      • I don’t seem to recover well after trips. I’ve got to improve this somehow, if I ever hope to do something more serious.

        Cory is safer, it perhaps has to do with the cirque on Chimper that has all that shadow, plus Ochre Creek Peak blocking the sun from the South as well, I imagine. After all, there are glaciers near Chimper. (I’m sure other factors too, less Chinooks, more snow, etc)

        Will see, at least I’ve got one trip handy, although I reached the shoulder of Cory before and will have to summit to make it worthy this time.
        But then again, why I’m complaining, yourself with all the mountains you’ve climbed must have a hard time finding new ones in the short season.

        Cheers

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