It has always been a dream of mine to climb a massive, unbroken, slightly overhanging wall. It was one of the main motivations for me to improve as a climber, so that one day I could access these routes. Back in 2015, I climbed The Tall Storey, a route that offered all that I was looking for and more.
You can find information on other routes in the area here: TABVAR – Tall Storey Wall
You can find a topo and route description here: TABVAR – The Tall Storey
The Tall Storey is a multi-pitch route built by Chris & Ian Perry in the early 2010’s. This project was a tour-de-force of effort to bolt and clean. There are few routes that showcase the hard work and dedication that the Perry family has given to the Bow Valley Climbing Community better than this one. The Tall Storey is another incredible contribution to what is already one of the best climbing zones on the planet.
The Tall Storey rises over 1000′ from Echo Canyon in Grotto Mountain. The route is slightly overhanging almost the entire way, with a stunning overhang on the very last move of the last pitch offering absolutely incredible exposure. Echo Canyon itself is a magical place. It offers a special kind of alpine ambiance that is hard to describe and rare to experience anywhere else. In the spring, there are large waterfalls roaring through the valley. In late summer the last rays of the sun hit the Tall Storey wall and illuminate it in a dramatic orange glow.
The climbing itself is as good as limestone routes get anywhere in the world. The quality is some of the best I have found anywhere. There are 8 pitches of climbing ranging from 5.10c to 5.11c (the easiest pitch is 5.10c). All pitches are fully bolted and are 30m or less.
Pitch 1 (5.11c)
The business of the climb starts right of the ground with a complex 5.11c crux sequence in the first 2-3 bolts. Trend right, then left, then right again on tiny, difficult holds. The rest of the pitch offers some of the nicest 5.10+ I have ever come across.
Pitch 2 (5.11c)
The second crux pitch, offering sustained 5.11/5.11+ climbing for the entire pitch. Pull a small roof, and move into the shallow corner all the way until the anchor.
Pitch 3/4 (5.10d + 5.11b)
I combined pitch 3/4 to make for a very long 5.11b pitch. I don’t recommend this… I actually just missed the 3rd anchor, and ended up continuing up the wall. The rope drag was insane, and I ran out two bolts of tricky slab at the top of pitch 4 because I had no draws left. I don’t really recommend this method. Pitch 3 is a long, easy traverse left, before gaining the 5.11b corner above.
Pitch 5 (5.10+)
A long pitch leaving the ledge halfway up. Tricky low angle climbing leads back into fun, overhanging climbing that paves the way for the best section of climbing on the entire route
Pitch 6/7 (5.10+)
The best pitch of the whole route – Staggeringly awesome 5.10c overhung climbing almost 1000′ off the deck. Incredibly memorable, and incredibly fun. As far as climbing quality and fun, this is the money pitch. It is recommended to combine pitch 6/7, even though you will end up with some rope drag.
Pitch 8 (5.11a)
The final pitch offering some fun slab before pulling a big roof right at the top of the route. Don’t fall here and blow your onsight! What a way to finish the route.
You can descend by walking off to the right, however this option is not recommended due to objective risk. We rappelled the route, which was pretty straightforward with the exception of the first rappel, which involved swinging back into the wall at the end of the ropes. Not ideal, but it is possible.