Get on the only trail leaving the roadside and follow it straight, crossing under the power lines. Within four to five minutes from the roadside, you will come upon a dried-up, gravel-lined drainage canal. The trail for GSC marker 696005 is well marked on the right, with a cairn, just off the main trail. Be sure that you make this turn and do not carry on up the main trail, as this will take hours off your day and put you at a ridge that ends in a high, steep drop-off (my first unsuccessful attempt at Mount Cory). So, if you have travelled longer than ten minutes, backtrack and look more intently for the intersection.
Once on the trail, you will encounter the most difficult part of the climb within five to ten minutes. In fact, the lateral exposure of the ridge will be in sight within a few moments of turning onto the trail. By taking the best of the many routes available, you can attain the ridge crest within another 10 minutes of moderate scrambling up the side of the ridge. Up on the ridge, cairns and the path come into plain sight.
The only obstacle on the climb is a rock abutment which is reached in about 10 minutes more and is easily circumnavigated by following the track around the bluff into the bushes on the right side. The entire excursion is well marked with cairns and a well-used path, suggesting that either many other scramblers have also lost their way to Mount Cory, or, unlike me, they knew where they were going.
Continue this course until you reach the saddle of the two peaks. As you gaze up at the two peaks, the right one appears to be the highest, but in fact the one on the left (west) is higher by 5 m. The Geological Survey of Canada marker is unmistakable once you’ve reached the summit. It is a large wooden pyramid filled with rocks straddling the marker, which is firmly secured to the ground in concrete.
Views from this vantage point include Mount Cory directly behind to the north, with the best possible view of the Hole in the Wall. The Hole in the Wall is a dark, yawning cave extending almost 30 m into the southwestern slope of Mount Cory. The Sundance Range is 6.5 km to the southeast (true bearing 156°), and the unmistakable limestone slab of Mount Rundle sits 14.3 km into the horizon almost due east at a true bearing of 100°.
The Sawback Range extends south to the Bow River just northwest of the town of Banff, reaching as far north as Bonnet Peak. Other peaks in this range include Mount Cory, Block Mountain, Mount Ishbel, Oyster Peak, Cockscomb Mountain, Mount Louis, Mount Fifi, Mount Edith and The Finger. The range was named on August 17, 1858, by Sir James Hector (1834–1907), a surgeon and geologist with the Palliser Expedition.
Soon after reaching the Rockies, John Palliser had sent Hector to investigate the geology of the Rocky Mountains. He left present-day Morley, Alberta, on August 11 with the hope of discovering the source of the Bow and a possible pass as a trading route to the Columbia River. Coincidentally, Hector left the same day as Eugène Bourgeau, a botanist with the Palliser Expedition, and the parties travelled together for a day exploring Grotto Mountain. Bourgeau decided to stay near present-day Banff to collect samples of the local plant life, while Hector continued his way over Grotto Mountain to a vast valley where he spent several days collecting fossils, exploring the nearby slopes and allowing time for his party to collect meat for the upcoming adventure.
Finally, on August 17, after spending the previous day arduously exploring Cascade Mountain, Hector set his sights on his objective. Following a map drawn by a Stoney Indian guide Hector named “Nimrod” because he could not pronounce the man’s Indian name, the route took them on a long, roundabout track that would eventually bring them to Castle Mountain. The vertical beds of grey limestone that form the serrated peaks of the range present such a jagged appearance that they reminded Hector of a saw, hence the name.