Groover is one of Laurel Knob's signature moderate routes. It has the distinction of being established in a single-day first ascent by noted NC climber Jeep Gaskin and his wife Julia -- on their honeymoon! For much of its length, Groover follows a nice arching crack system with great protection; toward the top, it uses the carved water grooves that are a hallmark of Laurel Knob. Don't let the 5.8 rating or the fact that there's "only" six pitches fool you; this is a long and committing climb with serious runouts on the upper pitches. Start early and bring plenty of water.
For anyone wanting to experience North Carolina climbing at its finest, Groover is not to be missed.
P1 - starting at a large pine tree, climb a right-facing crack system up and slightly left to a ledge with another pine tree and belay (NOTE: this pine is the only place to bail without leaving gear until you reach the end of the fifth pitch). 5.7+, 190' P2 - Move right from the tree and continue up a left-facing crack that will merge into the arching crack system that is Groover's main feature. Follow this for another full rope length and find a comfortable spot to build a gear anchor and belay. 5.7, 190' P3 - Continue up the arching crack to a steep bulge; tiptoe over the bulge to the right and onto a sloping platform that makes a comfortable belay station. 5.7, 180' P4 - Prepare yourself mentally for climbing high above your protection. From the belay, climb high into the crack and place a medium-to-large cam, then downclimb until you can move out right on a bulge with quartz dikes for footing. Continue traversing right about 30' to reach the second of two deep water grooves, then look for gear before heading up (there's supposed to be a distinctive quartz hole in the groove somewhere). Head up the groove for about 100' or so (you may find a gear placement along the way), until you reach some spacious solution pockets and a welcome crack to build an anchor. 5.8, 160' NOTE: If you were doing the Fischesser variation, you'd continue up the arching crack from here. P5 - Move left about 15' to the obvious continuing groove; climb this steeper groove past three bolts and one good pro placement in a finger pocket. Finish at a narrow tree ledge with a bolt just below. 5.8+, 100' P6 - Continue up on easier ground and arc out right to an obvious tree island for a full rope length; after bringing up your second, continue to the right end of the tree island and look for a bolted rap station (the top of P6 on the Groover Fischesser finish). 5.6, 200'
The double-rope rappel off Groover is complex enough to get a separate description. Missing some rap stations is easy and can have serious consequences; knot your rope ends.
Rap 1 - from the anchors at the tree island, rap down and pendulum way left to the bolted anchors for P7 of Forbidden Fruit (FF). This is also the P5 belay for the Groover Fischesser finish. 140' Rap 2 - rap down the groove to the P6 anchors for FF. 170' Rap 3 - continue down the groove to the P5 anchors for FF. 130' Rap 4 - continue down FF past the P4 belay bolts (no rap rings) and past a prominent roof. Not far below these bolts and off to the left are the P3 anchors for FF that will be your next rap station. 180' Rap 5 - trend left as you rap down to find the FF P2 anchors a good ways out to the left of the plumb line; be careful not to pendulum back right. 120' Rap 6 - finish the descent with a rap straight to the ground. 140'
Groover starts at the far left end of the face. Follow the cliff trail to a point where you'll curve around right and back up above the trail at a large pine tree. From here, you'll know you're in the right place if you can see the tree ledge at the top of the first pitch (much higher than it looks).
Bring a full rack of active and passive pro; cams up to 4" are useful/necessary. Double ropes are a real asset on the traversing pitches.
By saxfiend Administrator From: Decatur, GA Mar 25, 2008 rating: 5.8+5b16VI-15HVS 4c PG13
Climbing Groover was a truly memorable adventure. The grooves on P4 and P5 were both running with water, making the runouts even spicier. Leading P4, I was very happy to find a perfect horizontal yellow Alien placement roughly 70' above my last gear. On P5, my partner took about a 40-footer off the wet groove; happily, he wasn't hurt and finished the lead in good style.
Did it today with Matt Walsh. Good lord my sphincter was tight on Pitch 5. John, I almost took the same ride that Denmark took! Straddling a water groove that's running with water really messes with your head. Great day! There was some bomber gear in the orange Metolius range in a small horizontal just right of the water groove high on pitch 5. Probably a few moves past the pocket spoken of in the description.
By Jeff Mekolites From: HOTlanta, GA Jun 4, 2011 rating: 5.85b16VI-15HVS 4c
My buddy and I just did this route for the first time on 8/3/11 and man was it HOT!! Pitch 4 was an amazing pitch to lead! I knew it would be a rush when the rubber on my shoes was turning to goo. And my buddy was happy to have those bolts for P5! I will say though that the rappel anchors at the top aren't as easy to find as it reads.. There happens to be many islands of trees up there. We ended up rappelling off anchors too far to the right and had to up climb the rope 50 meters back up to find the correct anchors. A tag on the top anchors would be nice to eliminate any confusion. Other than that, what an amazing climb!
i'm really happy groover is being climbed and enjoyed. also glad it has been the scene of several epics. laurel is an excellent place for epic development. if climbing war bonnet or temple peak or the diamond is one of your goals, long, hard days in the relatively benign world of wnc is perfect. i applaud all of you.