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Groover Variation (Fischesser Finish) 

YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c

Type:  Trad, 9 pitches, 1320', Grade III
Original:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a [details]
FA: Mike Fischesser and Liz Cornish 1982
Page Views: 12,654
Submitted By: BirminghamBen on Apr 24, 2007

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BETA PHOTO: Groover Variation 5.9, 1,320', 9 pitches ( see top...


This is a variation to Jeep Gaskin's original line.

NOV. 2014: Edited original route submittal to geehaw with Mike's excellent topo and beta below.

P1: Climb a crack/weakness to the tree. Belay. 120' 5.6

P2: Traverse right to climbable rock, trending back left as you face climb up to gain the crack that defines most of this awesome route. Follow the crack to one of two good spots for a belay - large scoops in the rock. NOTE: Stretch it here so you have enough rope for P3. 200' 5.6

P3: Continue along the prominent crack with good gear until it runs out. Traverse up and right over a thin, slabby bulge to a large sloping ledge. Soem consider the last moves to the ledge the crux of the route. 180' 5.7+

P4: Climb out and up the crack to #3 and #4 Camalot placements. Sling with a long runner (left rope). Lower/down-climb 30' and traverse right along a slim quartz dike .... Work into the SECOND water groove... which is very positive if dry. Climb the water groove 80'over two new bolts (2014) until you reach nice-sized solution pockets and a weakness above. Belay out of the crack above the solution pockets on as many 0 thru 3 MCs/TCUs as you can carry. There's also a pod for a #2 Camalot above the smaller gear. 130ish' of travel, maybe 90' of vertical gain. 5.9 (No longer PG13/R!)

P5: Water groove has turned into a crack...follow this up to a bolted belay at the top of Forbidden Fruit. 120' 5.7

P6 and beyond.....look at Mike's topo below.

Forbidden Fruit Rappel (borrowed from Saxfiend's Gaskin Finish description). 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, maybe 60', 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'


Far left of the face starting in front of a large white pine...look for the solitary large pine tree ledge at the top of P1 crack/weakness (consult the photo).


Half set of stoppers, small tricams, double set cams from Metolius 0 thru BD 2 (or whatever), one #3.
4" piece nice for the initial pro on P4 but not critical as a #3 works lower.
Lots of draws/slings, couple cordalettes.
60M ropes good, 70M better.
NOTE: Double rope rappels, so use doubles or tag a line.

The top of P1 has a large tree, P5 has bolted anchors, top of P6 has bolted anchors.
P2 thru P4 are all gear belays.

Photos of Groover Variation (Fischesser Finish) Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Ryan leading the crack up 2nd pitch - photo credit...
Ryan leading the crack up 2nd pitch - photo credit...
Rock Climbing Photo: Groover Variation topo - updated with history (11/...
BETA PHOTO: Groover Variation topo - updated with history (11/...
Rock Climbing Photo: Mary finishing up P5 of Groover
Mary finishing up P5 of Groover
Rock Climbing Photo: Beta photo showing the tree ledge at the top of P1...
BETA PHOTO: Beta photo showing the tree ledge at the top of P1...
Rock Climbing Photo: Leading over the bulge to the belay at the end of ...
Leading over the bulge to the belay at the end of ...
Rock Climbing Photo: found on da rap
BETA PHOTO: found on da rap
Rock Climbing Photo: P2
Rock Climbing Photo: Fall colors on P1 of Groover, Laurel Knob, NC
Fall colors on P1 of Groover, Laurel Knob, NC
Rock Climbing Photo: P5.
Rock Climbing Photo: Mary finishing P1 of Groover
Mary finishing P1 of Groover
Rock Climbing Photo: Rhett looking up at P5...the end is near.
Rhett looking up at P5...the end is near.

Comments on Groover Variation (Fischesser Finish) Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Apr 13, 2015
By saxfiend
From: Decatur, GA
Jun 6, 2007

Given the potential for epics at Laurel Knob, plus the skimpy route information in the CCC mini-guide, this route description is a real public service. Thanks!
By Rhett Burroughs
From: Rock Springs, WY
Sep 6, 2007

Good post Ben.
By mbuntaine
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Apr 4, 2010
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c R

I was geared up and expecting long run-outs on P4, which turned out to be 100+ feet if you don't traverse right out of the 2nd water groove and get some pro in the crack. There is also a marginal opportunity to sling a chickenhead 60-80 feet above the gear around the lower traverse. I was not expecting P6 to be extremely run-out: the traverse away from the P5 bolted anchors and transition into the crack is tricky, wet, slimy, and unprotected (30 feet right). After getting into the groove/crack, it is another 30' until pro is available in a downward facing flake to the right side of the groove. Above that the terrain is easier, but expect 100' runout to the anchors.
By TomCaldwell
From: Clemson, S.C.
May 10, 2010
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b PG13

The only thing bad about this route is the rappel. We found all the gear on P4 and felt it was easier on the mind than some of the stuff at Stone Mountain. P4 had holds unlike Stone, but we didn't think it was 5.8. P3 felt like the hardest pitch. Also, instead of hiking the awful gravel road, use the Wilderness Waterfall Trail, which is now marked with signs at the trail heads.
By andjoely
From: Menlo Park, CA
Mar 13, 2011

If the forbidden fruit groove is wet as it usually is and you don't fancy getting your ropes soaked and you have a 70m lead rope and a 60m tag line, you can rappel 60.5 meters from the p5 bolted anchor of groover variation finish / p7 of forbidden fruit to the bolted anchor of p4 of the new route fruit of the poisonous tree which is in the groove to 15 meters the left. From there it is 4 straight forward rappels in a groove that never seeps to the ground
By Jeff Mekolites
From: ATL GA
May 23, 2011
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R

Very fun route. My thoughts/notes: rack - next time I would only take a blue alien, double green, yellow, grey and red aliens (or whatever you have) and double C4's .5/.75 to 3, maybe some nuts. I don't see the need in the #4 or tri-cams; 12 runners, 2 anchor pieces. P1 - get your slab on - plenty of gear for almost an entire rope lenght. Tree anchor - 200 ft/5.7. P2 - continue and don't forget to place a few pieces along the way. Gear belay - 200 ft/5.6. P3 - continue up crack/slab with probably the single hardest move at a bulge. Gear belay - 200 ft/5.7. P4 - from belay climb up a bit and place a #3, then down climb until it looks easy enough to head into a groove, go up a little and continue over into the second groove (somewhere in a crystal pod I placed a red alien. It was level/slightly higher than the #3 and almost gave the second a TR). I only found that one piece of gear until the climbing got easy. Gear belay - 160 ft/5.7. P5 - continue up crack/slab past bulge to FF anchors. Bolts - 70 ft/5.7. P5 - I climbed up and right on slab to a groove to the top. I found one piece of gear on this pitch. Bolts - 120 ft/5.6.

I thought the hardest move of the route was on p3. I thought the "heady-est" move was off the anchors of FF about 15 feet with no gear. Don't know if I was too far right or what getting into the groove. But the face was lichen covered and the groove was mossy.
By Mark O'Neal
From: Nicholson, GA
Jun 18, 2012
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R

There is a bolt now on P6 in the water groove at the crux move. On P4 since my leader didn't use the 0.5 Cam down low, I just traversed up and right from the initial crack towards where the big hole in the groove is. The moves weren't any harder than anything else on the climb and completely avoided having to down climb. (Edited to correct bolt location. I swear I remembered it differently....)
By Jeff Mekolites
From: ATL GA
Jun 18, 2012
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R

I think you mean pitch 6...last pitch.
By Jeff Mekolites
From: ATL GA
Jun 19, 2012
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R

No. It is pitch 6 - the last pitch. I was said leader. No bolts on pitch 4...repeat no bolts on pitch 4. The new bolt (at least from the last time I climbed the route last year) was a lone single bolt on pitch 6. Right after you step in the groove 15 feet right of the bolts at the top of FF. It is really the only pro on the pitch.
By Jamie Ervin
Apr 12, 2014

Hey Everyone,

Mike Fischesser and I went out to Laurel yesterday and repeated Groover with the variation finish that Mike had established with Liz Cornish back in 1982. It was a beautiful spring day, and we had a great time repeating one of the best moderate routes in the East. It has been Mike's goal for some time now to make his version of the route less dangerous so that a moderate climber won't be forced into a 60+ foot runout when they leave the well-protected Groover fold on the 4th pitch. With me belaying from below, Mike drilled 2 bolts in the water groove that his variation ascends to the right of the original Jeep Gaskin version. This lowers the runouts to around 30 feet in in the groove, but still requires the leader to take care and find the right pro when traversing out from the pitch 3 anchors. Here is Mike's take on why he added the bolts:

"We added two bolts on the Groover Variation yesterday to make that option to Groover less ridiculous. I have wanted to return and fix that pitch ever since we put it up with no bolt kit in 1982. The traverse over to that groove pitch ( which is the same used on the Fruit of the Poisonous Tree ) when people have to cross the Groover groove is still sketchy, but that wasn't our route to mess with. People have become very confused over the years. The first and second ascent of Groover got in that steep, unprotected groove and practically simuled on to the top with scant pro. In '82 we did not want to do that death groove, so we stepped over it and went up the right hand groove, about 5.6 with very little pro.

Shannon or the CCC placed bolts on upper Groover with Jeep's permission if kept like Yardarm at Stone. But they thought Jeep did our variation groove to the right. He did not. His ascent and Will Leverette and Matt Sohn on the second ascent went up the main groove. There is still no pro there, but that's not my problem.

We wrapped Fruit of the Poisonous Tree all the way down for the top of P6. That route is unbelievable!!! What a masterful creation. There would be a line of hard, bold climbers at the base if it were anywhere else. Andrew McDowell is a genius and a good climber as well. "

Also, here is some more beta on the rappel. I would personally recommend skipping the 6th pitch and rapping from Forbidden Fruit from the top of Pitch 5.

"Rapping Forbidden Fruit is easier than Poisonous Tree. But avoid FF rappel if wet. Careful on FPT rappel. It is a serious set of rappels that leave you at hanging belays. Recommended for very experienced climbers only. That holds true for Groover or the Groover Variation as well. Even though the climbing is not that hard, the position, length and run outs are for experienced climbers only. Novices should hone their skills on other routes first."
By BirminghamBen
From: Birmingham, AL
Oct 20, 2014

Having climbed this variation for a third time Saturday and 7 1/2 years since the first time, I would offer that the new bolts do not detract from the in-your-face nature of this route. Their placement is ideal for the crux groove's moves. I very much agree that, ONE: Laurel Knob newcomers should start on something less dire and, TWO: This is one of the finest moderates anywhere. A very good line.
By khowe
From: Knoxville, TN
Apr 13, 2015
rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c R

Thoughts on the route.

P1: Cordalette around tree with two biners for anchor. Looked good the day we climbed. 5.7
P2: Good description above.
P3: Our P3 was more like 120’. Depending on what scoop you end P2 will determine how long P3 is. I made the mistake, however, of assuming P3 would be around 180’ and continued climbing higher, off-route, along the crack into unprotectable and dirty rock and took a few slab-whippers looking for the cruxy bulge thinking that I hadn't climbed it yet. 5.7+
P4: Sketchy traverse. NC guidebook offers a different description of P4 than MP. Quartz hole fitting #3 is in first water groove, as well as, a few microstopper placements. 5.8
P5: About 15-20’ below FF anchors, traverse right onto face in a direct path toward anchors, this seems to be the better option rather than continuing up the crack system which becomes dirty. 5.7
P6: As stated by Jamie E, P6 is best skipped. Not much gear found.
P7: Also best avoided, lots of rope drag. Not much gear, a few slung trees.

We brought doubles up to #3. Found a few good stopper and off-set cam placements. This is a very committing route, as are most at LK, know what you're getting into before you climb.

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