New Access at Koch Creek Climbing Area

There’s something so satisfying about improving access to a climbing area – even one that hasn’t seen a lot of traffic in the past decade. Last Sunday myself and six other volunteers enjoyed some late-autumn sunshine at the Koch Creek crags in the Slocan Valley (about an hour drive from Nelson & Castlegar) and built a new access trail. It was part of a joint CASBC/TAWKROC Adopt-a-Crag day and we moved the trailhead so climbers would no longer have to walk the road. We also built stairs up to the new trail, brushed the encroaching foliage, dug steps, carved switchbacks and cleared blow-downs. Here are some pics from the day:

The volunteers for the day included David Lussier, Bob Sawyer, Khaled Ben-rahba, Craig Stowell, Hannah Roy, JT Croston and me and together we cut in about 500m of new trail.

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Directions for the new trailhead are as follows: from the parking area walk west for 30 metres until you see the stairs on your right. Take these to the path and then follow up until you reach a small rock face (there are no routes here). Continue east along the trail, through the switchbacks and the next rock wall you come to is Lower Hydro Slab and the two crack climbs Flying Lichen Crack (the 5.8 on the left) and The Grunge (the 5.11c on the right). From here continue east until you come to a prominent dead stump and fork in the trail. Go further east to reach Upper Hydro Slab and Glacier Slabs or turn west and scramble up the narrow ravine between the slabs to the next trail on the left, which will lead you to Grizzly Slabs. To reach Ambrosia, walk the skid track from the parking lot (ignore the stairs) to its end where you’ll pick up a flagged trail. Follow this for ~10 minutes to the base of the route.

There are 19 routes at Koch Creek and many are excellent crack climbs, including the fun Leaning Corner (5.11b) pictured in black and white below. There are some excellent slabs as well, including the three-pitch classic 5.8 mixed route Ambrosia (seen below in colour – Dave Lussier is poised at the start of it).

There is also plenty of potential at Koch Creek. Just 50m east of the parking lot is a huge boulder tucked into the trees on the north side of the road. And then there are cracks like the one below that still have yet to see a first ascent:

In the Spring of 2015, the TAWKROC volunteers will again return to Koch Creek to continue trail-building efforts and to scrub the routes and retrofit anchors and hardware, some of which have been there since the early 1990s. For more about Koch Creek, check out page 113 in the West Kootenay Climbing Guide.

The TAWKOC volunteers enjoying a beer after a hard day’s work: Vince Hempsall, Bob Sawyer, Craig Stowell, David Lussier and Khaled Benrhaba.

The TAWKOC volunteers enjoying a beer after a hard day’s work: Vince Hempsall, Bob Sawyer, Craig Stowell, David Lussier and Khaled Benrhaba.

 

 

Roadside Wall Rock Guide Updates

Roadside Wall: This is the fourth in a regular series showcasing the new rock climbing routes in the West Kootenay Region of south-central British Columbia. For written descriptions of these and other routes, download the West Kootenay Rock Guide updates.

 

Gotham City Rock Guide Updates

 


Gotham City: This is the third in a regular series showcasing the new rock climbing routes in the West Kootenay Region of south-central British Columbia. For written descriptions of these and other routes, download the West Kootenay Rock Guide updates.

Squatter’s Bluff Rock Guide Updates

This is the second in a regular series showcasing the new rock climbing routes in the West Kootenay Region of south-central British Columbia. For written descriptions of these and other routes, download the West Kootenay Rock Guide updates.

New Route in the Valhallas is one of the Hardest

 

For the past three years David Lussier of Summit Mountain Guides and I have projected a new route on the little south face of Gimli Peak in the Valhalla Mountains. It’s a line that’s noticeable from afar and we thought the corner crack on the upper headwall was going to be incredible. And it is. But it’s also seamed out and very, very hard. My favourite memory from all our attempts is Dave, while on lead, drilling one of the  bolts that’s required on the protection-less part of the 3rd pitch – he got tired and took his daisy chain and clipped himself to the drill bit that was still embedded in the rock…and rested! (Do not try that at home.)

A description of one of our attempts made it into Kootenay Mountain Culture magazine in my “KMC Rock Wars article” but the moves on the third pitch kept eluding us. Then, on October 7, Dave and Jason Luthy from Sandpoint, Idaho, successfully did the crux pitch clean. Here is a description of the route:

Valhalla Gold   5.12a
This climb is located on the shorter, south-facing wall that leads to the true Gimli summit. If you are looking at the prow of Gimli (the south ridge) it is the shorter wall back and to the right (east) where the descent route starts. Access: from the “beach” hike to the South Ridge route then traverse right (east) about 100m around the base. Scramble up a grassy (or snowy depending on the season) ramps towards the upper east-facing basin below Gimli peak. Ascend to the base of the East-facing couloir, seperating the upper south ridge and the main summit of Gimli. Take a double rack to #2s. All stations are bolted and it is possible to rappel the route with 2 ropes. P1: Start from a ledge 10m right of the gully separating the 2 summits of Gimli above a short green colored wall. Climb up following the prow of a broad grey buttress. (5.9 40m) P2: Climb up and left past a small pine tree and the left side of a 5m high detached pillar. Continue up and left to a beautiful hand crack in a shallow, right-facing corner and eventually a small overhang near the top. (5.10- 40m) P3: Climb the thin crack above passing a 2 fixed pitons. Continue up the steep wall following the thin crack past 5 bolts. Beautifully exposed. (5.12a 45m) P4: Climb up a right-facing corner with a small bolt-protected roof near the top. Harder than it looks. (5.10+ 25m) P5: trad. Climb up and left through easier ground to the summit. Beaware of large loose blocks. (5.4 25m) (FA: D Lussier, V Hempsall,  B Sawyer ’12. FFA: D Lussier, J Luthy ’14)

Vince at the 2nd belay

Dave on the crux pitch

Dave on the crux pitch

Dave at the summit

Dave at the summit

Whirlwind Wall Rock Guide Updates

This is the first in a regular series showcasing the new rock climbing routes in the West Kootenay Region of south-central British Columbia. For written descriptions of these and other routes, download the West Kootenay Rock Guide updates.

2014 West Kootenay Rock Guide Updates

Wonow Media has announced the 2014 West Kootenay Rock Guide Updates are now available to download for free.

The updates include over 200 new sport, trad and alpine rock climbing routes from all over the West Kootenay region of South-Central British Columbia including Castlegar, Nelson, Slocan Valley, Arrow Lakes region and Ymir as well as beta on Grand Forks and Onion Creek in Washington State, just over the border from Rossland.

The free PDF download also includes a tick list of all 500+ routes in the region, from the 5.4 trad route “Exfoliation” at Kinnaird Bluffs to the 5.13 sport climb “A Delicate Push” at Kootenay Crag. What it does not include, however, is photo topo maps. Those will showcased in separate posts such as this one in the “rock updates” section of Wonow Media be available for retail in the coming months. If you have any corrections to these updates, please contact Vince Hempsall at: vince (at) wonowmedia.com. Click here to go to the page where you can download the free PDF.