Tag Archive for: rock climb

Mr Winkle’s Hideout Rock Guide Updates

The lower Slocan Bluffs in Slocan City have seen some development recently thanks to the efforts of valley resident Daren Tremaine with some help from Jason Hartley and Albertan Marcus Norman. The 30-metre-high cliff, called Mr. Winkle’s Hideout, boasts a stunning white face that kicks back at mid-height and offers some fantastic upper-grade climbing. The fact that no-one had developed the crag before last year is surprising given that it’s located just down the old rail trail from the path that leads to the popular “Under the Big Top” route. It is set back behind tall trees, however, and hard to spot from the trail so most people miss it as they walk towards the tunnel. To access the wall, follow the directions for the Slocan Bluffs on page 121 of the West Kootenay Rock Guide. Walk the rail trail past the first walls and the recently upgraded trail leading to Under the Big Top. Continue on the rail trail and 10 metres past Pyramid Rock is a faint trail on your right. This trail requires some maintenance but it switchbacks up and to looker’s left until it reaches the base of the wall. The first completed climb you come to is “Drive By Trucker.” All routes are sport and require a 60-metre rope. The projects here are still closed as Daren will continue to work on them this summer. Members of TAWKROC and Wonow Media have not had a chance to get on these routes yet, so the following descriptions are from Daren. Routes listed from left to right.

Note: A stick-clip is recommended as the first bolts are high. Also, be cautious of kicking off rocks as they have a tendency to careen down to the rail trail where hikers and dog walkers also travel.

A. Gong Show 5.11a. The gong is the flakes by the first bolt. But the name could also refer to the epic effort of putting in the anchor. There’s a possible extension of this route to the top for someone who’s feeling really strong. (D Tremaine 17)

There’s now a closed project between Gong Show and Attenborough Style.

B. Attenborough Style 5.12- More fun than a naked mole rat! A bouldery start leads to fun jug climbing followed by a thin crux and a balancey move over to the finish of Elemental Creamsicle. (D Tremaine 17)

C. Elemental Creamsicle 5.12b/c The first route put up on the wall. A bouldery start leads to some steep slopers and a great rest. Endless underclings will soften you up for the thin and perplexing crux. (D Tremaine 17)

D. Mind the Gap 5.10d Fun climbing up endless rounded jugs. A bit of a stopper crux for short people. The anchors are to the left of the large roof. No one is going to agree on a grade for this one. (D Tremaine 17)

E. Hadron Collider A closed project that is a continuation past the anchors for Mind the Gap.

F. The Exfoliator 5.11+ Step right off Mind the Gap to climb around and over the prominent nose (glue-ins). The rock here is a bit scaly and sandy, thus the name, but it cleans up well over time and the fun movement makes it worth doing. (D Tremaine 18)

G. 7-11 5.11a The name says it all: easy start, hard finish. A quality outing. (J Hartley 17)

H. Fly By Trucker 5.12c An amazing position on the highest part of the wall. Underclings and bad feet will demand plenty of body tension and a couple of deadpoints. (M Norman 17)

I. Project The right-hand arete.

There’s another closed project that’s just started to be developed a bit further right of the arete.

For more written descriptions and updates of other areas in the West Kootenays, download the West Kootenay Rock Guide updates.

Pub Wall Rock Guide Updates

The Lion’s Head Smoke and Brew Pub in Robson, near Castlegar is a special place. Not only does it have an amazing selection of good beer on tap, it’s also Canada’s only rock climbing pub. Forty feet away from the back patio is the Pub Wall natural rock climbing cliff that boasts 11 quality routes. The owners of the Lion’s Head graciously allow us to climb here so we ask that you are respectful: don’t yell, swear or bring other beer onto the property. The bonus of this cliff is it sees early season sunshine. To access it follow the directions on page 19 of the West Kootenay Rock Guide then drive into the back parking lot of the Lion’s Head Pub. You can practically belay from your car here. It should be noted that another site published a topo for this wall but the information shared is inaccurate. There are no access issues for the three climbs around the right corner of the cliff (on the south-facing wall). However, further back and to the right are other cliffs that are on someone else’s property and the land owners there do not want people climbing on them. Here are the Pub Wall routes listed left to right:

Pub Fight 5.10d SPORT
The farthest route on the left. Climb the ramp to the steep face. There’s a definitive crux at the 2nd bolt. (A Kristiansen 11)

Pub Crawl 5.10b SPORT
This climb can be done in one 38m pitch or two pitches. Starts right of a shallow seam on the left side of the wall. P1: Climb off the boulder pedestal onto sustained face climbing with good rests. (5.10b) P2: From the first anchors follow the corner weakness up and right. Watch for a large loose block between the third and fourth bolt. (5.9) (P1: A Kristiansen, B Buten 10. P2: R Logtenberg, S Podstawskyj 11)

Walk it Off 5.9 SPORT
Starts 1.5m right of Pub Crawl. A long, fun route travelling over slabs and ledges. It can be done in 1 or 2 pitches. You can walk off or lower in 2 raps. 14 bolts. 38m. (R Logtenberg, S Podstawskyj 11)

Bender 5.10a SPORT
Start 5m right of Pub Crawl. Follow the crescent of rock up and to the right past 3 bolts. Then go straight and end at the ledge halfway up the wall. (Or continue on the upper half of Walk It Off.) 9 bolts. 20m (R Logtenberg, S Podstawskyj 11)

In Like a Lion 5.10d SPORT
As the name suggests, the route begins like a lion and goes out like a lamb. The crux is at the 3rd bolt – be aware of the ledge below you. 20m. (P Markin, K Robine 11)

Theodore Donald Karabotsos Memorial Route 5.10d SPORT
Named for one of the pub owner’s favourite movies and the “Big Lebowski” painting over the bar. This route tackles one of the steepest sections of the wall. Take small cams for the run-out through the easy terrain if you’re a nervous leader. (N Hadikin, B McIntosh, M Senyk 15)

Bar Star 5.10d SPORT
Start up the steep, right-facing feature and follow the obvious line of weakness over steep rock.
Pumpy below, balancy above, sustained throughout. (A Kristiansen 11)

Deep Fried Pickles 5.9 TRAD
A short finger crack on the right side of the main wall. (JT Croston, A Kristiansen 11)

The next three routes are located around the right-hand corner on the south-facing wall. This area doesn’t get as much sunshine and routes take longer here to dry out.

Maple Stout 5.10b TRAD
The obvious overhanging crack beside the tree. A #5 cam is useful. (B Winter, H Mutch 11)

Cheers 5.8 SPORT
Start at the short corner/break in the main face. P1: Climb the short corner, up easy slabs to a steeper section that ends at a belay ledge. 9 bolts. P2: Traverse right into the crack then up the face/slab to the top. 9 bolts. Descent: 2 raps or use the trail to the right. (B Winter, H Mutch 11)

Salut 5.8 TRAD
From the top of the first pitch of Cheers follow the twin cracks above. (B Winter, H Mutch 11)

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

Champion Crag Rock Guide Updates

The trail-side boulder that marks where to turn right to access the cliff.

The trail-side boulder that marks where to turn right to access the cliff.

Champion crag is located high on the east rim of the Columbia River valley south of Castlegar. The cliff can be seen from the highway (near Genelle) as a band of dark rock surrounded by lighter coloured rock on all sides. There is also a large, left-leaning crack near the center of the cliff. Access: This crag is one of the longer approaches in the area: it’s a 40-minute walk or 15-minute mountain bike ride along the well-maintained Mel Deanna trail. From Castlegar drive Hwy 3 towards the Bombi summit and Salmo for 5km and then turn right into the viewpoint/rest area. Park here and follow the trail past the viewpoint and through the gate. Walk or mountain bike along the trail making sure to stay right at the first A-frame shelter. Just past interpretive trail marker #6 you’ll come to a large trailside boulder and 40m past that you’ll branch right onto a smaller trail marked with rock cairns. Follow these for 5 mins to the top of the crag where the trail angles back and down to the right and then ends at a 5m drop to a large ledge. There is a rebar ladder here you can use to descend to the ledge where the climbs start.  A 60-metre rope is required. For written descriptions of these and other routes, download the West Kootenay Rock Guide updates.

This is the first climb you reach after descending the rebar ladder.

This is the first climb you reach after descending the rebar ladder.

Champion Crag Rock Guide Updates: This is the 11th 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.

Marley Bassett prepares to clean Son of a Birch.

Polished Wall Rock Guide Updates

Polished Wall is located at Kinnaird Bluffs in Castlegar, British Columbia. Follow the trail up and to the left (North) from Open Book Wall (page 29 of the West Kootenay Rock Guide). It’s an excellent wall for beginner sport and trad climbers although it’s important to note that the anchors are not easily accessible from above.

In order to fit most of the routes on the main wall into one topo image, a fish-eye lens was used so you’ll notice some of the distances appear skewed. The two-pitch routes Reflections, Via Escondida and Lazy River all require two rappels as they top out around the 37m mark.

For route and access descriptions please download the West Kootenay Rock Guide updates.

Marley Bassett prepares to clean Son of a Birch.

Marley Bassett prepares to toprope Son of a Birch.

Review of the Black Diamond Nitro 22 Backpack

Utah-based Black Diamond has no shortage of backpack offerings. In fact, the company makes about 70 different kinds of packs and that doesn’t include the Gregory line of backpacks, which parent company Black Diamond Inc. owns. The new Nitro line (which comes in a 22L and 26L versions) is one of the smallest they make (the only smaller ones are the Bullet, Magnum and BBEE) and their intended use is day hiking, although I took mine on a few cragging excursions as well as one multi-pitch rock climbing trip.

To read my thoughts about this pack, including its highlights and shortcomings, check out my review on the Backcountry Skiing Canada website.

RFW Wall Rock Guide Updates

RFW Wall is located just past Scottie’s Marina on Broadwater Road. It features five of the best moderate trad/mixed routes in the area. However, please note there is poison ivy in this area. Steps have been taken to eradicate it but it’s wise to be wary of any plant with “leaves of three.”

For route and access descriptions please see page 21 of the West Kootenay Rock Guide. For a written description of La Femme Fromage, download the West Kootenay Rock Guide updates.

RFW Wall Rock Guide Updates: This is the 12th 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.

3 Things That Will Make You Climb a Grade Harder This Year

A few years ago, while on a trip to the climbing paradise of Kalymnos, Greece, I was loaned a copy of Arno Ilgner’s The Rock Warrior’s Way. It immediately made an impression because, unlike other training manuals I had read with their “do finger pull-ups until you weep” advice, Arno’s book dealt with the mental aspect of climbing.

In my opinion The Rock Warrior’s Way (Desiderata Institute, 2003) is a must read for any rock climber, if for no other reason than the practical tips it provides. Granted the start of the book can get a bit “new-agey” with its talk of “becoming conscious” and “manifested energy” but after Chapter 2 there’s a wealth of knowledge that will help improve your mental fitness for climbing.

I’m living proof the techniques suggested in Ilgner’s book work. During that trip to Kalymnos I went from struggling up 6c to confidently leading 7c by incorporating the three things listed below into every one of my climbs. Today, I still use these techniques and I promise that if you do too, you’ll climb a grade harder this season. (Of course, you need to get out and climb too. Sitting on the couch and ruminating about these points will not levitate you up the walls.) Happy climbing!

#1. Smile before every climb

Whether it’s a warm-up jaunt on a 5.7 slab or a 5.12 offwidth project, take a moment before beginning any route to smile. The idea is to get into a headspace that is relaxed but conscious. Sure that 15-foot roof looks daunting but if you pause to smile, you’ll remember just how much you love this sport. Alternatively, that 5.5 you’re putting up for your punter friend might seem boring but if you smile beforehand, guaranteed you’ll enjoy it more. Oh, and you look better when you smile. (And climbing’s all about how good you look anyway.)

#2. Exhale

You hear belayers shouting to their trembling rope guns all the time: “Keep breathing man!” What you don’t hear is specific advice about how to breathe. So here it is: Breathing is a two-way process and in order to benefit from a great intake of fresh oxygen, you must expel all the air in your lungs first. If you’re nervous on a route, or you’re about to tackle that crux section, exhale all the breath out of your lungs – blow out through your mouth and then use your diaphragm to push out the last puffs of air. After that you’ll be forced to fully inflate your lungs and all that sweet oxygen will help calm you and feed your gunned forearms. Remember: when your belayer yells “breathe” what he’s really saying is “exhale everything man!”

What would you name this hold?

#3. Name it. Don’t judge it.

As climbers we do this all the time when offering beta: “So you crimp off that nasty edge and then throw for the heinous sloper before reaching the ‘thank Jesus’ hold.” Wonderfully descriptive? Yes. Technically accurate? Not in the slightest. What we focus on in statements such as that one are the judgments – “nasty,” “heinous” and “thank Jesus” holds. Try this instead: the next time you’re scoping a route, offering beta or contemplating the next 10 feet of a climb, name the holds for what they are: “Reach for the three-finger crimp with your left hand, bump your right to the palm-sized sloper and then deadpoint for the large ledge.” By sticking to the technical descriptions of what you observe, you’re no longer obstructed by judgment. Instead you’re concentrating on exactly which areas of your hands and feet are going to be making contact with the rock at certain times. (Or, in the case of the route “Max Headroom” in Skaha, what part of your head is going to be shoved into the rock at what times.)

Wapiti Wall Rock Guide Updates

For further descriptions about climbs in the Arrow Lakes area near the community of Castlegar in south-central British Columbia, Canada, refer to page 19 of the West Kootenay Rock Guide. Access: This wall has, arguably, the easiest access in the Kootenays. (The name comes from the Cree word for “elk.”) It is located 650m south of Scottie’s Marina. You can’t miss it as you drive towards Scottie’s because the wall is so close to the road it’s practically on it. For parking, the best option is to do a U-Turn at Scottie’s, drive back to the wall and use the narrow pullout on the lake side of the road. There are three separate walls here with 14 climbs on them. Please note, Parting Gift has been overrun with poison ivy lately. Directors of TAWKROC will be dealing with it soon but in the meantime, please avoid any plants with “leaves of three.”

The Wapiti Wall Rock Guide Updates: This is the tenth 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.

The Ant Hill Rock Guide Updates

For further descriptions about climbs at the CIC Slabs area in the city of Nelson in south-central British Columbia, Canada, refer to page 61 of the West Kootenay Rock Guide. Access: The Ant Hill is located just below the Sunnyside Crag near the West side of the Svoboda parking lot. (See page 67 of the West Kootenay Rock Guide for a description on how to reach the Sunnyside Crag). This is a good wall to take your young kids to because it’s easy to walk to (it’s only 40 feet away from the parking lot), the anchors are easy to reach from above and it offers the only documented 5.2 in the area.


The Ant Hill Rock Guide Updates: This is the ninth 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 2014 West Kootenay Rock Guide updates.

This shows where you can find the Svoboda parking lot in Nelson and where Sunnyside and Ant Hill are located in relation to it.

Rangers, Raptors & Revolvers – Busted in the Bend

A few months ago I wrote a blog about a magical land just over the border from Rossland where you can climb steep, limestone in a solar oven in winter. The area’s called China Bend and it features tufa-pinching classics in a south-facing setting overlooking the Columbia River.

What it also offers is a nesting sanctuary for raptors, which is why the US Park Service closes the cliffs from mid-February to mid-July.

Now, I support birds of prey and their evident need for privacy but I also like mid-winter climbing in a t-shirt, especially when the ski season sucks. And, frankly, when you hear “mid-February” isn’t there a bit of wiggle room there? Like, say, February 14th at midnight to February 16th at midnight? The answer, according to a gun-toting US Park Ranger, is a definitive no.

Five Nelson climbers decided to take advantage of an unseasonably sunny Sunday (February 15) and drive the 40 minutes south of Rossland to enjoy some early-season struggles with the 5.11 warm-ups at China Bend. We completely ignored the official looking sign at the pull out and put up ropes on the classic 5.11a “Pork Sausage” and the fun 5.11c “Where’s My Hero.”

Cam Shute on Pork Sausage – right before the Pigs busted us!

Cam Shute on Pork Sausage – right before the Pigs busted us!

The latter climb is aptly named as 1.5 hours into our fun we were looking for a hero to rescue us from a park ranger packing a handgun, a taser gun and a canister of mace. (Evidently the wildlife are bad-ass in the USA.)

Thankfully ranger Matt Smith was a nice guy and allowed us to take down our ropes before escorting us away from the cliff and back to our car. He decided to forego the $125 fine (each!) we should have received for disobeying the raptor closure but he did run our driver’s licenses through his SUV’s dashboard computer. “Good news – you’re not wanted by Interpol,” he later told us. (We never did learn if he was joking or not.)

Interestingly, when we asked what raptors nested in the area, Matt had no idea. I guess they’re not wanted by Interpol either.

So let this be a lesson to all those Canuck climbers wanting to visit China Bend – the raptor closure is, definitely, Feb 15 to July 15 and there are Park Rangers there to enforce it.

If you’re looking for some alternative Washington areas that aren’t far from the border, consider Metaline Falls and Marcus (both featured in Marty Bland’s Inland Northwest Rockclimbs guide) or Onion Creek, which is featured on this site. The latter tends to be more shady and damp than the others though so it’s probably not a great mid-winter destination.

For more information about China Bend, pick up a copy of Marty’s guidebook mentioned above or check out November’s blog post.

US Park Ranger Matt Smith escorts us away from China Bend.

US Park Ranger Matt Smith escorts us away from China Bend.