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Rock Guide Updates for Waterline Walls in Castlegar, BC

One of Canada’s best climbers, Sonnie Trotter, points to one of Canada’s best crags. Photo taken during the annual TAWKROC Rock Climbing Festival in September 2019.

Author note: Without the hard work of The Association of West Kootenay Rock Climbers, these updates would be pointless because Waterline Walls would have been lost to climbers forever. If you are not already a member, I encourage you to join. Actually, I believe it’s mandatory. If climbing at Waterline (and Kinnaird) isn’t worth a membership fee of $10 a year to you, it’s time to take up another sport. You can join at tawkroc.org. Also, big thanks to Hamish Mutch for his help with this one.

Belaying on Pool Boys, Pitch 1.

The route descriptions below are an addendum to the information found in the West Kootenay Rock Guide (WKRG). See page 47 of the Guide for access directions to this popular area, which is comprised of six different crags in close proximity to one another. Mountaineers have been practicing their rope skills on the easier terrain at these cliffs for decades but it wasn’t until 2005 that Aaron Kristiansen and some friends set about putting up the majority of the routes here. The community enjoyed 13 years of unencumbered climbing until the 80-acre swath of private property that the walls were located on went up for sale in late 2018.

Callie walks the quartz vein. Nostalgia, Pitch 2.

A developer expressed interest but thankfully Nelson rock climbing couple Mirek Hladik and June Ray stepped in, bought the land and then got permission from the City to subdivide the portion with the cliffs. While the legal aspects of the land purchase were being negotiated, The Association of West Kootenay Rock Climbers ran a campaign to raise the $60,000 that Mirek and June were asking for the 11-acre parcel with the cliffs. Generous donations from community members, businesses, organizations and a $30,000 land acquisition grant from the Columbia Basin Trust made the purchase possible and in the summer of 2020, TAWKROC purchased the property and the “No Trespassing” signs were removed. NOTE: Although owned by a non-profit organization, Waterline Walls is still considered private property and all those wishing to recreate on the land must sign an online waiver to do so, which you can do at tawkroc.org. See the TAWKROC signs at the base of the cliffs for more information.

Doug tries a heel-hook. Lauryn’s Line.

Beta: This area is excellent for families as the kids have room to roam without worrying about traffic or natural hazards. Plus the approach is five to 10 minutes along a flat trail. Most anchors were retrobolted in 2019 thanks to TAWKROC, CASBC, and a monumental effort by Bob Sawyer. All walls enjoy afternoon sunshine throughout the year, however, the first three listed here are in the shade until late afternoon and so are good options during the hotter months. You can expect some mosquitos in late spring.

Gear: Most routes in these updates are sport and a 60m rope and 14 quickdraws are adequate. The exception is the mixed line Black Bird, which requires some small cams.

Access: See page 47 of the WKRG. If there are no parking spaces available on the side of 14th Ave, please park at the baseball diamond and walk in. Also, with the new development, Raven Wall has been divided into three sections (Left, Centre, and Right) for clarity.

On September 22, 2019, Waterline Walls opened for one day during the TAWKROC Rock Climbing Festival Clinics. The instructors were Jasmin Caton and Sonnie Trotter and the 20 participants spent the day projecting lines on Raven Wall. It was the first time in 10 months anyone was allowed on the property since it had gone up for sale. But as of July 2020, the area has now reopened to everyone, thanks to the efforts of TAWKROC.

All routes listed in order of approach (North to South) from the car park.

Metamorphosis 5.12d SPORT
This climb is located on a short wall between the car park and Raven Wall. (Look for the giant fallen tree on the left.) It’s a bouldery and powerful route on a gently overhanging wall that gets steeper as you climb. Dyno the finish or channel your inner gecko and use the crimps. Finishing out right eases the grade. 4 bolts. (A Fitz-Earle, M Goodrich 13)

RAVEN WALL LEFT

Lauryn’s Line 5.8/5.10a SPORT
This route is located at the far left of Raven Wall above Kathryn’s Crack (P. 47 in the guidebook). Approach either by the trail that leads up from Scallywag or by starting on the old trail to the top and then cross the scree slope. The regular route has four bolts and goes from face to rib to ledge and then crack. The direct finish is 5.10a and takes you through two bulges past 5 bolts total. (K Ridge, H Mutch 09)

Shady Lady 5.10a SPORT
Starts on the other side of the gully from Lauryn’s Line. Short and steep. Finishes on some of the only chicken heads at this area. (C Chatten, H Mutch 10)

Grana Padano 5.11d SPORT
Located between Kathryn’s Crack and Nathan Law, this 20-metre, 8-bolt route is named for a popular Italian cheese that’s hard with a sharp finish. The finale is easier for you tall persone out there. (S Senecal 17)

Nathan Law 5.12c SPORT
Start a few metres left of Scallywag (P. 47) and continue left past the roof and up the overhanging face to the thin, left-leaning crack above. (FA: JT Croston, A Kristiansen 10. FFA: L Neufeld-Cumming 10)

Go for Gold 5.11a SPORT
Start as for Nathan Law but stay right and pull the small roof, then transition right to gain the steep arête. Rejoin Scallywag at the last bolt and finish on its anchor. So named because it was first climbed on the same day the Canadian men’s hockey team won the gold medal final at the 2010 Winter Olympics. (C Shute, JT Croston 10)

RAVEN WALL CENTRE

(See pages 48-49 in the guidebook.)

The Tourist 5.11d SPORT
In 2009 Dave Sturpin put up a line between Newly Weds and Brad’s Corner (P. 49 of WKRG). In 2013 Jesse Brown freed it and he and Keith Robine got permission to move 2 bolts to make it flow better. (J Brown 13)

Black Bird 5.12b MIXED
P. 49. This route was known as “Rattle & Hum” at one time and was listed as such in the WKRG. However, Andrew decided to change the name in keeping with the wall’s theme. The grade has also changed to accurately depict the pinky-jarring crux through the roof. Take some small cams to 1″. 27m. 7 bolts. (A Fitz-Earle, S Payne 12)

Feather Quest 5.12a SPORT
Located 3m right of Black Bird, this is one of the best and most consistent climbs at Waterline. A technical face takes you to the roof and then it’s an overhanging jug haul race against the pump. A crowbar was used on the flake by the first bolt but it wouldn’t budge. An optional small cam will protect the run-out finish through easy terrain. 26m. 7 bolts. (A Fitz-Earle, M Goodrich, S Payne 12)

Angry Birds 5.12a SPORT
Starts 2m right of FQ. Technical face climbing takes you to a crux move through the roof. Trend left and finish above the ledge with small tree. 24m. 8 bolts. (A Fitz-Earle, M Goodrich 12)

Raving with the Raven 5.12a SPORT
Starts 5m left of Super Grover. Sustained, steep climbing leads to a challenging roof and the left-facing corner above. (M Hladik, J Ray 11)

THE VALHALLA WALL

See pages 52-54 of guidebook.

Feast or Famine 5.12c MIXED
Located to the right of VPO on the overhanging arête. Start as for Carnivore. Take a few small cams for the beginning where the climbing is easier then tackle the short, bouldery crux through a small roof before it eases off on the upper arête. (M Hladik, J Ray 10)

 

CBC Wall

See page 51 of guidebook.

Down Wind To Base 5.10b SPORT
Located on a short buttress at the top and to the left of the CBC wall. To reach it either climb Sad Goat or Nostalgia and then prepare for some thin and balancey moves. 5 bolts. (A Kristiansen 09)

Nostalgia 5.10d/10a SPORT
This climb is located on the buttress just left of CBC Wall and crosses Sad Goat in the middle. (p. 52 in the guidebook.) P1 (5.9): Follow the 6 bolts to a 2-bolt station on the half-way ledge. P2 (5.10a/d) There are 2 choices: Continue straight up the buttress, using a burly lunge/dyno move which is 5.10d, or walk 10 feet left on the ledge to a second 2-bolt station. Climb back right across the brown wall to join the direct line above the crux. (5.10a) Both take 5 or 6 clips. The route ends at the bolted station for Sad Goat. A 70m rope will have you off the route in one rap, otherwise use the mid-station. (H Mutch, A Kristiansen 09)

 

THE BIG BOULDER

See page 52 of the guidebook.

Pool Boys 5.10b SPORT
This route traverses across the Big Boulder. P1 (5.8): Start on the left side of the Boulder, halfway up the trail to the top. Belay from a few small trees, 3m left of the tall pine. Traverse right along the slab across four existing routes to the anchor below a bulge. P2 (5.10b): Strenuous moves over a steep bulge on the right lead to easier ground above. Belay from the Air Farce anchor. Rappel off V20. (M Curran, H Mutch 18)

Mansplaining 5.12a SPORT
The line of bolts located between Deep End and Deep Throat. Ends at the P1 anchor for Pool Boys. The crux is after the open book corner. 24m 10 bolts (S Senecal 18)

Nurses Wall

See page 57 of the guidebook.

Nurses Crack 5.10a TRAD
p. 57. Be aware of the big, loose block above. Finish left of the roof.

Self Awareness 5.9 TRAD
p. 57. The chains are just over the roof to the right of the last horizontal crack.

Med Error 5.11a SPORT
p. 57. A bolt now protects the upper section so there’s no need to bring gear.

Nursery Rhyme 5.10a MIXED
P 57. The start for this route has changed due to a broken hold and is now a bit harder than 5.9.

 

For a downloadable pdf of these updates, click here: 2020 Waterline WKRG Updates.

 

Rock Guide Updates for Pulpit Rock in Nelson, BC

Pulpit Rock is an iconic feature in Nelson, British Columbia, and also the most popular hike in the city. Dozens of people a day tackle the three-kilometre trail to the lookout at the top of the bluff to enjoy one of the best views around. However, a lot of people don’t know there are rock climbing routes up the face of Pulpit. “The Date” was the first to be developed there in 2008 and is so named because the first ascensionist, David Lussier, thought it was a great, casual outing for Nelson couples. It’s a three-pitch 5.10a that is described on page 89 of the West Kootenay Rock Guide. Seven years later Nelson local Vince Hempsall developed another three-pitch route on Pulpit to celebrate the engagement to his wife, thus the name “The Engagement.” Dave and Vince then joined forces in 2016 to create “The Fling,” a two-pitch route that requires you to fling your body around an arête to gain a crack system near the mid-point of the second pitch. And last year, Vince again returned to project the show-stopper slab half way up the Pulpit face. Many people have top-roped that section of smooth granite but it didn’t go free until the key hold was unlocked: a mono on a crystal that looks like a diamond poking out of the granite slab. Naturally, the name of the route had to be “The Diamond.” Finally, this year visiting Australian Bokkie Hairsine and Nelson local Craig Stowell set to work to scrub a line on the other side of the gully. The result is the aptly named “Four On The Side” and, for good measure, Bokkie put a new pitch up beside the “The Fling.” Below are descriptions of the routes that have been developed on Pulpit Rock since the establishment of “The Date” in 2008. For full access details, see page 89 in the West Kootenay Rock Guide.

Gear: All routes are sport and a 60m rope and 14 quickdraws are adequate, including two long slings.

Access: See page 89 of the West Kootenay Rock Guide.

David Lussier on the first ascent of “The Fling.”

The Date 5.10a SPORT
P1: Start up the left hand (south-facing) slab and veer right continuing over blocks to a traverse. Finish below the dark slab at a station. (25m 5.7) P2:  To avoid rope drag, use long slings on the first 2 bolts of this pitch. Step right into the dirty gully and then back left onto thearête. After three bolts the route splits – go right for the 5.6 variation or left for the 5.10a. Finish at ta station above a short slab. (25m 5.6 or 5.10a) P: Step left and then back right up to a roof and pull through this using a giant hand hold (crux). Continue to the chains. (26m, 5.10a) (D Lussier, M Terlingen 08)

The Engagement 5.10b SPORT
Starts as for “The Date”. P1: Follow the first four bolts of “The Date” and then at the open-book corner, step left and finesse your way up the slab past 4 bolts to the large ledge and an anchor. (26m 5.10b) P2: Climb towards the roof, step right onto the face and continue up the easy slab to the anchor. (22m 5.10b) P3: Continue up and left, through the two roofs, then veer left to another roof. Step right and follow easy terrain to the final anchors. (26m 5.10b) (V Hempsall 15)

The Fling 5.11a SPORT
From the belay platform at the base of Pulpit Rock start on the right hand (west-facing) wall. P1: Follow the bolts to a bulge and pull the move up and to the left. Finish at the same chains as the first pitch of “The Date.” (22m 5.9) P2: Step left and down from the anchor to a small bush. High step onto a ledge and, using the arête, gently pull onto the slab. (This is the crux move of the pitch, aside from the thin crack. See video above for beta as to how to pull the move.) Follow the arête to a good rest then gently fling your body around the left side of the arête and into a corner. Climb the thin finger crack clipping the bolts on the right then step back right onto the face. Continue up easier terrain to the anchor. (20m 5.11a) P3: Finish on either the third pitch of “The Date” or “The Engagement.” (V Hempsall, D Lussier 16)

The Diamond 5.12a SPORT
This one-pitch climb is located to the right of the second pitch of “The Fling” and on the steepest part of the slab. To access it, climb either the first pitch of “The Date” or “The Fling.” From the anchors, step directly up onto the slab, then balance and finesse past the first two bolts. Trend right past the key crystal (the “diamond”) to a good finger ledge. Continue up to the open book corner and muscle your way to the top of it before stepping left onto easier ground that leads to the anchor up and right. Finish on either the third pitch of “The Engagement” or “The Date.” (V Hempsall 17)

We Met On Vernon Street 5.10a SPORT
This one-pitch climb starts 5 metres right of the platform at the base of “The Fling” at a horn of rock atop a large boulder. (There are bolts for the belayer.) Follow the bolts onto the slab and through a steep corner. (If you’re so inclined, take a .75 cam to protect the move.) Pass 3 more bolts to the anchors atop the first pitch of “The Date.” Continue on “The Fling,” “The Date,” or “The Diamond.” (P “Bokkie” Hairsine 18)

Craig Stowell navigates the spectacular crux move of the 3rd pitch on “Four On The Side.”

Four On The Side 5.10c SPORT
A four-pitch climb that follows the right side of the gully that splits the Pulpit face. The first two pitches are an example of adventure climbing in the city but the third boasts a spectacular move through an exposed roof. You can access this pitch by traversing right from the first anchors on “The Date,” across the gully, past the ring bolts to the two-bolt anchor below the obvious corner.  The access for the bottom pitches of this route are different than the rest on Pulpit as it starts lower on the face. Follow the regular approach onto the talus slop and look for the first rough track on your right. Follow this for 20 metres, past a small, mossy cliff, to the base of the gully and a belay bolt. P1: Traverse up and left through the lichen and dirt. (27m 5.9) P2: Side pull off the belay to reach the large detached flake. Continue up through progressively cleaner rock. Ignore the first ring bolts you see and traverse 5 metres right of them over easy slab to the two-bolt anchor below the corner. (28m 5.10a) P3: As mentioned above, you can skip the first two pitches and access this one by traversing to it from the first anchor of “The Date.” Climb up the corner to the diving board and then through the roof (crux). Continue up the corner and over the low-angle rock to the anchor. (28m 5.10c) P4: Follow the ramps up and right to the roof. Use the finger crack to power through it then continue on easy terrain to the top anchor. (28m 5.10a) (P “Bokkie” Hairsine, C. Stowell 18)

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

Helheim Rock Guide Updates

There’s a new rock climbing area on Bannock Forest Service Road in the Slocan Valley thanks in part to the efforts of valley resident Daren Tremaine with help from Jason Hartley and Albertan Marcus Norman. The area, which they’ve named “Helheim,” boasts steep lines on two, 20-metre-high boulders, which are made up of a type of gneiss that’s reminiscent of limestone. It’s a great spot for hot summer days as it’s completely shaded. Alternatively, some of the steeper routes can be done in the rain. Be warned, however, that it’s a popular spot for mosquitos in the late Spring so bring bug dope if climbing here in June. To access the area, follow the directions for Gimli Peak on page 143 of the West Kootenay Rock Guide. Once you turn onto Bannock Forest Service Road set your odometer to zero. You’ll cross a bridge, navigate through two deep water bars and when your odometer hits 1.3 kilometres look for the orange flagging tape on the poplar on the left (south) side of the road. If you have a low-clearance vehicle, park at the large pullout on the left of the road before the first water bar. (In fact, this is a good pullout for all vehicles as there’s very little room to park on the road closer to the crag.) From this spot Helheim is an easy 300-metre walk up the road. The rough access trail to the crag is about three metres downhill (east) of the flagging tape. Step off the road and down a steep bank then follow the trail for about 100 metres until it reaches the western most point of the west boulder. Follow the trail to the left (north) where you’ll find a flat area that’s great for dumping your gear and allowing young kids to play. The first climb you come across is the steep “Hela Monster.” The east boulder is just past this and harbours the majority of climbs. All routes are sport, all have anchors and a 50-metre rope is required. Members of TAWKROC and Wonow Media have only been on a few of these routes, therefore the following descriptions are mostly from Daren. Descriptions start at “Hela Monster” and then follow a clockwise direction around the boulders. (Daren’s original topo had the routes listed from East to West – see if you can figure out the word play on some of the route names.)

Project – The first route you come to when approaching via the trail. It goes up the super steep arête on the north-east corner of the West boulder. Marcus has requested this remain a closed project until he gets it. Not that he need worry as there aren’t a lot of 5.14 climbers in the area.

Hey Yo! Sediba Man 5.10c —This route starts on the west face of the east boulder and traverses left through a line of pockets to the arête. The upper slab ain’t a gimme. (D Tremaine 16)

Sediba Left 5.11a — A bouldery start to “Sediba Man.” Grab the quartz crimper and traverse right after the first bolt to avoid the scaly rock. A long draw on the third bolt is helpful. Continue up the arête through the tricky slab. (D Tremaine 17)

The Fuzzy Bucket 5.11b — Named for the mossy jug at the start of the route, which has since been scrubbed clean and is now a bucket with a brazilian. This route boasts a few stacked boulder problems and three people had a hand in its construction including Daren, Gary Parkstrom and Ryan Johnstone. (R Johnstone 15)

In Buckle Boots 5.11a — The line up the centre of the East Boulder’s North face. This route also had a bomber hold with moss in it but it too has been shorn.  Save some jam for the crux move at the top. (J Hartley 18)

The Lazy Dog 5.10b — Follow the obvious flake that starts near the east side of the face and then finesse through the steeper wall above. (J Hartley 15)

Jumped Over 5.11d — The easiest way to get a taste of the prow. Start as for “The Lazy Dog” then step left at the roof and when things start getting too technical, head back right to the last bolt on “The Lazy Dog.” (D Tremaine 16)

Brown Fox 5.12a — Follow “Jumped Over” but stay left near the top until you’re perched on the arête at the summit of the prow. (D Tremaine 16)

The Quick 5.12+ — This route lays it on from start to finish. A series of big pulls leads to a fingery, slopey traverse and a balancey finish on the arête. The slopey edges to the right of the last bolt are in, but if you traverse all the way onto “The Lazy Dog,” then you’re a lazy dog. (D Tremaine 17)

Helgrindr 5.13a — High-quality climbing that Marcus says will soon to be an area test piece. After an easy start the action gets going with a step-up dyno. A selection of bad holds guards the finishing arête. (M Norman 17)

At Precisely 12 o’clock 5.12a — Practice your heel hooks and knee smears for this one, which is found on the eastern-most route on the face. You can start as for Helgrindr and then move right to the arête but the more aesthetic line is to start on the left below the small roof. Follow the knife-edge arête and hang on for the lip traverse. Stepping left onto the slab by the fourth bolt invites public shaming. (D Tremaine 16)

The next two routes are located on the shorter south face and are reached by walking in a clockwise direction for about 10 metres from “At Precisely 12 o’clock.” They’re located to the right of the obvious, narrow chimney.

BJL Direct V3 — You can top rope this one off the chains for “BJL” or you can boulder it although this highball problem isn’t without consequence. There’s a crux getting off the ground and another on the upper slab. Start just left of the arête on the side pull. Hit the slopey pod, then a jug. Top out on the same tricky slab that completes BJL. (D Tremaine 16)

Bill, John and Lisa 5.10c — This route boasts a surprisingly hard start which then leads to a fun traverse on great holds. Start at the bottom of the obvious chimney (the log that’s there has become a much appreciated feature, but the route does go without it) and then trend right through the wacos. Save some juice for the top slab because it ain’t over at the lip. (D Tremaine 16)

The next three routes are located on the short west face of the east boulder toward the south-west corner. The easiest way to get to them is from “BJL”: walk in a clockwise direction from the chimney until you reach the obvious two-metre-wide gully between the west and east boulders. Step into the gully and you’ll notice a line of bolts on the right (east) wall. This is “Down The Rabbit Hole” and the two routes on either side of it can either be done on top rope or as boulder problems. (Note that the landing here is not great, however.)

Black Rabbit 5.10 top rope — Top rope the line to the right of the bolts by using the directional and the anchor of “Down The Rabbit Hole.”

Down The Rabbit Hole 5.10b — Follow the line of bolts. This was meant to be an easy way to the top of the boulder that avoided the chimney grovel but it turned out to be harder than it looks.

White Rabbit 5.9 top rope — Top rope the line to the left of the bolts but using the directional and the anchor of “Down The Rabbit Hole.”

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

Canada’s Only Rock Climbing Pub

The Lion’s Head Smoke and Brew Pub has a special place in my heart…and belly. Not only does it have dozens of amazing brew pub beers on tap, it also serves delicious BBQ and smoked food. And it’s located close to rock climbs. Really close! In fact, it’s the only pub in Canada with rock climbing in its backyard.

I recently did a story for Destinations Castlegar about the the Lion’s Head that involved a really fun photo and video shoot with Castlegar photographer Lee Orr. The pub is located on Broadwater Road about a five-minute drive from downtown Castlegar, and “is a decades-old, tudor-style institution that’s renowned for it’s craft beer offerings,” I wrote in the piece. “The business was established in 1986 and Troy Pyett and Carly Hadfield purchased it in 2009. It wasn’t long after that local rock climbers approached them for permission to establish new, bolted, sport climbing routes on the impressive rock face located in the bar’s backyard.”

To read the story in its entirety, log on to www.destinationcastlegar.com/2017/06/20/only-rock-climbing-pub-in-canada.

For a topo of the routes, visit the Pub Wall updates page on this site.

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.

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.

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.