Okanagan-Shuswap Recreation and Sports: Rock Climbing information, listings and links
Background of the Sport
Rock or sport climbing dates back to early European mountaineering in the 1800s. Many mountain ascents require a combination of techniques. By the 1950s, new metals and fibres enable vast improvements in climbing accessories. Rock enthusiasts began to focus on a particular pitch or wall rather than climbing the whole mountain. The outdoors movement of the 1970s caused climbing to become an organized sport. Rock climbing is a sport that requires mental and physical strength, flexibility, agility and endurance.
With sport climbing's recent popularity, climbing walls being erected in indoor and outdoor facilities world wide. The increased safety possible (everybody climbs with a harness) in a man-made environment allows sport climbers to practice and achieve greater levels of difficulty.
To get started, you need little equipment, and if your early outings are in a gym or as part of a class, you can probably rent the equipment. Bouldering (climbing rocks under 20 feet high) requires only rock shoes and a chalk bag. For sport climbing, you will need a climbing harness, rope, a "belay" device (such as a figure eight or tube), and at least one "carabineer" (spring loaded clip). For outdoor rock climbing you should always wear a helmet to protect yourself from falling rock chips.
The clothes will vary with they type of climbing. For indoor climbing, comfortable shorts and t-shirt will suffice, though not too loose. Outdoors, you must be prepared for a range of temperatures and conditions (regardless of the forecast). Dressing in lightweight thin layers, in breathable fabrics, is recommended.
When you are climbing on a regular basis, you should invest in your own gear. As you get better, you may want to try lead climbing, where you fix you own protective ropes, rather than using a pre-set rope to the top). You need to have your own "rack", a selection of climbing aids including "runners" (flat nylon ropes), "carabineer" and "chocks" (wedges and cams).
Beginners should take a class or hire a guide to teach you "the ropes". Classes are available at most man-made climbing
facilities and local colleges and universities.
The most beautiful climbing areas in the Okanagan are:
- the Skaha cliffs, just south of Penticton
- Keremeos Columns, 30 metre high basalt columns, near Keremeos
- Cathedral Provincial Park, southwest of Keremeos
Inthe Thompson River/Shuswap area, here are the poplar climbing spots:
- The Beach, with great views, 40 minutes west of Kamloops, off the W.T.C Hwy, just past Savona at 6 Mile Hill. Rates from 5.6 to 5.10, and not a multi-pitch
- Roche Lake, 45 minutes south on Hwy 5A. Rates from 5.6 to 5.12 and not multi-pitch.
- Marble Canyon, on Hwy 99 between Cache Creek and Lillooet. A multi-pitch climb that rates from 5.8-5.10
- Oregon Jack, in Cache Creek (turn right, and then down Hat Creek Road). Great bouldering,
WARNING! Climbing can be dangerous if proper precautions are not taken. If you have little or no experience, you should take a professional guide, or take a climbing course in order to learn the basic safety techniques.