Friday, November 30, 2012

Backcountry Skiing In B.C - Resources

The season is off to a good start here in British Columbia. Just the end of November and there has been lots of sunny, stable days with blower snow! There are many resources out there for skiing including awesome guidebooks, websites, word of mouth and many others. I will outline a few different ideas to get you started and psyched. Have a great winter and play safe!

 A great resource for all of Canada and especially B.C, this website has it all. Great route descriptions, an online forum (with lots going on) and lots of other great information on Backcountry skiing/snowboarding. Check it out

Link: Backcountry Skiing Canada Home Page

Roger's Pass is a mecca of Backcountry Skiing in Canada. Tons of terrain, big mountains, deep snow and great skiing. The area lies in Glacier National Park and while there are regulations that you must follow, it keeps this place wild and in good shape for years to come. Making a visit to the new Discovery Center beside the hotel is a must.  They have very experienced park staff members, a great public use guidebook of ski tours in the area, a voluntary check registration book and other great resources as well. Some areas do require you to register (and obtain a free permit) as well as you must have a valid park pass to use and park in the area. Here I have included a link to get you started. There are also many guidebooks to the area that should get you an idea of the classic ski tours around. Remember this is big country and avalanches are common here so play safe and have fun!

Link: Rogers Pass - Parks Canada

 A couple of great guidebooks exist for skiing/riding in the wonderful Backcountry of B.C. Here a just a few of them that are worth purchasing and having in your collection. 

Summits & Icefields -Columbia Mountains
Roger's Pass Ski Touring Guide

Exploring the Coast Mountains on Skis
Alpine Ski Tours In The Canadian Rockies

West Kootenay Touring Guide

Whistler Ski Touring Guide


The two most important and awesome Canadian Websites:

Link: PARKS CANADA - Avalanche Information & Bulletins
Link: Canadian Avalanche Association Website/Bulletins

And one last great website with lots of good skiing/climbing info posted by mountain guides in Canada:

Link: Mountain Conditions Reports - ACMG

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Ellison Provincial Park Rock Climbing - New Routes!

As I finish my time here in Vernon, I have been focusing on finishing a few climbing projects at Ellison near town. Although there isn't a whole lot of potential here, the few new lines that have been put up are really good and basically climb or combine existing routes in a more direct
(ie: fun) fashion. There is one potential new route as well (has been re-cleaned but could of been climbed back in the day). All in all a some great additions to an already awesome area. Stay tuned for an updated guidebook coming soon as well! Here they are:

5.10B - MIXED - 4 BOLTS + GEAR TO 5" - 22M (Variation)
 Start by climbing the nice corner/crack line through a wide (8") section (Little Sister). After the wide section clip a bolt and mantle a big ledge with a huge boulder on your left (heading straight up to the right where Little Sister continues up the blocky terrain). From here continue up the face to the arete where a crux greets you surmounting the bulge on the arete (great exposure!). The climbing eases from here to the bolted anchors (fixed biners) on your right. Bring some long slings and watch for rope drag.

5.7 - TRAD - GEAR TO 2" - 20M
A great easier addition to the climbing here with a Squamish type feel. Climb from the base of the Basalt dyke/intrusion into some blocky/juggy stuff on your right. Fiddle in your first piece and cruise through some wonderful laybacking and awesome hand jamming (good gear) to where you surmount a bulge and finish in the main corner. Bolts to lower.

 5.10+  - MIXED - 3 BOLTS + GEAR TO 2" 24m (Variation)

Start way down low at the base of the cliff at a awesome layback hand crack. Start by climbing the clean crack to a ledge then scramble over right to the arete. Climb the arete with increasing difficulty on crimps and layaways with a crux at the final bolt. Once under the roof, get into position and muscle through the very steep crack on finger locks and wild moves. Avoid moving way out right and finish direct for full value. Chains with fixed biners to lower.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Free Soloing

Dean Potter on HEAVEN with Half Dome in the background

Free Soloing: To climb with no rope in a state of pure focus.
Alex Honnold and Dean Potter, both Americans have taken this to a new level. So inspiring (not that Im into free soloing 5.12) that these dudes have the focus and the skill to make it up this stuff with no rope.  Just some footage I would like to share about their feats these days. ENJOY!

Dean Potter on the Rostrum & Alien Roof Alien Roof at Yosemite with his Base Jumping pack! Free BASEing at it's finest!

Alex Honnold on his Triple Crown achievment: Mt.Watkins, El Cap and Half Dome in under 19 hours, climbing over 7,000 feet up to grades of 5.12+......Unreal! Makes my hands sweat :)


Recommended Route(s)

Lake Louise is an icon of mountain scenery and beauty, and for those who do not know, it's also an incredible climbing destination. Lake Louise boasts a huge amount scrambles, summits, icefields, ice climbs and rock climbs, basically a mecca for any type of climber. Back of the Lake is no exception. Steep exposed climbing of all kinds on bulletproof Quartzite looking over the emerald green Lake Louise. I could recommend tons of routes but recently I got on this one steep sport climb on a cool little cliff that climbs soooooo well. I didnt even know it was there after all this time. Check it out if you climb 11b, there isn't much better. And did I mention it has a wild roof to finish that will attract spectators(tourists) for a show!


Start climbing right out of the pond in a fractured crack on pinches and cool jams past two bolts. Now the game changes, crimp out to the right and pull a small roof, then climb up into a funky corner system and work your way through the crux exiting the corner. A big flake section (jugs) leads into the big roof, take a rest, clip, reach out and do it! But what do I use?......sneaky but big jugs greet you over top! So good! Old ass anchors to descend (into the pond :). Classic.


New Route/Variation at Ellison's Dog Beach Wall

A great addition to this cliff that combines two previous routes, the Dark Knight varitation climbs an awesome direct line up the aesthetic pillar over Okanagan Lake to a final overhanging finger crack through the big BAT roof.

THE DARK KNIGHT (variation) 5.10+ - 23m 
MIXED - 3 BOLTS & GEAR TO 2" ***

Start way down low at the base of the cliff at a awesome layback hand crack. Start by climbing the clean crack to a ledge then scramble over right to the arete. Climb the arete with increasing difficulty on crimps and layaways with a crux at the final bolt. Once under the roof, get into position and muscle through the very steep crack on finger locks and wild moves. Avoid moving way out right and finish direct for full value. Chains (over the edge) to lower.

Lower part of the route:

 Upper section:

Friday, July 20, 2012

Cougar Canyon - Bouldering Update!

A couple of new boulder problems have been put up in the Moss Hollow area at Cougar Canyon here in Vernon, B.C. Great additions to an already cool little alcove with 2 classic problems. A cold refrigerator kind of breeze offers some relief from the hot summer sun and provides a great atmosphere to work these routes. The MEGA MAN area or what I'm now calling the BURROW (the rats and caves and such) now has two face climbs, a steep cave like problem and a slopey traverse climb. All four routes have exhilarating finishes and offer a wide range of quality holds. Basically bring a couple of pads, some good friends and this little spot should be enough to fill your day. With the new Cougar Bouldering guide and this new topo you should be good to go...........


1 - MEGA MAN - V5 ***
Start down low to the right and follow the slopey rail to a wild left pinch and a big throw to the finish. Amazing holds and features, a must at it's grade at Cougar.

2 - VEINS - V6 ***
Find the best holds down low in the cave, move to the lip and pinch your way to a good hold and an easier finish. Some beta makes this one a little easier,

3 - POSSE - V1 ***
Climb the left side of the face on crimps, laybacks and sidepulls. Lots of cool stemming and a fun finish up high!

4 - TOXIC - V3+ ***
Stand start on the crimpy rail. Some dynamic and balancy moves await those with good footwork. Bigger holds to finish. Grade still open for discussion.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Recommended Route(s)

En route to the WHITE WALL

 I am a huge fan of the Boulderfields in Kelowna. An awesome setting, approach and climbing, if you are into some steep aesthetic climbing, then this is the place for you. I will keep this simple because Jani and Karen have done a great job outlining the area in their 'Kelowna Rock' guidebook. I am merely posting a great topo/photo of the WHITE WALL, which hosts 4 great routes of high quality that people should be climbing when they climb here (and that are not all included in the guide). All the climbs are full value, long and feature great wavy rock with a ton of variety packed into each climb. Thanks Jani for putting up these great climbs! And did I mention these routes are in the shade after about 1pm and are adjacent to the Grad Wall and Wedge Wall that offer a ton of great climbing. Here it is!!! Explained left to right.

1 - Body Language 5.11b - Bolts - 30m **
Easy climbing leads into a body tension crux and then cruiser holds to the finish! Slopey!

2 - April Flowers 5.10b - Bolts - 30m ***
Some cool pockets lead into 2 tricky sections and a steeper finish. One of the best for its grade at the Fields! High Value.

3 - State Of Shock 5.12a/b - Bolts - 30m ***
This one begins with a fun steep start and then some more slopey climbing (fun). A wild throw at the crux with diminishing holds leads into a wonderful juggy finish! Great rock!

(Test Driven By NATO 5.10a - Bolts 22m ((dotted red line, could be a nice line if it were cleaned up))

4 - Heavy Metal 5.11c - Bolts - 23m ***
Climb big sandy holds to a roof and exit left (read: bolts split left and right) into some delicate and tricky climbing. The holds then get better for a bit until you get to finish up the steep prow. Great climbing!

Here's the photo! Enjoy

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Climb Smarter & Safer

I personally have used this technique ice climbing, where my anchor is quite set back from the top of the real climbing. Using terrain that is suitable is the key. There are other tricks to doing this but this gives you the idea.  Play safe!
Tech Tip - Trad - Extending an Anchor on a multi-pitch route

By Molly Loomis
Illustrations By Keith Svihovec

A guide’s technique for belaying novice seconds

As the adage goes, speed equals safety in the mountains. But this doesn’t mean speed instead of safety. Maintaining constant visual and vocal contact between you — presumably, an experienced climber and/or guide — and a neophyte under your tutelage will yield easier passage through terrain otherwise known as time-suck territory. The more Beta you can offer him whilst he cleans a stubborn piece of gear or works through a dumbfounding crux, the less time you’re likely to waste shouting commands and vital advice into the wind or hanging around, waiting for an electrical storm to swoop in.

A Brand-New Masterpoint
There are many ways to extend an anchor, in order to come down from the top of a pitch and keep an eye on your second. But often the question remains, how do I, once the second climbs up to me, keep him on a top belay (instead of transitioning into a lead belay) while he moves from the extended anchor up to the primary anchor — potentially a necessity in tricky terrain or in certain “institutional” (i.e., climbing-school) settings? The following technique should be utilized by experienced climbers or guides only, and on terrain below your limit.

Illustrations By Keith Svihovec
After constructing a bomber anchor atop your pitch, attach yourself to the anchor’s masterpoint with a münter hitch (instead of the typical clove hitch, etc.). Next, use this münter to lower to your desired belay stance (the side of the rope leading down to your partner is your brake strand). Because you’re attached to the anchor with a münter hitch, you must keep your hand on the münter’s brake strand at all times. If you want added security, tie a knot some feet down the brake strand and clip it to your belay loop.

Illustrations By Keith Svihovec
Once at the perfect spotting perch (e.g., a small ledge), pull up three feet of slack in both strands of the climbing rope. Because you have to pull slack through the münter hitch, your belay will be compromised momentarily. Standing on casual terrain will increase safety, as will that brake-strand backup knot clipped to your belay loop.

Illustrations By Keith Svihovec
With your three feet of slack, tie an overhand- on-a-bight using both strands together, with the knot above both you and your second. This knot will now function as an extended anchor, as well as a tie-off to lock off the münter hitch on which you just lowered yourself. Attach a locking carabiner and an auto-blocking belay device (e.g., Reverso) through the eye of your overhand-on-a-bight; this will be the new belay point for your partner.

Illustrations By Keith Svihovec
As your partner works his way up the route, coach and congratulate from your perch, pulling in slack through the belay device and stacking it as he comes. When he reaches your stance, back up the belay device by tying off the brake strand with a figure-8-on-a-bight and clipping it to the masterpoint. (This blocks the rope from feeding through the belay device in the unlikely event that the belay device should slip.)

Illustrations By Keith Svihovec
Now you and your partner can simultaneously climb back up to the original, highest anchor. As you climb, slack will generate in the system between the overhand-on-a-bight (to which you both are attached) and the münter hitch. (In order to maintain the belay while climbing, you must pull down on the münter’s brake strand.) Considering the multi-tasking involved — climbing while keeping a hand on the brake — and the potential consequences of taking your brake hand off the rope, it is important that you use this configuration on terrain well within your comfort zone.

Do not release your brake hand until you are both clipped into the main anchor. Finally, disassemble the extended anchor, restack the rope, and fire the next pitch.

Molly Loomis, a mountain guide, has used this technique more than once to encourage a second.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Aberdeen Columns Climbing Guidebook - 2012 Update

Aberdeen Wall (Money$$)

A great asset to an already amazing climbing area, Aberdeen Columns has another update for the 2012 season. For those who dont know, Aberdeen hosts some awesome Columnar Basalt crack climbing at a higher elevation in a isolated forest environment that is a must visit if you are in the Vernon area. Locals, to name a few, Lyle Knight, Gary Wolkoff and John Dyck, have been active in this area for a few years making it user friendly. With camping and fishing nearby, this should be on your list for a summer weekend for sure! Bring lots of cams, some tape and a good head, although it is also friendly for top rope (bring some long slings). The new update looks really good, I am putting up a link to the CLIMBKAMLOOPS that is nice enough to be hosting it (free, no gimiks). ENJOY

Thanks Lyle!
Link to Guide: Aberdeen Columns Rock Climbing Guide 2012

Mike Weldon on 'AND HERE WAS BEAUTY'

Lyle Knight - Author of Guidebook

Kamloops Rock Guide Update

View from the Beach

Here is another addition to the updates for the 2012 season's rock guides. Kamloops has a great selection of climbing crags and there seems to be a little something for everyone. My personal favorite is Roche Lake (with the ample lakeside ((free)) camping nearby and good fishing), but for those who have not visited the area, The Beach, Hen House, Prickly Pear and Oregon Jack Bouldering are all unique areas that offer a something a little different. Along with the awesome climate, quiet areas and loads of camping, you should definitely put Kamloops on your list for a visit.

Here's the link to the new Guidebook, Thanks Trevor! Check out the great site CLIMBKAMLOOPS as well for all your area info!
Guide Link: New Kamloops Rock Guide 2012

Drew Nylen at the Beach

West Kootenay Rock Guide Update 2012

Vince Hempsall (One of the authors of the guidebook) at Arrow Lakes

With many new additions to an already nice guidebook, this update really shows these guys (gals) have been very busy around Nelson & Castlegar. It looks like Arrow Lakes crag has really seen some traffic and is shaping up to be a really nice area. As well, just around Ymir (pronounced 'Y-Mmer, a few minutes drive from Nelson) there are a few more really nice looking crags that have popped up full of juggy granite. All in all looks like the Kootenay's are turning out to have some good climbing hidden in those trees, I certainly psyched to go check out all these new routes!

Check out the awesome website CLIMB THE KOOTS for all you area updates and info!!
2012 Link to new Updates: New Climbing Update

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Recommended Route(s)

Night view from Cedar Park Parking Lot

SPIDERMAN 5.10B/C - GEAR to 4" - 22M
Located on the Yellow Wall at Cedar Park Crag in Kelowna, this fun climb starts with a little burly off-width (that you can get sport-like overkill by bringing a Camalot #3, #4 and #5) that leads into a steep corner (crux). The remainder of the climb offers sinker fingers, steep aesthetic moves and good gear. Amazing that I never see anyone trying this. A must!

One of the best parts of this climb is that you can climb an amazing mixed 5.11a off the same anchors. This one requires delicate moves up the first half to a steeper pumpy finish that really is quite exhilarating.  It's called Pull Off My Lichen 5.11a - 2 Bolts - Gear to 1" - 22m

For those not aware of Cedar Park in Kelowna. Let me explain; amazing rock (solid like Skaha) steep pumpy routes, crimpy & steep face routes, cracks, easy stuff, 3 pitch route, south facing (aka climb in winter) ticks, full length climbs, aesthetic, mostly 3 star routes, good view, close to Kelowna, hot in summer (too much) and no crowds. Need I say more?!!

Ryan on top of a great route at Cedar Park

Climb Smarter & Safer

I've seen it a hundred times, and Im sure some of you out there have too. Recently I witnessed an incident at a local crag where the belayer really got yanked up the wall, making the situation crappy for the climber and belayer. After the incident the climbing couple felt weary about trying any difficult climbs. I think careful planning and good belay techniques can help to avoid these kind of situations. Posted here is a great write up from Climbing magazine to help with it!

Stop the Flying Circus

By Dave Sheldon / Illustrations by Jamie Givens


How to belay a heavier leader
People whose partners outweigh them by 25 pounds or more routinely get yanked off the ground when catching sport-climbing leader falls.  
Although this phenomenon is disconcerting at first, it can be perfectly safe with a few simple precautions—and it provides a nice, soft catch for the climber. Some climbers recommend anchoring a light belayer to the ground, but this may cause the falling leader to experience a hard, shocking fall. In most cases, allowing a sport-climbing belayer to move around decreases the chance of injury to the leader and belayer, and also lowers the force applied to the system.

When belaying, stand directly under the first bolt. Should the leader fall, this ensures you will be lifted straight upward, not dragged across the ground or scraped along the side of the cliff.

Wear sturdy, closed-toed shoes: no flip-flops! As you’re yanked upward, both hands will be occupied with holding the rope, so it’s your feet that keep your body away from the rock. In a hard fall, the forces can be violent, so belay gloves and—if you’re not too cool—a helmet also are recommended.

If the first bolt is close to the ground, consider having the leader unclip it after clipping the second bolt; this will prevent you from being yanked up into the first quickdraw. Or, use an extra-long stick clip to bypass the first bolt, eliminating the down-climbing and unclipping shenanigans.

Scan the rock under the first bolt or two, following your likely path of upward trajectory. Are there any rock spikes or nasty overhangs to be wary of, or is the wall smooth and forgiving? Visualize where you might impact the rock—hopefully feet first—at three, five, or 10 feet off the ground. If there is a chance of being yanked into something nasty, find another climb or recruit a heavier belayer.

When the leader pitches off, hold on tight and prepare for liftoff. Do not jump! If the leader is low on the climb, consider dropping down on one knee. This will increase the distance between belayer and leader by a foot or two, which might be just enough to prevent climber and belayer from knocking into each other. If a collision is unavoidable, turn your head away, keep your mouth shut to protect your jaw, and don’t let go of the rope with your brake hand.

As you get pulled, keep your feet underneath you— the movement feels sort of like a speedy rappel in reverse. Your goal is to leave the ground in balance.

Holds break, wasps fly out of holes—a good belayer should be prepared for a fall at any time. Still, the leader can help. When a fall seems like a distinct possibility, calling out, “Watch me!” puts the belayer on high alert.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Revelstoke's Victor Lake Wall

The Victor Lake Wall offers some unreal climbing in a unbelievable setting, located just outside Revelstoke, if you are climbing in the 10c to the 11d range with the occasional gear placement this is the place for you! Good quality quartzite multipitch climbing over steep ground with lots of aesthetic moves is the idea here. Included here is a link to the awesome Revelstoke Rock Climbing webpage that gives you the complete lowdown on the climbing here along with many other areas in the Revy region. Some awesome south facing long routes are awaiting those seeking some adventure!!

Link: Victor Lake Wall

Friday, May 11, 2012

Cougar Canyon Bouldering Guide 2012

 After lots of work, photo taking, trail maintenance, brushing, tree chopping, rock moving, and sending; Cougar Canyon's Bouldering has taken off. Can you believe I saw over 15 people Bouldering down there the other weekend. Trails are getting defined, there are shouts of beta echoing around the canyon, there is chalk evidence all over the classics, and people have finally realized one main thing; the climbing is good down here!!!

Partly due to this high amount of traffic and the many new problems, I have put together one final 'new' high quality guidebook for the Bouldering in Cougar Canyon (3rd edition) but where this guide differs from the others is the detail. Color photos, lots of area information, more detailed directions/beta and some fun route icons are just a few of the new features. The guide will be available through True Outdoors (old Valhalla) locations in the Okanagan Valley (high quality prints) and for free download here on this webblog. Get out there and enjoy all that Cougar Canyon has to offer and have a great summer!!!

Guide: Cougar Bouldering Guide 2012 Edition

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Recommended Route(s)

 There is a place close to Vernon, that many don't know about called Ellison Provincial Park. For those climbers out there, Ellison is home to some awesome Granite Bluffs looking over Okanagan Lake that offer up some incredible climbing, even if the pickings are few. It might even remind you of climbing at Squamish, the granite is that good. There are beaches, camping and great mountain biking nearby (sick bouldering too!) Today I am going to highlight two awesome climbs that rank amongst some of the better trad routes in Vernon (in my humble opinion). Try them out!

WHODUNNIT 5.8 - 23M - GEAR TO 3" ***
Arguably the best moderate trad/crack climb in the Vernon area. Start by scrambling up some blocks to a funky step to establish you into the two cracks/corner. Stem, smear and jam straight up until the crack moves left. Undercling and layback (read: incredible) until you are forced to finish up a cool little dihedral with sinker finger jams and great gear. The positions and exposure over the lake are unbeatable. Bring some long slings and I suggest top belaying (better for photos anyway) to save the gear and there is a big seat anyways!!

FROGGER/BUTLER (variation) 5.10+ - 23m - GEAR TO 2" ***
A classic link up that serves up some tricky ass slabby climbing and a big steep roof. Climb 'Frogger' as outlined in the Ellison guide but instead of finishing up at it's anchors step right just above the last (only) bolt and move into the steep roof crack of 'Butler'. From the start, the first 20 feet or so starts with a beautiful layback that quickly switches into a desperate seam/layback and a committing section (read: stich it up before moving on) where your only relief is a crimpy rail and a finicky piece of gear. Move on from here carefully to a bolt. Once past the bolt traverse out right (good feet, no pro) until you hit the main corner. Pull up and into the overhanging crack/corner, sort out the sequence and pull the last roof (bolt). There are four distinct cruxes on this one and the climbing is varied and sequence-y. Pretty much the best variation (in my opinion) on this part of the cliff that offers up a link to the more aesthetic (harder) moves of both routes. Give it a burn, lots of good gear and two bolts. Committing!!!!

Check out the Ellison Guide on this web/blog for more information!!
Link: ELLISON Rock Guide 2012