Most people are amazed to learn that mountaineers and rock climbers have been climbing the rock walls in and around Castlegar since the 1950s.
This area was first used a training ground for those establishing new routes in the Valhalla, Selkirk, Kootenay and Purcell mountain ranges. Today, Castlegar is a destination in its own right for sport climbers, trad climbers and boulderers, given the many walls and areas within and around the city.
In fact, Castlegar is the only city in BC, aside from Squamish, with a natural rock climbing wall within its boundaries. (Kinnaird Bluffs boasts no less than 70 rock climbs for everyone from beginner to expert climbers.)
It’s also the only city in North America to boast an outdoor rock climbing pub. (The Lion’s Head Pub property has a rock wall with established routes on it located about 40 feet from its back patio.)
3 top rock climbs in Castlegar
Details: 5.10b trad
Where: Yellow Sling Wall, Kinnaird Bluffs
Established in 1967 by the Offermann brothers, this 25-metre crack route was one of the hardest in the province at the time, and it’s still one of the best in British Columbia. B
ecause the wall enjoys excellent southern exposure, people have been known to climb here as early as February. For those who prefer a little more spice, there is a 15-metre 5.11d extension to Yellow Sling called Impetus, established in the 1980s by Canadian rock climbing legend Peter Croft.
No Dogs Allowed
Details: 5.12a sport
Where: The Valhalla Wall, Waterline
No other single-pitch route in Castlegar gives you as much bang for your buck as this one. The 28-metre-long No Dogs Allowed starts with 5.10 warm-up moves, which lead into a 5.11 face. From there the climbing gets delicate and a lot of finesse is required until the final show-stopper crux which entails a lateral dyno unless you know the secret beta.
Details: Nine pitches. 5.8 sport
Where: Brilliant Bluffs
Although the rock isn’t as good as other areas in Castlegar, this climb deserves to be in the top three simply because of its positioning. The views from the route of the Columbia River, Arrow Lake and Castlegar are stunning. And climbing is a lot of fun.
For your first foray, plan on taking at least a half-day and enjoy the leisurely walk-off down the Brilliant Overlook hiking trail. This climb gets full sun and so is excellent in the shoulder seasons but best avoided in the afternoon heat of the summer.
Dream now, travel later. To plan for future adventures here and throughout the West Coast, visit westcoasttraveller.com