From the rock climbing mecca of Squamish to the lesser known areas of Castlegar, British Columbia seems to have crags in every hidden corner of the province. Exercise your finger strength on the crimpy face climbs in Skaha or your slab technique in Squamish. Each area has their own unique style of climbs and rock. If you crave adventure and exploring new areas, it’s time to plan your climbing trip in B.C!
Revy is a small adventure town in the Columbia-Shuswap region of British Columbia. Surrounded by the Selkirk range mountains, Revelstoke is a hub for outdoor activity. 450 rock climbing routes can be found surrounding this town, making it a great climbing destination! Test your strength on steep burly climbs, or your endurance on long multipitch routes. Explore a unique climbing experience at the Waterworld crag, where you can rappel down to water level, and climb up the rock with nothing but beautiful fresh water below.
For more information on rock climbing in Revelstoke, have a look on their website: https://www.revelstokerockclimbing.com/
On your rest days, Revy offers many other options for exploration and activities. Hike or mountain bike in the Selkirk range, go kayaking on Upper Arrow lake which will give you stunning views of Mt. Begbie. Hungry after your adventures? There are plenty of unique restaurants and local breweries to explore. Revelstoke offers outdoor activities and a culture that will make you want to stay!
2. The Okanagan
Next stop, the Okanagan. Oh, sunshine, wineries, lakes, and warmth (maybe a little too warm for some in the heat of the day). Skaha is the most popular climbing area in the Okanagan, with over 1000 climbs spanning over multiple crags. However, Kelowna also boasts of some great climbing at places such as the Boulderfields and Lonely Boy crag. Penticton and Kelowna are only about 1 hour apart, so it’s easy to explore what both of these places have to offer. Mild and dry temperatures in the Okanagan create an opportunity for early and late season climbing!
Skaha offers mostly sport and trad climbing, while the Boulderfields in Kelowna have enough boulders to offer a boulderer a lifetime of climbing. The Boulderfields also have plenty of sport and trad routes to keep everyone happy.
Wondering what to do on your rest days? The options are pretty well endless. You can go swimming, lounging on the beach, or participate in watersports on Okanagan or Skaha Lake, bike the Kettle Valley Trail, go hiking, explore some wineries and cideries, or see what’s going on at the local farmers market.
The Boulderfields are a bit of a drive up a rough dirt road, but offer a unique opportunity to camp at a rec site about a 5 minute walk from the climbing area. And the best part? It’s free! Otherwise, if you’re wanting something more than just an outhouse, there are plenty of places in Penticton and Kelowna to camp or airbnb .
3. The Kootenays
The Kootenay region is a truly unique area in British Columbia. I had the opportunity to live in Nelson for 4 months, and quickly discovered the amazing vibe of the town. Nelson has a lot of new development happening around the town, both sport climbing and bouldering. There is even an opportunity to climb some multipitches on Pulpit Rock, which gives stunning views over the town.
Castlegar, a mere 35 minute drive away from Nelson, has over 300 climbing routes in and around the town. There are also plenty of bouldering areas to explore. With its mild temperatures, it is possible to get early and late season climbing in.
One of the coolest climbing attractions in Castlegar, is that there is a crag right behind Lion’s Head Smoke and Brew Pub. You can climb and then go sip a beer on the porch a few metres away. And the neat thing is, is you don’t have to go all the way to Squamish for excellent granite!
Explore more about climbing in Castlegar, here: https://www.castlegar.ca/visitors/recreation/rock-climbing/
On your days off, there are a TON of places to explore. Hike, kayak, SUP, tour the local hotsprings and enjoy the vibrant nightlife. Nelson and Castlegar are bustling little towns that offer great experiences. The food culture is big in these areas, so be sure to try out some of the local restaurants and breweries for the full Kootenay experience!
Now, let’s explore one of the most popular climbing destinations in B.C. And for a good reason. As you drive toward Squamish, you can see the massive granite mountains from afar. Whether it’s trad climbing the Chief, bouldering below, or getting on some challenging sport climbs at Chek canyon, there’s something for everyone. Really, you could spend all your time in Squamish and not get bored. Be sure to check out Star Chek, one of the more popular multipitch climbs that will take you above the Cheakamus river and provide you with stunning views all around.
Squamish not only has world class climbing, it also has world class mountain biking. On your rest days be sure to try mountain biking and hiking. Check out the Sea to Sky Gondola, try your hand at fishing, or explore the local shops in town. There are also many provincial parks surrounding the area, such as Porteau Cove, Tantalus, Shannon Falls, Alice Lake, or Garibaldi. Shannon Falls is a very short distance from the Stawamus Chief Provincial Campground, making it an easy place to explore.
Hostels, hotels, camping at provincial parks or private campgrounds are all options for staying in Squamish. There is also the option to stay at Chek Canyon recreation site, but be aware that it does get quite busy, especially on weekends.
Learn more about Squamish Climbing here:
5. Quadra Island
It wasn’t until I had moved to Vancouver Island for the summer that I learned of Quadra Island. I was pleasantly surprised that there was a climbing destination only a 10 minute ferry ride away from Campbell River! After having a few climbing trips to Quadra, I was surprised that the area isn’t more popular or well-advertised, given the quality of the rock and the variety of climbs.
Quadra Island is a unique experience, as it has everything from ocean beaches, beautiful lakes, and over 250 climbing routes. There has been a lot of recent development on the island. The climbing consists mainly of moderate sport climbs, but there are some trad climbs and even a few multipitches and bouldering areas.
When climbing, you get incredible views of Vancouver Island, the coastal mountains, and the ocean and surrounding islands. Being in the coastal region, Quadra experiences wet and mild winters/springs. The summer is typically dry and warm. There are plenty of affordable areas to camp on Quadra.
Quadra Island also has great mountain biking trails, swimming, hiking, and unique local shops to explore. Learn more about what Quadra Island has to offer:
So there you have it – your climbing guide to some of BC’s best rock.
This is not a comprehensive list of B.C’s best climbing destinations, as that would require a much longer post. However, this will give you an idea of vacation-worthy climbing areas to check out when you get the chance. Whether you have time to explore only one climbing destination or all of them, each of these places offer a unique climbing experience. Ensure you are well prepared and keep a close watch on the weather for the ultimate climbing experience! And if you just happen to get stuck in a torrential down pour, there’s always other activities to keep you busy!
Does rock climbing interest you? Learn more here: Climb