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Monday, 14 April 2014

Record Day in Cougar Canyon

This is kind of hilarious, but yesterday was a record setting day for the number of people bouldering in Cougar Canyon. What was this whopping total, you may ask? 14 people pulling down! That's it. I find it funny that an area with such amazing rock sees so few boulderers.

No matter what, yesterday was an incredible day bouldering in the sun on amazing rock with a ton of the bestest people around. A lot of uber-classics got some lovin and a good number of us revisted the world class The Mistress (V10) and Crouching Dragon, Hidden Tiger (V11) after working some newer projects.

If you've never had a chance to get on the rock in Cougar, there are very few locals who wouldn't recommend it for its super high quality.

Here are some awesome pics from the day from Clayton Arnall.

Garrett on The Mistress V10

Loic looking solid on the perfect arete of The Mistress

Jay near the top of The Mistress

A Few Pics of Jay on Crouching Dragon, Hidden Tiger (V11)

Beauty day in Cougar

More Pads Than I've Ever Seen Coming Out of the Canyon

On another note, I can't forget to mention that while Pebble Beach has been getting a ton of attention over the last few weeks, Jay has managed to add another V10 extension to the Pebble Overhang. This is again another beautiful line that climbs into the longstanding V7 that runs through the roof. So, that's 2 double digit lines added to the Pebble Overhang in the last 2 weeks! Nice!

Monday, 7 April 2014

Lakeside Bouldering

We're definitely pretty lucky to live here in the Okanagan. Amazing lakes, beautiful views/ scenery and weather, a nice pace of life, and all that other stuff people love about the region. One of the things that sweetens the deal for a bunch of us is the fact that we can add lakeside bouldering to the mix.

We're lucky enough to have a couple spots in the north and central Okanagn where we can pull down while enjoying the beauty and serenity of Okanagan lake at our fingertips. One a recent trip into Ellison Prov. Park for an afternoon session, it dawned on me that I don't think I've ever written about the bouldering there? In addition, Pebble Beach in Kelowna has been getting tons of action, so I figured I'd throw a little something together about both.

I've written a bunch about Pebble in the past, so let's just say that it's been a great lakeside bouldering spot for a lot of years. There are several great, old-school lines and the views and bouldering on the beach are tough to beat. While the area sees its fair share of vandalism and grafitti a times, the lines still climb well. In the last couple years, as with many of the other bouldering spots in the valley, Pebble has seen a resurgence of cleaning and development. Just last week, Jay added what's likely a new V9/10 to the picturesque Pebble Overhang. This line is an extension to a long established V7 that runs through the overhang. I got to pull on this one the other day with Braden and it's a lot of fun. You can look for this one in Clayton's next Okanagan bouldering flick.

Braden working the new Pebble Overhang V9/10

Not finished there, some of the local fellas have also been working another line just to the left of this Pebble Overhang newbie which promises to be slightly harder. Pretty crazy that more new, hard lines are still coming out of these places! Oh wait, doesn't it seem like I say that ALL THE TIME!

Alright, that leads me to Ellison Prov. Park in Vernon. For some reason, I don't think I've written much about it and that's horrible! Ellison is a special place for me. It's where Staci and I got married and it is a terrific place to just slow down and enjoy solid granite beside the lake. In the late spring to early fall, it's pretty incredible to be able to boulder at Ellison and jump in the clear waters of Okanagan lake after each send.

Ellison has a couple main bouldering spots, but the big show here is the Traverse Wall. This is a lakeside cliff full of sport routes with an amazingly featured low section that offers a great number of bouldering lines and variations including the classic Ellison Traverse. The traverse is about 60 feet or so long and gets progressively harder as you move along. The forearms will feel it at the end of this baby! While the traverse is definitely the sweetness of Ellison for a lot of people, there are a bunch of other lines that are tons of fun on the same wall, and with a bunch of great holds, you can make up lines all day. This is just one of those spots that's tough to beat for a slice of Okanagan bouldering.

Here are a few terrible quality videos of a few lines on the Ellison Traverse Wall...

The shortened-for-camera Ellison Traverse- V4 (all the business is at the end)

A Johnny Kristian classic V6

A line I'd somehow never tried until the other day (silly me).

Staci on the Ellison Traverse (V4)

Cedar letting the world know what he's all about
The always amazing Ellison view

As always, if you want any info about Okanagan bouldering, feel free to email me at okbouldering@gmail.com

Tuesday, 18 March 2014


Just a quick one here. There will be a ton more info to come on this, but I wanted to let everyone know nice and early that the ROCK THE BLOCS boulderfest at the Boulderfields is back in action again this year on June 21 and 22.

We're working on gathering all the prizes, getting the info together, organizing, and all that fun stuff. So as soon as we have things in line, much more info will be coming out to y'all.

Last year was a riot and a huge success and it's looking like this year is gonna be much bigger! So, please plan to be there and get out and enjoy some amazing bouldering for the fest!

Early Season in Cougar Canyon and No More Mr. Gneiss Guy

Well, as a result of having a near-death trad fall there, and being a resident of Vernon, Cougar Canyon holds a special place in my heart. I feel a special connection to the area, and it just so happens that it possesses what I still think is one of the best concentrations of bouldering anywhere within about 400km or so!

Last year, I didn't spend much time in Cougar. The Fields were again exploding with new lines and the cooler temps in the summer were appealing. However, I did spend enough time in Cougar to have another good look around at what's left to be developed. One of the walls I revisited, was the tall, very overhung wall on the back of the Hercules cave. This wall was written off for many years by many climbers, but I figured, "hey I'll clean it up and see what happens." Sure enough, it looked like it would have enough holds to be climbed. So, I went to work cleaning the whole line and fixing up the less than ideal landing.

After a handful of solid sessions, I felt like I had the bottom of the climb pretty dialed. After neglecting the line throughout the summer, I returned at the end of the fall to try and quickly work out the top moves before attempting the send... Oops, I guess I made a slight underestimate of how hard the top would be. Sure enough, I couldn't latch the crux move and the season ended without a send.

That led to last weekend. Knowing that most of the canyon would be unclimbable, I managed to convince Loic to come in and see how "the project" (dubbed No More Mr. Gneiss Guy) was looking. I've been itching to get back at it, and having the chance to show another local crusher the canyon for the first time had me giddy.

Now, I know Loic was a bit hesitant to get in with my that day, but before we had even hit the bottom of the canyon, I felt like I had to pull him away from every SPORT wall we saw... That's how great the rock is in there. Needless to say, when we got to the boulders, we danced around from bloc to bloc like a couple school girls in a candy shop. The fact that everything was still wet was tough to bear. Still, when we reached the project wall, we were rewarded. It was completely dry!

We took turns pulling on the perfect crimps at the bottom of the wall, refining the beta and linking the moves quite solidly! Unfortunately we only brought in a couple pads and committing to the higher, crux moves just wasn't happening. In the end though, we got to crank on some amazing holds and movement. I dare to say that this line has some of the best, if not the best, movement I've ever climbed on... and I've been pretty lucky to climb on a lot of incredible boulder problems.

Here are a few shots of Loic and I pulling on No More Mr. Gneiss Guy

After Loic managed to put a respectable sized gash in his fingertip and I decided I wasn't willing to do the same before our big trip to Moe's Valley this week, we packed up and headed back out of the canyon. On the way, we took the time to check out most of the neglected walls at the top of the canyon. I've always wanted to have a look at them because they are a closer approach and look tasty. Sure enough, we spent a bunch of time "discovering" what looks like a bunch of new lines. A total of about 6 walls will probably hold upwards of 30+ new problems! With our creative juices flowing we named one wall the Red Wall, one the Green Wall, and another the Light Green Wall. I'm pretty sure we'll do better than that when we get scrubbing. Altogether, I'm pretty sure there are still about 40-50 more lines left to be climbed in Cougar!

Here's a video of Loic linking the bottom of No More Mr. Gneiss Guy while splitting his finger on the tiny left crimp! Oops, sorry it's sideways.

The Carnage!

So, I guess it was a pretty good day for the earliest day I've ever climbed in Cougar Canyon. I can't wait to get back at No More Mr. Gneiss Guy!

Okanagan Bouldering Guidebook, eh?

As many people already know, I'm currently working on putting together the full Okanagan bouldering guidebook. Having written the Boulderfields bouldering guide a couple years ago, I felt like I was up for the challenge of a high-quality guide that could show off the amazingness of the region's bouldering from OK Falls all the way up to Vernon.

Little did I know that this project would be so huge! I knew that it would be quite time-consuming and require a lot of research. However, with so many areas never really documented, a ton of different bouldering areas, a long-ish history of bouldering in some spots, and so many new lines popping up all over the valley, putting this book together is gonna take a good chunk of time. Still, in the end, I think the product will be excellent and really show off what we're lucky enough to boulder on day in and day out. Also, with the rate of development and increased popularity of bouldering in the region, I've started to wonder if this may becoming a first edition/ second edition type project. I never really thought the Okanagan would require that type of attention in a guide, but I guess only the future will tell...

So, I guess a huge favor I have to ask from the community is to please contact me regarding any info you have for first ascents, previous ascents, areas, etc that would be pertinent to the guidebook. Even if you think you may have scrubbed up and retro-climbed a previously completed problem, please let me know and I'll do my best to figure out all those details. The goal is to make sure all the necessary steps are taken to be as accurate as possible moving forward.

On that note, please email me at okbouldering@gmail.com with any info.

The Ruins...

The Ruins. Maybe you haven't heard that name yet in Okanagan bouldering? That's probably because we just came up with it. Ha!

The Ruins is the name of the "new" basalt area recently developed in West Kelowna. Word on the street is that the area saw some bouldering as long ago as 12 years or so, but this spot didn't really stick as part of the annual circuit. Recently, Allan took a little stroll through the forest and "re-discovered" the boulders. He quickly shared the info and within less than a couple weeks, these boulders have been all scrubbed up and are ready to go.

Braden modeling under the largest boulder in The Ruins

Pretty cool looking rock

Cedar helping get The Ruins going

While the boulders are not high and inspiring, they are fun and very unique. They're a group of boulders that have shed off Mt. Boucherie above and now sit in a nice, Ponderosa Pine forest setting. The rock is composed of columnar baslalt, and because many of the boulders have fallen on their sides with the columns being horizontal (hence the name The Ruins), the climbing is very interesting.

It's not a huge area with about 25-30 lines in total, and most of the lines are no harder than V3 or so. However, it is fun and a great place for beginner climbers or people coming out of the gym who would like a bit of work topping out to come and have a good day.

Braden pulling on what's likely the hardest line in the area

A huge thanks goes out to Caleb, Aaron, Allan, Braden, and Bennett for putting the time into these boulders and getting them ready for everyone to enjoy. I'm currently working on the topo and descriptions for the area right now and hope to have it ready for everyone to tear apart when we get back from our trip.

If you want any info on the area, let me know at okbouldering@gmail.com

South Okanagan Invasion

With the weather throughout the Okanagan finally smartening up to end the winter, the boulders and walls in the south Okanagan are getting some sweet, sweet lovin'. Generally speaking, the south Okanagan gets less snow and has climbable conditions earlier than the central and the north. A lot of the bouldering spots are also at lower elevations and tend to get a fair bit of sun. All that means that most of the boulderers in the valley travel down to the Penticton area this time of year to get their fix. My guess is that this year has been another record start to the year for the number of people out wrestling pebbles in the south.

I know that in just the last couple weeks as the weather has been better, people have been bouldering at The Bighorn, Badger Bluff, The Winter Pig Hotel, The Milltown Boulders, and recently we were part of a 14 person crew at Boulder on the Bench a day after another large crew was there. That's a lot of action for a region that saw very little love from anyone other than a handful of locals for many years in the past. I think it's great to see, and it's also led to some old lines getting a retro-scrub.

Some double Jason action on BOB

Jess getting after it

Allan looking like a true boulderer

In all this south Okanagan love, I know new lines have been cleaned and added at the Bighorn by Doug and a another group including Jordan et al. and Doug is currently cleaning a beautiful wall above BOB that will hold roughly 15 or so moderates. We had a look at the wall when we were down and I have to say that I'm quite jealous I don't live closer to help scrub it up!

I guess all this again just shows how great the bouldering is in the south Okanagan and I'm sure it will be part of the yearly rotation for all of us Okanagan boulderers!

Here are a few videos I stole off Doug's youtube channel showing some of the greatness at Boulder on the Bench. Thanks Doug!

And here's one showing the incredible "I'd Rather be Golfing" arĂȘte line at the Milltown boulders.

Moral of the story is that if you haven't bouldered in the south Okanagan before, make a plan of it. I'm sure you won't be disappointed!

If you need any info on any Okanagan bouldering areas, don't hesitate to email me (Andy) at okbouldering@gmail.com