Rock climbing festival in Robson hits new heights

West Kootenay Climbing Association event becoming annual tradition for local climbers and those interested in taking up the activity.

Ten-year-old Chris Jeffery learns some rock climbing skills during a festival in Robson hosted by The Assocation of West Kootenay Rock Climbers on Saturday

The West Kootenay Climbing Association, for a second year, held its rock climbing festival in Robson near the Lions Head Pub on Saturday, Sept. 14.

Vince Hempsall an organizer and executive member of The Association of West Kootenay Rock Climbers (TAWKROC), a non-profit organization with a mandate to support and promote the responsible development and maintenance of safe outdoor rock climbing areas in the West Kootenays, said it was great to have nice weather this year.

“It was a downpour last year,” laughed Hempsall. “It’s great to be able to get people out here so they can see how it’s done and see how safe it is.”

A number of lines are located on the 60 metre rock face behind the pub and the group spent the morning making access easier by removing a lot of overgrowth at the base of the climb.

Hempsall said the event is meant to promote the activity in the region. A raffle set up with prizes of climbing gear and outdoor supplies acts as a fundraiser to purchase hardware for the many routes in the West Kootenays. Some of the gear in the Kinnaird region, for example, was just replaced by the group but had probably been in place since the 60s.

“That one line you see in front of us is $110,” said Hempsall, who said part of the funds raised are used to reimburse climbers who go out and replace equipment on their own. “The equipment stays up all year and is stainless but a lot of it needs replacement.”

He said rock climbing has been kind of a zen-like activity for him since his college days and he enjoys seeing a path through, and up, various routes.

Mountain guide and Nelson resident David Lussier helped show Victoria Lawrence-Jeffery how to drill holes in the rock and install hangers that were part of a long slack-line that was being set up.

“The hanger should be positioned so that it’s in the direction of the pull,” said Lussier. Lawrence-Jeffery was a quick study and in no time had hammered the hanger into place.

Though there was a minor incident near the end of the day, involving a young girl falling from a relatively low height, Hempsall said first responders were called out of an abundance of caution.

“Just a sore bum in the end,” said the father of the girl after the event. “Didn’t even need x-rays. It was an unfortunate way for her to end the event as all of the kids were having so much fun with the variety of activities.”

Over $1200 was raised through donations, a raffle and silent auction at the festival and the money will be used to help create new routes in the Castlegar area and other locations in the Kootenays.

The aim of the association is to increase access to climbing areas through the building and maintenance of trails, stairs and relay platforms.


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