The Slocan Lakes Bluffs have been a popular climbing spot in the West Kootenay region for many years, and one local group is working to ensure that the area is taken care of.
Avid climbers and outdoor enthusiasts Daniel Raber and Cora Skaien say that the bluffs are “one of the best” venues in the region, and explained that they were established decades ago in the early 2000’s.
Over the years climbers have been establishing and maintaining routes while creating a community around climbing.
Most recently, The Association of West Kootenay Rock Climbers (TAWKROC) hosted two crag clean-up days with a focus on the ‘Blaze’ and ‘Cheddar’ walls, which are in the Upper Bluffs.
“Above the main bluffs are some amazing climbing walls known as the Upper Slocan Bluffs. These are accessed by a short trail from the parking area at the Slocan lookout pullout, next to the avalanche gate a few kilometres north of the Slocan turnoff,” Raber and Skaien said in an email to Arrow Lakes News.
They add that clean-up days included cleaning up trails, brushing moss and debris off the routes, and installing new anchors and supports.
“This area now hosts 10 excellent pitches of climbing, fully cleaned and each route has a bolted anchor. Routes go from 5.8 to 5.11a, including some amazing trad climbs and sport routes to be enjoyed. The trail is in great shape and just a five minute walk to the crags,” the duo wrote.
Raber and Skaien say that climbing outdoors is a lot of fun, but the sport also requires a great deal of safety, gear and knowledge. People are required to bring their own ropes and gear and know how to safely set them up.
“There are no ropes set up for the public and no staff to ensure safety like you would find in a climbing gym,” they said. “If you have never been outdoor climbing before, we highly recommend connecting with a knowledgeable friend to help ‘show you the ropes’.”
They also recommend registering for an instructional course, which are typically held by local climbing guides or climbing clubs.
“For example, local clubs offer skill training days,” Raber and Skaien said. “The Kootenay Mountaineering Club has offered such services in the past. Climbing outdoors can be an extremely enjoyable and safe activity with the right knowledge.”
Raber and Skaien want people to know about TAWROC and get involved if they are interested.
They explained that TAWKROC is a non-profit society with the goal of “encouraging and promoting the stewardship and preservation of public access for rock climbing sites in the West Kootenay region.”
The society promotes environmentally sensitive standards for both new and existing cliff and mountain areas. They also oversee funding for trail and route development and maintenance.
Memberships are $10 annually, and donations to the society are encouraged. Memberships, donations and more information can be found on the TAWROC website (https://tawkroc.org/).
There is also an upcoming film fundraiser at the Nelson Civic Theatre on June 2. The annual Reel Rock film series will be showing – tickets are $20.
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