Castlegar is quickly becoming one of the premier rock climbing and bouldering destinations in British Columbia.
There are over 300 routes in and around the city and they range from very easy traditional rock climbs to hard sport routes for experts. It’s also within a short driving distance to Valhalla Provincial Park, a region that offers some of the best alpine climbing in Canada. People are usually surprised to discover that rock climbing has existed in Castlegar since the 1950s when mountaineers would train on the local cliffs to prepare themselves for pioneering routes in the Valhalla, Kootenay, Selkirk and Purcell mountain ranges.
In the past 20 years, however, there has been a lot more new routing locally because of the surge in interest thanks in part to the bouldering gym at Selkirk College’s local campus. Today rock climbers from all over British Columbia, Alberta, Washington and Idaho come to Castlegar to take advantage of the excellent weather and to climb in more than two dozen distinct areas and boulder at seven locations.
All of those cliffs and rocks are located within a 20-minute drive of downtown but it should be noted that Castlegar is the only other city in British Columbia, aside from Squamish, with a dedicated rock climbing area within its limits. At that location, called Kinnaird Bluffs (which is on property owned by the local rock climbing association), you’ll find nine walls and 70 different routes for beginners and pros alike. And because some of the walls are south facing, you can even rock climb there in the winter on a sunny day.
Castlegar is also the location for the Kootenay Rock Climbing Festival, which happens in late September every year at the only rock climbing pub in North America with a natural climbing wall 20 metres from the patio. In addition, there are a dozen other rock climbing areas within an hour’s drive of the city. If you’re looking for something different from Squamish and Skaha, be sure to check out Castlegar rock climbing where there are fewer crowds, the weather is excellent and the rock is of perfect quality.
How to Get Here: Rock climbing walls are located all around Castlegar but the most popular include Kinnaird Bluffs (located within the city boundaries) and Waterline Wall. There are also a number of walls located off Broadwater Road along Arrow Lake, which is just East of Castlegar.
Weather: The climbing season can start as early as March in some years because walls such as those at Kinnaird Bluffs are south-facing and get a lot of sunshine. Mid-summer it can get hot so you’ll want to visit the north-facing walls or those in the shade. The season extends to November.
Type of Climbing: Castlegar offers everything from low-angle trad climbing for beginners to hard sport climbing for experts. Plus there are over seven different bouldering spots that take advantage of the area’s incredible granite rock.
Walls: There are three main climbing areas in and around Castlegar and they include Kinnaird Bluffs off 37th Street, Brilliant Bluffs located above the Brilliant Dam sub-station, and the Arrow Lakes walls, of which there are 13 of them all situated off of Broadwater Road.
More Info: To learn more about the rock climbing in Castlegar, we recommend you stop in at the local Tourist Information Centre at 1995 6th Avenue and purchase the West Kootenay Rock Guide, which offers directions to each area, route descriptions and more. You can also find rock guide updates online at www.wonowmedia.com/west-kootenay-rock-climbing-guide.