Just beyond the sleepy little village of Ymir, BC lies this granite anomaly nestled near the shores of the Salmo River. With super grippy rock, soft landings, a beauty environment and lots of shade this forgotten zone is a worthy stop when in the area. Originally scrubbed in 2013-14 by Allen Rollin, Jason Barber & Blue Netherclift, this area had been left to grow back (and it wasn’t scrubbed very good in the first place). As of June 2021 the entire zone has seen a retro scrub and a bunch of new beauty lines have been unearthed. It about 25 minutes total from Nelson and 10 minutes from Salmo, the approach is on a flat rail trail and certainly do-able in sandals haha. Click the photo above for the free downloadable topo and don’t forgot to enjoy the swimming hole nearby!
With the hot temperatures making an early appearance this summer here is a list of the best places to boulder and beat the heat in the West Kootenays. It is pretty amazing that there really is something for every season. Be sure to check out the updates page as places like Riverside, Swamp Donkey, Megafauna and the Lumberjack Boulders have seen significant new development since the release of the guidebook…Have fun out there!
RIVERSIDE BOULDERS/VALHALLA – This mostly new zone at Valhalla is probably the second best place to find shade and cooler temps in the guidebook region. Cross the Norns/Ladybird Creek on the fun log crossing with a rope and chicken wire to assist (see photo above) or wade at lower water levels to the outstanding collection on the south side of the creek. There is a high density of amazing boulder problems here with a different feel from the talus above. Mostly good landings, not so tall problems, all day shade and cool air pockets from the adjacent creek make this an awesome choice.
KOKANEE LAKE BOULDERS – This alpine bouldering destination is certainly the best spot for hot weather bouldering. Only catch is that it isn’t snow free until at least July. Stellar alpine granite, steep juggy problems and a high density right on the developed provincial park trail make the hour hike well worth it. These boulders face north east, are at 2000m and offer some of the best developed alpine boulder problems in Canada.
SWAMP DONKEY/CIRCUS/MEGAFAUNA BOULDERS/LADYBIRD – The boulders in these three areas all lie amongst a thick cedar/hemlock tree canopy and feature lots of shade and much cooler temps than in the main talus areas at Ladybird. There are so many amazing granite problems, great landings and the creek is only seconds away. The High Society area requires a wade (lower water) across Ladybird Creek while the rest of the climbing is seconds from the road and is very good for families and low committal bouldering.
LUMBERJACK BOULDERS – This fantastic density of boulders gets lots of morning shade as the sun usually comes around by 12-1pm. There are also lots of super shady aspects, especially the north side of the ‘Lumberjack Boulder’. A ten minute approach across the tree planted block and mixed forest leads you to a huge amount of high quality boulder problems all right beside each other.
BEALBY IN THE MORNING & GROHMAN DURING THE EVENING – The two main bouldering areas in the vicinity of Nelson both have their shady times of day. Grohman gets lots of morning sun and Bealby gets lots of shade until 11-12pm. Both are steps away from a dip in the river.
POISON RIVER – Last but not least, the Poison River Boulders are a fine choice for a mid-summers morning session. The amazing rock should not be missed and the big Cedar canopy helps keep this place cool until early afternoon. The Slocan River is a few minutes walk away and the density and steepness of these problems make for a relatively quick pump haha. But seriously, this is an excellent choice while hanging out in the Slocan Valley.
Its been a stellar start of the season at the Ladybird Creek Boulders. Tons of visiting climbers from all over have started to figure out how good the bouldering is up the Norns! Nic Williams, Trent Brunelle and Allen Rollin have been busy scrubbing up many new classics at the Ladybird Creek area. The ‘Megafauna/Firedance’ areas now have 34 problems combined and are in spitting distance of the road and with a wide variety of styles, shade options and good landings, surely this zone will now be a favourite. Click the photo for the free download of the updated topo and info on all the new problems!
This overhanging fin is located just off of the Ladybird Creek FSR and has been hiding from plain sight on the south flank of the massive ‘Megafauna’ Boulder. Sit start with a good left edge in the cave and the furthest (wide) right hand sloper on the lip (see photo). Slap and squeeze up the impressive crescent moon shaped prow to a tricky mantle. Another unique and excellent boulder problem addition to Ladybird!
With its unique rock, shady aspect and amazing wilderness environment, it’s no wonder the Lumberjack Boulders are a shining star up the Norns/Ladybird bouldering zone. There are so many excellent problems from the V2- V6 range and a very high density (like 50m max between boulders) that this should be on your radar if it’s the grade you are looking for. Overshadowed by some of the bigger areas, this new updated topo (free for download, click the photo) should be enough to entice you to check it out! Have fun everybody..
This is a showpiece boulder. Probably one of the most impressive blocs at Arrow Lake, most of this thing is so tall it should be done with a rope but the Mothership Cave on it’s NW flanks is an amazing exception. The problems in the cave are steep, have stellar landings, great movement and are a great place to test your mettle. Included in this FREE topo (click the photo above) is also a wonderful satellite boulder called the ‘Space Station’ that has a few great moderates and can also serve as a warm-up for the cave. Enjoy!
Yet another new awesome developed zone at Arrow Lake. Combine this with the Lookout for a total of 75 problems! The Grove features many safe and approachable problems and two more massive Arrow Lake blocs and a ton of variety. There is a lot of different blends of Gneiss & Black Basalt mixed into together making for some really cool holds. This place will likely have a long season due to its aspect and green up nicely in springtime due to the predominantly deciduous forest. Click the photo above for the FREE downloadable topo and hope to see you out there!
The Lookout Boulders are a new addition to the bouldering scene above Rialto Creek FSR. With a fantastic scenic hiking trail to a fabulous lookout, 45 new epic problems and The Grove Boulders below, this is one of the best discoveries out at Arrow Lake over the last few years. There are some massive pieces of rock up there and a lot to explore. Click the photo above for the FREE download of the topo. Enjoy everybody…
With so many folks out bouldering this spring in the West Kootenays I thought I would bring to attention a few points about access around Arrow Lake and beyond as the season ramps up and the weather turns amazing. There has never been this many people bouldering in the Kootenays and though it is really great that so many people are stoked and getting out, we are a relatively new scene (especially in the Castlegar area) and it would be great to be seen as stewards to the area and not a nuisance.
Beachside – If we could park perpendicular to Broadwater Rd. so more cars could fit in the parking pullout that would be great. The last few weekends the parking has overflowed onto the road and towards Scottie’s Marina (this is private property). The lake is as low as it’s been in years, it has been such a good start to the season down there!
Keenlyside – Please use the picnic area parking (towards the Dam), having a bunch of cars parked on the drag strip (people really rip on that straight stretch) is pretty unsafe and not necessary (its a 1 minute extra walk)
The Range/Fukushima – Please don’t park in the Gun Clubs small parking area. Parking parallel to the road right at the trailhead is better as the Gun Club doesn’t have much space. This also helps maintain our great relationship we have with them. (As a reminder please stay on trail while in the area for obvious reasons)
As much as we all like having fires on cooler days there are several places that this is not cool and could definitely jeopardize our access. Fantasyland is private property and up to this point our presence there has been generally accepted, having crappy fire pits all over the place up there raises several red flags and I am almost positive this would make the landowner un stoked. Grohman is another spot that basically crosses over CP property. They have been known all over Canada for having very low tolerance, as of now we have not had any problems, lm sure they would not be stoked if they saw climbers having fires or hanging on the tracks. Lastly, Keenlyside borders private dwellings on each end and Syringa and is a Provincial Park.
Tick Marks & Garbage:
Brush off your excess chalk and tick marks, no one likes having the problems laid out for them like the gym. Although they serve as a great indication of where to grab or smack a hold, it’s much more fun figuring it out for yourself. And finally garbage, and that includes finger tape and Cliff Bar wrappers. Even if it is not yours, maybe pick it up anyways? Its always good to give a last look over before you leave anyway.
This is a great time in the West Kootenays, the climbing scene is blossoming and more people than ever are out crushing, this is just a friendly reminder to try and leave a lasting, positive impact in the region for years to come.
They just keep popping up! A wonderful addition to the Bouldering along the shores of Arrow Lake, the newly discovered Houseboat Boulder(s) features more amazing climbing that make for a great “High Water” circuit along with the Memorial Boulder, Plank Boulder (Washout) and the Corridor Boulders (Beachside). The rock is super clean and featured and the landings are flat and manageable for a solo session in the sun 🙂 Did I mention that most of these boulders dry within minutes and are super south (sun) facing?!!
Click the photo above for a free download link. Enjoy!~