The Mayor of Northwestern Ontario’s biggest city, Thunder Bay, came out for a morning of rock climbing with Gripped. Keith Hobbs, who had not tried climbing before, layed it back, jammed the crack and cruised to the top. It is a great thing when government is enthusiastic about climbing. The city has taken initial steps to make rock and ice climbing one of their recreational priorities. It seems more common for climbers to convince municipalities that climbing is a safe, fun and adventurous sport which increased environmental awareness, health and community ties. That is what makes Thunder Bay, one of Canada’s premiere outdoor cities, a step ahead of other places in the country. With over 30 excellent crags, 1,500 rock climbs, hundreds of ice climbs, easy access, short approaches and low objective hazards, Northern Ontario is this much closer to becoming a destination for not only mountain biking and kayaking, but climbing. Much like Squamish and Canmore, blue-collar industry towns that transformed into tourist and recreation hot-spots, Thunder Bay should be on your tick-list of places to visit and climb.
Hobbs, who is no stranger to a challenge after being a police officer for 34-years, was anxious to tie in and get on the rock. After a few big reaches he managed to pull himself up to the top of the route, with a big smile he said, “Wow, that was hard, but was it ever fun!” After the climb Hobbs rolled up his sleeve on his right arm to reveal the logo of the Boston Bruins, the NHL hockey team, logo on his arm. He then rolled the sleeve up on his left arm to reveal the tattoo of a pig and said, “Get it? I was a cop, so I got a pig tattoo.” Hobbs worked the streets for decades and finds it is important to continue walking them, meeting people and to be in-touch with the city. Thunder Bay has been through boom and busts for over a century, but with Hobbs at the helm and a motivated staff who want to promote outdoor lifestyles, the city is on the up-and-up,a great thing for climbers.
Gripped will be featuring Thunder Bay winter mixed climbing in February and Thunder Bay rock in the spring.
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