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Ontario’s Mount Olympus and a New Route

Steve Charlton and Jody Bernst are no strangers to the remote Orient Bay valley in Northern Ontario, they helped establish most of the area’s routes in the 1990s.

Charlton is a longtime route developer in Orient Bay and has completed many of the area’s most difficult routes. He recently added a new route to Mount Olympus called Courage Highway 5.11.

The new route is named after Hwy 11/17, which is named in honour of Terry Fox. The new corner climb utilizes a splitter crack that takes bomber gear, but also has a few bolts on the face sections. The 25-metre climb is between Passage to Valhalla, a 100-metre 5.12, and The Landmark, a 70-metre 5.11+R. The Landmark will eventually climb to the top of the 100-metre wall and the first free ascent was by Jen Olson in 2013.

Charlton has produced this new topo for the area, which uses a drone photo by Bernst.

Mount Olympus
Mount Olympus in Orient Bay in Northern Ontario. Photo/Topo Jody Bernst and Steve Charlton

Mount Olympus has lots of potential for new routes up to 100 metres. A few kilometres south of Olympus is the Taj Mah Wall, which is another 100-metre wall. There are a number of established routes up to 5.12 and 80 metres, but there are more unclimbed projects than anywhere else in the area.

Randy Reed had started two of them, one is called Standing Tall Before the Man and is reported to be in the 5.13 range. Another is Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, which has one pitch of steep aid climbing that has been completed at 5.11 A1 and the upper two pitches will go through steep and technical cracks.

Here is Ryan Creary climbing Black Rain 5.11 in Orient Bay. The rising crack to the left is the three-pitch Temple of Zeus 5.10. Photo Jen Olson
Here is Ryan Creary climbing Black Rain 5.11 in Orient Bay. The rising crack to the left is the three-pitch Temple of Zeus 5.10. Black Rain was established in 1998 by Charlton, Bernst, Reed and Ryan Treneer. Photo Jen Olson

The closest town to Orient Bay is Nipigon on Lake Superior, which is an hour north of Thunder Bay. The drive from Toronto about 12 hours, which is a big push. But, if you want an Ontario adventure like no other with unclimbed 100-metre cracks, free camping and five-minute-from-the-car access, check out Orient Bay.

– Watch a recent ascent of Titon Crack 5.9+++ at Orient Bay here.