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Where to Rock Climb in Canada Right Now

Most of Canada's crags are in good spring condition, while some multi-pitch routes are a few weeks from being good to go

Spring in Canada is when indoor and ice climbers swap the gear for their crag rack and approach shoes for the next five to seven months. From coast to coast, warm temps and dry conditions have allowed climbers to take advantage of the longer days in boulder fields and on south-facing walls. Travel restrictions are in place due to Covid-19, so only climb in your area.

In B.C., Skaha has been the busiest this spring with only a few rain days and temps reaching +25C. On Easter Weekend, despite travel restrictions due to Covid-19, every climb up to 5.11 had a rope on it. Squamish had a cold winter with a lot of ice climbs forming, but rock climbers have been at the Smoke Bluffs, Chek, Murrin Park and other low-lying crags for months. Aid climbers have been spotted on The Chief and the Apron has is dry enough to climb. Marble Canyon north of Cache Creek is almost in perfect condition. The Fraser Valley crags, like Harrison Hot Springs, have been seeing more attention with new routes going up. Vancouver Island has been cold and wet, but Horne Lake and Sutton Pass have been busy with climbers. The Kootenays have also been getting some great temps and climbers have been visiting crags near Castlegar, Nelson and Cranbrook, like Lakit Lake. Crag climbing in B.C. is game on, but many of the multi-pitch lines and alpine climbs won’t be in perfect shape for a few weeks or months.

In Alberta, recent cold snaps refroze a number of ice climbs, but with warm temps in the forecast, south-facing crags like Echo, Grotto, Barrier, Wasootch and more are busy with climbers. North-facing crags like Grassi Lake and Back of the Lake, while OK to climb at, still have a lot of snow at the base of routes. Yamnuska has seen a number of ascents up the classic 5.8 and 5.10s, and climbers have been projecting Blue Jeans 5.13. Again, north-facing rock like Ha Ling, EEOR and even Tunnel Mountain are still too snowy to climb.

In Manitoba, conditions have allowed climbers to boulder at the now popular Lac du Bonnet and at the Lily Pond crag, where guidebook author Mike Brown and friends upgraded the anchors. In a Facebook post, he said: “We replaced all the old and rusty and questionable anchors at Lily Pond crag. As this cliff has been getting lots of action lately… Hope you enjoy the new upgrade!. We left the old angle iron KING bolts for historical posterity and amusement.”

Across Ontario, climbers have been getting out to the dozens of popular crags. In the Northwest, all the crags around Kelowna, Thunder Bay and Nipigon are good to go. The bugs are already out, so bring bug spray. Grey Wolf, a popular crag near Thunder Bay which is featured on the cover of the local guidebook is currently closed while locals sort out some access issues. North of Lake Huron crags are dry and being climbed at, crags like Riverside Wall, Echo and Makynen are all good to go. In southern Ontario, hot days have dried out all the crags from Beaver Valley to the Glen and east to Parc de la Gaspésie. Ontario has a stay-at-home order for April due to Covid-19, so don’t travel outside your local area.

Quebec is having a good start to spring with many of the crags around Montreal and Quebec City drying out. As the leaves start to bud, crags like Val-David, Weir, Val-Morin, Baldy and Nixon have been busy. Out east, Kamouraska, one of the best sport climbing crags in the province, and St. Alban are good to go. Multi-pitch destinations like Grands Jardin still have some snow and ice. In Nova ScotiaNew Brunswick, and Newfoundland, nice spring temps have dried most of the south-facing crags. Caleb Mazurkiewicz has released a new PDF guidebook to Red Rock Mountain in New Brunswick, which you can check out here.