Over the past few years in Ontario, some once-closed crags have re-opened, new guidebooks have been published and climbers have been filling in blank spaces at popular crags.
In an interview last year with well-travelled Ontario climber Leslie Timms, we discuss the best new lines to explore along the Niagara Escarpment. Based in Beaver Valley, Timms has access to many of the best areas between Lake Ontario and Georgian Bay.
Are more climbers establishing routes in Ontario this year than before? I think development has always been going on, but what I have noticed is that more folks are now getting out there and developing routes. So perhaps routes are getting developed at a faster rate these days.
I’ve helped out with of a bunch of different lines over the past few years, whether it be bolting, belaying, cleaning or confirming grades. I think one area that might see a lot of attention is Whites Bluff. It has been a really dry year and many climbers are showing interest in developing there.
What are some routes you are proud of? The most stand out route that I have developed was Above the Clouds 5.13 in 2013. But more recently, I have established a number that I believe many people will enjory.
At the Swamp near Beaver Valley, I bolted and sent Whoopee Cushion 5.12c, which has classic 5.12 climbing from bottom to top.
At Lion’s Head, I sent the Ripple Effect, which is a stiff 5.12c, and Weekday Warrior, a fun 5.11a. This summer, I kicked things off with the first ascent of Showered with Gifts at Metclafe. The technical 5.11d was bolted by Dave Zieleniewski and Kyle Thomas not long before I climbed it.
Who are some of the leading route developers in Ontario? Mike Penney and Mike Smythe are on fire. Those guys are putting up new routes so fast that I ditched projecting anything last year to just climb all of their new stuff.
Aaron Browers has put up some absolute gems around Southern Ontario, I love his routes. And of course the usual culprits are still active like Dave Zieleniewski, Greg Williamson, Mark Smith, Daniel Martian and others. Joe Skopec is working on some futuristic stuff and has sent some hard future classics.
Randy Kielbasiewicz has been retro-bolting and putting up new moderate lines which have been welcome additions to Metcalfe Rock.
What are some of the standout new routes this year? Peter Hoang and Matthew Sapiecha’s Keep Summer Safe 5.12b at Whites Bluff looks like a future classic.
At Old Baldy, Mike Penney reported three new routes on the Jamaica Wall: High Times 5.11a/b immediately left of Air Jamaica, Renaissance Man 5.11c left of High Times and right of the Traverse Route, and Napoleon Complex 5.11d immediately left of Solid Goldie.
Then there is Showered with Gifts 5.11d at Metcalfe, a fun techy route. Then there are the dozens of new routes way up north near Thunder Bay that sound amazing.
Flashback to the most incredible spring I’ve experienced at Lions Head. I was sick most of that winter and started feeling better in time for unseasonably perfect weather. I returned to a climb that I started bolting the fall previous, but a chossy wingspan dependant crux originally left me uninspired. @ktoms78 and I discovered a new path out left that followed a beautiful corner, and ‘Arrested Development’ 5.13a was born. Hang in there Ontario friends, we will bring some spring sunshine home with us! ☀️🌱🌸 @arcteryx @sterlingrope @lasportivana @theyoak #freedomtofocus #celebratewild #endlesswinter #springiscoming #ontariorockclimbing
Cape Croker is re-open, lots of stoke for it? Cape Croker is a fun crag. I haven’t been there much, but the energy surrounding the re-opening is fantastic.
Harry Hoediono worked hard to make sure climbers had access. There are a few dozen quality lines and the crag is easy to get to. It’s always great when Ontario climbers can head back to a wall that was off limits for so long.
Some of the better routes are Ivy League 5.11c, October 5.10b, Crack the Whip 5.6 and Garden Party 5.9. I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes some climbers’ favourite wall.
What are your favourite Ontario 5.10s? Good question, I have a lot of favourite 5.10s. But, off the top of my head I would start with Mainline 5.10a at Lion’s Head, a 40-metre line with one runout.
Also at Lion’s Head is the fun 5.10+ Roaming Gypsies, a wild two-pitch route that starts in a dihedral. At Old Baldy is the fun Black Magic Woman 5.10+ that goes on bolts and gear. And at Devil’s Glen is 45 and French, a classic 5.10c in the Gully Area.
Happy to be back in Ontario, and back on a rope! Beautiful weather and a fun weekend of guiding and catching up with fav friends. There’s no place like home🏡🧡 📸 ‘Lougins Goes to the Ballet’ at Old Baldy. CAUTION there’s an active crows nest on this route right now, do not climb it! @arcteryx @sterlingrope @lasportivana #ontariorockclimbing • • • • • #freedomtofocus #celebratewild #mondaymotivation #oldbaldy #beavervalleyclimbing #ontarioclimbing #ontherocksclimbing #onsight_climbing #womenonlead #outdoorwomen #iloveclimbing #imbackbaby #seasonopener #lasportivagram #arcteryx #sterlingathlete #grippedmagazine #mountainlifemedia #ontarioaccesscoalition
Visit the Ontario Access Coalition for more info on Ontario climbing.