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Spillimacheen is Perfect for Early Season B.C. Cragging

The south-facing dolomite crags offer classic crimp lines in the 5.10 and 5.11 range

Photo by: Brandon Pullan

It’s rock climbing season in western Canada and countless climbers have already been hitting the crags around Squamish, Skaha and the East Kootenays. Located between Golden and Radium Hot Springs in the Columbia Valley is a unique-for-B.C. dolomite rock climbing area known as Spillimacheen.

The rock is similar to that found on Castle Mountain in Banff National Park, with edges resembling holds on classics like Brewers and Eisenhower. The crag was established over 20 years ago, but there has been a lot more development over the past few seasons.

The six crags offers technical and pumpy climbing on steep rock in a dramatic setting a short hike from the car. The camping is free and is situated a 10 minute walk from the crag. The Spillimacheen River is close to the cliffs and offers great whitewater paddling and fishing.

To get there, head to Westview Road around 60 kilometres south of Golden and take it for around seven kilometres until you’re next to a parking area with an outhouse. A second parking area down the hill offers another camping spot. There are currently two main crags: Hueco and Nathan’s, with both having a number of crags left and right of their main wall.

Hueco is unlike any crag in B.C. with big pockets and huecos that make it look like the dimpled side of a golf ball. Next to it are the Red Slab and Black Slab. There are over 25 great climbs, with classics being Angel, a 45-metre 5.10a, Kugelmut, a two-pitch 5.10d, and the two-pitch 5.8 Left of Frete Arete. The Slab crags have 20-metre routes up to 5.10.

Nathan’s Wall has more hard-to-read routes with technical moves and bouldery cruxes. For example, Too Many Ledges, a 20-metre 5.10a, starts with a high first bolt above a reachy crux, but leads to fun 5.9 climbing. Duelling Banjo’s the must-climb 5.11b, but it stay wet until after the snow is gone from above. The Englishmen Are 5.11a/b is the best burly crimp line on the wall.

To the right is Kuba Wall, with a few lines up to 5.10, but to the left are over 20 new climbs up to 5.12+ on beautiful streaked dolomite. Julian’s Wall and the other new crags feature vertical faces lined with blue, yellow, black, orange and red rock that hold perfect edges and slopers. You can find a list to most climbs here.

It’s well-known that Skaha is the go-to Easter Weekend destination, but with so many climbers and such limited space, consider finding other crags this spring, such as Spillimacheen, to spend those long weekends.

Lead photo: Brandon Pullan