Skaha Climbing Squad Assemble!
The Skaha Bluffs in Penticon is our current climbing venue and we are loving it. I’m going to try and do a general overview of our time here rather than a blow by blow account of each day. This place is just as much about the people you meet and the atmosphere as it is about the climbing.
View form the top of a climb on the Retardant crag
Skaha Bluffs is a collection of small crags that are concentrated in a relatively small area. The majority of the climbing is sport but there are a few trad routes here and there. The climbing is very different again to Jasper, the walls we have been on aren’t too steep but there is a lot of crimping and it feels more technical and balancy climbing. Sometimes route finding is super simple because you have so few options and other times you move one way and quickly realise you were meant to go the other way. I think the biggest thing I have found here is to lead with your feet, which suits my style.
Go Jereomy Go!!
There is a good climbing community here, made up of locals and people travelling from all over the world as well as from within Canada to experience the huge range of climbs on offer. We have been very fortunate in our first week, we have been able to meet up again with more old friends from Golden. Jereomy, Rosa and Madi came to join us for our first 3 days here, we also met an old colleauge of Matts and her partner, Nic and Joe. We have also made 3 totally new friends, Steve, Joe2 and Neil, who are also British and for a while the 10 of us formed quite a squad.
Having such a good group of people around us in the first few days of this trip definitely got the climbing physc high. I remember the first day just having fun on some easy climbs, enjoying the sun and seeing our first snake, luckily not a rattlesnake. Although we started on a trad 5.6 that day, it didn’t take long for us to start jumping up the grades. With the lack of concentrated trad routes and soo many high quality sport routes, the trad rack lay forgotten and we progressed quickly in one day from 5.8 to 5.10a routes.
Nic bossing it on The Raven and the Bear 10a
The evenings have been filled with sitting around the fire, eating and just having a jolly good time. We have also been meeting lots of other climbers from Quebec where we are camping and speaking to locals at the crag. Everyone is keen to point you in the direction of some 3 star route that is a must do or even a whole area to find a good number of climbs at certain grades.
Eating dinner in the evening
Sadly Jereomy, Rosa and Madi had to return to the real world and back to their jobs in Golden meaning our squad was reduced to 7. I’m pretty sure Jereomy and I both had a slight competition going on in our heads with each other, if he did a climb clean then I would say to myself ‘if Jereomy can do it then I should be able too as well’. I’m sure he was thinking the same whenever I got up a route clean first as well, I feel we were both climbing with our A game because of this. Rosa has a broken finger at the moment so we started to call her Tammy Caldwell, Tommy Caldwells female counterpart, despite her injury she still crushes. Maddi is relatively new to climbing and always provides a good laugh.
when Madi gets hold of your phone. Proud selfie at the top of a 5.9
During the week we have been here we have explored a few different areas. One area we were recommended to go to, Retardant Wall, the climbs aren’t all in the current guide book so you have to find them on Skaha.org. I accidentally set Joe on to a 10c at the end of that day thinking it was a 10a. About half way up he shouted down ‘there is no way this is 10a’. It was originally a 10a in the current guide book but when we looked online it had been re-graded and re-bolted to a 10c, oops, he got up it with only a couple of rests on the rope.
Another area called Claim It All took a bit of an adventure to get to. We had heard you could park in a different location and shorten the walk in to get there. Steve did the navigation to get us there and without him and his phone maps I think the seven of us would still be lost in the North end of the Bluffs. It turned out to only be about 5 minutes shorter than the other approach but it was worth the effort to get there. Matt decided that day to start on a climb that said the last moves were a kick in the teeth and wow were they just. This seemed to set the theme for this area, in my opinion everything was ever so slightly under-graded, I don’t think anyone came away from that day having just cruised up a climb, but many battles were had.
Thinking about the toughest 10a ever while admiring the view
On the return from that Claim It All we decided there must be a shortcut back to the car. Steve kept us roughly going in the right direction with his phone while Joe and Joe2 bush whacked us a way through. We cut about 15 min off our return journey and I felt like I was one of the hobbits out of Lord of The Rings on a quest through the wilderness.
Insert Lord of the Rings theme music here.
One of my favourite routes I have done so far was called Bottom Line and it is 11a, no I did not lead it. Neil lead this route and it was inspiring to watch, I swear he made it look effortless. It was a climb of two halves, overhanging and sort of juggy at the bottom and just steep but very technical for the second half. I used my competitive side to my advantage to get a clean top-rope ascent on this. Joe had gone fist on top rope and gotten to pretty much the last clip before he had to rest so I was determined to get up the overhand without resting on the rope. Once I got up that part I wanted to get to where Joe had gotten to before I rested on the rope and once I got there I decided I didn’t want to rest on the rope. It was a little competition in my head between me and Joe that meant nothing but it got me a clean accent. May be one day I will be able to come back and lead it.
Neil sending Bottom Line 11a
While being at Skaha Matt and I have broken through some barriers, we are both feeling more solid on 10a and both of us are starting to onsight 10b. Having such a good group of people around us has helped with our sudden acceleration through the grades. You can’t help but want to climb better and harder when you have so many people cheering you from the bottom and then watching others send things that originally you weren’t even sure about trying. My favourite cheer has come from the nickname Nic gave Steve, she saw an ice cream shop called Steve 2 Scoop and now whenever Steve gets on the rock you can here ‘Go on two scoop’ across the bluffs.
Go Two Scoop Steve!!
We are hoping to stay in Skaha for another week at least and hopefully some 10c sends might be on the cards...