Fraser Valley Sports & Recreation: Rock Climbing information, listings and links
Background of the Sport
Rock or sport climbing dates back to early European mountaineering in the 1800s. Many mountain ascents require a combination of techniques. By the 1950s, new metals and fibres enable vast improvements in climbing accessories. Rock enthusiasts began to focus on a particular pitch or wall rather than climbing the whole mountain. The outdoors movement of the 1970s caused climbing to become an organized sport. Rock climbing is a sport that requires mental and physical strength, flexibility, agility and endurance.
With sport climbing's recent popularity, climbing walls being erected in indoor and outdoor facilities world wide. The increased safety possible (everybody climbs with a harness) in a man-made environment allows sport climbers to practice and achieve greater levels of difficulty.
To get started, you need little equipment, and if your early outings are in a gym or as part of a class, you can probably rent the equipment. Bouldering (climbing rocks under 20 feet high) requires only rock shoes and a chalk bag. For sport climbing, you will need a climbing harness, rope, a "belay" device (such as a figure eight or tube), and at least one "carabineer" (spring loaded clip). For outdoor rock climbing you should always wear a helmet to protect yourself from falling rock chips.
The clothes will vary with they type of climbing. For indoor climbing, comfortable shorts and t-shirt will suffice, though not too loose. Outdoors, you must be prepared for a range of temperatures and conditions (regardless of the forecast). Dressing in lightweight thin layers, in breathable fabrics, is recommended.
When you are climbing on a regular basis, you should invest in your own gear. As you get better, you may want to try lead climbing, where you fix you own protective ropes, rather than using a pre-set rope to the top). You need to have your own "rack", a selection of climbing aids including "runners" (flat nylon ropes), "carabineer" and "chocks" (wedges and cams).
Beginners should take a class or hire a guide to teach you "the ropes". Classes are available at most man-made climbing facilities. In Vancouver, the best indoor climbing and bouldering facilities are:
- Cliff Hanger Indoor Climbing Centre (Vancouver) 604-874-2400
- Edge Climbing Centre (North Vancouver) 604-984-9080
- Rock House Indoor Climbing Centre (Richmond) 604-276-0012
Spanning the 30 kilometers from the Trans-Canada Highway to Chilliwack Lake is a range of mountains boating some of North America's roughest, most spectacular terrain, with 200 metre high jagged peaks rising above the valley floors. Mount Slesse (Salish for "fang") is probably the most famous, and is ranked among the top 50 toughest technical rock-climbing ascents in North America, with its 900-meter east face.
Chilliwack's mountains offer diverse scenic and recreational uses, with great year-round conditions. The most popular hikes include Elk Mountain, Greendrop, Mount Cheam, and Lindeman, Pierce and Radium lakes, and Tea Pot Hill. Ambitious hikers and climbers can head to Slesse Meadows and up into the headwaters of Depot Creek where glaciers cover the towering peaks. In winter, the hiking trails around Chilliwack Lake even lend themselves to cross-country skiing.
Chilliwack is one of North America's top spots for mountain paragliding, with 14 brilliant mountaintop takeoff spots ranging from 250 metres to 2,100 metres in height, each suitable for different wind conditions. Flights can last up to an hour before descending to the valley floor.
The most beautiful climbing areas in the mountains (bring your camera) requires some hiking:
- Squamish Chief, Squamish, BC. (a nice thousand foot climb, just before the Squamish turnoff on Highway 99)
- Mt. Slesse (7850') Chilliwack, BC. ( a 3000 foot summertime climb, 17 from Chilliwack)
WARNING! Climbing can be dangerous if proper precautions are not taken. If you have little or no experience, you should take a professional guide, or take a climbing course in order to learn the basic safety techniques.