My Top Trails in Kimberley, BC

Kimberley, BC is the town my husband and I have been calling home for the past 7 years.

 

We moved here after a winter of ski bumming in Golden and had never heard of the town before. While we both had a pleasant first impression of this community of 7,000 souls nestled at the foot of the Purcell Mountains, it took us a while to appreciate the possibilities this town offers for outdoor recreation.

 

Unlike Golden, the high mountains are a bit further away and need to be travelled to as opposed to being “in your face”.

 

It just took us a little bit of time to figure out the logistics and get to know the “insiders” beta, like purchasing a snowmobile to access the endless backcountry skiing terrain and a four-wheel drive vehicle to transport it and access trailheads, some of the more remote climbing areas and scrambles.

 

We also adapted our recreation habit too, especially since giving birth to a little girl: less alpine climbing overnight trips, more short mountain bike rides. Slightly less epic backcountry skiing, more deep powder tree skiing and lung-busting skate skiing. Don’t be fooled however into thinking that these more hardcore endeavours cannot be done from Kimberley. Between the Purcell and Rocky Mountain Ranges, there is still much unexplored terrain to be conquered.

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Fresh dirt on this new addition to the local network, Trickle Down!

 

We soon realized that the slightly more difficult access to the backcountry is, in fact, a blessing for Kimberley. It preserves the secludedness and privateness of many recreation areas and keeps the place more authentic, laid back and down to earth that many other Resort communities.

 

For instance, Kimberley Alpine Resort is, in fact, more of a subalpine resort as it doesn’t boast any alpine bowls, steep chutes or epic slack-country terrain. However, since the resort is mostly sought after by families, it doesn’t get the same amount of attention from hungry powderhounds. Because the hill is sheltered in the trees, the snow tends to remain fresher, puffier and less wind affected than in higher altitude resorts.

 

With the sprouting of new information technology such as social networks and the Trailforks, Strava, and other apps, it’s obvious that Kimberley won’t remain the hidden playground for much longer. But overall, we appreciate the new energy and growing services and amenities that more tourism visitation brings to the town.

 

While the pedestrian Platzl was a desert on a summer evening 7 years ago, it’s now alive with busy restaurant patios, outdoor concerts, fancy specialty stores, a craft brewery and so many more young families riding their bikes, playing in the water fountain and enjoying a cone of gelato.

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The recent bike skills park will sure produce a generation of agile little rippers!

 

Don’t take my words for it. Come and see for yourself how Kimberley is #agoodplacetobe.  And since I have appreciated the generosity of locals once sharing their favourite trails, ski runs, powder stashes and huckleberry patches (that’s not true, no one shares those!) with me, I now would like to share my very own favourite trails with you.

 

 

 

My top trails in Kimberley:

1.For an after-work trail run: 

I like to head out to the Lois Creek Trails and hit Blake’s Singletrack. Covered in fine pine needles, this aesthetic single track meanders gently through the tall trees. Without any significant elevation gain or loss, it’s such a pleasant feeling to just let the legs roll under you. For a 5k run, loop back through Totem; for a 10k, run all the way to the end of Blake’s and return via A-Frame and 401. 5-10 km. Easy.

 

2.  For a quick’n dirty mountain-bike ride:

By living at the ski hill, I can hit Magic Line in just short of one hour door to door. A heart-pumping technical set of three climbs all progressively longer and steeper alternating with three fun and rolly bermed descents. 7 km. Intermediate.

In the Kimberley Nature Park, BC’s largest municipal park, enter via the Higgins Street entrance and head south toward Apache and link it with the nice and steady climb of Duck Pond through the ancient red pine trees. A sharp right turn onto Pat Morrow’s trail (named after the legendary climber & alpinist) for a fun short descent onto Lower Army Road. At the Three Corners, get onto Ponderosa and link it with Eimers Ridge which will take you right back to the Higgins entrance. ~8-9 km. Easy.

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Kimberley boasts over 150 km of high-quality trails. Pick your poison!

 

3. For a fun hike with my daughter:

In May and June, we love to head to Sunflower Hill to enjoy the dramatic view of the Rockies and the St.Mary’s River Valley along with the sight of thousands of sunflowers also known as balsam root.

Mother's Day Family Hike on Sunflower Hill
Mother’s Day Family Hike on Sunflower Hill

While this hike starts near the Kimberley Riverside Campground with a steep climb, the rest is fairly flat and easy and finishes with a gentle descent back to Jimmy Russel road. On a hot day, head down through the campground toward the river for a refreshing foot bath and a snack at the nearby playground. 3-4 km return. Easy.

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Huckleberries are a great incentive for getting children to hike!

In July and early August, we like to hang out at the ski hill with a large container to pick huckleberries along the way. Early in the delicious and tart berry season, no need to hike very far as they are plenty of those little wonders just above North Star Drive and toward the bottom of the Boundary ski run. 2 km. Easy.

4. For a leisurely family stroll:

The North Star Rail Trail between Kimberley and Cranbrook was a genius investment for our community. Busy with young families, seniors and anything in between on weekends, the trails turn into the greatest inter-community commuter route on week days.

While the full 26km lenght might be a bit too long for wee children, cruising the trail to Marysville and return via the Lion’s Way along Mark Creek makes a wonderful half-day outing. Leave your vehicle at the skatepark and head across Rotary Drive and onto the rail trail which takes you to Marysville on a gentle downhill involving barely any pedaling. While the return has a slight elevation gain, being near the creek and shaded from the trees makes it a much easier exercise. 7 km. Easy.

little girls biking on a nature trail
Lois Creek Trails have great itineraries for the whole family

The Centennial Loop is Kimberley Nordic Club’s classic easy multi-use trail. It is mostly flat and covered in bark mulch and provides a wide, smooth and cushy ride for the little kids on their bikes or on foot. Start at the Nordic Centre parking lot. Look out for Mama Moose and her calves when looping back via Spruce. 3 km. Easy.

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With resident mule deers, bears, moose and more Kimberley is wild at heart.

5. To challenge myself:

Kimberley also offers plenty of opportunities for type 2 fun: excruciating calves pain and lungs burning sensations, face as red as a hot lobster and sweat pouring out of your body like you just showered. Kimberlites seem to love challenges, as the presence of many of them amongst the participants and even winners of endurance events such as the Round the Mountain festival, the Black Spur Ultra and the most recent addition, the Spartan Race Rocky Mountain edition.

Classic Ski Hill hike:

For the calf-burning sensation (and quad burning sensation on the way down), the ski hill hike never disappoints. Steep, steep and steep. The ultimate reward is the sensational view on the Rocky Mountains and the trench and beating your own speed record. Park at the base of the resort if you want to add a few metres of vertical or at the bend on North Star Drive for the classic itinerary. Follow the old t-bar line. ~5 km return. Intermediate.

Can also be done on a mountain bike. Also steep, steep, steep…follow the cat track.

Round the Mountain loop:

Like the namesake event, the trail can be travelled year-round. On foot, on Nordic skis, snowshoes or by bike. This 22-km trail circumnavigates North Star mountain and should not be underestimated by its length, presence of wildlife and the lack of cell service in some spots. Starts at the Nordic Centre. 22km. Intermediate.

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Riding the Round the Mountain Loop is fun but challenging on a hot day

Bootleg Mountain Trails:

Bootleg Mountain is a newer recreation area with lots of potential every season of the year. With stunning alpine bowl and chutes, it’s also my husband and I’s favourite destination for a short backcountry skiing day, as it is the close to town and only a short snowmobile ride up. This mountain also offers potential for alpine hiking. However, this area is a sensitive habitat for mountain goats and other species. Travel with respect and always remember that you’re nature’s guest. Be responsible and bear aware. Pack out what you’ve packed in, take only pictures and leave only tracks in the snow! 

Because I have never been much of an enduro or downhill type of rider, I find downhill mountain biking also quite challenging and adrenaline-pumping. The new additions to the Bootleg Rec Site and Trails include fun and (more) accessible trails such as Purple People Pleaser and NIMBY (the acronym for Not In My Backyard). Shuttle up the road or ride the up trail to round up the workout. ~4km. Intermediate.

For more information on accommodation, dining, shopping and other things to do visit: www.tourismkimberley.com

www.skikimberley.com

 

Happy trails and enjoy your time in Kimberley!

 

 

 

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Exploring Vancouver By Bike With Kids

As real country pumpkins, we don’t often spend time in big cities. When looking at a map and planning our next trip, we usually pick mountainous regions as our destinations of choice. However, sometimes we like to do brief immersion in the concrete jungles, as they really provide a break from the everyday and a quick culture fix for the outdoor adventurers that we are.

Lately, we chose to layover in Vancouver for 24 hours to see what the glass city was really about and get a preview taste of the West Coast.

A great traveling tip I discovered lately is that when booking a flight on points (we collect aeroplans), it usually doesn’t cost more to book a multi-city trip. This is exactly what we decided to do, on our way between Cranbrook and Quebec City.

Sleeping in and waking up in a high-rise hotel room really started our express stay on a good note. At age 4,  I don’t think my daughter had ever seen a building taller than 4 storeys. Watching cartoons in bed all curled up with too many pillows was definitely one of her personal highlights.

Soaking in the view from the 8th floor

 

Out on the street on this cool summer morning, which was a nice break from the intense heat we had experienced in the Interior all summer, we wandered to get some coffee and breakfast at a nearby café. If eating out is a treat we don’t indulge in often at home, in the city, it is one of our most decadent pleasure.

The good news was that we had three meals ahead of us to enjoy Vancouver’s food! We found some delicious breakfast sandwiches and good lattes (for $3.50!) at the Cafe Restaurant Mangez, Mangez on Melville St.

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Vancouver Harbour

 

After some window shopping and people watching on Robson St., we made our way towards the Burrard Bridge area to pick up two rental bikes and a bike trailer at Cycle City Tours. ($80 dollars for two bikes and the trailer for 5 hours)

All geared up with fancy townies, crossed the bridge and took a left toward Grandville Island and it’s enormous urban market. On a weekday in August, the place was packed with people and cars. We were glad to be on two-wheels as bike parking was much easier to find, and cheaper also.

On Grandville Island, there is so much to see, smell and taste! From the various artisans from all over British Columbia to craft beer, any type of food vendors one could dream of to seafood restaurants and garden shops, the place is buzzing with life, with reason.

For the shoppers at heart, the Kid’s Market is the place to hit for children clothing, shoes, toys & games, books and even specialized haircuts! A dangerous place to take a toddler in my opinion as you can’t go in without buying something for your little angels.

Lunch at Grandville with the pigeons

 

At the “adult” market, I didn’t have enough of my two eyes to take in all the beautiful jewelry, pottery, artisan bread and fresh produce, while my husband and daughter happily chased away the hungry pigeons out on the waterfront.

birdhousegelato standcraft jewellerypastry stand- GRandville IslandPottery stand- Grandville Islandartisan glass stand -Grandville Island

We elbowed a few people to find a table to sit down and eat.

After our meal, we hopped back onto our bikes. By then our daughter was ready to doze off for a nap so we made her a cozy little bed in the bike trailer and we aimed toward the Seawall in the direction of Stanley Park.

The cycling path network in Vancouver is impressive. By riding along the ocean tucked between the beach and the skyscrapers is really when you get to feel how special Vancouver is. This big cosmopolitan city of 2.5M souls transpires a mix or urban, ocean and mountain cultures and lifestyles.

bike on seawall

the Marina

condos by Grandville Island

 

289 km of paved trails take the explorers looking for an easy, fresh, affordable and ecological way to explore the city from parks to beaches and from landmarks to attractions. The most scenic part, the Seawall is comprised of 28 km of seaside greenway for walking, biking and roller skating.

Within a half hour of pedaling, we reached the entrance of Stanley Park where we had to duck around a few fat geese feasting by a small pond. Named for 1888 Governor of Canada Lord Frederic Stanley, the park covers 405 hectares of green space almost entirely surrounded by water. Home to the gigantic douglas fir trees and to the Vancouver Aquarium, this park is my favourite attraction in Vancouver and was voted best park in the world by Tripadvisor in 2014!

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Vancouver’s Wildlife

Twenty minutes later, after a quick look at the Totem Poles, we reached the bridge and the entrance to the harbour. Fishermen were going about their business with their oversize net and large buckets filled with small fish.

Right around that time, my daughter woke up from her nap just in time to catch a glimpse of the Inukshuk beach. We set the bikes aside and added our own to the impressive number of small rock towers and watched the teeny-tiny crabs in the tide pools.

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Inukshuk Art Masterpiece in progress

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Cargo ship entering the harbour

One kilometre down the path, we stopped at Third Beach for a toe-dip just as the clouds cleared and the sun came out. Playing in the fine sand and watching the cargo ships isn’t something we get to enjoy often in our beloved Kootenays so we took full advantage of it.

sand on our feet, waves licking our toes
sand on our feet, waves licking our toes
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A first dip in the Pacific Ocean

 

A little further down, we came across the kids spay park and stopped for well-deserved ice cream and berries at the beach concession. A short stop at the playground and our way out the Park and we slowly made our way back to the bike shop.

All that pedaling had made us thirsty! We landed for happy hour, French-Riviera style near the Burrard Bridge marina at Ten Ten Tapas where we enjoyed a glass of craft beer from Stanley Park and a few appies while looking at the luxury yacht docked nearby.

tapas bar in harbour

 

We couldn’t spend a day in Vancouver without tasting Asian food of some kind. In this multi-ethnic city, where approximately 36% of the population is from east and south Asia,  locals and visitors can enjoy the best selection of Asian cuisine east of the Pacific. One wouldn’t have enough of a full year of eating breakfast, lunch and dinner  out to nearly cover all the Asian restaurants there are in the city.

We gave our 4-year old the choice of what to eat for dinner…unsurprisingly, she picked sushi!

After our feast, it was time to head back to the Sheraton to pick up our bags and slowly make our way to YVR airport where the start of a new adventure awaited.

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Time to leave the big City

Those 24 hours spent in Vancouver had left us with the salt on our skin, sand in our shoes and plenty of West Coast images in our heads.

 

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Easter Wine Tasting & Climbing in Skaha, BC

Easter in Skaha is becoming a tradition for our family…and every other climber in Western Canada, as we found out this year.

Integrated into the BC Provincial Park system less than ten years ago, the Skaha Bluffs keep gaining in popularity as the number of rock climbers in Western Canada grows exponentially year after year.

Tucked on the Western slopes of the Monashee mountains just above Skaha Lake near Penticton, the Bluffs offer close to 1000 routes ranging from 5.4 to 5.14. This South Okanagan gem benefits from a warm and dry climate that is unsurprisingly very appealing to warmth-deprived Calgarians escaping the cold and Vancouverites escaping the wet and gloomy.

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Hiking to the bluffs in the warm spring weather on a previous visit to Skaha

If the destination is popular in the spring and fall, it is known as almost too hot for climbing during the summer months; climbers then have to aim for early morning and evening sessions. I have heard through the great vine, however, that local route setters are currently working on a new north-facing crag…Some winter climbing is also possible sometimes, although the gate to the parking area is usually open from late March to late November.

Speaking of vine, the climate in Skaha combined with the nature of the rock are not only benefiting climbers; they are also creating the ideal conditions to grow grapes. The perfect exposition combined to gentle slopes, rocky soil, cutting edge irrigation technology and a local savoir-faire developed over the last thirty years or so make this area one of the best in Canada for producing award-winning wines.

Fine wines, great climbing, and decent weather forecast all aligned to guarantee a great time on our Easter getaway.

If we’re usually camping on our annual Easter getaway to Skaha, this year we were lucky to benefit from the warm hospitality of my sister Anne and her partner Chris, recently established in Shaka where Chris’s family is from. In addition, our father, Jacques, also decided to tag along for the trip and booked a last-minute flight ticket from Quebec City into Cranbrook to enjoy the road trip with us and a long overdue get-together with my sister and I.

Although climbing was obviously on our list, this time we took the opportunity to explore a bit further what Penticton and the Skaha area have to offer in terms of activities for the small and big kids alike.
The heavy rain we had on the first morning didn’t put a damper on our spirits and we headed straight for the Penticton Aquatic Centre, auntie, and grandpa in tow. My daughter, who I suspect to be way more interested in swimming than she is in climbing, was in heaven!

Splashing in the huge hot tub

Penticton, a City of over 40,000, really has an amazing selection of recreation amenities and counts on a state-of-the-art aquatic centre that provided a full morning of fun for everyone, in spite of the mega yellow water slide being out of service.
The rain finally stopped around midday and therefore we were able to get out for an afternoon stroll in the gigantic Skaha Lake Park.

Rated #1 attraction in Penticton on TripAdvisor, this park located a stone’s throw away from my sister’s place didn’t disappoint. From riding bikes along the lakeshore to building sandcastles on the beach, goofing around on the two playgrounds and feeding the gazillion ducks in the creek, the park was well worth the daily visit.

One of the daily visits to the Skaha Lake Park
Not quite the beach temperature yet
Paved trails to ride bikes

And of course, there was the climbing!
We had never seen the Bluff’s parking lot this full, but we still managed to find some routes to kick off the season and spook the crap out of ourselves awaken our senses on the tiny technical ledges.

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My sis and I climbing side-by-side on the solid gneiss

We all gathered at the “Day Care” crag on a warm afternoon to make the kids climb and I must say that it is a very good initiation area, as its name tells. It was surprising over that weekend to see how many climbing families there are and to see that more and more parents are starting to appreciate this family-friendly activity (or perhaps it is that more and more climbers are starting to have kids?? I wonder…)

Parents will have to be mindful of ticks early in the season and do a full children and pet checkup at the end of each day.

Maya and Eva, 3 1/2 and ready to rock
Climbing lessons are on!

On a long weekend, those who want to tackle specific projects have to get up early to beat the crowd, which my husband and I took turns to do…on some mornings.
Another highlight of our stay was the time we spent with Chris’ family around great meals and the chugging tasting of local wines.

Paul, Chris’s father took us all on a nice walk along the mountainside to the nearby Pentâge Winery on Easter Sunday.

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Grasslands and rocky cliffs are typical of the area’s landscape
Half of our wine-tasting posse on its way to the winery
Pentâge’s vineyards overlook Skaha Lake and the valley
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One kind of “Heaven’s Door”

There, we were introduced to Julie Rennie and Paul Gardner, former Vancourites established on their land since 1996.
Passionate about their craft and so eager to share their knowledge with their visitors, Julie and Paul grow 19 types of the highest quality grape in small lot releases on their 23-hectares property.

Cheers!

In the sleek design tasting room where colourful local paintings contrast with the dark plywood and steel walls, Julie served us a crisp Gewürztraminer, followed by a Sauvignon Blanc and an oak barrel-aged Roussanne-Marsanne-Viognier, which really delighted our privileged group of tasters.

We then completed the tasting with a rich Syrah and took our glasses outside on a private tour of the impressive 5000 sq. ft natural rock cellar carved right from the bedrock, which offers the controlled climate required for the French-made oak barrels to operate their magic.

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Eva and Uncle Chris climbing the granite slabs in the natural rock wine cellar, a glass in hand

Paul the winemaker then took some time out of his busy schedule to share some of his wine-making and travel stories with us…along with some dirty jokes.

We left the winery with fuzzy heads and a baby stroller heavy with a sleepy child and numerous bottles of Pentâge wine; some of them were consumed that very night, paired with the delicious Easter dinner prepared with love by Sally, Chris’ mother.

We departed Skaha the next morning with the skin on our fingers still intact, as this time we didn’t make climbing the core focus of our stay. However, we departed Skaha with our batteries recharged from the great times spent with the family (and extended family) and a bottled sample of Skaha’s terroir in our luggage.

Where to stay in Skaha (if your sister doesn’t  live there):

Banbury Greens Campground (opens on April 1st) Special early season rates for tenters and small camper vans. Sits on the right side of the lake to get the early morning sunshine. Hot showers, fire pits, and electrical hook-ups. No groceries nor restaurant nearby. The most popular spot for climbers.

Penticton is a fairly large City and therefore you will find accommodation options to suit any taste or budget from motels to vacation rentals: www.visitpenticton.com


Where to eat:

Bad Tatoo. A craft brewery with a great ambiance and tasty pub fares and healthy dishes at a reasonable price point.


Where to have a drink:

The Cannery. The other craft brewery. Excellent beer with the flagship brew being the Muse. Snacks and sandwiches available.


More family-friendly activities:

Ride the Kettle Valley Rail Trail between Penticton and Naramata

Climb indoors at the new bouldering cave in town

Tour other wineries of the South Okanagan VQA (which most of them open on the Easter Long)

Drive down Route97 to Oliver and Osoyoos and check out the Desert Interpretive Centre

Hike the Skaha Bluffs’s Trail and look for bighorn sheep and snakes.

October Snow in the Wild Purcells

The Purcell mountains stretch on a north-south axis over approximately 400 km in the southeastern corner of British Columbia.

 

With the Columbia river and the Rocky mountains to the right  and Kootenay Lake to the left, this ancient mountain range has been the local’s centre of attention for many years. It also has recently received world-wide consideration in relation to the  most recent developments to the controversial mega-resort project on Jumbo Glacier, a few kilometres west of Invermere.

 

A land of high spiritual value for the Ktunaxa First Nation as well as a sensitive habitat for grizzly bears, these mountains also represent a very special place for the residents of the valley and beyond: an enclave of relatively untouched wilderness of a surreal and mystical beauty. They also offer the significant hope that the term “public land” still means something here in BC and that capitalism won’t have the last word.

 

My  recent and limited experience in these mountains reveals that winter lives there ten or more months of the year.

 

A Labour Day weekend at Jumbo Hut in a total snow blizzard and an October day hike into Monica Meadows in knee-deep snow make me wonder if summer ever gets invited up there and if the wildlife ever gets to enjoy the warmth of sun-filled days and the sweet taste of chlorophyll between snowfalls. The presence of massive glaciated areas proves how temperatures rarely climb above zero and the massive amount of snow these mountains get coated with.

 

This year, cold and snowy weather has arrived early, just as meteorologists predicted. This is certainly received like a promise to an excellent winter for us, backcountry snow sports enthusiasts.

 

And since all the planets seem to align and lead to our greatest enjoyment, my husband, a few friends and I were able to get out for an early season ski outing to Farnham glacier.

 

I would normally be the one to say that a 500km return trip to do one lap in the backcountry is a little excessive.  However, when it comes to visiting the wild and magical Purcell mountains, even for a few hours, I am the first one to say: Let’s go!

 

Dry road and golden larches at the valley bottom
The mighty and impressive Commander glacier under a fresh layer of snow
Such a bliss to start our ski directly in the alpine and forego the usual bushwhack
A little wind effect towards the top
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Jumbo Mountain: in the clouds and wild forever #Jumbowild

 

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Summit selfie and deep valleys

A Weekend of Rock Climbing in Revelstoke, Toddlers in Tow

Everybody loves Revelstoke.

Nestled between the Selkirk and Monashee mountains, this railway and forestry town really is gifted with an amazing geography. Glaciers and dramatic snow-capped mountains, the mighty Columbia river as a backbone, lush rain forest with oversized cedar trees and ferns. Everywhere, the influence from the West Coast can be felt; in the culture, the lifestyle, the vibe…as well as the amount of annual precipitation.

Abundant precipitation in the winter (in the form of cold, dry powder snow) is part of what has made Revelstoke, or Revy as the locals refer to it, a skiing Mecca. With its incredible ski resort that boasts the highest lift-accessed vertical in North America and hundreds of acres of pristine and rowdy terrain for cat, heli and backcountry skiing, Revelstoke is up and coming on the global best ski destination scene.

Revelstoke also has an impressive network of high quality single track trails, like hundreds of veins on which fresh-air deprived mountain bikers from all over Western Canada and beyond come to ride, up & down.

However, what Revelstoke is less known for is the diversity and the quality of its rock. About ten different climbing areas are scattered around town, all within 10 to 30-minute drive; trad or sport, from the short single pitch to the 450m multi-pitch bolted routes on the Columbia Buttress, from low grades to 5.13 +, there is no shortage of fun routes to climb.

Both ourselves and our loyal climbing partners and friends Marc and Shenoa had been to Revelstoke for climbing before kids and had all had an amazing time.

The highlight of our previous visit had been climbing at Waterworld, a cliff on the side of aquamarine Lake Revelstoke, a few kilometre north of the dam. After a 2-minute hike, climbers rappel down all the way to a small wooden platform only a foot or so above the water. Although the couple of 3-4 pitches routes at Waterworld are all bolted, they offer a nice alpine-like challenge as once you’ve rappelled into the unknown, you’re committed to at least climb the easiest route up: Gilligan’s Island ( 5.8). On hot summer days, make sure you take a skinny dip from the platform before you start the climb, at least you will feel nice and cool for the first few moves! The photo featured at the top of this post was actually taken 6-7 years ago, during our first visit to Revelstoke.

With great memories from our previous experiences, when the time came to decide on a climbing destination for a long weekend in the spring, we quickly reached a consensus. Over and above the good climbing options, we were all pretty confident that this place would also be very kid friendly with easy and convenient camping options and other fun family activities to keep our busy toddlers entertained.

On the May  long weekend, then, after the usual full day of packing, we set off to enjoy a couple of days of climbing in Revelstoke, kids in tow.

Our family set up camp at the Williamson Lake Campground just a kilometre out-of-town on the Thursday night. We had booked well in advance knowing that this would be a very busy time in Revelstoke and we didn’t regret it as the place was full. Our daughter was ecstatic when she realized that there was a fabulous playground at arm’s reach from  our campsite, which in fact made us feel like we were camping at the playground. Wiliamson Lake was also pretty cool with tons of fish to feed Cheerios to from the dock.

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Eva and Finn “setting up” THEIR playground for the weekend

Although this type of campsite wouldn’t normally be our fav, this time around we were thankful to find hot showers, plenty of other kids for our children to play with AND a washer and dryer that we were stoked to find when the camper’s roof leaked gallons of rain water onto our bed.

Our friends Marc, Shenoa and their little boy, Finn,  only met us the following day and brought along a canopy tent that also proved to be quite useful in the rainy weather.

Shenoa and I had the privilege to tackle the climbing first as the papas took care of the children. Under a beautiful sunny sky we aimed for the Begbie Bluffs and spent our afternoon connecting with the local rock at the Raptor wall. We were glad we hadn’t taken the kids as there was little to no flat and safe space at the bottom of the crags. At Raptor wall we found some nice vertical routes from 5.8 to low 5.11 . We came back to the campground late afternoon to relief the dads and let them enjoy a few hours at Begbie Bluffs. The little ones on their end also had their share of fun while they dipped their naked bums in the lake and made sandcastles.

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Herve on the steep and classic “Flashdance” (5.11a) on Raptor Wall

The following day, after a short stroll  downtown, we stopped for delicious coffee and treats at La Baguette, a local favorite held by a fellow couple of Quebecois. As the name indicates, La Baguette is a fine bakery where you can buy your daily loaf of fresh bread, order a full breakfast or lunch and treat yourself with their in-house baked goods and tasty gelato. This place is tiny and can be very busy so come prepared to wait to be served, but the wait is always worth it.

Later that day, we all packed up to go spend the day at Blanket Creek Provincial Park.

Herve and I then left our precious, who was snoozing in the camper, to the attention of our friends and went for a romantic outing on to the Blanket Arête (2 pitches, 5.10d). The Arête is highly visible from the bridge over Blanket Creek when driving south towards Galena Bay. Although the walk to the start of the climb made it feel like the rock would be mossy and moist, in the end it was a really nice climb, with the bouldery crux being at the start of second pitch.The Blanket Creek Crag also boast some single-pitch routes, mostly in the low 5.10’s. While the provincial park is ideal for families, the crag is unfortunately not.

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My date scoping “Blanket Arête” from the bridge
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A little moss on the first pitch of Blanket Arête
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Marc taking his baby-sitting role very seriously

After this quick outing, we went back to the day use area to relief our friends and put our parents hat back on. We spent the rest of the afternoon hiking to Shannaghan Falls, chasing gofers and playing in the sand by the lagoon with the two tots. Upon Marc and Shenoa’s return from their climb, we had a nice picnic dinner in the park before heading back to our own campground for the night.

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Shannaghan Falls are only 5 minutes walk from the campground on a stroller-friendly trail

 

When we woke up on the Sunday, it was pouring rain. This meant we had some time to explore what Revelstoke has to offer in terms of indoor activities and we were quite pleased with all the options! Of course, we all indulged once again in one of our favorite activity, which is going for coffee and treats. We also checked out some of the towns’ boutique stores, before heading to the aquatic centre for a swim. Revelstoke’s public pool is quite impressive with its 3-storey high water slide, its kiddy pool and deep water solo like climbing wall. Everyone had a good time there and we ended up staying for a few hours! In the end, we didn’t even get a chance to check out the other “indoor” options such as the Railway Museum, the Dam, or the Begbie brewery.

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Our little gourmet is always up to checking out the local dining scene…especially when it comes to sampling “pains au chocolat”
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Our two dwarfs enjoying a hike in the rain (aka so glad we packed warm clothes and rain suits)

On our way back to the campsite that day, we decided to go check out another climbing area, “the Drive-In” which is only a few kilometres from Williamson Lake on the east shore of the lake. This area is nothing major but it was steep and sheltered enough than even after a day-long rain shower, some of the climbs were still dry. We decided to give it a go and were quite pleased with the end-of-day muscle stretching opportunity at this low-key crag.

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Herve and Marc checking out the Drive-In, which boasts a few .10’s, .11’s & .12’s

After one last nice camping dinner all together and a restful night, we all set off the following morning. Our friends hit the road back to Kimberley and we set off West towards our next destination, Squamish, where we were intending to spend the rest of the week.

On our way out-of-town, we stopped to the ultimate kid’s attraction on the Trans-Canada Highway, the Enchanted Forest. For a mere $11 per adults (free for tots) our mini spent a full 2 1/2 hours visiting every single hobbit’s house and shaking hand with every one of the statue animals, elves and other fairy tale creatures.

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The closest thing to heaven for a 2 1/2 year old: the Enchanted Forest at Three Valley Gaps

In spite of the rain, we had a great time climbing and enjoying family time in Revelstoke. If you head there, make sure to purchase the excellent local guidebook “Revelstoke Rocks” from 2010, self published by local route-setter and mountain guide Ruedi Beglinger.

Provincial Parks near Revelstoke, such as Martha Creek and Blanket Creek offer great camping options. There is also numerous forest service roads and backcountry camping options out-of-town.

The town has good boutique shopping, a good Saturday morning Famers Market, as well as plenty of excellent dining options. For quick and easy meal with the fam, check out Nico’s Pizzeria and the Village Idiot, or for a more refined dining experience, Woolsey’s Bistro or the 112 Restaurant and Lounge won’t disappoint.

There is no shortage of good swimming holes on hot summer days as well as plenty of stroller-friendly multi-use trails around town, including the Greenbelt. Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks are also located very close from Revelstoke and boast multiple family friendly hikes and scenic views. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to experience it all this time…

We will back there for climbing and all the other fun stuff, that’s for sure…because for kids and adults alike, AND for non climbers, Revelstoke does rock!