Northwest BC hides a wealth of excellent undeveloped and often completely unclimbed rock. Simply driving along the highway from Terrace to Prince Rupert there are at least half a dozen 200 metre cliffs, plus countless smaller bluffs, most of at least some potential for climbing. The slabs of Copper Mountain, one of the few developed areas, extend for nearly a kilometre and are up to 300 metres in length, with only a dozen routes. The towering vertical wall above the Exchamskis river provincial park rises from the forest for nearly 250 metres and may never have been fully climbed. For the even more adventurous, Split Mountain offers the potential for some true big wall climbing on cliffs up to 500 metres or more in the canyon formed when the mountain split down the center thousands of years ago. And for those willing to venture a little further from the beaten track the potential is almost endless.
At the present time, there is no published guidebook for rock climbing in northwest BC, though there has been talk of one for some time. I have included route information on the area pages for the three most popular Northwest climbing crags. For gear or information check out Azad Adventures.
Also, while it is not exactly north west BC, I have included a topo of Hells Bells near Fort St James which was provided by Lyle Knight.
The areas described in this page are located along the highway 16 corridor in northwest BC. The nearest towns are Terrace, Prince Rupert and Kitimat, none of which is more than about 20 000 people.
Weather can be a problem in northwest BC. Although it is usually dry and in the low to mid 20ís for most of the summer, the spring and fall are often very wet, and the snow often doesnít melt of the back roads until mid may. The climbing season generally extends from early April to sometime in September, though this can vary from crag to crag. For up to date weather forecasts, check out the Environment Canada WeatherOffice.
A standard rack up north would probably be a full set of nuts, maybe some doubled around the .5Ē size, and a set of cams to about 2.5Ē. Slings of various lengths for anchors, as some of the anchors are simply trees a way back from the cliff. Other than that, the gear required really depends where you want to climb. At Onion Lake, most people just top rope, though many of the climbs can be led, mainly on smaller crack gear. Note that the rock is of dubious quality in many places here. At Copper Mountain, bring a good sized rack for the longer climbs. A few longer slings are useful as some routes wander a bit, and some webbing and rappel rings are useful if you donít want to rap off that sun-bleached, rodent chewed, nylon thatís been there for the last ten years. At Tyee, you can get away with only quick draws, but a small rack will give you a bit more freedom as there are still a couple gear routes here. If you plan on establishing new routes, bring a wire brush and be prepared to spend some time cleaning. The rock is generally solid, but can be very mossy, especially when it is well shaded.
Another vital piece of equipment is some bug dope. During the summer evenings, the bugs can be quite bad, especially at Onion and Tyee. Climbing a couple pitches off the ground the bugs tend to go away however.
As the climbing community up north is quite small, the local ethics are not that firmly established. A few common courtesies should be extended to other climbers however:
There is a ton of potential for the development of new routes in the northwest, both at the existing crags and at the hundreds of potential crags. When developing new routes, please follow the following guidelines.
The rock in northwest BC is exclusively granite, though it ranges in
texture and quality. Despite all the potential, there are currently only
three developed areas: