Québec: Mont Rigaud Rock Climbing & Bouldering by Socrate Badeau & Nicolas Cowan

Buy or Rent Mont Rigaud

Mount Rigaud is a little hill on the outskirts of Montreal city.The hill has a small ski hill that is quitepopular with area locals and beginners. But what attracts climbers to Mount Rigaud isn’t the skiing! It’sthe great little crag that sits on thetop of the hill.

People have been climbing at Rigaud since the early 1970’s. The rock has a few cracks, but most of the climbing was done on top-rope.Actually, quite a few lines that are considered sport climbs today were done on trad gear in their heyday. Some of these were even done using pitons before nuts became common. But, it wasn’t until the early 1990’s that Geoff Creighton put up some of the first sport climbs of the area. These climbs were a catalyst for what to Rigaud would be a transformation.Sport climbing is now the norm for Mount Rigaud. With just shy of 100 climbs most of these short sport climbs, it’s not a surprise that Mount Rigaud is very popular today.Almost everyone climbs here in their first years. Most come back to grab the harder climbs or just for a bit of afternoon cragging. Now, thanks to the local climbers with support from the FQME,the older and dangerous hardware has been changed to today’s standard. And many more dangerous climbs have been made safer.

The base of the cliff and the forest around the mountain are littered with boulders. Now bouldering has never been popular or developed here. A few of the more obvious lines have been done by climbers looking for a prize line. But in the last few years, Nicolas Cowan has been hard at work exploring, cleaning and climbing the boulders. He has compiled over 100 problems, lots of these accessible problems for youngsters.

Climbing at Rigaud is unique for the area.The rock is sharp. Holds are going to vary from monster jugs to small positive crimps with the assortment of sloping flats that you’re never sure if your hands won’t slip off. When the weather gets warm and humid it can feel slippery! You’ll have to bring out a complete arsenal of techniques to climb here. Angles vary from slabs to slightly overhanging with climbs sometimes having small roofs to pass. Harder climbs can be powerful and thin. A good reach is a plus at Rigaud and very rarely is endurance a factor. But you’ll often need good footwork and route reading skills. On sighting is difficult if you are climbing at your limit. But, if you can do the moves, you can do the climb!

Close proximity to the city, easy access to the top of the cliffs and an abundance of easy to moderate climbs, these are all factors that make climbing at Mount Rigaud so popular. Add to that the great view of the Ottawa River valley, it’s easy to understand why people climb here.

Mexico: La Concepción Rock Climbing by Simeon Heimowitz

Buy or rent Mexico: La Concepción here.

What Makes a Climbing Area Truly “World Class”? 

This is a story of a beautiful little cheese town nestled next to a true gem (with many cracks). 

So ask yourself….. What makes an area world class? If someone were to ask me what makes a [climb] world class I would say; difficulty at the given grade to start. Not sand bagged as this doesn’t make a climb better, just harder. [The ‘Yosemite Decimal System’ is a gauge of accuracy that with improper díctate by the FF ascensionist can actually take away from a climber’s experience.]

For me a ho-hum route is a one move wonder. Yada, yada, yada, hurrrrr, yada, yada, yada. Lots of movement, but predictable. On the flip side of this pebble pulling record is the vertical battle. The climbing route that once both hands touch the rock it’s game on! At whatever grade the climb is given, from the ground to the top, defying gravity is the name of the game. This to me is an everlasting memory ingrained on my brain of what makes a “must do” line. 

So then what makes a World Class climbing area? A collection of climbs that dictate climbing technique? Sure, but there is so much more. A climber could have the technique of a Russian Ballerina but put those balled feet in an awkward stance with no wind directly in the glaring sun and all bets are off…. 

So let me let anyone reading these words in on a little secret called La Concepción on the outskirts of Aculco de Espinoza, Mexico.  

This is not a sales pitch as this area needs none of that. What’s written below is a peek into the life of a rock climbing guide and where I choose to spend my time as the words written below are to me what makes an area not just good, but World Class.

The weather~ 

Aculco de Espinoza is located three hours North of Ciudad de México and two hours South of Querétaro City in Central México. 

At 8,000 feet above sea level and 1,300 miles North of the equator the weather hovers around 75 degrees every day of every month of every year. Aculco is México’s version of San Diego. Imagine yourself climbing in a peaceful river valley where the weather is perfect 365 days a year with enormous oak trees for abundant shade and song birds singing tweet, tweet, tweet! This is the reality of a land that time has forgotten. 

The climbing~

This area is commonly known to the locals as La Concepción as the ‘birthplace’ of the river is a short distance upstream. Also farmers in the immediate vicinity refer to the area as La Cascada as the entrance to the climbing is forever guarded by a huge waterfall leading into a river valley. The climbing is Rhyolite traditional cracks with primarily “G” rated gear. There are a handful of mixed routes where gear isn’t available but this is the exception versus the rule being 99% of the routes have gear wherever one may choose to place it. Rhyolite; ever touched this very rare climbing stone? Basalt, sure. But Rhyolite? Both are related, both certainly in the volcanic family, but these are very distant relatives. Rhyolite crack climbing dictates core strength, body tension and technique. Where Basalt cracks are linearly uniform and can beat up the fingers and hands, Rhyolite is a mixed bag of tricks on stone that hands find quite pleasurable. From the moment a climber touches the rock to the final sequence of moves thirty meters later the rock wants to spit a climber off. La Concepción is not white collar, dip the fingers in the chalk, ten quick-draw sport climbing….. Get ready for the best single pitch, hands, fingers, ring-locks, lay back and stem climbing on the Northern Continent. This is a blue collar brawl for those who know how to fist-a-cuff. Do you love cracks? Like really love crack??? This would surely be a place to spend time. 

The town~ 

Aculco de Espinoza (most likely one of the nicest towns in México) is located by vehicle about ten minutes East of the climbing area. There is no real necessity to have a vehicle while visiting as there are provincial taxis that escort townspeople and climbers alike back and forth from the climbing area to town for about $30 pesos. 

What is a Magic Town? In 2001 the Mexican Government created the ‘Pueblos Mágicos’ program to recognize small towns across the country that imbue certain characteristics that make them unique, special, or historically significant by offering magical experiences to all its visitors. Aculco has the Magic Town status as it is a beautiful place and one trip to town and it will be obvious why such an assignment is so rightfully deserved. While in town, plan to visit the market for all food supplies. Comida Corrida, fruits, vegetables, and anything else needed is located there. When in the town, proper walk around and visit the Church (constructed in 1540) or any of the numerous homemade cheese shops. If a sit down meal is in order, check out any of the spectacular restaurants in and around the main square. Short on climbing chalk or need another #6 cam? Take a stroll over to La Deportiva (sports park) and visit SouthernXposure Climbing School and Guide Service. My house and office is directly across from the soccer fields and we have pretty much anything a climber could need in a pinch. Just ask for ‘El Gringo de Aculco’ and anyone in town will point you in the right direction.

The people~

Have you ever heard of a climbing area where climbers aren’t exactly embraced? The Red River Gorge in Kentucky was such a place for twenty years, Hueco Tanks another. The locals saw no benefit to climbers or any outsiders really and in different ways let their feelings be recognized. Luckily the locals close to The Red have come around and embrace strangers in past years. Unfortunately there are still areas where climbers get the cold shoulder but Aculco definitely isn’t one of them. Aculco is a tourist town filled with friendly people who (as all farmers do) like to get the skinny on why the area is so appealing to folks from so far away. Expect people to start conversations with the familiar four (why? where? what? and do you like the town?). Some towns folk may ask you to dinner (so be prepared) and all enjoy the ability to practice their English. Just remember while in town (and México) that life moves a little slower. Like a perfect glass of fresh squeezed orange juice; great experiences take time.

Québec: Lac Long Rock Climbing by Arian Manchego

Buy or rent Québec: Lac Long Rock Climbing Guidebook.

Among our hidden jewels in Quebec province is the cliff at Lac Long. This area is located in Portneuf county, midway between Quebec City and Trois-Rivières, and is known locally for its steep, well-protected lines on excellent rock. Some have said, “Where else in the Northeast can you find this many stellar trad routes side by side?” If you round off your visit with a good river swim and some sweet camping, you have the makings of a great weekend.

We began developing lines here in 2001 and the potential for a top notch crag slowly became apparent. One big problem was that the cliff was entirely situated on private land! So we got to know the owners and over time were able to convince them of the value of selling it as one parcel. In 2008, with the help of the outdoor industry and a ton of small contributions from individual climbers, we raised the asking price, bought the land and donated it to the local municipality. Since then, the cliff has become part of the Regional Park that was created to protect the ecological heritage of the Lac Long-Montabaun lakes area. So now we climb on land that is conserved for posterity!

The cliff faces west and gets sun at around midday. It’s great in the spring and the fall, but sometimes too hot in the middle of summer. Blackflies are a problem in mid-June. Of the hundred-or-so climbing routes, about a quarter are sport, enough for several visits of “just sport climbing”. The site does attract many aficionados of “adventure onsight trad”, so the route descriptions in the guidebook are summary – just enough info to get you off the ground safely, but not more, with the goal of promoting discovery and adventure. There’s also no stars attributed to the routes (yeah we’re going against the current here) as we encourage climbers to explore and choose routes based on how good they look. The chances are very high that you’ll climb something stellar! You may not do many routes in one day but each one will be memorable!

So welcome to our climbing area at Lac Long. We have a long history of volunteer involvement and hard work. Please contribute by having a clean and safe visit. And most of all… have FUN!

See you out climbing,
Arian Manchego

Mexico: Peña de Bernal by Simeon Heimowitz

Buy or rent the Mexico: Peña de Bernal guidebook here.

Why did you leave El Potrero Chico, sell Los Pirules Ranch and relocate to Central Mexico? This is a question I have been asked frequently by fellow climbers (that have shared a rope and many grand adventures with me) while traveling throughout the United States. 

Such a question is not easily answered within a few brief sentences. When one cooks a meal for their family and friends and it is remarked how delicious the food tastes and how was it prepared follows the same train of thought. Making the decision to sell such a grandiose property in Northern Mexico and reestablish the guide service was not an easy one to make but when taking all the parts to make the whole it seemed prudent. 

Climbers are an interesting bunch to say the least. I read a bumper sticker years ago that read “My best vacation is your worst nightmare”. How true a statement could only be appreciated by a user group that plans every vacation well ahead of time to go to some far away location and exert so much energy that upon returning home we are far more exhausted than when we left.  

Rock climbers desire fantastic climbing, beautiful weather, a comfortable place to sleep and large quantities of delicious food. Central Mexico offers all of these accoutrements and so much more. 

La Peña de Bernal located East of the city of Queretaro and is Central Mexico’s premier multi pitch climbing destination. Bernal offers everything a climber could want and that much more. At 8,200 feet above sea level and a mere 1,300 miles North of the Equator the weather in Bernal is climbable 365 days a year. Also hugely desirable is La Peña being a monolith it is possible to chase the sun or shade for those who crave either or both. Is multi pitch climbing what you are looking for or is it single pitch sport? La Peña offers plenty of both.

Being the tallest monolith on Earth at 1,400 feet there are climbs up to nine pitches with several easy ways to rappel. If single pitch sport is more attractive there is cragging from 5.5 to 5.13d for the new leader or hardest of seasoned climbers. Peña de Bernal is an exquisite destination for more than just the great climbing. The town is magical as well. 

 In 2006 Bernal was sanctioned as a “Pueblo Magico” (Magical Town) through the Mexican Department of Tourism. This designation comes with the highest of regard within Mexico. To receive such the town has to have cultural, historic, or an attribute of importance that sets it in a league of its own. Bernal absolutely deserves such a coveted status as the town is unforgettable. The town boasts architecture that dates back to 1642, a rich culture, history, and locals that make any visitor feel welcome. With the Magic Town status comes tourism so plan on spending time walking around visiting the local artisan shops and restaurants.

Even though Bernal is world famous for their Gorditas plan a visit to one of the many sit down restaurants for a four star meal at an extremely reasonable price. Italian, Mexican, and so many more delicious restaurants it is hard to choose where to eat. 

When I decided to leave Northern Mexico it was to relocate my guide service to an area with fantastic climbing, stable predictable temperatures and local inhabitants that invite visitors to look forward to exploration within the town that they call home. Bernal, Mexico is just such a place an so much more. 

Come and visit this region of Mexico with a seventy meter rope, fifteen quickdraws and a taste for adventure. As the owner of the premiere rock climbing guide service in Mexico you can trust my judgment. I promise, you will not be disappointed. 

If you need a guide for the day, or the week please reach out to us directly at SouthernXposure International Climbing Guides

If you are planning a trip to Bernal and need a guidebook to find your way around there is only one fully comprehensive book for all the information related to climbing available. Rakkup is a great application for anything climbing and they made all the information easily attainable. If you are planning a trip to Central Mexico (anywhere Mexico really) and have any questions or concerns you can email me directly. I would be happy to help in any way I can. 

Remember; life is a journey, not a destination. Get out and explore Mexico.  

Koh Tao Thailand Rock Climbing by Kelsey Gray

Jansom Bay climbing area. Photo by Kelsey Gray.
Jansom Bay climbing area. Photo by Kelsey Gray.

Climbing on Koh Tao is generally considered to have started in the early 2000’s with the first climbing shop on the island being Zen Gecko, which closed in 2005. Primarily a bouldering paradise there have been multiple printable guidebooks written since James March’s first guidebook in 2002. Other guidebooks have existed in some form or another from several of the shops on the island with this guidebook being the most comprehensive and a combination of information from many of these sources. In addition, the route developers, new climbers, and experienced Koh Tao veterans have all contributed to making this new guidebook the most complete and accurate of any guide to date. 

Rachal Fagan climbing Forewarned (6a) at Lang Khai. Photo by Kelsey Gray.
Rachal Fagan climbing Forewarned (6a) at Lang Khai. Photo by Kelsey Gray.

Scattered amongst the palms and sandy beaches is textured granite and featured walls waiting for climbers. The first edition of this guidebook brings together 114 established climbs, most within minutes of the road. There are seaside crags with amazing views, mountain top cliffs with climbs on all sides, and an island crag that requires a kayak. All within snorkeling distance of the beaches and some of the better burgers in Thailand. 

Rachel Fagan climbing Do It! a 6c+ at Golden View. Photo by Kelsey Gray.
Rachel Fagan climbing Do It! a 6c+ at Golden View. Photo by Kelsey Gray.

As Thailand becomes inundated with travelers from all over the world, climbing areas such as Tonsai and Railey are becoming increasingly crowded. This guide opens the possibilities of a new area and a completely different style of climbing than most would experience in Thailand. With excellent weather much of the year it is an ideal destination with the months of October and November having much of the rain, leaving the rest of the year to be sunny and beautiful. 

Ryan Senko following Drunken Yorkshireman (6a+) at Big Brother Slab. Photo by Kelsey Gray.
Ryan Senko following Drunken Yorkshireman (6a+) at Big Brother Slab. Photo by Kelsey Gray.

Staunton State Park Rock Climbing by Dave and Lisa Montgomery

Chimney Rock - photo by Tyson Ferryman
Chimney Rock – photo by Tyson Ferryman

Staunton State Park is Colorado’s newest state park, and is the legacy of the Staunton family.  The original Staunton Ranch was homestead around the turn of the 20th century by Drs. Rachel and Archibald Staunton.  Over the years, the 160-acre property grew into 1,720 acres containing much of the pristine wilderness and meadows we enjoy today.  Francis H. Staunton, daughter of Archibald and Rachel, preserved and protected the Staunton Ranch throughout her life and gifted the land to the State of Colorado in 1986 with the requirement that the land be, “preserved in perpetuity, for public benefit, as a natural wilderness-type park… typifying Colorado’s most beautiful mountain forest and meadow region.” With subsequent acquisitions of parcels, the park grew to 3,828 acres and opened to the public in May of 2013. 

Diana Crabtree Green on The Babe with the Power 10d - photo by Adam Bove
Diana Crabtree Green on The Babe with the Power 10d – photo by Adam Bove

In 2012, the year before the park opened, the Park Manager reached out to a small group of local climbers to help with climbing management and the development of climbing at Staunton.  Over the course of 10 months, this group of climbers formulated the park’s Fixed Hardware Review Group (FHRG), climbed and documented over 60 new routes, designed the network of trails around Staunton Rocks, and with the help of volunteers built the climbing access trails.  While the members of the FHRG have changed over the years, their relationship with the park has remained solid and their continued work has lead to the development of 190 routes at Staunton.  

Sasha Digiulian on Happy Endings 13a - photo Kevin Capps
Sasha Digiulian on Happy Endings 13a – photo Kevin Capps

As the number of routes has grown at Staunton, so has the diversity of the climbing.  Throughout the park, you will find everything from long single/multi-pitch slabs to patina covered vertical faces to steep, power-endurance test pieces.  There is something for everyone to enjoy at Staunton, and even more to explore!

Dave Montgomery on FA of Welcome to Staunton 12c - photo by Amanda Peterson
Dave Montgomery on FA of Welcome to Staunton 12c – photo by Amanda Peterson
Laura Capps on Intolerance Test - photo by Kevin Capps
Laura Capps on Intolerance Test – photo by Kevin Capps
TJ Brumme on the Opportunist 11a - Photo by Dave Montgomery
TJ Brumme on the Opportunist 11a – Photo by Dave Montgomery
Dave Alie on Unshackled 10+ photo by Dave Montgomery
Dave Alie on Unshackled 10+ photo by Dave Montgomery
Josh Hendriks on Muricuh 12b/c -photo by Adam Bove
Josh Hendriks on Muricuh 12b/c -photo by Adam Bove

Saguenay Québec Rock Climbing by Pierre-Y Plourde (English follows French)

Il a débuté vers le milieu des années 50 au Cap Trinité, la paroi la plus impressionnante le long du fjord. Jean Sylvain, accompagné de grimpeurs de Québec et de Montréal, fut l’instigateur principal des premières tentatives. Une première ascension a été réalisée par une équipe allemande grâce à de l’équipement laissé en paroi par les tentatives de Jean Sylvain et ses compagnons de cordée lors d’une tentative en 1964. Plus tard, Jean Syl- vain, Pierre Vézina et André Robert ont réussi en 1967 une première dans la partie la plus haute de ce mur de 300 mètres, la Directissime. Cette as- cension représentait un exploit formidable et elle a attiré l’intérêt des autres grimpeurs du Québec et d’ailleurs.

Le Cap Trinité à Rivière Éternité
Le Cap Trinité à Rivière Éternité

Parallèlement à cet exploration dans le Bas Saguenay, Jean Allard, un grimpeur de la région de Sherbrooke, réalise en 1962 une première voie, Les Pionniers, sur le Cran Carré à Sainte- Rose-du-Nord. D’autres voies ont été ouvertes plus tard sur une paroi en bordure du village par, entre autres, Dominic Villeneuve et Florian Girard. Le Dièdre constitue la voie la plus difficile.

Le Cran carré à Sainte-Rose-du-Nord
Le Cran carré à Sainte-Rose-du-Nord

En 1970, François-Xavier Garneau, arrivé de l’Ouest canadien, constate l’énorme potentiel de Chicoutimi et des villes environnantes. Il s’est joint à Gilbert Touzot et André Vallée pour intensifier le développement de l’escalade par l’aménagement de nouvelles parois et l’ouverture de nouvelles voies. Quelques années plus tard, Régis Richard s’est installé à Chicoutimi et ce grimpeur talen- tueux a beaucoup contribué au développement du Club de montagne et de l’escalade au Sague- nay.

Le secteur de la Croix à Chicoutimi
Le secteur de la Croix à Chicoutimi

Une explosion de nouvelles voies en 1987, sous l’impulsion de Joël Tremblay, Steve Jomphe, Hu- bert Morin, Mario Bilodeau et Sylvain Malche- losse, a conduit à la publication d’un premier livre-guide en 1988 par François-Xavier Garneau.

Hubert Morin au Parapluie (© Alain Dumas)
Hubert Morin au Parapluie (© Alain Dumas)

Une douzaine d’années plus tard, un phénomène remarquable, l’escalade sportive sur plaquettes, s’installe au Saguenay, rendant abordables des parois, considérées jadis, comme inaccessibles. Ce nouveau type d’escalade, issu des murs inté- rieurs, a suscité un réel engouement se traduisant par l’ouverture de nouvelles voies par un nombre croissant de jeunes grimpeurs dont Jacques Filion, Pierre-Y. Plourde, Cornelia Krause, Éric Tremblay et Gilles Simard entre autres. On assiste en même temps à l’ouverture de voies d’escalade artifi- cielles par un groupe restreint de grimpeurs dont Yves Larouche, Yanick Duguay, Denis Boudreau, Jean-Philippe Villemaire, Pierre Raymond et Pa- trice Morin. Une deuxième édition du livre-guide est publiée en 1998 par François-Xavier Garneau et Pierre-Y. Plourde.

Éric Tremblay aux Marshmallows
Éric Tremblay aux Marshmallows

À la fin des années quatre-vingt dix, une partie du potentiel de l’arrondissement La Baie apparaît sous l’impulsion d’Éric Lalancette, d’Alain Martin et de Patrice Morin.

La paroi Régis-Richard à La Baie
La paroi Régis-Richard à La Baie

L’escalade est demeurée toujours populaire et la nouvelle vague de grimpeurs, les Simon La- brecque, feu Raphaël Gagné, Marc Durepos, Charles Munger, Alain Couture, Simon Létour- neau, Olivier Tremblay, Éric Lemieux, Benoit Chayer et Jean-Philippe Fafard contribuent à leur façon au rayonnement de la région.

Raphaël Gagné au Naufragé
Raphaël Gagné au Naufragé

La mise à jour actuelle des « Parois du Saguenay », dont la dernière édition remonte à 2007, permet de souligner le dévouement remarquable d’une nouvelle génération de grimpeurs. Les efforts de feu Dominic Morin et de Nicolas Gaudreault ont sérieusement rehaussé le niveau de difficulté des voies dans les arrondissements de Chicoutimi et de Jonquière. La paroi du Parapluie est mainte- nant un incontournable pour les voies de haut ni- veau.

Stéphane Perron au Cap Trinité (© Mathilde Gélinas)
Stéphane Perron au Cap Trinité (© Mathilde Gélinas)

Stéphane Perron a laissé sa carte de visite en étant l’instigateur de superbes nouvelles voies multi-longueurs dans la section moins haute du Cap Trinité vers les années 2010. À cela s’ajoute les efforts formidables déployés depuis 2013 par le Club de Montagne du Saguenay (CMS) et la Fédération Québécoise de la Montagne et de l’escalade pour développer le Cap à l’Aigle sur la rive sud du Lac Kénogami. Parmi les multiples protagonistes, pensons à Jean-Luc Vanacker, Nicolas Rodrigue, Éric Laflamme, Patrice Morin, Jean-Philippe Fafard et Dominic Gagnon. Enfin, et non pas les moindres, Marc Durepos, Cathe- rine Picard et plein d’autres pour leur incroyable détermination à développer le potentiel inouï du Trou du Chaos à l’Anse-Saint-Jean.

ENGLISH BEGINS HERE

It began in the mid fifties in Cap Trinité, the most impressive wall along the fjord. Jean Sylvain, accompanied by climbers from Quebec and Montreal, was the main instigator of the first attempts. A first climb was made by a German team thanks to the equipment left in the wall by the prior attempts of Sylvain and his companions in 1964. Later, Jean Sylvain, Pierre Vézina and André Robert made in 1967 the first of the «Directissime» in the highest part of this 300 meters wall. This climb was a tremendous feat and attracted the interest of other climbers from Quebec and elsewhere.

The Cap Trinité at Rivière Éternité
The Cap Trinité at Rivière Éternité

 Alongside this exploration in the Lower Saguenay, Jean Allard, a climber from the Sherbrooke region, made the first ascent of Les Pionniers, in 1962 on the Cran Carré in Sainte-Rose-du-Nord. Other routes were later opened on a wall on the edge of the village by, among others, Dominic Villeneuve and Florian Girard. The dihedral is the most difficult route.

The Cran carré at Sainte-Rose-du-Nord
The Cran carré at Sainte-Rose-du-Nord

 In 1970, François-Xavier Garneau, who arrived from Western Canada, saw the enormous potential of Chicoutimi and the surrounding towns. He joined Gilbert Touzot and André Vallée to intensify the development of climbing by finding new walls and opening new lines. A few years later, Régis Richard moved to Chicoutimi and this talented climber contributed a lot to the development of the Club de Montagne du Saguenay and climbing in Saguenay region.

The secteur de la Croix at Chicoutimi
The secteur de la Croix at Chicoutimi

 An explosion of new climbs in 1987, led by Joel Tremblay, Steve Jomphe, Hubert Morin, Mario Bilodeau and Sylvain Malchelosse, led to the publication of a first guide book in 1988 by François-Xavier Garneau.

Hubert Morin at Parapluie (© Alain Dumas)
Hubert Morin at Parapluie (© Alain Dumas)

A dozen years later, the remarkable wave of sport climbing hit the Saguenay region, making blank walls, previously considered unclimbable, a reality. This new type of climbing, originating from indoor walls, has generated a real craze resulting in the opening of new routes by a growing number of young climbers including Jacques Filion, Pierre-Y. Plourde, Cornelia Krause, Eric Tremblay and Gilles Simard among others. At the same time, aid lines were still developed by a small group of talented climbers, including Yves Larouche, Yanick Duguay, Denis Boudreau, Jean-Philippe Villemaire, Pierre Raymond and Patrice Morin. A second edition of the guide-book is published in 1998 by François-Xavier Garneau and Pierre-Y. Plourde.

Éric Tremblay at Marshmallows
Éric Tremblay at Marshmallows

At the end of the nineties, part of the potential of the La Baie borough arose under the leadership of Éric Lalancette, Alain Martin and Patrice Morin. 

The paroi Régis-Richard at La Baie
The paroi Régis-Richard at La Baie

Rock climbing has continued to be popular and the new wave of climbers, Simon Labrecque, the late Raphaël Gagné, Marc Durepos, Charles Munger, Alain Couture, Simon Letourneau, Olivier Tremblay, Eric Lemieux, Benoit Chayer and Jean-Philippe Fafard contribute to popularize climbing in the region.

Raphaël Gagné at Naufragé
Raphaël Gagné at Naufragé

The current update of the «Parois du Saguenay», the last edition of which dates back to 2007, highlights the remarkable dedication of a new generation of climbers. Works by the late Dominic Morin and Nicolas Gaudreault have significantly increased the climbing level of difficulty in the boroughs of Chicoutimi and Jonquière. The «Parapluie» is now considered a must for high level climbing.

Stéphane Perron has left his mark by being the instigator of superb new multi-pitchs in the lower section of Cap Trinité towards the year 2010. 

Stéphane Perron at Cap Trinité (© Mathilde Gélinas)
Stéphane Perron at Cap Trinité (© Mathilde Gélinas)

Let’s mention also the tremendous work made since 2013 by le Club de Montagne du Saguenay (CMS) and la Fédération Québecoise de la Montagne et de l’Escalade to develop le Cap à l’Aigle on the south shore of Lake Kénogami. Among the many protagonists, Jean-Luc Vanacker, Nicolas Rodrigue, Eric Laflamme, Patrice Morin, Jean-Philippe Fafard and Dominic Gagnon. Finally, and not least, Marc Durepos, Catherine Picard and many others for their steady determination to develop the incredible potential of le Trou du Chaos in l’Anse-Saint-Jean. 

Liming China Rock Climbing by Mike Dobie

Rent, Buy or Bundle Liming Rock here: https://rakkup.com/guidebooks/liming-china-rock-climbing/

Nestled in the corner of China’s most southwest province, Yunnan, is an area of geological and cultural contrasts. The jungles of southeast Asia meet the Tibetan plateau and the far reaches of Himalayan mountains loom. The distinct ethnic groups from these varied lands co-habitat in rural villages of a province where the Southern Silk road and less famous Tea Horse Trail once passed. The gypsy market that pops up in Liming throughout the month is reminiscent of the region’s early days of trading… but now the ladies in their colorful traditional clothes use their smartphones to buy goods in a way more futuristic than most cities of the west.

Ana Pautler on Wind of the Valley, possibly the best 5.10 in Liming. Photo Danial Harata
Ana Pautler on Wind of the Valley, possibly the best 5.10 in Liming. Photo Danial Harata_

For the last decade, climbers have made pilgrimages to the valley to ascend the towering red sandstone walls protruding from steep, vegetated hills above a small village. There over 280 routes in 31 different sectors, and while the area gained its fame for the trad climbing, recent focus has been on the sport walls. To access most of the climbing, you’ll need to hike 45 minutes from town up steep terrain, but there are a handful of roadside trad and sport walls to give your legs some reprieve. The town offers several guest houses and restaurants serving up delicious stir-fries with local ingredients and cheap prices, making it a traveling climber’s or dirtbag’s paradise. While winter temperatures hover around freezing at night, the guest houses provide heated blankets. Alternatively, spring (March, April May) and fall (late September, October, November) offer more comfortable temperatures, though occasional rain. A handful of areas that will also stay dry. Summer (June-early September) is the monsoon season and it is not recommend to visit.

A travelling climber on a 5.11d splitter photo Thomas Senf
A traveling climber on a 5.11d splitter photo Thomas Senf

Routes range from 5.7-5.13+ and while it is helpful to know how to jam before arriving in Liming, The Great Owl and Charlie the Unicorn are classic 5.9s that’ll help you learn the essential skills. Scar Face and Wind of the Valley are favorite 5.10s, and from  there, the route quality only goes up. People have said Back to the Primitive (5.11, A0 8 pitches) is reason to cross an ocean. While Akum Ra (5.11) is a favorite single pitch. Japanese Cowboy and Another World are fantastically steep 5.12s and if you’re still looking for a bigger challenge, Logan Barber’s test pieces Firewall (5.13d) and Honeycomb Dome (5.13d+) should keep you busy for a while. And that’s just the trad climbing.

Brandon Guttong on the First Free Ascent of Japanese Cowboy 5.12. Photo Garrett Bradley
Brandon Guttong on the First Free Ascent of Japanese Cowboy 5.12. Photo Garrett Bradley

If you’re interested in clipping bolts, the Faraway guesthouse owner provides rides through a valley above the softer sandstone to a completely different environment of dolomitic sandstone. The rock resembles La Mojarra in Columbia and 12mm bolts are used in super hard sandstone with horizontal breaks, corners, pockets, and crimps. The sport areas (El Dorado and Goat Rodeo) are still cleaning up, but with more traffic, these are bound to be classic destinations. The walls are just overhung enough to stay dry in the rain, helping round out the shoulder season options. Golden Eyebrow is a newly bolted 5.10 classic following a corner, Gold Rush (5.11) has sporty moves straight outta the gym,  Gold, Gold, Everythang Gold (5.12) delivers big holds at an angle sure to pump you out, and Tibetan Cowboys in a Disco (5.13a) combines endurance and technique with an angle steep enough to keep you barley on your toes. Mike Dobie first visited the area in 2010 and has spent the majority of the last decade focused on developing new routes in Liming. His original partner was a Chinese climber named Zhoulei, but countless others have contributed to the area’s development scrubbing routes, bolting and re-bolting anchors, building trails, and more recently bolting sport lines. Dobie views his work as a service project to the climbing community globally. It is an area of fantastic potential, amazing scenery, and memorable climbing. It is a journey to get there, but well worth the effort.

Chris Miller on pitch 4 of Souls Awakening. Photo Garrett Bradley
Chris Miller on pitch 4 of Souls Awakening. Photo Garrett Bradley

Rent, Buy or Bundle Liming Rock here: https://rakkup.com/guidebooks/liming-china-rock-climbing/

Columbia Valley Rock Climbing by Bruno-Pierre Couture

Columbia Valley Rock Climbing get together after work. Photo credit Jack Caldbick
Columbia Valley Rock Climbing get together after work. Photo credit Jack Caldbick

As climbers we are now privileged time players who can enjoy these natural jewels. The climbing pioneers who explore the mountains around here shared their mettled spirit, with which they climbed the summits of the region, to the generations who followed them. Now, the new generation is exploring the territory with new eyes, discovering and rediscovering its places and trying to transmit their knowledge to share their spirit of adventure, so that future generations can enjoy the jewels this valley has to offer.

Throughout the years the Columbia Valley was the scene of many clashes, starting with the formation of the valley itself. A titanic battle of the elements created over many years the Columbia River fault that now separates the intriguing Purcells range from the indomitable Rockies mountains. This trench is the scene of spectacular rock formations. On one side the granite; pure, solid and straight pierces the earth’s crust and vibrates in us the names of the “Bubagoos”, “Leaning towers”, “Sally Serana”. While in the East the more friable limestone creates unique silhouettes such as “Goodsir Mountains”, “Rockwall”, “Flow Peak”, “White Tail” ….

Buy Bruno’s Columbia Valley Rock Climbing Guidebook here: https://rakkup.com/guidebooks/british-columbia-columbia-valley-rock-climbing/

La vallée de la Columbia fût le lieux de bien des affrontements, à commencer par la formation de la vallée elle-même. Un combat titanesque des éléments à créer au cours de longues années la faille de la rivière Columbia qui sépare maintenant l’intrigante chaîne de montagnes des Purcells de l’indomptables chaînes des Rocheuses. Cette tranchée est le théâtre de formations rocheuses spectaculaires. D’un côté le granite; pure, solide et droit perce l’écorce terrestre et fait vibrer en nous les noms de «Bubagoos», «Leaning towers», «Sally Serana». Tandis qu’à l’Est le calcaire plus friable crée des silhouettes uniques telle que les «monts Goodsir», le «Rockwall», «Flow peak», «White Tail», etc. En tant que grimpeurs nous sommes maintenant de privilégiés acteurs du temps qui  pouvons jouir de ces bijoux naturels. Les pionniers de l’escalade qui sont passés par ici ont su partager leur esprit fougueux avec lequel ils ont gravit les sommets de la région aux générations qui les suivirent. Maintenant, la nouvelle génération explore avec un nouvel œil le territoire, elle découvre et redécouvre ses endroits et tente de transmettre leur savoir pour partager leur esprit d’aventure, afin que les générations futures puissent profiter des joyaux que cette vallée a à offrir.

Québec: Escalade Sainte-Émélie (Proximus et Sérénité) by Socrate Badeau

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The Parc de la Matawinie is a beautiful wildness area with great hiking trails, lakes and superb views. Sainte Émélie-de l’Énergie is the gateway to this beautiful playground. If climbing is your fix, you are in luck. There are lots of undeveloped areas if you’re ready for a little bushwhacking. But if you want ready to climb routes well then you won’t be held lacking.

Proximus is the typical roadside crag with little to no approach. Just park and walk for less than one min and choose your climb. Most climbs here are bolt protected sport climbs, but you’ll find a few easier trad lines if that’s more to your taste. The angle varies from polished slabs to overhanging faces and arêtes. The climbs are quite technical and thought provoking. It’s just a great place to try hard.

Sérénité is simply unique. The climbing here is great. It’s definitively one of my favourite cliffs in the Montreal area. Two distinctly different climbing styles will greet you here. First off is 25m of overhanging face with lots of features. Pump and technique is the challenge here. Climbs will have you redlining for the anchors. The second style is more of a face-slab style. But unlike most featureless friction slabs, you’ll be greeted to a variety of slopey step-like holds. Creative positioning and mantling will get you through some cruxes but good footwork and balance are the key. And if that’s not enough, bring your fishing rod and walk up to the lake to try and catch you lake trout that only the patient will catch.

Have fun and enjoy.

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