Top Skaha Climbs
20 Amazing Routes Under 5.11 Plus 10 Hard Routes
Skaha is a world-class climbing destination with over 100 cliffs, of which over 60 have routes. The steep walls sit on the eastern edge of Skaha Lake in the heart of B.C.’s Okanagan Valley. For decades, climbers have been travelling from all over North America to hang from splitter cracks and off tiny edges in the parallel canyons that make up Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park. From well-bolted 5.5 sport routes to runout 5.14 trad climbs, there is something for everyone. Despite new routes being cleaned and developed every year, a few routes stand out as the routes you must first climb before exploring the off-piste lines.
Skaha is climber friendly in that there are signs that tell you where the crags are located and how to get to them. The trails are wellused and the walls have identifiable features that set them apart from others. A few years ago, a new parking lot opened at the south end of the park. Being a provincial park, there are a number of rules so be sure you read the information boards in the parking lots.
The rock was formed over two-billion years ago and is some of the oldest i n B.C. It is an interesting area for geologists and climbers should take note of the area’s amazing formations. The stone is coarse-grained gneiss and on many walls, it appears to be made for climbing with small roofs and small features that protrude slightly from the wall. The friction is good and rock quality solid, though on new routes small f lakes can sometimes break.
Some of the first climbs were established nearly 50 years ago, but it was in 1987 that locals Howie Richardson and Bob Cuthbert first explored the Great White wall, Doctors’ Wall, Red Tail and the Fortress. The first bolts were placed in 1988 as anchors for Slow Pitch, but it wasn’t until 1990 when climbers Dean Hart, Randy Atkinson and Josh Korman introduced modern sport routes. Two years later, Hugh Lenney arrived with stick clips, epoxy and a chisel and changed Skaha forever. Over the years, many hard routes have been added, but it continues to be a great place for 5.10 and 5.11 climbers to spend their time. While there are hundreds of sport routes, there are also countless three-star traditional and mixed routes.
The following 20 routes are a mix of favourite old crack climbs and recently bolted sport routes. For you senders out there, check out the list of Skaha’s hardest routes on the following page.
Left: Sam Lambert on Wings of Desire 5.11b on the Great White wall