By Ray Hawkes
Why do people rock climb? The reasons are as varying as the individuals that climb. People rock climb for the sense of adventure, sense of success and personal achievement, amazing scenery, all around fitness, non-competitive fun environment – the list goes on.
In Terrace, rock climbing’s popularity has only increased over the years. A boom in the ‘80s established a few routes on Copper Mountain, which in turn boomed to a number of other areas to climb in and around Terrace. Rock climbing is a safe activity compared to other high risk activities – but it does have its inherent risks. It is important that all proper safety items be utilized, including helmet and, most of all, proper instruction.
This area is blessed with many natural resources – and that includes the surrounding rock faces. From Chist Creek to Copper Mountain and Exchamsiks, a variety of exciting opportunities await your discovery.
One reason the area has lots of great rock climbing is because of the natural formations of the area’s natural granite cliffs. Granite is one of the best types of rocks to climb due to its solid sustained cracks, holds and lack of rock fall. Some of the best climbing areas in North America – think Yosemite National Park, Squamish, Bella Coola – are composed of granite rock.
Copper Mountain is probably the most recognizable feature and climbing location in the area and has many short and longer rock climbs. The average climbing rope now is 60 metres, considered a “pitch”. Copper Mountain has a number of pitches to reach the top, with bolted stations at the end of each pitch to secure the climber.
Terrace Mountain, Chist Creek, Kitselas Crag, and a host of other locations along Hwy 16 between Terrace and Prince Rupert, range from beginner to expert depending on your abilities and climbing level. Like many other outdoor recreational activities, the more you engage in the activity the more advanced and skilled you become. And like those activities, the saying “your level of climbing was directly related to your employment status” is not too far off.
So, how to start? If you are interested in rock climbing it is a fairly inexpensive sport to get involved in. Basically, all you need is a pair of rock climbing shoes, a harness, a climbing rope and a belay device, and a climbing partner to assist with the belaying. I would also recommend proper instruction to start off with. But the best part of rock climbing is that it is free once you’re fitted up with the necessary items. Terrace and Smithers has a few locations in which you can pick up your climbing items and there is even an indoor climbing wall in Terrace at Caledonia Secondary School for those cold wet winter days, perfect to learn the basics. Smithers and Prince Rupert also have indoor climbing walls.
You don’t have to look too far to find an active climbing group. One of the best place to discover and or meet other climbers is on Facebook – search for the Terrace Rock Climbing page. It posts the latest climbing information and a good group contact site to meet up with other climbers of all abilities. Further, there is a Terrace Rock Guide book that is in the works to help assist climbers in finding some of the finest climbs in the Terrace area – but best to get started before the secret gets out.
Ray Hawkes is a local rock climbing instructor, guide for Solstice Rock Guides, and author of the upcoming Terrace Rock Climbing guide.