The Best Canadian Adventures: Climb B.C.'s Okanagan Valley

Sweet sidetrack

Tofino, B.C., paddle-out     Photo: Jeremy Koreski

One time a couple lady friends and I had this great idea to drive my two-seater pickup with all of our climbing gear from Santa Fe to Alaska, each of us taking turns riding in back. We never even got close, and the reason wasn’t because we waited until September to roll out or because the Mounties at the Canadian border ransacked our dirtbag-mobile for several hours. The problem was British Columbia. It stopped us as if we’d run into a rock wall, which wasn’t too far off. Just 40 miles north of Oroville, Washington, the gneissic goodness of the Skaha Bluffs poured through the windshield, and we mashed the brakes. How could we not linger here in the hot Okanagan Valley, where more than 650 sport routes soar over the pines? A few days later, with knuckles sore from so many crimpers, we packed up and hopped in with a plan to gun it 1,400 miles north to Haines. Instead we drove 160 miles the wrong way to Revelstoke, where the intermediate crags below a gorgeous 5.10 roof at the Begbie Bluffs area kept us occupied for days. In more than two weeks on the road, we never got farther than four hours north of the U.S. border. We all learned something valuable about planning Alaska road trips, though: if B.C. is in the way, you should probably take a plane.

GET THERE: Fly to Kelowna and drive an hour south. In Okanagan, book a lakeside campsite at the Banbury Green Resort (US$45). In Revelstoke, crash at the Swiss Chalet Motel (US$90) and climb the Raptor Wall at Begbie Bluffs, just south of town. For guides, call Skaha Rock Adventures.

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