It’s been a little while and I’ve found new motivation to get this blog back up again. I’m going to start with a topic that should be interesting to many people with less knowledge of Vancouver Island bouldering. Particularly hard bouldering and projects on the island.
Sutton pass wilderness
When many people plan a bouldering trip to coastal BC they oftentimes choose Squamish and are completely unwilling to give the island a chance. Many never think twice since Squamish is THE place to go. The truth is that for the average climber, the island can easily offer enough climbing for several trips. And for those looking to send big, there are likely more climbs that will be v14 and harder here on the island than in Squamish. Some are scrubbed and ready to be climbed while others are still buried in moss awaiting the right person and just a little bit of love.
The first climb I’ll talk about is a short steep crimpy problem at Sutton Pass (an area near Tofino, BC). This problem starts seated and moves up and right through some barely existent slopey crimps with one razor edge thrown into the mix. It finishes with an almost full extension throw to a blocked off incut 3 finger crimp. This move is so hard that I haven’t done it even starting from there. I’ve gone back and forth and circled around this problem many times like a shark lurking the depths while deciding whether or not to attack. Only the shark has water to help ease the task and the surfer usually doesn’t fight back. This problem definitely fights back and can make you bleed after a short session. Maybe I could climb this if it were under water but that’s still a big maybe.
An amazing V9 at Sutton Pass, photo by Matthew Wellington
Next up is an equally hard line at a relatively unknown new section of Duke Point. The problem combines a heinous v12 a pumpy v9 and finishes on a short and burly v10. All of which are amazing problems on their own. It is also possible to continue via some terrible slopers out left more and finish on a v11 mantle problem. Both of which will be amongst the hardest problems on the island. The downfall? This area is small and doesn’t have anything easier than v8. It is also quite close to an industrial area which can produce foul smells if the winds are not cooperative. Finally it’s located right on the water beside a muddy lagoon 🙂 . Any takers?
Attempting a difficult v11 at Duke Point, Mounting the Unicorn. photo by Sean Mcgiffin
Next up is an area I only went to for the first time the other day. Accompanied by Aiden Doyle we went to Hartland, Victoria to boulder. I was skeptical at first as Victoria isn’t the first place that comes to mind when I think of high quality bouldering. After climbing some easier problems and trying some established lines we checked out a steep overhanging tall and proud cave. There were already a few lines with some chalk so I decided to attempt one of them. This problem is hard and I don’t believe it’s been climbed at this time. It starts on a core tentiony v8ish sequence and then proceeds through some big moves on bad slopers, crimps and horns. This climb really has everything including a few moves where only a toe smear keeps you on the wall. This is probably the easiest of all the climbs mentioned so far.
Trying the project, photo Aiden Doyle
Also on this boulder is a low left start to this same climb. This one will be vicious if possible at all and still needs to be cleaned a little bit before it can be attempted. The rest of the boulder has possibilities too but many of these lines will be quite close to the line between possible and impossible. The already established lines in this area are also good, but many are quite reachy. One such line is a powerful and steep v12 that Aiden came close on. Unfortunately I cannot make one of the spans so I’ll have to find different beta. He will send next time!
The last boulder I want to mention is one that’s right off the road in Sutton creak but has yet to be cleaned. It will likely need a special landing built and a bolt to allow it to be toproped first. It’s an extremely tall and bold boulder that I’ve had my eyes on for years now. I just haven’t found the time to set it up and try it yet. It doesn’t look like there are many holds if any especially through the roof section.
Given our extreme climate that involves near constant rain and the fact that I travel during the summer and fall for competitions. It means that I just can’t put in the long hours needed to climb some of these routes. But slowly I’m making progress and I’m confident they will all go sometime in the future. The next time you are planning a trip out to the west coast, consider giving areas like Sutton pass a little bit of love. There is amazing climbing for all ability levels and endless opportunities to clean more rock and get first ascents. If areas like these don’t get enough traffic and attention they will succumb again to the harsh environment. And will be swallowed like the surfer this time by a thick sheet of moss.