First things first
This isn’t one of those places where you can just park your car and start climbing. It’s a 20-minute hike to the cliffs – and it’s steep. Be prepared, and pace yourself. It’s also important to note that the peregrine falcon nesting period takes place every year between late May and late July, and the site is liable to close at any time for conservation efforts. Look on the park website or call them at 1-800-665-6527 to check that it’s open before setting out.
While the whole cliff is a playground for hardcore climbers, the section with the hardest routes is Les Surplombs. They all start at a slab that’s almost vertical and which ends under an overhanging wall. A real classic is Le Secret (5.14), a very steep climb that tackles one strange feature after another. You can also go to Grand Mur or Petit Mur for face climbing. The park also has a few not-so-tough climbs, including Twinkle (5.10b) and Parasol (5.11c).
Beat the boulders
The boulders below Pic aux Corbeaux are awesome strength-builders and brain-teasers. You might want to use them to warm up for your big climb, but they’re just as helpful as a cool down. When you’re tired but are not quite ready to quit, scramble up to the top of these rocks. It’s a nice place to perch while you wind down and reflect on your awesome day.
Need a break?
If you need a rest from rock climbing but want to stay active, the challenging 18.7km Les Crêtes trail hike takes you to Pic de l’Ours for a 360-degree view of the area. Mont Orford is pretty isolated from surrounding mountains, which is what makes the view so sweet. If you bring a bike, the area has cycling trails as well, including a section of the trans-Quebec bicycle route that crosses the park from east to west.
Dipping and dining
For a meal that’s memorable and not too pricey, take a 10-minute drive to Magog and get a table at Fondissimo, a restaurant that serves fondues. It’s a nice spot to visit if it’s just you and your significant other climbing partner, and is also a lot of fun with a group of friends.