Skaha Bluffs Parking Lot, Smythe Drive, Penticton, BC, Canada
Driving time from Kelowna
Number of climbing routes
Amount of separate crags
First of all, pick up Skaha Rockclimbs by Howie Richardson. This is the latest, super-detailed guidebook that will help you navigate the plethora of cliffs, trails and climbs throughout the Skaha Bluffs Park. It also provides excellent natural history and colourful insights into local climbing culture.
Bring the kids
If you’ve got kids or are travelling with a climbing crew that does, then the whole family will have a blast at the aptly named Daycare Wall. Here you’ll see kids of all ages from toddler to 70-years-young. Daycare Wall is ideal for those who need a short approach and lower angled climbs with mellower grades. It’s also top-rope friendly, which makes it perfect for experienced climber parents who want to get their kids climbing at a young age.
Want to get the family into climbing, but not sure where to start? Begin with indoor climbing gyms and sign up for courses from experienced, qualified instructors (safety is key!). You may even find kid-specific climbing camps and classes available in your city.
Don’t let a rain shower ruin your climbing day. Many cliffs at Skaha are overhanging and stay dry, which allows you to continue sending regardless of a pesky sprinkle. On these rare days, check out Doctor’s Wall, Maternal Wall and The Grand Canyon for the best rainy-day options.
A wild zoo
Crags like Rattlesnake, Diamondback, Red Tail, Raven’s Castle and Screeching Wall are aptly named: plenty of wildlife calls the Skaha Bluffs home. It’s not uncommon to spot owls nesting, rattlesnakes lounging in the sun or bighorn sheep scampering up the cliff faces with alarming grace. Maternal Wall in spring is a great opportunity to view a pair of resident great horned owls from a safe distance. These owls have been nesting there for about 20 years, so by the time you spot them, you’ll see that they’ve already been watching you. As always, whenever wildlife is involved, make sure to respect them by giving them lots of space as per the 7 Leave No Trace principles.
One of the more active local route developers is a well-known as a fruitarian, and many of the routes have a banana theme in their name. For a fun challenge see if you can find and climb all of them. Start at Maternal Wall, where you’ll find the classics Banana Bender (5.11d), Last Banana (5.12a) and Banana Bypass (5.11c). Then crank it up a notch with Banana Megamix (5.12c) at the nearby Blipvert Tower.