Monday, April 30, 2012

Bear Mountain!

On Sunday, I felt the need to get out, do some exploring, and stretch my legs.  My explorations usually take the form of rock-seeking-missions, and I decided that this Sunday was going to be no exception.  I have long wanted to go check out the cliffs at Bear Mountain, and to see if there were any bouldering opportunities to be had there.  I knew (from rumours, and various online fragments of information) that the cliffs at Bear Mountain were sandstone, and tended to be somewhat sandy (i.e. poorly cemented); not exactly a destination.  However, climbing is climbing, and adventure is adventure, so I grabbed a coffee, put Lupin in the van, and headed off to Dawson Creek!

Perhaps the most unique thing about Bear Mountain is the enormous wind turbine installation there.  There are over two dozen HUGE wind turbines installed along the ridge, which gives the setting a somewhat science-fiction vibe.  I parked near the end of 233 Road, near the first wind turbine. I decided to hike through the forest along the entire length of the scarp (to ensure I wouldn’t miss any boulders lurking in the forest), then hike along the top of the cliff on the way back (to enjoy the view and check out the cliff itself). 

To make a long story short, my explorations were moderately successful.  Good news = I did find a nice cluster of boulders in a pleasant woodland setting with nice landings.  There is probably room for about 50 problems, with lots of overhanging arêtes which will provide some decently hard problems.  Bad news = there was only one cluster of boulders.  I did find a few more boulders at the far end of the scarp, but they were neither big nor plentiful.  Also, the boulders are formed almost exclusively by big cubes of coarse sandstone-conglomerate.  The conglomerate will be a little hard on the hands (think texture like a meat-tenderising hammer), and isn’t always completely solid.

I did see a few really nice-looking potential problems, though.  The first big boulder I saw (photo 1) was a big brick-shaped block, but one end was propped up; as such, the two suspended arêtes had sit-down starts, and could both be in the V6-V8 range.  Another cool-looking line (photo 2) was on a big tooth-shaped boulder with a scoop.  It didn’t look difficult, but did look really (!) fun.  Other than that, there were a number of arêtes and small caves scattered around (photo 3), from which a dedicated boulderer could make a nice circuit - once everything was cleaned up.

If anyone wants to go there and take a look, do some scrubbing, open some problems, let me know!  I am certainly willing to show anyone what I’ve found.  Cheers!

1) The business end of a giant brick of conglomerate.  Sit down starts on the right and left.  My walking stick  (about 3 feet long) for scale.

2) Cool scoop, with a crack/seam feature.  One of the best lines I saw at Bear Mountain.

3)  Bear mountain boulders.  

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