Saturday, June 30, 2012

Marble Canyon

Thumbing through an old "Central BC Rock" guidebook we came across a section on Marble Canyon.
"Marble Canyon is the enigma of BC rock climbing. The canyon consists of the main headwall, two immense chasms which split the wall, several crumbling pillars, and many lower walls of good quality limestone".
Intrigued by the long moderate routes we loaded up the van and made the 3.5 hour drive for an exploratory weekend.

We camped at a strange but pleasant roadside campground a couple of kilometres from the crag and walked over in the morning. The cliff is huge. Massive. Several hundred meters high. Content to explore, on the first day we combined a couple of easy routes called "Mayday" and "Aspiring". The rock is limestone, rare in BC, and weird to climb on at first. Felt like climbing in the Bow Valley.

We didn't see any other climbers for most of the day. The whole crag had a general feeling of abandonment, as if this was a place where people climbed in the 70's and 80's but not so much these days.

A few raindrops chased us off by early afternoon. Walking back along the road we peered down into the super-clear waters of Crown Lake to watch a loon diving beneath the surface to chase fish and looking for all the world like a penguin in a nature documentary.

We explored the "Icy BC" ice climb waterfall.

And then did some "studying".

The next day we climbed a 6 pitch route named "Brown Sugar". The first pitch only added to the feeling of disuse as it wandered over crappy rock and through bushes before ending at some ancient bolts.

Thankfully the quality of both the rock and the belay bolts improved as we got higher and higher on the route.

We enjoyed ourselves here and may come back again in the fall when the temperatures have cooled down.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Wild Horse Canyon to Commando Bay (Okanagan Mountain Park)

The hike begins just a 20 minute drive south from our front door. The forecast for Saturday wasn't exactly stellar. As if to drive home the point it began bucketing down just as we were lacing up our boots. Undeterred we deployed Alpine Umbrellas and squelched away from the car.

It's a varied and interesting 10k hike across the park. The main feature is a long towering cliff. You hike along the base for 3 or 4 kilometres. It's not quite a canyon as the name suggests but it's certainly a deep gully. Given the remarkably wet spring we've had here in the Okanagan this made for a very wet section of trail. The blood thirsty mosquitoes and pouring rain didn't leave much time for sightseeing.

After about 3 hours we emerged from the canyon onto a plateau above the lake. It was strange to see this desert setting so wet and green. The smell of moist sage hung in the air.

As the sun came out from behind the clouds we descended down to the lake with steam rising around us from the wet soil.

It was a great time of year to by camping along the lake shore. Normally the lake is teaming with people and noisy boats. We had the place to ourselves.

The next morning we got the tent down just before it starting raining (that was a first) and began the walk back under a light rain.

Not bad for a weekend in town.