Exercising is one of the greatest things you can do for your physical and mental health, especially during the winter months when you live in the northern hemisphere. The lack of vitamin D means that eating properly and staying active are some of the most effective ways to keep your spirits high and your body happy. If you are anything like me, typical gyms just aren’t your speed. In order to enjoy working out, there needs to be an element of adventure, a skill to grow, and an opportunity to be outdoors. That’s why I love climbing.
Seasons Change, Climbing Continues
Climbing gyms are not unlike traditional workout gyms. They stretch upwards in large buildings with reception areas, and vending machines stocked with protein bars and energy gels, but there is a tangible difference in the atmosphere between the two. That’s because climbing is unlike anything else. It blends adventure with exercise, and obstacles with growth, and all takes place in an extremely social setting. Plus, between gyms and outdoor climbing hot spots, you can climb year-round and see a lot of the world doing it. This means you can slug it out in the gym through the winter while eyeing the perfect destinations for outdoor bouldering in the spring and summer.
What is Bouldering?
If you climb outdoors and love a mixture of high-intensity hiking and climbing; you might be into mountaineering, if you prefer being indoors and working with a partner on the ground, to scale a hundred-foot wall; you might love lead climbing. The best way to describe bouldering is to compare a sprint to an endurance run. Bouldering takes place on shorter rock faces or walls and typically features routes that require quick movements and a lot of muscular strength. While top-rope climbing relies more on an individual’s ability to maintain balance and preserve an appropriate amount of energy over a longer span, bouldering forces a climber to make difficult, calculated movements on a shorter route. It’s like using up all the gas in your tank to blast through a straightaway. The other big difference between bouldering and everything else? No ropes.
Hot Spots in Canada
No matter where you live, chances are you’re close to a great climbing spot with an even better view. Canada is chalked full of bouldering areas. Here are a couple of great examples!
- Nova Scotia – Not far from Peggy’s Cove, Dover Island rests in the vast waters of the Atlantic Ocean and is home to some incredible slabs of granite to climb on. The view alone makes the journey worthwhile.
- Kelowna, BC- Hot summers, incredible lakes, and the Boulderfields are some of the gems that the Okanagan region in BC has to offer. Appropriately named, the Boulderfields is a collection of outdoor boulder climbs for all skill levels.
Benefits of bouldering
To begin, all you need to buy is a pair of shoes. Bouldering presents a combination of physical and mental barriers that push you to exercise patience, your physical limits, and your creativity. It promotes mental dexterity and strength and it’s one heck of a workout; you are constantly pushing your body to new physical peaks in pursuit of a route. From a social standpoint bouldering gives you the option to work independently while hanging out in a group setting or to ask others for help. It’s the perfect activity for an introverted extrovert; you can work on a route in complete silence or work collaboratively to solve problems, all while sipping espresso and talking shop.
Types of bouldering
- Gym bouldering – Bouldering indoors, in a maintained environment with permanent mats, on a wall that someone has routed and set holds for.
- Outdoor bouldering – Bouldering on natural rock, either on a route previously set by someone else or somewhere no one has ever climbed. This type of bouldering requires careful help from partners to manage mats and to help you land safely when falling.
- Deep water bouldering – Bouldering on a rock that is located directly above water that is deep enough for you to safely fall into it.
Tobermory: Ontario’s bouldering capital
If you’ve traveled to the northern Bruce Peninsula you know all about the magic of the Grecian waters, situated next to the high-rise escarpment trails of Bruce Peninsula National Park. Whether it’s a hike to the grotto, a visit to Ontarios’s oldest tree in Lions Head, or an overnight camp at one of the unserviced backcountry sites along the Bruce Trail; the area is a nature lover’s dream. But did you know that it’s also home to quite a collection of climbing spots? Not far from the advanced top-rope routes of Lions Head, there lies a section of waterfront in Tobermory that contains a plethora of bouldering routes. In fact, the Bruce Peninsula National Park and the Ontario Alliance of Climbers maintain an agreement that a portion of the national park may be used, within safe guidelines, for bouldering.
Accessible by a short section of trail connecting the parking lot of Halfway Log Dump to the waters of Georgian Bay; Boulder Beach hosts an array of outdoor bouldering problems for climbers to tackle. From small climbs, beginning in seated positions, to routes above the moving water; climbers can spend hours attempting different levels of bouldering, and cooling off in the bay between climbs. Apart from Boulder Beach, there are so many great local spots to climb in and around Tobermory. If you are looking to explore climbing in the area look into: Dyers Bay, Lions Head, and Cave Point. The opportunities to climb are endless, the areas to explore are breathtaking and the water is a must-see. Side note: The temperature is not for the faint of heart.
Respect yourself and your surroundings
When the time comes for you to embark on your own outdoor climbing adventure, please ensure that you keep safety at the forefront of your decision-making. Ensure that you are aware of safe practices and protocols before you attempt any climb and respect the environment that you are climbing in. Whenever you choose to experience nature it is imperative that you do so respectfully and within the guidelines that preserve its integrity. To learn more about climbing in Tobermory, Ontario and the guidelines that you must follow to do so click here.
From us at GuidED: be safe, be respectful, care for nature, share knowledge and have a blast learning about the world of Ontario bouldering!