It was a beautifully sunny Saturday to be hanging out on a cliff, literally. Rock climbing on the rock faces of Mt. Pope draws recreational climbers from all over North America, and yet very few locals can say they have tried the climbs in their own back yard.
However, this changed recently when Ken Cox of the Prince George Section of the Alpine Club of Canada came and offered a free course on beginner rock climbing for six lucky locals keen to give the sport a shot.
Cox spends a great deal of time climbing on Mt. Pope with his wife and other Alpine Club members, and was more than happy to help show off the great climbing to some locals.
There were three youths and three adults from the community who came out to fill the class, and everyone who participated did really well, making it to the top of a number of climbs.
They also learned a range of new skills including belaying, knot tying, climber communication, climbing moves, rappelling and building a top-roping anchor.
The course covered all these with a strong emphasis on safety, and was a great introduction for the participants, all who seemed enthusiastic about getting to do some more climbing.
The climbs on Mt. Pope are accessible from the climber’s trail at the end of Stone’s Bay Road, with some harder climbs at the “T” caves, some of the older climbs are outlined in the guide book Central BC Rock, but most of the climbs are not yet mapped and published because they are newer.
Cox toured the group by a number of the different climbs, and shared his passion for the area and the sport.
The section of bluffs where the course took place is an area members of the Alpine Club developed so they could teach beginners and use “top roping”, which involves setting up a rope from anchors at the top of a climb before any climbing takes place, then the climber is protected for the entire climb from significant falls.
The climbs are easy slab climbing, and there are a number of routes close together so the instructor can monitor climbers and belayers the entire time.
More advanced climbers would “lead” climb routes, where the rope is taken up by the first climber and attached by clips to bolts along the route for protection. Cox also offered to return to instruct further courses on lead climbing once participants had practiced and advanced their skills enough. He also said a climbing gym is hopefully going to be opening soon in Prince George, which would also allow people interested in the sport to take courses and practice their skills in the off-season.
Cox was assisted by Fred Spears, chair of the Prince George section. Spears explained to the class how members of the area club can then participate in trips throughout the year and some of the different activities the club participates in such as backcountry skiing, ice climbing, rock climbing and mountaineering.
To check out the Aline Club of Canada Prince George Section and upcoming trips, go to: https://sites.google.com/site/pgalpineclub/