Join us in the beautiful Okanagan at Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park for a five-day outdoor rock skills program taught by our professional guides.
Skaha is the ideal venue for learning all the essential skills required to climb outside. Known for its dry and sunny climate and spectacular rock, the bluffs have developed into a world-class climbing mecca. With more than 1,200 established routes of all grades, the options are endless. In your spare time, explore some of the many fruit orchards and vineyards for which the region is famous.
The rock type in Skaha is called gneiss (pronounced “nice” for a good reason), a metamorphic form of granite that results in exceptional quality climbs. Gneiss is very similar to the rock found in Squamish and Yosemite.
The rock climbs in the Skaha Bluffs provide a large variety of difficulties and styles which are ideal for the progression of this course. We will visit different crags each day and develop your climbing skills from the ground up. In tandem with rock performance training and movement skills, we will cover instruction on safety and belay systems, including trad gear placements (use of nuts, camming devices, etc.), anchor building, various belay systems, and lead skills (sport and trad).
Objectives and Agenda
Day 1: 8:30 a.m. meet in Penticton (Banbury Green)
- Welcome, introduction, goals, agenda and issue gear
- Introduction to hazard evaluation and risk management at the crag
- Introduce climbing equipment (proper fit and strengths)
- Learn and practice the basics of movement on rock
- Introduction to ‘Top Rope’ rock climbing
- Learn to tie-in to the climbing rope
- Practice the ‘Top Rope’ belay and lowering system – establish proper techniques and habits
- Learn climbing communication calls
- Introduction to rope care and management
- Continued movement skills training and development while climbing routes
- Local crag hazard evaluation and risk management
- Guidebook use and interpreting descriptions and topos
- Learn and practice intermediate movement skills on the rock (bouldering)
- Consolidate ‘Top Roping’ skills
- Top rope anchor construction using bolts and edge safety
- Instruction and practice rappelling
- Continued movement skills training and development while climbing routes
- Warm-up, review and practice movement skills on the rock (bouldering)
- Practice anchor construction on bolts and trees with guide supervision
- Introduction to the ‘Lead Climbing’ system
- Instruction and practice with quickdraw use (clipping bolts, direction, efficient clipping)
- Simulated leads to practice the lead climbing system
- Introduce anchor cleaning (‘switchovers’) and practice in a controlled setting
- Ongoing crag hazard evaluation and risk management
- Refine leading techniques for sport climbs
- Refine clipping technique
- Managing high first bolts (stick clipping)
- Simulated or real leads (dependent on both you and your guides comfort level)
- Anchor cleaning and anchor threading (‘switchovers’) practice at height
- Continued movement coaching
- Introduction to natural protection (cams and nuts)
- Placing and removing natural protection
- Assessing the quality of placements
- Building anchors using natural protection
- Placing and removing natural ‘pro’ on top rope
- Simulated leads to practice the trad lead climbing system
- Debrief and instruction for further progression for rock climbing
Meeting Time and Place
The course begins at Banbury Green Campground at 8:30 a.m. on Day 1. See this map for location.
Instructors & Group Size
Enthusiastic and extremely talented, your instructors hold rock climbing or alpine certification from the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides. Our instructors are chosen not just for their technical climbing virtuosity but also for their ability to instruct and coach.
The instructor to student ratio is 1:6 Minimum group size is 4.
To keep prices down, participants are responsible for their own transport to Penticton and during the program. Penticton is located roughly 8 hours’ drive from Calgary, 4.5 hours from Vancouver, and 1 hour from Kelowna.
If you are flying from afar for the program, we suggest that you rent a car for your visit. In addition to getting you to the climbing locations, it will allow you to explore our region after program hours. For example, you can visit Penticton to enjoy dining out and the many wineries on the Naramata Bench.
We recommend flying into Kelowna Airport (YLW).
Accommodation and Meals
During the trip, we stay at Banbury Green Campground. Campground fees are included in the rate of the program for four nights. The campground has fresh water, electricity and hot showers, toilets, and firewood for sale.
Food is not supplied. You will need lunch, energy snacks and plenty to drink each day. We recommend a minimum of 1 L of fluids per day, more if it is hot.
Equipment & Clothing
The course fee includes the use of rock shoes and technical gear, although you should feel free to bring any gear you already have.
The weather encountered in this program varies greatly. Average temperatures in May and September are approximately a high of 22° C, lows of 7° C. The list below covers all possibilities. Should warm sunny conditions be forecast, some items may be unnecessary. Remember that the weather can change fast, so even if the day starts sunny, you may still need rain gear in the afternoon. You can expect cooler temperatures in the evenings.
Clothing and Climbing Equipment List
- Lunch, snacks and plenty to drink
- Daypack (large enough for spare clothing, your lunch and personal and group climbing gear) *30-40L is recommended
- Rain Gear (minimum jacket, pants)
- Clothing allowing for easy and complete range of movement
- Warm weather gear (fleece jacket, long johns, warm hat, gloves etc.)
- Rock shoes (available for your use at no extra charge, please let us know in advance if needing to use these)
- Approach shoes or running shoes for the walk into the climbing area.
- Harness, helmet, belay device if you have them (we will supply these if necessary) *
- Chalk Bag
- Climbing Guidebook –Skaha Climbing by Quickdraw publications (recommended)
- bathing suit (optional)
- Tent (and footprint, stakes)
- Sleeping bag *
- Sleeping pads*
- Camping pillow
- Headlamps or flashlights (and extra batteries)
- Camp chairs
- Coffee maker
- Camp stove and fuel
- Pots, pans or Dutch oven
- Pot grabber
- Mugs and cups
- Plates and bowls
- Cooking utensils
* Please note there is NO LONGER a climbing shop in Penticton. We recommend having all your climbing and camping equipment before your arrival in Penticton.
Please book as early as practical to avoid disappointment. We require a 35% deposit at the time of booking and the remainder 60 days prior to the trips start date. We accept Visa, Mastercard, Canadian Cheques, Money Orders and Bank Drafts. Credit card payments are easiest, especially for international travellers.
We ask that you familiarize yourself with our detailed booking instructions and conditions.
Please note that you will be required to sign our waiver before commencing the program. Please view our sample waiver copy.
There are two basic types of insurance that most travellers need to consider: Medical and Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance. We offer our guests coverage for both and highly recommend you purchase it.
Emergency Medical Expenses Insurance:
It is wise to ensure that your health plan will cover you in case of illness or accident during your trip. Obtain extra coverage if necessary. There is no charge for rescue in the national and provincial parks. However, costs such as air or ground transportation, long term care and other services are not covered.
Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance:
We recognize that our guests’ schedules may change for many reasons; business, family, flight delays, injuries and other unplanned events. For these eventualities, the Trip Cancellation/Interruption insurance is a great way to protect your investment.
For all your travel insurance requirements, we recommend the Simpson Group. This agency offers a wide range of travel insurance options, including Trip Cancellation/Interruption, Travel Medical and Personal Effect Loss for Canadian Travelers. We highly recommend purchasing this insurance.
Please note that this coverage is for Canadian residents only. For guests who are not from Canada and who are interested in the ‘Visitors to Canada’ insurance package, please contact the Simpson Group directly at JSimpson@simpson-group.com and reference your Yamnuska Mountain Adventure’s trip.
$1275 CDN includes instruction and use of technical rock-climbing gear as well as accommodation in Penticton. Meals are not included, but low cost, easy options exist. Goods and Services Tax (GST) is extra. Gratuities not included.
Trip Cancellation Insurance is available through the Simpson Group.
Is it for you?
This course is designed for:
- Basic indoor rock gym climbers(you can top rope lower grade climbs; you are not lead climbing).
- People who have not climbed before or who have a little outdoor climbing experience but who are in good physical shape.
If you are an indoor climber and climb 5.9 and higher and you are leading or feel ready to lead you should consider our ‘Rock Climbing Level 2 – Learn to Lead’ course or if it’s multi-pitch climbing you want, then ‘Hot Rock.‘