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Vancouver Island Climbing

rock climbing crags from Victoria to Port Hardy
Wild Isle Guidebooks to coastal Vancouver Island BC Adventure

Vancouver Island has lots of great rock climbing. There are steep sport climbing crags, bouldering, trad walls and big alpine faces to keep any rock climber busy for a lifetime.

There are sport climbing areas near most of the major Vancouver Island communities, developed and maintained by local climbers.

The geology of Vancouver Island is diverse giving a good variety of rock for the rock climber. There is granite, limestone, basalt, andesite, conglomerates, sandstone and other rock types.

Following is a directory of the best of Vancouver Island rock climbing.


At the balmy south end of Vancouver Island in the hills overlooking the provincial capital are clusters of basalt bluffs that offer some great climbing in secluded settings. Some of the main areas are Mt Wells, Sugarloaf, Fleming Beach and Glen Lake. Other climbing hot spots are East Sooke Park and the seaside bouldering at Fleming Beach. lists 230 climbs and 230 boulder problems in the Greater Victoria Area.


- 2015 South Island Select Guide
by Allen Agopsowitz
Status - Available

- Glen Lake Crag
by Seanathon Morphy (2019)

- Rock Climbs of Victoria
by Mark Freeborn (2008)
Status - unknown

- Greater Victoria Climber's Guide
by Allen Agopsowicz (2003)
Status - unknown

Social - Victoria BC Climbing Friends, Glen Lake Crag, South Island Climbers Association


Mt Maxwell offers some adventurous climbing on an unusual conglomerate rock.

Sandstone on Galiano.

Guidebook - Saltspring Rockclimbs by Gus Oliveria
Status - second edition in print and available

Social - Victoria BC Climbing Friends


Duncan Boulders located east side of Mount Tzouhalem near the Maple Bay Marina. Over 250 problems on sandstone blocks are listed in the current guidebook but has 365.

Guidebook - The Duncan Bouldering Guide
by Seanathon Morphy, Greg Bauch, and Mikhail Yerkovich 

Social - Duncan Bouldering Commission

Samsun Narrows was one of the earliest crags developed on Vancouver Island with a climbing history going back into the 1980s or before.

Guidebook - 2015 South Island Select Guide
by Allen Agopsowitz
Status - Available

Online Beta - Samsun Narrows


The hills and shoreline surrounding Nanaimo have some excellent rock climbing and route development over 30 years has produced one of the best cragging areas in the south of Vancouver Island and the highest concentration of climbing routes in the Island region as a whole. The crags are split into several main areas: Mt Benson ~100 routes, Nanaimo River ~85 routes, Lantzville Foothills ~80 routes, Rutherford Ridge ~40 routeswith another dozen or so at several minor crags.

Guidebook - Nanaimo Crags
by Ryan Kurytnik
Status - fifth edition (2016) out of print- new 2020 edition pending

Social - Nanaimo Climbers


Most of Vancouver Island is made up of brown, volcanic basalt but at Horne Lake can be found one of the few limestone outcrops that are scattered along the island. The Horne Lake karst is a real taste of Euro-style limestone with superb, difficult sporty routes. The well-out-of-date 20 year old mini-guide lists about 50 routes.

The Horne Lake walls are on private property and the access is officially closed. Please pay attention to posted closures and local's advice on climbing here.

Online Beta - Horne Lake
Mini-Guide (PDF)

Social - Horne Lake Climbing


There are two close by sets of boulders along Highway 4 west of Port Alberni. The original boulders are right by the road in a jumbled talus slope. The problems are great but the landings and situations leave a lot to be desired. But desire no more, just a few kilometres further up the road is a beautiful collection of granitic boulders in a pretty forested setting - Sutton Pass.

Access - From Port Alberni drive west on Highway 4 following signs for Tofino and Pacific Rim. 41km west of Alberni the road follows the bank of the Taylor River and the Sutton Boulders are impossible to miss on the open scree slope above the highway. For the Sutton Pass boulders continue up the steep hill to a pullout 1.5km beyond.

Online Beta - Sutton Boulders, Sutton Pass


Several good areas around the valley with the best being at Comox Lake and Constitution Hill. The climbs at Comox Lake have great access and nearby camping at the Comox Lake campground. Fun lakeside climbing on the typical island basalt. Constitution Hill has quality granite, some of the only low-elevation, accessible granite on the island. Current guidebook lists over 150 routes.

Access - Comox Lake Crags are found around the campground west of Cumberland at Comox Lake. The campground at the lake is called Cumberland Lake Park. Cumberland is approximately a 1 hour drive north of Nanaimo, and a 2.5 hour drive north of Victoria on the inland island Highway #19. Take Exit 117 to Cumberland and drive 3 km to Dunsmuir Avenue. Turn right and drive 4 blocks up this main avenue, at the end turn left and drive 4.4 km to Comox Lake and the campground. There are signs to Comox Lake from the Highway.

Layout - Mostly bolt-protected sport routes and TRAD, with bolted anchors and rappel stations. Good, well constructed and maintained trails.

Camping/Accommodation - Tent camping at the Comox Lake campground, hostel in nearby Cumberland.

Guidebook - Comox Valley Climbs
by John Waters (fourth 21st anniversary edition 2019)
Status - in print and available

Social - Climb with me Comox Valley


The rugged Discovery Islands are one of the most beautiful areas on the south coast of BC and have tonnes of adventure activities. Quadra Island is a mecca for outdoor activities with miles of excellent hiking and single-track mountain bike trails, world-class kayaking, diving and other water sports. including some amazing rock climbing. The most developed cragging area is around Chinese Mountains and Morte Lake on Quadra Island. There are over 250 routes on clean, solid volcanic andesite rock. Easy trail access, great views, an interesting variety of rock and a good selection of 2 and 3 pitch routes add up to a great climbing experience. Elsewhere around Quadra are some short but excellent granite shoreline crags.

Access - by ferry from Campbell River to Quathiaski Cove (10 minutes) and then drive West Road to Hyacinthe Bay Road and pull out at the signposted trailhead (15 minutes)

Layout - Mostly moderate, bolt-protected sport routes with bolted anchors and rappel stations. On average some of the longer sport routes in the Vancouver Island region. Basic paths connect the crags to major hiking trails, new signs were erected in 2019 making navigation to most of the crags a lot easier. The guidebook has detailed descriptions and GPS waypoints which also help locate the crags.

Camping/Accommodation - Tent camping at Heriot Bay Inn, We Wai Kai Campsite. Many other accommodation options see online>

Guidebook - Quadra Island Rock Climbs
by Philip Stone (2018 edition)
Status - in print and available

Social - Quadra Island Climbers

Online Beta - Quadra Island Rock Climbing, New Routes


With around 250 free routes and 50 aid climbs Crest Creek is one of Vancouver Islands best developed sport climbing areas and a must visit for any climber on Vancouver Island. The rock is the prevalent coarse volcanic basalt with great friction, few continuous cracks but fun and varied bolt protected face climbing.

Access - Crest Creek Crags are located in Strathcona Provincial Park 60km west of Campbell River. From the junction on the Inland Island Highway head west on Highway 28 toward Gold River. The crags are clearly signposted about 40 minutes drive from Campbell River.

Layout - Mostly bolt-protected sport and mixed-pro routes with bolted anchors and rappel stations. Some purely TRAD routes. Excellent trail network serve the crags with manicured staging areas. Well-signed from highway, parking lots, picnic areas and outhouse-toilets.

Camping/Accommodation - No camping permitted at crags. Closest tent camping at nearby Heber River Recreation site just a kilometre to the west off Highway 28, Buttle Narrows BC Parks site, Lions Campsite Gold River or at Strathcona Park Lodge. Motel accommodation at Gold River and Strathcona Park Lodge.

Guidebook - Crest Creek Rock Climbs
(2017) by Chris Barner & Ahren Rankin
Status - first edition in print and available.

Social - Crest Creek Climbing Area


Not to be confused with the provincial park of the same name north of Whistler-Pemberton, this Marblerock Canyon is located on the west side of Buttle Lake in Strathcona Park. A high 350m limestone wall runs over 1.5km up the south-facing side of this remote, wilderness valley.

Access - Marblerock Canyon is reached by boat across Buttle Lake. From Campbell River drive west on Highway 28 and keep straight down the Buttle Lake Parkway at the Buttle Narrows junction. From a pullout 22km along Buttle Lake park and put in a canoe or kayak and cross to the north side of the creek outlet. An easy, unmarked hike leads up the valley to the base of the walls (2 hours from road).

Layout - This is a wilderness conservation zone there are no bolts and all the routes involve adventurous trad climbing.

Camping/Accommodation - There is an idyllic basecamp site by Marblerock Creek below the walls. On the creek outlet delta is a BC Parks Marine Campsite.

Guidebook - Island Alpine Select
by Philip Stone
Status - first edition in print and available

Social - Vancouver Island Climbing and Mountaineering


There is not much low elevation granite on Vancouver Island but this area is well worth the effort to hike up into the alpine for the clean rock and beautiful ambiance. Thousands of small and larger granite outcrops are scattered for miles along the high alpine ridges between Mt Myra and Mt Thelwood. Possibel to climb in a strenuous day trip but an ideal destination for a weekend campout.

Access - Tennent Lake is reached on the Mt Myra trail from the Myra Falls mine site at the very south end of the Buttle Lake Parkway in Strathcona Park. Drive west from Campbell River on Highway 28 and keep straight at the Buttle Narrows junction all the way south to the mine site. Drive all the way through the mine to the trailhead and parking. Hike down the gravel Powerhouse Road to the trail and hike up to the meadows at Tennent Lake.

Layout - A remote backcountry location with no bolts or other infrastructure. Lots of granite cracks for trad protected climbs and endless bouldering.

Camping/Accommodation - Wilderness camping at Tennent Lake and in the meadows above.

Guidebook - Island Alpine Select
by Philip Stone
Status - first edition in print and available

Social - Vancouver Island Climbing and Mountaineering


The Nomash Valley has some of the rare low elevation granite found on Vancouver Island although it is not easy to reach with a long drive out to the remote coastal community of Zeballos. Long multi-pitch slab routes with the nearby splendour of the alpine Haihte Range.

Access - A long drive up the Island Highway 19 to the Zeballos junction and then along the gravel Zeballos Forest Service Road. Just outside the small community of Zeballos turn east onto the Nomash Main logging road and follow it to a parking place at Nathan Creek where the roads ends at a removed bridge. From here hike in to the small side valley

Layout - Mostly bolt-protected slabby sport routes with bolted anchors and rappel stations.

Camping/Accommodation - Camping possible at the end of the Nomash Main road or hike in further to a site closer to the Nomash Slab.

Guidebook - Island Alpine Select
by Philip Stone
Status - first edition in print and available

Social - Vancouver Island Climbing and Mountaineering


South Island Climbers Association
established in Spring 2019 to act as a unified voice for rock climbers on Southern Vancouver Island - extending from Duncan west to Port Renfrew and south to Victoria. We aim to preserve and sustain the natural ecosystem and ensure access to recreational climbing. We promote quality route, boulder, and crag development and maintenance, encourage dialogue between relevant stakeholders, and protect indigenous cultural assets for future generations.

BC Ice Conditions
This page exists to give all the ice climbers out there somewhere to go in order to find out what's in, what's not, and generally what's new in B.C. Ice climbing.

Climbers Access Society of BC
The Climbers Access Society of B.C. is an independent not-for-profit society which provides a united, province-wide voice on climbers' access issues.

Canadian climbing mag.
Online since 1995 as one of the first sports websites ever, contains information on 6178 climbing areas in 93 countries easily making it the largest climbing site on the net!

Rockies Climbing Guide
The authoritative site for sport, multi-pitch rock, ice, and alpine climbing in the Canadian Rockies and Bugaboos.

Skaha Rock
The home of up-to-date info on climbing at Skaha Bluffs, B.C - new route descriptions and grades, topos to selected crags, and updates on access issues, wildlife warnings, and other news.

Squamish Climbing
Online headquarters for everything climbing in Squamish. Planning resources, links and online discussion forums.

Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour
Quadra Island Bolt Fund