In a quiet corner of Vancouver Island near the west coast community of Gold River can be found one of the Island’s most charming and quietly-popular recreation destinations.
For rock climbers from Victoria to Port Hardy, Crest Creek Crags at the western edge of Strathcona Provincial Park is a treasured gem. It is a place of cool forest trails, sparkling lakes and carefully developed rock cliffs where climbers hone their skills and follow their passion.
Crest Creek Crags have been something of a backwater when compared to better known B.C. climbing destinations like the Squamish Chief and Skaha Bluffs near Penticton. But Crest Creek is about to undergo a big reveal with the publication, this summer, of a new guidebook to the rock climbing routes at these remarkable crags.
Crest Creek Rock Climbs is a well-crafted 168 page book by co-authors Chris Barner and Ahren Rankin of the Heathens Outdoor Club, designed by Philip Stone with Wild Isle Publications. The book tells the story of over thirty years of climbing at Crest Creek. There are anecdotes and a detailed history that help bring the characters that forged this park within a park to life. The unique qualities of this west coast climbing venue are illustrated by dozens of photographs spanning the earliest years of climbing at Crest to the most recent achievements.
Along with the back-stories and scene-setting images are of course the nuts and bolts of a state-of-the-art climbing guidebook. Crest Creek Rock Climbs is printed in full colour with side-by-side photo-topos and well-loved classic hand-drawn schematic topos of each crag, identifying the individual rock climbing routes’ location and character. Concise, insightful and often quirkily humorous descriptions add flair and colour to enrich the climbing experience. In total there are around two hundred and fifty free climbs described and about fifty aid routes adding up in testament to the vast amount of energy that has gone into establishing the climbing area at Crest Creek.
While recent headlines have described a volatile relationship between BC Parks and some members of the climbing community, Crest Creek is nevertheless, at its heart, a product of cooperation and passion. Thousands of hours of volunteer labour and untold quantities of donated tools and materials have been applied to create what has been described as a “rock climbing garden”. The result is a place that isn’t exclusively for climbers. The BC Parks facilities provide ample parking, outhouses and picnic tables for all manner of day visitors who can stroll the miles of climbers trails to viewpoints over looking Crest Lake and through the emerald green rainforest. There is a good swimming beach at the lake and it’s a good place to cast a hook.
Crest Creek Rock Climbs will be available for purchase at all good Vancouver Island outfitters, select book stores in a matter of days and is available to order online at www.wildisle.ca
The Heathens and Wild Isle Publications invite all local climbers and outdoor enthusiasts to join the authors at a book launch celebration on Friday, June 30 at the old Outdoor Addictions store space, next door to On the Rocks Climbing Gym, 1980 North Island Highway in Campbell River. Doors will open at 6 p.m. and light refreshments will be served. Stop in and say hi and pick up a signed copy of this new addition to North Island recreation and adventure.