From skipping stones to devouring ice cream cones, Comox Lake is a fond place for childhood memories. I enjoyed countless summer days focused on the water, all the while unaware of the world of moss-covered rock waiting to be enjoyed in the forest behind. At the time I was creating my memories, bouldering was a relatively new activity as its own endeavour. The world of bouldering has since grown and changed to become a popular form of rock climbing enjoyed by thousands.
Bouldering is a form of rock climbing that involves often-gymnastic movement on large boulders with the aim of not topping them out, but taking the hardest route possible up. Due to the aspired difficulty of passage up the rock, boulderers use crash pads (usually hinged chunks of high density foam protected by a durable nylon) for protection. Falling off is inevitable.For this reason, is it essential to learn proper falling and spotting techniques.
There are more than a hundred established climbing routes at the lake, and boulders are cleaned as a “wet season” activity. The bouldering problems created are done exclusively by volunteers who dedicate countless hours to scrubbing and development. Although there are established bouldering routes that are given a difficulty rating, most people find their own way—creating a unique flow of movement over the rock. Local developers place a huge emphasis on safe landing zones. They turn the forest into a recreational playground while preserving the natural environment.
The boulders at Comox lake can be accessed by passing through the village of Cumberland and parking at the Campground. The stone is primarily basalt, an aphanite igneous rock form with a high variety of rock compositions. In climbing terms, problems range from low to high traverses, from steep and slabby with high balls, holds are crimps, edges and jugs. The “Warm up Wall” is the best place for beginners to ease their way in, learning crimps and how to top out.
To start, you need: climbing shoes—ones that are snug fitting and comfortable (sticky rubber is awesome); chalk and a chalk bag; a crash pad; and Beta (with or without it, you can enjoy yourself). Equipment is available at local outfitters, including Blue Toque, Valhalla and Alberni Outpost.