An overview of rock climbing in the Okanagan.

Although the modern sport enthusiast may appear to have little in common with the desires of a monkey, the similar love for climbing seen in humans and primates has helped to develop the popular sport of bouldering. With only a bag of chalk and uncomfortably tight shoes, adrenaline junkies across the world have fell in love with indoor rock climbing. Since it all began in the 1980’s, the number of climbing gyms has significantly increased in the past 4 years to the point where climbing has become an official sport in the 2020 Olympic Games.

Luckily for UBCO students, Kelowna is a breeding ground for excellent climbing opportunities. For those who want to avoid the cold this winter, Gneiss and Beyond the Crux are the go-to bouldering facilities. With diversity in options for beginners or advanced climbers, as well as long hours that make it easy to find a time to go, this full body workout is highly beneficial for students.

Socially, climbing gyms offer a special environment that brings people together to discuss climbing routes and help one another succeed. It’s fairly easy to strike up a conversation with someone who is staring at the same wall as you for 10 minutes. The climbing community in the Okanagan is a rare example of a welcoming family. Mentally, visualizing the routes and executing the climbs requires massive brain power. Keeping the mind sharp is an undeniably good path to improve health and reduce stress. Physically, climbing will have you feeling the burn in those muscles that you didn’t even know existed. While many people think climbing is simply an arm workout, engaging the core and stretching the legs plays a significant role.

But what is so appealing about scrambling up walls for hours on end? When a climber reaches the top, endorphins are released that cause a rush of “feel-good” chemicals. This rush is addictive and causes many climbers to spend hours at the gym instead of binging Netflix and updating Instagram. The thrill of a challenge and multiple levels of difficulty keeps climbers returning. Once spring arrives, the Okanagan becomes home to a tremendous amount of outdoor bouldering and rock climbing sites.

Evidently, the popularity of climbing and bouldering has reached new heights among students across universities in Canada. If you’re interested in trying out this epic sport, check out Varsity Outdoor Club Okanagan (VOCO) or drop by Gneiss and Beyond the Crux to get more information. Happy climbing!