Castlegar Rock Climbing Area To Be Saved From Development

A Kootenay rock climbing association has announced it’s raised enough funds to purchase the most popular rock climbing area in Castlegar, British Columbia.

The Association of West Kootenay Rock Climbers (TAWKROC) has announced it is moving forward with the purchase of Waterline Walls, one of the most popular rock climbing destinations in Castlegar, British Columbia.

The main impetus for the association’s announcement is a $30,000 Land Acquisition Grant that was recently received from Columbia Basin Trust. That grant, combined with another $30,000 raised from various other organizations and local individuals, is the amount needed to purchase the approximately 11 acres on which the rock climbing cliffs are found. “We are really excited that, due in large part to the Trust grant and other generous donations, public access to this amazing recreational area is ensured,” said TAWKROC director Ian McDonald.

In December 2018, the public learned that the 80-acre swath of private property upon which the walls are located on 14th Avenue was for sale. A developer expressed interest but rock climbing couple Mirek Hladik and June Ray stepped in, bought the property and then sought permission from the Castlegar City Council to subdivide the portion with the cliffs. Last month the City approved it and now the process of title transfer will begin. The cliffs have been off-limits to climbers since the property went up for sale and will continue to be so until the final legal documents have been completed and liability signage is placed on the property.
Currently there are about 70 rock climbing routes, ranging from easy to expert, located on the six walls that comprise Waterline. There are also popular hiking trails and green spaces that are important for local fauna.

Above: The fundraising video created for the campaign by Carlo Alcos Digital Media. Top photo: Canada’s top climber Sonnie Trotter at the Waterline Walls in September 2019. Photo by Vince Hempsall.

“The Waterline Walls area is a very special spot right in the heart of the community,” said Will Nixon, Senior Manager, Delivery of Benefits for Columbia Basin Trust. “It will be a recreational resource that supports so many ways for people to get outside and get moving while being connected to their community. Congratulations to TAWKROC for identifying this opportunity, putting the plan together and doing the leg work to make it happen.”

The imminent purchase of Waterline comes on the heels of TAWKROC’s other purchase of a prominent rock climbing spot. In 2016 the association organized a fundraising campaign to buy the private property on which the historic Kinnaird Bluffs are situated and in so doing ensured access for recreationalists in perpetuity. “Donating Kinnaird to the City of Castlegar as a park has been a goal stated in our purposes since we became an official society,” McDonald said. “We now look forward to working on that long-term goal with the city with both properties.”

TAWKROC was established in 2009 to help promote outdoor rock climbing in the Kootenay region by maintaining rock climbing areas. In 2016 it became a registered non-profit society as well as a chapter of the Climbers’ Access Society of British Columbia and its directors are now committed to ensuring climbing areas in the Kootenays remain accessible for all. For more information about the association, please visit tawkroc.org or email directors@tawkroc.org.

Author / Contributor

Vince Hempsall

Vince Hempsall lives in the beautiful mountain town of Nelson, British Columbia, where he spends his time rock climbing, backcountry skiing and mountain biking (when not working). He is the online editor for Mountain Culture Group and the managing editor of Kootenay Mountain Culture Magazine.


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