If you are a climber, Easter weekend probably found you frolicking your little heart out in Skaha: scampering up lead climbs, hiding from the occasional hail storm under craggy overhangs and settling in for the night at a campsite along the lake. If you’re like me however, you probably naively thought that you would have the whole place to yourself. You had vivid dreams of running your hands through golden grass and singing the Sound of Music in the morning dew whilst birds harmonized… no? Having never actually made it to Skaha, I was unaware that it is considered a “Mecca” for climbing. Apparently I live under a rock, because pretty much everyone in the entire world was there. I heard someone say “thousands,” but in my world, that’s pretty much as big as it gets — my brain can’t fathom much more than that. Luckily we had the foresight to book a campsite ahead of time, after a tip off from our friend and fellow climber Alicia, hailing from Revelstoke. Excellently, we found ourselves at a highly sought after lakeside site with a fire pit, and gloated openly. We took advantage of our fire pit with great amounts of zeal, and overdosed on s’mores until I remembered why I don’t like marshmallows. I realize this is a contentious issue. The next morning, after a sugar-infused slumber, we found ourselves at Red Tail Wall, chatting with folks from Canmore and Quebec. My initial fear of being surrounded by mean people who would laugh at my climbing was instantly put to rest, and we all climbed amiably around each other for some time.
I quickly realized why the Skaha Bluffs are so popular. Not only are the climbs bolted well for beginner lead climbing, but the general atmosphere everywhere we went was very inclusive and friendly. Not to mention the excellent Okanogan scenery. Partly owing to the relaxed atmosphere (despite the whole world gathering), I managed to have some of the best climbs of my life, as did Ed and Alicia. We came away from the bluffs each day feeling like we had made break throughs in our confidence, and I went from never really wanting to lead climb, to wanting to onsite everything. Kind of a big deal for me. That being said, by the last night, we were all feeling a little crowded out of our campsite, so we went into Penticton and had fancy Greek food, looking a little wind burned and bedraggled in our chalk stained pants and puffy jackets.