Top climber to speak at rock climbing festival in Robson

The fifth-annual Kootenay Rock Climbing Festival will feature one of Canada’s boldest climbers.

Will Stanhope, a top Canadian climber, is the guest speaker for the fifth annual Kootenay Rock Climbing Festival. (Submitted)

Will Stanhope, a top Canadian climber, is the guest speaker for the fifth annual Kootenay Rock Climbing Festival. (Submitted)

ROBSON — The fifth-annual Kootenay Rock Climbing Festival will feature a man who has been described as one of Canada’s boldest climbers.

Will Stanhope, who lives in Squamish, will be the guest speaker for this year’s festival. He recently completed “one of the hardest climbing achievements ever done on Canadian soil,” according to the press release for the festival, having climbed all three west of the Howser Towers in the Bugaboos in 23.5 hours, alongside British climber Leo Houlding.

“He’s one of the best… definitely top three best rock climbers in the entire country,” Vince Hempsall, director of the Association of West Kootenay Rock Climbers (TAWKROC) and organizer for the festival, says of Stanhope.

The two-day festival kicks off on Saturday at 2 p.m. behind the Lion’s Head Pub in Robson with family-friendly activities, followed by Stanhope’s talk at 7 p.m.

“What we do is we set up in the back parking area of the Lion’s Head and we put ropes up on all the wall climbs that are there and then we also put up a kid-friendly climbing wall, a zipline — which is actually attached to the main cliff that’s there, so kids just kind of crawl up and get themselves on the zipline and then they zoom down,” explains Hempsall.

There will also be a slackline (so kids can test their balance a safe distance from the ground), a door prize draw, silent auction and the Tower of Power compeition.

“Hands down the most popular event of the entire festival and the reason being is you’re tied into a safety rope and you take milk crates and stack them on top of one another while you’re standing on them,” explains Hempsall.

He says that kids tend to be better at it than adults as they have a lower centre of gravity and they have smaller feet to fit in the handholds of the milk crates.

“We once watched this kid, he stacked 22 crates high, like he couldn’t actually go any higher because our safety line didn’t go any higher,” says Hempsall. “Which, when you think about it, a milk crate is like a foot by a foot by a foot, so he was maybe 10 years old and he was 22 feet in the air.”

Gear will be available for those who wish to participate in Saturday’s activities and no registration is required. Events run 2 to 7 p.m.

The second day of the festival features a boulding tour, kids’ climbing half-day and three clinics: Intro to Rock Rescue, Intro to Route Building and Female Climbing Clinic.

To register for Sunday’s clinics, visit tawkroc.org.

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