Crest Creek Crags Rock Climbing
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The Crest Creek Crags are a rock climbing area situated adjacent to highway 28 just within the western boundary of Strathcona Park, roughly an hours’ drive from the city of Campbell River, or 20 minutes from the Town of Gold River to the west.
The crags are located close to the road (in most cases approaches take less than 10 minutes) in an area that previously has been much used for industrial purposes. The crags occupy a square kilometre or so, and exist alongside a logging road, a water diversion project, a power line and Highway 28. Over the years stakeholders have included local re creationist, BC Parks, local industry and business and the department of highways.
A very small portion of the climbing area is nestled amongst old growth timber on the north side of Highway 28, and with the exception of some view-scapes, industrial activity is less evident.
There are three parking areas and outhouses serving the crags. One, the Crest Lake day use area, is not climbing specific and features picnic tables and an outhouse with access for those with disabilities, a bear proof trash receptacle and a launch facility for small boats. A variety of re creationist use the Crest Lake area, it is a popular location for anglers and the lake is stocked with trout regularly. As the season warms the lake attracts bathers and boaters, and there are some lovely spots to just sit and enjoy.
Trails at the crags are often used by mountaineers and back country hikers and skiers as a starting off point for forays into the alpine, and a flagged route begins at the “Top of The World” crag those accesses Wolf Mountain and Puzzle Mountain.
Wildlife sightings are common at Crest Creek, with a beaver colony occupying the wetlands adjacent to the lake. Bears are regularly sighted and there is the occasional cougar sighting. Birds and small mammals such as squirrels can be seen on every visit, and elk herds frequently migrate through the valley.
The crags themselves are composed of basalt, an igneous rock that formed as domes of pillow lava during undersea eruptions; which was then uplifted. Glacial advancement scraped sediments from the bedrock and then receded, revealing the hard, greyish-brown rock that provides superb climbing today. Cracks tend to be discontinuous, however, and climbing routes often require the placement of fixed protection.
The regions climate is maritime – mild temperatures with lots of rain and snow and the vegetation is thick. These characteristics make building and maintaining trails and routes at Crest Creek very problematic. There is continual erosion and re-growth, never less, summers can be dry and warm at Crest Creek, adding to the possibility of destruction by fire. Fortunately, the very precipitation that complicates trail and route building at the crags helps to mitigate fire hazards during most summers, and helps remove signs of human impact such as the build-up of chalk on the handholds of popular routes. This effect is much envied in other climbing areas with drier climates such as Skaha Bluffs near Penticton B.C.