Rock climbing is a potentially hazardous activity, and can result in severe injury or death
YOU DO SO AT YOUR OWN RISK
Prior and competent knowledge in the use of various rock climbing safety devices is assumed. While every attempt is made to ensure that the information provided here is correct and safe, it is never a substitute for your better judgment. It is absolutely essential that individuals participating in such activities make themselves aware of the risks and accept these and their responsibility for their own actions and involvement.
The information contained within or linked to by this website is NOT climbing instruction. You should never attempt to climb without first having received professional instruction from a certified instructor. The Alpine Club of Canada – Manitoba Section and any contributors to this guide accept no liability whatsoever for actions taken by individuals based upon information presented in or linked to by this website. Users of this guide must be responsible for learning all the appropriate techniques required to climb the particular route they have chosen to attempt.
There are no warranties, whether expressed or implied, that this guide is accurate or that the information contained in it is reliable. Your use of this guide indicates your assumption of risk, that it may contain errors, and is an acknowledgement of your own sole responsibility for your climbing safety. By use of this guide, you release The Alpine Club of Canada – Manitoba Section and any contributors to this guide from liability for any injury, including death, that might result.
Rock Climbing Guide to Northwest Ontario/Southeast Manitoba
The Kenora region occupies the southwest edge of the rocky peneplain known to geologists as the Canadian Shield, a sparsely populated land of sparkling lakes and boreal forest that covers half of Canada. The Canadian Shield is the oldest and largest exposure of crystalline rock on the earth; the cliffs that we climb on are all that remain of mountain ranges that were born 2 to 4 billion years ago. Rocks that are now exposed were formed deep within the earth under conditions of intense heat and high pressure; as a consequence, a bewildering variety of rock types occur on the Shield. Although the Kenora region is richly endowed with unmetamorphosed pink granodiorite, less solid metamorphic and volcanic rocks are also common and it pays to be suspicious of every hold you touch, especially when exploring new routes. Helmets have proven their worth more than once on these crags.
The climbing season normally extends from May through Oct, with spring and fall offering the best conditions. Summer (June-Aug) can be stiflingly hot and is also bug season – an unfortunate fact of life on the Shield. You can usually stave off these beasts by wearing loose clothes that cover your arms and legs, camping in a windy spot, and retiring to the safety of your tent 1/2 hour before sunset. Always pack insect repellant.
Wasps nest in rock crevices and can be aggressive, especially in the autumn; carry an anaphylactic shock kit if you are hypersensitive to bee stings. Black bear and moose are the only vertebrate hazards, but you’re unlikely to have trouble if you make some racket when moving through the bush, keep a clean campsite, and store food in a secure place (your vehicle, a canoe anchored well offshore, or a bag suspended at least 3 m off the ground well away from your campsite).
In the early 1970s a small group of experienced rock climbers that had recently moved to Winnipeg began looking around for climbable rock. Without too much effort, they discovered several superb granite cliffs to the east of the city in the general area of Kenora, Ontario. Beginning with the most obvious lines at the Gooseneck Rocks near Minaki these pioneers began systematically developing this area’s vast climbing potential. By 1986, when the first edition of this guidebook appeared, nearly 100 routes had been described; today more than 350 are known. The crags linked below are excerpts from the third edition of the guidebook, which is available in PDF format. The routes in the guidebook and on this site were based on a series of guidelines.
Many people assisted in documenting the Classic Routes in the Crag pages: Peter Aitchison and Hugh Spencer started the job in the ’70s; the style of their original route descriptions for the Gooseneck Rocks influenced all subsequent contributions. Liz Luginbuhl entered this early material into a computer, which made it possible to easily modify and add new descriptions. Richard Tilley and Bob France maintained the guide during the early ’80s. During this time, Everett Fee contributed most of the ELA and Gunton material and Ian Clarke and Casey Shaw did the Lily Pond. Doug Leonard and Caroline Marion did Jones Cliff, Jake and Cindy Klassen added the Roadside Crag, and Rob Hester kept track of developments in the Minaki area. Everett Fee originally brought all this material together for the guide, while Rob Peters should be credited for consolidating recent material to form the content in the Crags pages.
More recent guide books are available at kenorarockclimbs.com.
Winnipeg Climbing History
Climbing has a long history in Winnipeg. The Alpine Club of Canada was founded here in 1906 and the Winnipeg section was active right from the start. It was especially vigorous from 1925-’40 when A.A. McCoubrey, F.R.G.S. and Ferris Neave were section chairmen. Mr. McCoubrey was remarkable: besides being section chairman for most of this period, he was vice president of the club (’28), president of the club (’32-’34), editor of the Canadian Alpine Journal (CAJ) for 12 years, and chairman of two important committees (Ski Mountaineering and Glaciers).
Throughout the ’20s and ’30s Winnipeg Section members prepared for their explorations in the western mountains by climbing regularly at the Gunton quarries and skiing on the steep banks of the Assiniboine River. These were serious mountaineers that routinely bagged impressive peaks, including several notable first ascents in the Rockies and Purcells (CAJ 18: 74-81, 92-95, 21: 33-41, 22: 98-101, 214, 217, 23: 1-16). Their most famous adventure was a strong attempt on Mount Waddington at a time when it was an internationally recognized prize (CAJ 22: 32-45, see also C. Jones ’76, Climbing in North America). This same group made a special contribution to Canadian alpinism in the sport of ski mountaineering (CAJ 19: 160-162, 20: 178, 21: 122-127, 240, 22: 164-166, 23: 81-85, 27: 76-80, 28: 116-119, 66: 19-20).
Interest in climbing waned in the ’40s, and by the end of World War II the Winnipeg Section was inactive. Things got going again in the early ’70s, when Peter Aitchison discovered the Gooseneck Rocks and John MacKenzie put the Winnipeg Section back on its feet. Like our predecessors, Winnipeggers continue to climbing at the local crags and do a lot of ski touring in the off season. We also pursue climbing and ski mountaineering in the Canadian Rockies (CAJ 66: 19-20).