Do you like climbing rocks? Do you enjoy hiking in a gorgeous valley? What about making friends? Walking a tightrope suspended between two giant boulders? Do you like having fun and being happy?
If you answered yes to any of these, you’re in luck. This Saturday, the local climbing community will host a revival of the Ibex Valley Bouldering Festival, and you and all your friends are invited.
What in tarnation is a bouldering festival, you ask? Or what, more specfi cally, is bouldering? I’m glad you asked.
Bouldering is the sport of climbing – not surprisingly – large boulders. Climbs tend to be a lot shorter than your typical top-rope or sport route you fi nd at, say, the Rock Gardens or Crag Ex.
Whereas the latter routes range in height from 30-100 feet, boulder climbs tend to be in the 10-20 feet range. The beauty of this is you don’t need a rope or harness or any of that fancy gear.
Heck, you don’t really need anything other than a good attitude and a drive to put body to rock and climb upwards.
Most people, however, climb with rock climbing shoes to stand on delicate edges, gymnasts’ chalk to keep their hands dry, and a strategically placed mat with helpful spotters (sometimes named Matt) to make a soft landing when you fall.
And there’s a lot of falling in bouldering. It’s part of the fun.
For more information on the festival itself and the Ibex Valley, I sat down with the shockingly handsome, sweet, charming, witty, clever, totally humble event organizer, Alex Weber.
Oh wait, that’s me! Now enough with the self-aggrandizing and on to the facts: the Ibex Valley is a short drive from Whitehorse (about 30 km north-west) situated below the Ibex Mountain, and surrounded by several other mountains, including Mount Arkell.
The boulders, having long ago fallen from the mountain above, are made of quartz monzonite, which tends to be very solid and sharp – pretty much perfect for climbing.
There are over 100 known boulder ‘problems’ in the area, ranging from the very simple to damn near impossible. The area has been attracting climbers to it ever since the 1970s.
In 2001, the very first Ibex Valley Bouldering Festival was held by local climbers (mainly the Allen family, I believe). It was meant as a way of bringing climbers together for one day of the year to share in the fun and strengthen the community.
Since then the festival has occurred on and off every year, with 2015 being its 10-year anniversary.
Past festivals have been sponsored by local businesses, hosted concerts, and generally been well organized. This year is a little less formal and fl ashy, with the main focus of just getting people out together to climb.
So if you, your friends, your grandma or anyone else you like wants to come and join the fun, the whole thing will be happening on Saturday August 8, starting at 10 a.m.
Participants are encouraged to bring their own food, water and climbing gear (lots of climbing mats would be awesome). For those without access to a 4×4 vehicle, shuttles will be organized from the gravel pit just off the Old Alaska Highway.
A guidebook, directions on how to get there, and more info (and videos) of past festivals can be found at www.yukonbouldering. com. A Facebook event page can be found at: goo.gl/rCEtFH
Finally, some reminders: bouldering can be very dangerous, and only you are responsible for your own safety; it is everyone’s responsibility to keep the Ibex Valley clean, to protect and share it with future generations; bring a positive attitude and encourage all effort.