Nanaimo River climbing area

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The Nanaimo River climbing area is located near the city of Nanaimo, adjacent to the Nanaimo River. The rock is mainly sandstone and conglomerate.[1] There are two crags in this area called Sunny Side and Dark Side. They are aptly named as Sunny Side is located on the north side of the river, where it receives more sun than the Dark Side, which is located in a ravine on the south side.[2] During the summer the water warms up to around 24-25°C (75-77°F),[3] so the river is visited by swimmers, kayakers[4] and fishermen. There is a tyrolean traverse between the two areas that crosses the river just to the west of both climbing areas.


Bolted routes started being set during the late eighties / early nineties.[1] Nanaimo River is not, and has never been, a developed or maintained park.[5]

Sunny Side[edit]

Getting there[edit]

Driving north past the Nanaimo Airport, take the first right off the #1 highway onto Nanaimo River Road. This road will pass under the highway, and cross over railroad tracks. Continue until major power lines pass over head. This is where you park. Walk under the power lines to the south.[6] The trail will fork into three: the first right will take you to the top of the cliffs, the second right will take you down some steps to the bottom of the cliffs, and the final path continues to the left and takes you to the swimming area.


There are several cliff faces on the Sunny Side. The First Cliffs are literally the first set of cliffs you pass when approaching from the stairs. The Upper Deck is the higher portion of the cliffs that can either be approached from the top via the first path turning off. The Lower Deck is directly underneath the Upper Deck, and can either be approached by a rappel, or by scrambling over rocks from an approach path between the first cliffs, and the Upper Deck.

First Cliffs[edit]

Climb name Rating Protection Description
God is AFK 5.8 bolted
Lineage 5.8 bolted

Upper Deck[edit]

Climb name Rating Protection First Ascent Description
Bigger and Better 5.11b 6 bolts Greg Soerensen
Feeling Gravity's Pull 5.10a bolted Chris Gill
Finger in the Goo 5.10b bolted
Green 5.8 bolted Chris Gill
Jamaica Jerk Off 5.7 bolted Greg Soerensen
New Shoes 5.11c bolted Chris Gill and Ian
Bat Shit 5.10a trad (gear to 2")
Titanium Man 5.11b 10 bolts
The Becky Route 5.9 7 bolts
Psycho Babble 5.9 trad (gear to 1.5")
Pseudo Placenta 5.11a bolted
Barking Burritto 5.10a mixed (2 bolts + thin cams and nuts)
Eyore 5.9 6 bolts

Lower Deck[edit]

Climb name Rating Protection First Ascent Description
Bulgung Flank 5.9 bolted Ryan Kurytnik
Fluid Thrill 5.10b bolted Ryan Kurytnik
Butterscotch Puddin' 5.8 trad (gear to 2")
High Tide 5.11d 5 bolts Ryan Kurytnik
Lower Momentum 5.10b 4 bolts Ryan Kurytnik
Turbulence 5.11c bolted Ryan Kurytnik has a runout start (see Glossary of climbing terms)
Wishbone 5.8 trad (gear to 1.5" & 1 )
Dink Charmer 5.9 top rope or trad Minimal placement opportunities for trad; top rope would be safer
Junkyard 5.12a 2 bolts runout to the anchors

Dark Side[edit]

Getting there[edit]

Driving north on Highway #1, take the first left immediately after the first bridge onto Spruston Road. Take a right on Riverbend Road until the end where it will turn into a dirt road under the power lines. There is a parking area at the end of the short dirt road portion of Riverbend Road, under the power lines.[7]

After parking, walk along the trail staying on top of the southern edge of the river bank. Eventually the trail will lead down into a canyon. Passing under a large bolder stuck as a chockstone, bolted routes will appear on both sides of the canyon.


Climb Name Rating Protection Description
Chill Out 5.11c bolted first bolted route on the left side after emerging from under the chockstone. Through a small overhang, up a corner, then right to a large ledge with anchor bolts beside a large tree.
Crazy Juice 5.11b bolted second climb on the left side of the path, up the arête, and then mantling over a ledge to awkwardly placed anchor bolts (placed due to soft rock to the left).
Boogie Chillen 5.11c 6 bolts This is the second bolted route on the right, starting on a small ledge. The route gets tough past the first bolt.
Sausage Factory 5.10a bolted first route around the bend, starting on top of the retaining wall. Follow the chimney straight up to the anchor on the right hand surface. A good route for body jams and lay backs.
Naked in the Dark 5.11a mixed 4 bolts + one big nut at the top On the clean face to the left of Sausage Factory. A crimpy surface climb.
Walkin The Boogie 5.10d 6 bolts
Puppet Master 5.12a 6 bolts
Badda Bang 5.11a 9 bolts the bolts are close together
Badda Bing 5.11b 6 bolts
You Can Dance 5.8 trad (gear to 5")
Sun City 5.10a trad (bigger gear)
The Prow 5.13a 5 bolts easy climb until the crux at the top