Almost everyone knows that the Niagara Escarpment is the best part of the Collingwood area. Noted for the great skiing, mountain biking, and of course the Bruce trail. With the natural abundance of high quality Limestone cliffs, it is natural to have some good climbs. These climbs range from beginner to advanced and on the most part are easy to reach.
Before we discuss the many different areas around the Georgian Bay area let's talk about the different styles of rock climbing, and the most commonly used rating system. The rating system used in North America is called the Yosemite Decimal System. This system consists of five classes. Class 1 is walking with a very low chance of injury and a fall is not fatal. Classes 2 and 3 are steeper scrambling with increased exposure and a greater chance of severe injury but falls are not always fatal. Class 4 can involve short steep sections where the use of a rope is recommended and un-roped falls could be fatal. Class 5 is considered true rock climbing and is predominantly on vertical or near vertical rock and requires skill and a rope to proceed safely. Un-roped falls will result in severe injuries or fatalities. Class 5 is broken down into sub-classes with 5.0 being very easy up to 5.14?? being very extreme. The normal weekend type of climber would vary from 5.7 to 5.10 D range. In theory grade 6 exists and would be used to grade aid climbing where progress is made by climbing directly on equipment placed in or on the rock and not the rock itself.
Now as for the climbing styles. The most common for beginners is called Top Roping, this is where someone goes to the top of the climb and sets anchors, drops the rope down. The level of risk is low for this, equipment that is required is minimiumal, skill required besides setting the anchors is also minimum. Most climbers advance onto Sport Climbing, technical skill require is still relatively low. Hard to extreme climbs. As the difficulty rises, so does the level of risk. The climber begins from the bottom and as they climb, they clip a carabiner into a stainless steel hanger that has been bolted into the rock. Some say the most “pure” style of climbing is called Traditional Climbing. This is the most gear and skill entensive style of rock climbing. As the “leader” climbs they insert into the cracks / pockets of the rock different types of protection. Protection can be simply explained as aluminum wedges slung with air craft cable. The climber clips the cable end with a carbiner and attaches the rope to it.
Climbing areas around Georgian Bay. There are approximately twelve different climbing areas, most are on private property and almost all have been closed by the owners. The most visible area is overlooking Kimberly, that’s Old Baldy. It is a Conversation area, requires a permit to climb there, and there is no top roping allowed due to the age of the cedar trees at the edge of the rock face. The climbs at Old Baldy are nice, mostly sports routes with some traditional as well. There is approximately eighty climbs here, with most of those around the 5.9 to 5.11d range, meaning its not for the beginner. Dedicated climbers who have developed their personal style and skill will find this a great place. The approach to Old Baldy is from the Bruce trail down a trail, but be careful. Generally speaking it's nice there, not over populated, great view of the valley and of Kimberly.
The least used but very nice climbing is Pinnacle Rock in the Duncan Cave Provincial Preserve. The approach is longer, best from the west along the Bruce trail side trail (blue blazes). The routes are taller with very little wear and tear on the environment. Great for peaceful solitude climbing. With the height, it’s mostly traditional climbing there, with limited tope roping possibilities. The views are great, ranging from looking to Metcafle rock to the east to Georgian Bay to the north east. There is about fifeteen routes here ranging from 5.6 to 5.12.
Now, for the most developed and used area…Metcafle Rock. It is located in the western side of Kolapore Uplands, on crown land. Easy approach up the Bruce trail which is now a gravel path to the bridge from the road, distance maybe three hundred metres. Metcafle has around seventy routes and is broken down into many different areas, the overhanging wall, boiler plate wall, gully area, central area, and metcafle north. The overhanging wall is the southern end of the rock and where most climbing schools do their teaching. It is for the most part the easiest to get to the top, has numerous anchors bolted at the top for top roping climbing. The gully area only has a few climbs, is wet in the spring and remains cool throughout the summer months. Boiler plate wall is just to the north of the gully area, again only has a few climbs that are difficult to set up for top rope climbing. The climb “Its not everyday” is the obvious crack system in the middle of the wall. Its not just another climb as well, I have seen amany ego’s vanish on that one. Moving to the north is the central area. This area has thirty four routes, on the most part is hard to set up top rope climbing, there is some sport routes as well as traditional. There is a new climb that was developed about three years ago. Its in this area, called “called out”, a sport route rated as 5.6 by Erik Howells and Malen Vidler. The last real area of Metcafle rock is Metcafle north, located just north of the pennacle facing south west. This is the tallest area of Metcafle rock, can be top roped if you have a sixty metre rope.
The last area is Berlin Wall, also known as Molson Rock. This is the closest area to Collingwood, hidden away just off of Grey Rd 19. The routes here are on the higher end of the scale, the rock is very often wet, and it is a nice place in the summer once the rock is dry. The approach to the top and bottom are easy, making this area great for top rope climbing.
There is potential for further development for climbing in the whole area, but I would really think before you developed. After all, the diverse area around the escarpment has certain wildlife and plant only found here.
Submitted by Malen Vidlar