Ruedi Beglinger and the Michaelangelos of the vertical

“First time fun turns into a lifetime of passion.” In tribute to its first ambassador Dean Flick, the 3rd Edition of Revelstoke Rocks climbing guide is here.

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The third edition of the local rock climbing guide Revelstoke Rocks is now available. It's been updated with guides and information on new climbing spots around Revelstoke. Photo: Sarah j Spurr

This story first appeared in print in the April/May issue of Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine.

It was my first impression of Revelstoke. We tucked into a tent sized clearing on a bed of forest for the night — the ambient rush of Begbie Falls called out from the canyon below us. Unzipping to see things by morning, I looked up to find silver lines drawn by spiders busily projecting their new day’s webs. We began with sweet simplicity, the climbing guide to Revelstoke Rocks, cowboy coffee and oatmeal cooked over a Jetboil. I made us sandwiches, taking in the intensity of our surroundings — ever, ever green, lichen, moss and toadstools. We took the trail up to the Begbie Bluffs and as the sun lifted and warmed we were treated to a forest bath. Oxygen combed between us and the giant stands of timber. We flaked the rope and began our bodies upward. “Listen to the Creek” was my first multi pitch climb. Turning around to that view from the anchor was like cranking open a giant window. I could breathe in so much air and see out so far.

Revelstoke Rocks author Ruedi Beglinger. Photo: contributed

The 3rd Edition of Revelstoke Rocks is now in my hands and just like the first time, I feel the incredible sense of opportunity and adventure.

A generous key to 18 climbing areas, 69 developed cliffs, 456 routes and a total of 810 pitches. As far as vertical playgrounds go, it should be no secret that the Revelstoke area is home to some of the best and most diversified climbing in Canada.

“Hanging on a belay and observing the climbing partner doing his or her moves, or leading the most scenic pitch ever, it always gave me that great feeling of doing something very special.”

-Ruedi Beglinger, Revelstoke Rocks

Since there was a need to draft up the first, the comprehensive guide book to climbing in Revelstoke has been composed and maintained by author, Ruedi Beglinger. It’s now 200 pages greater than the last, includes full colour visuals, up-to-date crag developments (five more crags!) and improved retro bolted areas (Lauretta Slabs!) you should revisit. At your convenience and for those who are looking to find the right route within their ability level and expectations, you’ll find a tidy list of select Revelstoke Plaisir. However, Ruedi is the first to advise not to let the ranking of stars or Plaisir limit you. The “best” climbs are completely subjective. Approach everything with positivity and finesse. For best results, expose yourself to variety often. Don’t be afraid to spend some quality time cleaning off something mysterious. Mine yourself and unlock those hidden gems.

Ruedi, in July of 1969 at Bockmatli Schweiz in the Swiss Alps. Photo: contributed

A labour of love

“Writing a guidebook is a labour of love! It begins with an absolute love of climbing and ends with hundreds of hours sitting in front of a computer, which really is the polar opposite of climbing itself.” -Nicoline Beglinger

Humbled demeanor, words poetic and sincere, Ruedi’s legacy in the mountains runs deep. With his wife Nicoline and daughters Charlotte and Florina, he’s become well known for their hospitality at the Selkirk Mountain Experience. A remote slice of “paradise found” in the Durrand Glacier/Mount Moloch area where they offer world-class guided skiing, mountaineering and hiking. At the core you’ll find a passionate rock climber who finds peace and friendship in every season of exploration. Sharing this immense joy with others is his art form, something benevolent and fundamental to the climbing landscape we see thriving here today.

“No guide book can be written without the loyal and highly appreciated support and friendship of local climbers. First the route has to be cleaned and built and then all these composers of fine climbing have to give me the needed information about their new climbs and how to get there” – R.B

A climbing guide is far reaching. It’s designed to relay essential information such as grades, beta and crag orientation — your guide to Revelstoke Rocks is something useful just like any other piece of gear you’ll bring out there with you. It’s also one of the most compelling artifacts of local climbing history; it’s yours to illustrate and the story gets better each time you reach for it in your rucksack. From the ground up or the top down, it’s written in increments by a passionate and energetic few — the “Michaelangelos of the Vertical” as Ruedi affectionately describes them. Over the years climbers have become inspired here, devoting personal time and resources to see their creative interpretations through. The names of these climbers and their partners who develop not only routes but entire climbing areas are all important players in the big narrative. Each first ascent is the mark of someone else leading the way so you can go further too. Revelstoke Rocks is the product of something alive, collective and evolving. “We should appreciate and say thanks guys.” -R.B

Dean Flick pictured here with the 20th Solo Ascent of summit of Mount Moloch

A Tribute

“Dean was not just a true local, born and raised in the Big Eddy area of Revelstoke; he also fully believed in his hometown and the surrounding peaks … I think we can say with comfort that Dean was the climber who started the entire rock climbing scene.” —R.B

Revelstoke Rocks is a heartfelt tribute to it’s first true pioneer and local ambassador, Dean Flick. Beginning on page eight, you will find a piece of climbing history that returns the spirit of the sport to the young people who grow up playing and daydreaming here. Dean is exactly what “local legends” are made of. An example for future change makers who will invest themselves in outdoor recreation for generations to come. After reading about Dean and Ruedi’s friendship you might be left wondering how you too can become that kind of climbing partner who brings out something great in someone else.

“Dean was always a quiet and modest, but gifted leader. All Dean wanted in his life was climbing. He was a true ambassador to this great sport; he ran his own race and experienced his own incredible adventures.” – R.B

Dean (far left, orange sweater) with friend Richard Thur (far right) on the summit of Mount Begbie, Revelstoke August 1983 at age 16. Photo: contributed

*Ruedi has put up a three pitch 5.10c rock route titled Dean-Bean at the Jordan River Walls for everyone to enjoy. A stunning short film titled Solo on Mount Moloch, 3103, features Dean filmed by Ruedi making their solo ascent on Mt. Moloch in the Selkirk Mountains of British Columbia.

A Conversation

Who is Ruedi Beglinger?

Growing up in a mountaineering family, in a mountain village in the Swiss Alps, for me rock-climbing, skiing and mountaineering in winter and summer was a natural way of growing up. Already at the young age of 15, experienced climbers and mountaineers from my home valley noticed my deep interest in the sport. I got invited to climb many of the great alpine walls in the Alps and this quickly developed my passion towards the mountains and hard alpine and rock routes. Yes, I did become a little fanatic about mountains. My circle of climbing friends grew and I was invited to climb with many of the best — adventuring great alpine terrain and myself in not always easy situations all across the European Alps. From this moment on, I was probably a late teenager, and saw my future very clear; rock-climbing, summer mountaineering and ski-mountaineering. After I got certified as an I.F.M.G.A Mountain Guide at the very young age of 22, I realized how lucky I was. It became my ambition to give back to other climbers. Writing stories about my climbs, giving slide shows all over Switzerland and parts of Germany and later on in the USA, I had that dream of someday writing guide books. I always felt this is my only way to serve other climbers, tell them about some of the great climbing areas and routes I had the privilege to get to know so well. Somehow, I always felt that inspiring guide books serve other climbers more than a book filled with scary alpine climbing stories.

How does completing the third edition of Revelstoke Rocks compare to the very first?

The first guide book to Revelstoke rock climbing was easy. The name of this book was Revelstoke Rock. It was in 2004 and at that time we had not many routes or climbing areas in Revelstoke. Still I had to put in many hours to write the book and draw route photos. Financially it was easy; I had a publisher, Kevin McLane from Elaho Publishing. The second guide book I decided to self publish and slightly changed the name from Revelstoke Rock to Revelstoke Rocks. The name can be taken both ways. The many crags in Revelstoke or Revelstoke simply Rocks. This guide book was a great apprenticeship in regards of writing a larger guide book and in publishing. In the meantime I also have written and published a less known guide book, The Hidden Alpine Gem. This guide book captures 294 alpine rock and mountaineering routes in the Durrand Glacier/Mt. Moloch area, approximately 45 km northeast of Revelstoke. I gained a little more experience in writing guidebooks and in self publishing. At that point I decided to write the third official edition to Revelstoke Rocks. This time the job became a lot more complex. We have now many more areas to cover and also a total of 456 routes. I never felt that learning about all routes and capturing them in text and photos was a big job. If anything, I always felt inspired by all the great routes in Revelstoke and the hard work every route developer has put into her or his new routes.

In recent years, how has the Revelstoke climbing scene evolved? What can we enjoy today that hadn’t yet been realized during the release of the second edition?

Revelstoke is no longer a ‘drive-through’ rock climbing area, when climbers happened to stop in Revelstoke for a day of climbing while driving along the Trans-Canada to some other climbing area. Thanks to the endless hard work of many loyal Revelstoke climbers, this area has reached a proud reputation as a high-class rock climbing area with an endless variety of great rock routes. As a result, today we see many climbers from all over Canada, the States and even Europe travel to Revelstoke and spend several days climbing on shorter cragging routes or on longer wall routes. Revelstoke definitely is on the world map for rock climbing and has reached the reputation as one amongst the best.

What is it that makes climbing in Revelstoke stand alone from other major destinations such as Squamish or Skaha?

We have to be honest and even if we are proud Revelstoke climbers, Squamish and Skaha are the leading rock areas in Canada. In particular Squamish is high on the list of world leading rock areas. It often is seen as the Yosemite Valley of Canada. Long granite wall routes, some of the hardest gear climbs in the world and a very big variety of climbs. Its geographical location and weather pattern makes this area a very desirable place to go climbing. What makes Revelstoke to some degree more interesting is that every climbing area surrounding Revelstoke has its own characteristics regarding scenery and landscape. Just think of the more classy sport climbing crags at Begbie, the deep canyons and wild rushing water directly beside the cliffs at Mulvehill and Blanket, the fairytale forest and beautiful Upper Arrow Lake at Echo Bay and then the more committing rappel approaches at Waterworld and Jordan River Wall. Many climbers travel to Revelstoke because of the grand Victor Lake Wall or Columbia Buttress where they can experience multi pitch climbing up to 16 pitches. If the arms are tired and all finger strength from hard pulling on steep rock routes is gone, climbers can shift their focus to the Lauretta Slabs where they can challenge them self with more technical and less physical slab climbing. I think Revelstoke has it all, sport and gear routes, 5.4 routes to 5.13 and short cragging or long wall routes; including a very charming downtown Revelstoke.

Do you have a favourite crag or wall? What’s your go-to classic?

I don’t have a favoured crag or climbing route. I always have the best time ever, regardless where I climb. Every cliff or wall has its own characteristics and offers a different experience. However, if I do have to pick my Revelstoke climb, then it more likely will be a longer wall route at Victor Lake Wall or on the Columbia Buttress.

How can we become our best as climbers, partners and care-takers of this environment?

Most important, we need to respect every climber out there, regardless if they are less strong climbers or if she or he are that amazing higher grade on-sight climber. We should have the best day ever while climbing with whoever it might be. To become stronger climbers we have to recognize our true ability level of climbing. In my personal opinion, a climber is at the level of whatever route she or he can on-sight, probably not every climber will agree to this. To become a stronger climber I think it is better to climb a larger variety of lower grade routes and once we feel comfortable with the experienced difficulties we can raise the bar to the next level, and so on. Also, we can never take our playground and its natural environment for granted. We are nothing else but invited guests to our pristine nature. Unlike many other countries, I think in Canada most people are doing an excellent job in respecting the environment, many are true ambassadors to Canada’s famous wilderness.

For new climbers and the future Michelangelos, what is most essential we pass along — from those who first dared to imagine Revelstoke as a climbing paradise?

Climbing is not just mastering steep and strenuous climbs. There is much more to it. Climbing is moving on rock, if steeper or not so steep. Most of all it is all about adventuring a rock wall and experiencing ourselves as we move step by step up a rock route. This is something many climbers don’t even think about. For somebody who never has climbed or has very little experience, I think it is important to link up with a friend who wants you to become a good rock climber and is not into showing you how strong and cool he is. When somebody starts rock climbing, it is all about that person. Learning safety first, how to protect themself from hazards, rope handling and even how to respect the interest of other climbers who are close by. Learn to move on easy routes, even if these routes might feel a touch too easy, we need to learn how to move with feet, hands and even with our mind. Eventually we understand the dynamic flow of rock climbing and the grade can be raised and first time fun, turns into a life time passion.

For fellow climbers discovering Revelstoke Rocks, Leave us with Ruedis’ Kind Regards:

Climbing is a very special sport and people who enjoy this fantastic lifestyle are often seen as rebels of the vertical. I don’t think that is all true, at least for the vast majority of climbers. It is all about being out there, experiencing something we like to do — ‘ballet in the vertical.’ Whatever it is, difficulties or length of the routes, it means everything to us climbers, sharing a special sport with great friends. So, go out there, have fun and enjoy your best day ever. Ruedi.

There’s more!

-Find your copy and climbing needs at Valhalla Pure downtown Revelstoke.

-Check out revelstokeclimbers.org to meet the dedicated Revelstoke Climbers Access Society (RCAS) board board members and find additional online beta, supplementary info and newsletters.

-Become a member! Only $5. Contact the RCAS to volunteer, donate or report concerns.

-Join the ‘Revelstoke Climbers’ on Facebook to network with the community and receive up-to-date info on news and events.

-Information on bouldering in the area can be found at revelstokebouldering.ca

-Courses for kids, beginners, intermediates and lead are available through flexpeditions.com

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Sarah Spurr
Sarah j Spurr moved west five-anda-half years ago from Kawartha Lakes, Ontario. My own world expands when I tread further, exploring new physical challenges alongside creative outlets. Here, I’m interested in connecting with others to showcase how they allow their own special blend of originality to flow. Living in the thick of this mountain environment what are you creating? Where does it stem from? Your story is soul food for the rest of us.