Hours after writing the final exam of my University career, I jumped on a plane and flew to Kamloops to meet Kyle who had been cruising around the interior of BC for the two weeks prior. He met me at the airport and we made a B-line for Penticton where we would spend the next two weeks camped out in the front lawn of our generous hosts, the Stathers. Woody's family has an apple orchard on the Naramata Bench above Penticton and it was the perfect base camp for adventures!
|The amazing view of the orchard from the Stather's porch|
Kyle was adamant that this was to be a climbing trip but the weather wasn't so great when we arrived. It was a good excuse to go biking. Our first shuttle up to the Naramata Beer Run demonstrated that it was still early season. We stopped driving when the snow got too deep, then pushed out bikes up through the slush and sleet to the trailhead. We must have been the first bikers of the season on the trail, because we were pushing through untracked snow for a long time. Finally we hit dry dirt and enjoyed a fast rip to the bottom. We did not go back for a second lap.
|Shuttling above the snow line|
|A snowy push to a snowier trail|
We took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up at Legend Distillery. Somehow Kyle and I convinced Woody and Chad to go retrieve the vehicles while we sat on the sunny patio and sipped Gin and Tonics. We also had to pick up a bottle of local gin, "Doctors Orders."
|Can't complain when the trail ends at a distillery|
Over the two weeks, we took advantage of our location to check out a few of the local wineries on the Naramata Bench. Most have free wine tasting if you buy a bottle, or $5 pp if you don't. It was fun sampling the local wines and having the Kettle Valley Railway bike path right there for a quick pedal back to the trailer afterwards.
|Biking in the morning, wine tasting in the afternoon|
|Cheers to vacation from Hillside Winery|
Whenever there was a break in the weather, we would head up to Skaha Bluffs. Woody was an awesome tour guide and showed us around to some of his favourite crags. Kyle had a tick list of routes to try during the 2 weeks so we kept busy by climbing almost daily despite the occasional rain shower.
|Cool and wet in Skaha Bluffs|
|Kyle on the Raven and the Bear 5.10a|
|Kyle on the via ferrata up to the crag|
Kyle and Woody were pushing each other hard. The friendly competition made for a great atmosphere at the crag and got me stoked to get on some harder climbs and occasionally do some leading. I am still working on my headspace on lead, but the trip to Skaha really helped me focus. Having so many days on rock in a row is great for your confidence and strength! By the end of the trip, both Kyle and Woody were red pointing 5.11s and I was leading up to 10a.
|Kyle trying to work out the moves|
|Jenny is a top-rope tough guy - grunting up a steep 11a|
The culmination of all the hard work for Kyle was an his first 5.11a sport onsight on Nemesis and his 5.10a trad lead on Ready to Strike at Diamondback on our last day. Ready to Strike was a route we had walked past a dozen times and despite being nervous about the route, Kyle stepped up and onsighted it. Way to go Kyle!
|Kyle crushes Ready to Strike - 5.10a trad|
|Pulling the roof on Ready to Strike|
We did have a few down days, including a rainy one where we went to check out Cave Hill at the back of the park. Cave Hill is an area with all sorts of tunnels through the rock. Woody guided us through one of the passages. It was very wet and slippery from all the recent rain, which made some of the underground V0 boulder moves a bit challenging. The cave starts with a few steep sections that you have to hand-over-hand down some ropes, then you are in complete darkness. It was fun working our way through the cave and out the final squeeze. If you go check it out, don't forget a headlamp and be prepared to get dirty. It took us about an hour to get through the cave, although it felt like 15 mins.
|Checking out Cave Hill|
|Woody under Cave Hill|
|The exit from the cave defies gravity|
Upon emerging from the cool, dark cave, we were hit by a wall of hot air. A big thunderstorm had started while we were underground and from where the cave exits, we had a great view of the bluffs and Penticton below. We sat and watched the storm from the shelter of the ledge, then scrambled down to start making our way back to the car. En-route we were caught in a downpour and hailstorm which fortunately only lasted a few minutes.
|Thunderstorms descend on Penticton and Skaha Bluffs|