/ Western Canada & NW USA

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Rog Wilko on 07 Jan 2013
I haven't been to USA for 10 years. One reason for this is that I don't like being treated like a criminal when I arrive somewhere as a visitor. I've never been to Canada. I'm toying with the idea of going over to western Canada, hiring a motorhome and touring around the south of BC and crossing over to Washington and Oregon. I'd anticipate doing a bit of easy climbing (Smith Rock looks worth a visit) now and then. We're not really up for anything more than VS/HVS, and we like well protected trad (with holds, don't really like granite friction climbing) or properly bolted sport routes. Don't do big walk-ins any more
I could do with some advice from the great UKC human database:

1. When's a good time to go for weather etc.?
2. Do tourists crossing the border from Canada get decent treatment?
3. Where might we climb?
4. Anyone had experience of hiring a motorhome over there?
jon on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Rog Wilko:

> I don't like being treated like a criminal when I arrive somewhere as a visitor

Hi Rog, not sure if you mean the finger and thumb prints and the iris recognition system... or the US immigration officials' legendary unpleasantness. Well as far as the latter is concerned I've found over my last three visits (to the US) that there has been a distinct change in their manner. Last September we were greeted by a very pleasant jovial guy. As for the former, well I have no problem with it. Surely it's only a problem if you are doing something wrong?

Regarding your other questions, I'd say Jonny2V is far better qualified to answer them. However I'd just say that our last trip to that part of the US was mid September to mid November 2000. We flew in and out of Seattle and climbed in the Cascades, Squamish, Skaha, Frenchmans Coulée, Leavenworth - all good weather - till the last week, so we bit the bullet and drove down to California!
Minneconjou Sioux - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Rog Wilko:
> >
> 1. When's a good time to go for weather etc.?

Summer

> 2. Do tourists crossing the border from Canada get decent treatment?

Yes. US border guards are remarkably pleasant and helpful. You might find returning into Canada a little more challenging.

> 3. Where might we climb?

Squamish in BC, not sure about Washington.

> 4. Anyone had experience of hiring a motorhome over there?

Very expansive and you will need to check that they will let you take it into the south.

Minneconjou Sioux - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Minneconjou Sioux:

Expensive (though some are expansive also ;-))
Rog Wilko on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to jon:Hi Jon, Thanks for that. Yes, not bothered by the technology, just the personal unpleasantness. I was thinking Sept would be a good time. I was thinking of flying to Calgary, driving to Vancouver, then south before bashing back to Calgary via Idaho, as I've heard good things about City of Rocks.
Rog Wilko on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Minneconjou Sioux: Hi, Thanks for your reply. I'm not sure about Squamish as granite isn't my favourite if it doesn't have holds.
As for van hire, I'm prepared to find it expensive. But we really struggle with camping in a tent these days so it's a van or no go!
I'd wondered about taking a van hired in Canada into US - I've just emailed a possible hirer to see what they say.
jon on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Rog Wilko:

City of Rocks is in the very southern bit of Idaho right next to the Utah border. We were there this September and it was very hot, but the crags face in every direction. Avoid week ends like the plague!
Mark Sweatmasn - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Rog Wilko:

Don't underestimate how much driving you've just outlined... takes a decent day to drive from Calgary to City of rocks (like 13 hours) ; almost 2 days to get from Calgary to Vancouver.

If you cross from Canada to US you need $15 to pay for a Visa Waiver at the USA border. Other than they they are fairly friendly. I agree that re-entering Canada might actually be the tricky part.

September is a good time. I'd consider a couple of days in Pentiction.. The combination of vineyards and the Skaha bluffs (lots of nice sport routes) is always a winner for me.
maria85 - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Minneconjou Sioux:
>
> US border guards are remarkably pleasant and helpful. You might find returning into Canada a little more challenging.
>

What he said... the US border guards are much nicer than they used to be... the Canadian ones on the other hand... frosty to say the least.

Driving across the border to the states was $6 not $15 last time I did it (2011) - and it's not a visa waiver fee it's for something else, the visa waiver doesn't seem to apply if you drive in for some strange reason.


heleno - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Rog Wilko:

> I'd wondered about taking a van hired in Canada into US - I've just emailed a possible hirer to see what they say.

We've done this both ways without hassle, though obviously you would need to clear this with the rental company first.

Found crossing from US into Canada easier than the other way, but no big hassles either way, specially on the quieter crossings. If heading south via Vancouver watch for the matrix lights which tell you which border crossing has least queues.





supafly on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Rog Wilko:

Just up the road from Squamish is some sport climbing (mostly on edges) in a place called Cal Cheak, Squamish as you mentioned is crack and slab mainly.

Other than that about 6 hours east of Vancouver is a climbing area called Skaha which has a mixture of sport and trad on more edgy rock.

Generally coming over the border from the US is fairly pleasant. RV options are very expensive although you might find cheaper options (try http://www.westfaliarentals.com/ or http://www.wickedcampers.ca/ ).

Smith Rock is nice although it's mostly sport again.

To ensure you get good weather in the Vancouver area you would want to centre that portion of your trip around August or possibly September, although the latter can be rainy.

If you have any specific questions feel free to mail me.
Lloydfletch - on 08 Jan 2013
In reply to Rog Wilko: Not sure where people have been crossing the border, but I've found the canadians to be really nice and helpful. One US border guy suggested we might get shot. In my experience they've been aggressive as hell (except one really friendly guy). I was always crossing near Montreal.
Rachel Slater - on 08 Jan 2013
In reply to Rog Wilko:

The last time I drove to Smith Rock from Canada we got harassed on the border by a very sarcastic man who couldn't believe it took me more than two seconds to remember what rock type Smith Rock is. Driving from Canada to Las Vegas this Christmas however, they were fairly nice.
seankenny - on 08 Jan 2013
In reply to Rog Wilko:
> I don't like being treated like a criminal when I arrive somewhere as a visitor.

I visited the US in 2012 and found immigration officials to be fine, despite having visas in my passport from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. The guy asked me why I'd been to Pakistan but it felt as if he were going through the motions really.
Rog Wilko on 08 Jan 2013
In reply to Mark Sweatmasn: Cheers, Mark, thanks for your advice. I am aware of the distances involved - in an earlier life I was a geography teacher, and getting over the fact that USA is 40 times larger than UK was one of my top ten indispensible facts. We did over 5,000 miles in a six week tour of Scandinavia last summer, so we're not scared of it! I'm thinking of a month over your side of the pond.
jon on 08 Jan 2013
In reply to Rog Wilko:

I think Mark's right in that a lot of Brits aren't aware of the distances involved - I remember a thread recently where someone wanted to climb in Yosemite and Devil's Tower and was only going to allow a day for driving the 1350 miles in between - but I'd agree with you, if you are prepared then it's not too bad. Our recent trip was Salt Lake > Northern Idaho > Sierra east side and west side > Salt Lake. This was in 29 days. We had 3000 free miles and only used about 2500 of them. It's a road trip that we've done a few times now. It broke down neatly into climbing Mon > Fri and travelling/resting at week ends.
rpc on 08 Jan 2013
In reply to Rog Wilko:
Surprised nobody has mentioned Washington Pass area. If you're willing to hike up to 1 hr, you'll have a huge supply of quality, multi-pitch (4-10 pitch range) lines in the 5.9 (~HVS) and below range. Granite but essentially all crack climbing & with a spectacular alpine ambiance (~2hrs E/NE of Seattle). Also, it's on the east side of the Cascade crest meaning more stable weather...could be an issue once you start getting into late Sept.
G Graham - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to Rog Wilko:
Rog get in touch if you are flying into Calgary. With some notice I might be able to show you a crag or two by then. Just did my first bit of Rockies ice on Sunday. A very memorable trip into the ghost.
Rog Wilko on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to supafly: Thanks for your help. I think we'd go for a camper with a shower and toilet as we like to stop away from campsites. Or is that frowned upon in the Land of the Free? I suppose there might be bear issues doing that? But there are bear issues on campsites too in my limited experience.
Rog Wilko on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to rpc: Thanks for the suggestion.
ads.ukclimbing.com
George Ormerod - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to G Graham:
> (In reply to Rog Wilko)
> Rog get in touch if you are flying into Calgary. With some notice I might be able to show you a crag or two by then. Just did my first bit of Rockies ice on Sunday. A very memorable trip into the ghost.

Tangentially - what was the access road like for driving into the Ghost?

Offwidth - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to Rog Wilko:

"One reason for this is that I don't like being treated like a criminal when I arrive somewhere as a visitor". Going to go the whole hog and emigrate from the UK then??
George Ormerod - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to Rog Wilko)
>
> "One reason for this is that I don't like being treated like a criminal when I arrive somewhere as a visitor". Going to go the whole hog and emigrate from the UK then??

Good job the UK Border Agency lot are little rays of sunshine. They're always cracking jokes and bantering with me on the way into the UK .............erm.........

loose overhang - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to rpc: I would've but the OP said no granite. I rate Washington Pass highly. Good climbing, tent or vehicle camping and almost guaranteed good weather mid-July to mid-Sept.
rpc on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to Rog Wilko:

Don't think I've ever paid for a campsite around BC & WA (except for Leavenworth which is just more crowded/controlled) but my experiences have been largely limited to sleeping in the back of our pick up truck (more low key) & usually only a night or two in a given spot. Our friends' site might be of interest esp. since they went in a (big) RV & for extended periods of time:
http://ericandlucie.com/Website2003/Cascades%20Rock%20Climbs/CascadesRC.htm
enjoy.
IainRUK - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to jon: Not sure..

I hate US immigration.. I've been queued for deportation... tickets taken off me.. they push and push.. I'm now known by them.. so when I land they see me and just call me out.. I thinkI'm now cleared as the last 2-3 have been rapid..
Minneconjou Sioux - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to IainRUK:
> (In reply to jon) Not sure..
>
> I hate US immigration.. I've been queued for deportation... tickets taken off me.. they push and push.. I'm now known by them.. so when I land they see me and just call me out.. I thinkI'm now cleared as the last 2-3 have been rapid..

Not the same experience on road crossings.
Jonny2vests - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to Rog Wilko:

> 1. When's a good time to go for weather etc.?

Geography is important here. The Coast Mountains in Canada and the Cascades in Washington are part of the same E/W watershed - wet side is west (temperate rain-forest), dry side is east (semi-desert). Visiting wet side crags before July / after September is risky weather wise, you could lose half your time. The east side is climbable all year round, but can get hot in summer. For my money, the best crags are on the wet side.

> 2. Do tourists crossing the border from Canada get decent treatment?

Assuming you have a UK passport, UK is on the visa waiver list, therefore all you need to drive into the US is an I-94, which you can get at the border and costs a few quid. Its valid for 3 months, but if you don't ever hand it back, they don't like because they don't know you've left and they could stop you re-entering on some future date. You can't post it, but you can usually hand it in at an airport. To fly in to the US, you will of course need an ESTA.

> 3. Where might we climb?

Within reach of Vancouver (with minimal approach) with driving distances from there:

Squamish Area - Canadian wet side - 1 hr north. Yes, its granite, but there's lots of cracks, single pitch to all day. Not much below VS though. 'Squamish Select', Marc Bourdon (2012).

Skaha - Canadian dry side - 4 hours east. Gneiss trad and sport, soft grades, good vibe. 'Skaha Rockclimbs', Howie Richardson (2012).

Leavenworth - Washington dry side - 4.5 hours southeast. Similar to Skaha, but better. Another hour east is Vantage, popular sport venue, never been. 'Leavenworth Rock', Viktor Kramar.

Washington Pass - Washington dry side - 4 hours southeast. Easy access alpine, not been yet.

Washington wet side has lots also within easy reach of Vancouver, mostly minor, but notably Index (4 hours southeast) is amazing, but very limited below HVS, and its Granite. Falcon Guide - 'Washington'.

Smith from Vancouver is about 7-8 hours I think. Smith is great, better for Sport than Trad, on the dry side but hotter than Skaha or Leavenworth in Summer (its in a kind of sheltered bowl). Falcon guide 'Smith Rock State Park'.

> 4. Anyone had experience of hiring a motorhome over there?

No. But it will surely be much cheaper in the US, most things are, food & petrol significantly so.
jon on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to jonny2vests:

> Washington Pass - Washington dry side - 4 hours southeast

We kicked off our NW trip by doing Liberty Crack and then, needing a rest day, dropped down the other side of the pass (I think?) and climbed at a mainly sport crag called Mazama. Great little area. Unfortunately I managed to put my back out and couldn't straighten up and so only had one day there, but I'd certainly go back.
Jonny2vests - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to jon:

Yeah, heard great things, its pretty much top of the list for 2013. Liberty Crack is in Steck's top 50 book yeah?
jon on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to jonny2vests:

That's the one.
Rog Wilko on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to jonny2vests: and others. Thanks a lot for all that useful stuff. Much appreciated.
Rog Wilko on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to rpc: Thanks for the info. We never "set up camp" in the wilds, rather turn up around tea time and move on in the morning.
G Graham - on 12 Jan 2013
In reply to George Ormerod:
Hi George it was fine with a high clearance vehicle but there was a deep hole at the first river crossing that would have caused problems for most vehicles. Could be avoided with care though. The snow yesterday has probably changed the situation though. A friend is going in to waiparous tomorrow so ill try to report back.
We emailed a bit a few months ago. I'm now in Calgary and getting settled. Will have a car in a week or two and will be looking to get out most weekends if you are ever looking for partners let me know. Going skiing at Nakisha tomorrow in the sun.
Rog Wilko on 12 Jan 2013
In reply to G Graham: Hi Geoff,
Glad you're setting in well and climbing already! Where are you based now?
G Graham - on 13 Jan 2013
In reply to Rog Wilko:
Hi Rog
I'm in Calgary for the next couple of years or so. Just need to convince my wife that snow is better than rain.

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