Story by Justin Allec, Photo by Josh Vissers
Once considered an alternative sport, rock climbing continues to flourish in Thunder Bay. We’re fortunate to have several great outdoor areas nearby and an active community of climbers, which includes a chapter of the Alpine Club of Canada. However, obstacles do get in the way: our long winters, the fact that it’s always raining on your days off, or even the effort required for outdoor set-ups means that climbers, whether we’re beginners or experts, are sometimes stuck when it comes to furthering our experience. Local climbers Lisa Eddy and Dallas Markall, both of whom have deep roots in the climbing community, are set to remedy this situation with their new facility, Boulder Bear Climbing Centre. Located at 425 Northern Avenue on the CLE grounds, Boulder Bear is ready to thrill climbers at any level with 6000 square feet of professionally designed climbing space, as well as a dedicated weight-training area and yoga studio.
The molded walls throughout the facility curve and bulge up to the ceiling, simulating a real crag. The plentiful wall space means there are over sixty roped routes, with some climbs as long as 50 feet. Somewhere around 5000 holds means you’ll never get bored. In addition to routes for top-rope and lead climbing, there’s also a dedicated bouldering space, and they have equipment rentals if you’re just starting out. You don’t even need a partner, as auto-belaying devices are being installed on some routes.
Markall and Eddy want Boulder Bear to be a place to foster love for the sport, be it a child’s first time on the wall for a birthday party or a seasoned veteran training for an upcoming expedition. Professional instruction is available for those who want to work on their skills, be it on the wall or through weight-training and yoga classes. If you enroll your children in their youth programs, you can expect them to enjoy weekly practices and eventually, the challenge of competition. By offering options for one-on-one, pair, or group instructions, corporate development and team-building programs, and even birthday party hosting, Boulder Bear is set to fill a gap in the local climbing scene.