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Ontario Rock Climbing 

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Location: 44.0244, -80.6836 View Map  Incorrect?
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Administrators: Dave Rone, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Peter Spindloe on Apr 19, 2007  with updates from David Gibbs

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Entering the crux of Nimbus (5.10b) at Lion's Head...


It would appear at first glance that Ontario lost in the glaciation lottery. Somehow nearby Quebec and New York State were spared total bulldozing, but Ontario really got it in the last however number of ice ages.

Despite that, there is some fine climbing to be had in Ontario, even some great climbing. The local communities are large and strong.

In southern Ontario, the limestone and dolostone of the 700km long Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, provides fifty or more crags from Niagara Falls up to Tobermory on the Bruce Pennisula. Recent decades have added a number of high quality sport crags to the trad areas established in the sixties. Lion's Head is a true gem of an area; pictures from there look like Thailand.

Further north and also to the east, the granite and quartzite of the Canadian Shield formation provide some excellent trad cragging and multi-pitch routes.

The relatively long winters have pushed people to hunt out every ice smear around, and if you're up to winter camping and lots of tromping across frozen lakes and in the bush, there's solid ice climbing to be had.

In the more populated areas of Ontario, especially southern and south-western Ontario (within a few hours drive of Toronto) access is often complicated, with many cliffs closed to climbing. The Ontario Access Coalition (OAC) monitors this, and negotiates for access to cliffs, or to avoid closures. They maintain a crag status list at:

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry also maintains an online crown land use policy atlas. This can often be used to determine the ownership status of the land on which a cliff is located in Ontario. It can be found at:

Getting There 

The southern parts of the Niagara Escarpment are easily accessible from Toronto, Buffalo or Detroit. For most other areas you're looking at a lot of driving.

Climbing Season

Weather station 4.7 miles from here

1,015 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',114],['3 Stars',304],['2 Stars',235],['1 Star',141],['Bomb',5]

Classic Climbing Routes in Ontario

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Ontario:
Tempest   WI2+     Ice, 1 pitch, 200'   Orient Bay Ice and Mixed : 5. Cascade Falls/Obsession ...
Ranxerox Tangent   WI4     Ice, 1 pitch, 150'   Orient Bay Ice and Mixed : 3. Ice Palace
Andromeda Weeps   WI4     Ice, 2 pitches, 200'   Orient Bay Ice and Mixed : 6. North End
Tears of Joy   WI3+     Ice, 2 pitches, 250'   Orient Bay Ice and Mixed : 6. North End
Evil Des Sens   WI4     Trad, Ice, 1 pitch, 55'   Orient Bay Ice and Mixed : 3. Ice Palace
Pukasahib (Child's Play)   WI5+     Ice, 2 pitches, 280'   Thunder Bay Region Ice and ... : Mount McRae Ice and Mixed
Getting Oriented   WI4+     Ice, 1 pitch, 150'   Kama Bay, Lake Superior, Ic... : Getting Oriented Area
Aurora Borealis   WI4+ M3-4 PG13     Mixed, Ice, Alpine, 1 pitch, 30'   Montreal River Harbour / Ba... : Montreal River
Mellow Yellow   WI3+     Trad, Ice, 1 pitch, 200'   Orient Bay Ice and Mixed : 1. South End
10% Real   WI5     Trad, Ice, 2 pitches, 150'   Orient Bay Ice and Mixed : 3. Ice Palace
Sycho Icycho   WI2+     Ice, 1 pitch, 190'   Orient Bay Ice and Mixed : 5. Cascade Falls/Obsession ...
Cascade Falls   WI3-4     Ice, 1 pitch, 130'   Orient Bay Ice and Mixed : 5. Cascade Falls/Obsession ...
Obsession   WI4     Ice, 2 pitches, 180'   Orient Bay Ice and Mixed : 5. Cascade Falls/Obsession ...
Front of the Pinnacle   5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c     Trad, 3 pitches, 300'   Bon Echo
Kiss of the Spider Woman   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport   Lion's Head : American Bucks / Spider Wom...
Maneline   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport   Lion's Head : Maneline Wall
Nimbus   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport   Lion's Head : Nimbus Wall
American Bucks   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport   Lion's Head : American Bucks / Spider Wom...
So! You Think You Know Good Kung-Fu?   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a     Sport   Lion's Head : Lady Slipper Wall
The Fin   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport   Lion's Head : The Fin Wall
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Ontario

Featured Route For Ontario
Rock Climbing Photo: Getting Oriented Area of Kama Bay.  Getting Orient...

Leap Year M8-  North America : Canada : ... : Getting Oriented Area
Straightforward ice climbing leads to a large ice ledge at half height, and the beginning of the mixed climbing. Follow the obvious seams up the overhanging wall to gain the upper ice. The difficulty of the route will, I believe, vary from about M7 to M8+ with the volume of ice on the upper section. The gear is quite good although it may be strenuous to place ...[more]   Browse More Classics in International

Photos of Ontario Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Thomas seconding Nimbus.
Thomas seconding Nimbus.
Rock Climbing Photo: Starting up "I Wonder Where the Lions Are&quo...
Starting up "I Wonder Where the Lions Are&quo...
Rock Climbing Photo: Ontario ice
Ontario ice
Rock Climbing Photo: Leading Elzingas Corner
Leading Elzingas Corner
Rock Climbing Photo: Agawa Canyon
Agawa Canyon
Rock Climbing Photo: Mother of Pearl
Mother of Pearl
Rock Climbing Photo: Me on Caramel Coatings (Kushog Lake, ON, Canada)
Me on Caramel Coatings (Kushog Lake, ON, Canada)
Rock Climbing Photo: non climbing - throwing rocks into Lake Superior d...
non climbing - throwing rocks into Lake Superior d...
Rock Climbing Photo: Entering the crux of "I Wonder Where the Lion...
Entering the crux of "I Wonder Where the Lion...
Rock Climbing Photo: Cat's Tail (5.9), a long, sustained and high quali...
Cat's Tail (5.9), a long, sustained and high quali...

Comments on Ontario Add Comment
Show which comments
By jaysquared
From: Madison, WI
Aug 17, 2008
Last week I drove from Toronto to Sudbury and was amazed by the amount of rock up there. Does anyone know about established climbing up there? I didn't see many obviously climbable faces from the road, but I'm assuming there's got to be something.

Anyone familiar with the area?
By nodin
From: Duluth, MN
Oct 15, 2008
Check for more info on the Thunder Bay area...
By Peter Spindloe
From: North Vancouver, BC
Jan 20, 2009
jaysquared, there are some well established climbs in Killarney Provincial Park. Some are documented in David Smart's book Ontario's Finest Rock Climbs. Beyond that, I'm sure there are tons of other areas, although the information is probably sparse.

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