Vacationers flock to the South Okanagan for Skaha Bluffs Climbing Competition – Penticton Western Information

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The southern Okanagan is Canada’s top rock climbing destination and Saturday’s event at Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park in Penticton proves that, says Rolf Rybak.

The executive director of the Skaha Climbers Association was instrumental in organizing the first-ever climbing festival, which welcomed thousands from different states and provinces on May 28-29.

Celebrating the 12th anniversary of the provincial park’s founding, Rybak said the event in late May officially turned rock climbing into a mainstream sport.

“A lot of people move to Penticton for the climbing because it’s considered a world-class crag,” Rybak said. “It’s become mainstream and no longer a counterculture activity.”

The opening of the event on Saturday offered 14 vendors and interactive activities for all ages in addition to the main attractions on the rocks.

“It’s all about community here,” Rybak explained. “We raise money through silent auctions, contests and through our generous vendors who have donated climbing products and cash to the festival.”

Funds raised during the weekend will go to Skaha Bluffs Park Watch, an organization formed six years ago to enhance the experience for locals and tourists alike at the provincial landmark.

Climbing isn’t just an ordinary sport though – it’s also a real money maker.

Rybak pointed to a 2018 Penticton-led economic study that found the climbing community brings in $12 million in direct and indirect community impact each year, based on 60,000 visitors.

“Now we’re pushing almost 75,000 to 80,000 people who come here for the climbing,” he said. “Hopefully this weekend will create even more awareness of the park and what it means to us.”

Activities for climbers of all skill levels are offered on Saturday and Sunday, with competitions and training sessions scheduled on both days.

“We have a lot of vendors here who recognize the importance of skaha, and from a Penticton and tourism perspective, it’s important to know that there’s more going on in the city than just the north end,” Rybak said.

“There’s also a lot going on in the south.”

CONTINUE READING: Here’s what’s happening in Penticton this weekend

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