Bon Echo – Ontario

Bon Echo is a magical place, 350ft cliffs rising straight out of the warm waters of Mazinaw Lake. Indian paintings dot the bottom of the cliff while falcons soar overhead. The Alpine Club hut is a gathering place for climbers seeking adventure in a province dominated by one pitch routes. Many bold plans are made over bottles of red wine as the days pains are soothed in the sauna.

Bon Echo is located three hours north-east of Toronto on highway 41. For more information check out the Toronto Section of the Alpine Club of Canada Home Page where you can find a list of upcoming hut custodians and an online guidebook.

Be aware that most people consider the grades at Bon Echo to be stiff, thus most people lead at least a couple of grades below what they lead elsewhere. Often the crux at Bon Echo is not the individual moves, but route finding and holding it together when you are 40′ out from your last piece of good pro…

Sweet Dreams – 5.9

This was the best 5.8 at Bon Echo, bold and intimidating, until someone pulled off a key flake on the last pitch. There is some debate about how much harder it is now, but there has always been some debate over how hard this route really is.

The first pitch lulls you into a false sense of security. Above the belay here look up, this is probably the hardest 5.10 I have ever done Great Leap Forward graded a ten before anyone had heard of 5.11. Stepping around the corner into the traverse of the second pitch is where the route gets exciting. The world drops away below your feet and you loose your breath. Steel yourself though, the crux is still ahead. The third pitch is where things get hard, move up the overhanging face until you gain the weakness rising to the left. Move up to a rest at a lonely cedar then head up the overhanging face for some beautiful wide crack climbing.

The Entertainer – 5.9

The Entertainer makes it’s way up the most impressive and highest part of the cliff and is very intimidating. The second pitch is the crux of the route.

From the second belay, climb up a detached, freestanding pillar without pro then step across the gap to the main face and into the technical crux. This section eats up gear and many leaders have found themselves short at the end of it. You won’t need the gear though because there is next to none as you wander up the face for about half a rope to the belay. One last hard move puts you at the scariest belay I have ever been at. Set up a semi-hanging belay off of ancient pins (I replaced one) below the huge roofs above and gather your courage for the last short pitches.

Perversion – 5.9

This route is amazing and varied. Slab climb up ramps with minimal pro, stem up clean corners, sling wooden pitons fixed in the overhanging offwidth crack, climb delicate face then finish up on one of the most insecure pitches I have ever climbed. This last pitch follows a diagonal weakness up and left, hands palming the rounded sloping edges of the crack while your feet skate on the smooth face. An amazing route, originally graded 5.10 (some feel it should still be…)