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Try a family rock-climbing lesson to get a whole new look at Thunder Bay

thunder bay kids fun

Looking for a totally memorable day out with the kids? Through Outdoor Skills and Thrills, you can book a beginners half-day climbing lesson for your family for kids ages 6 and up, including all the gear like helmets, harnesses, shoes, chalk bags and ropes. Aric Fishman, owner and lead guide, has been a fan of rock climbing in Thunder Bay ever since he was a student at the Outdoor Rec program at Lakehead. “We have an absolutely amazing landscape to see when you’re climbing, with canyons, high hills and lakes,” he says. “The variety and quality of the rock makes this area unique. There’s nothing else like it in Ontario for sure.”

What do you do in a beginner course? Fishman, in his friendly but very thorough and expert way, goes over safety requirements, shows you how to put on your equipment and takes you through a basic knot-tying lesson. Then it’s time to climb. Use your hands and feet to search for tiny natural footholds and handholds on the cliff face. At the same time your climbing partner belays you, which means she or he carefully controls the slack on the rope that keep you from tumbling to the ground. (No sibling squabbling allowed.) After you reach the top—or somewhere thereabouts—you rapel back down to the ground, to cheers and high fives, and probably some Spider-Man comparisons. “I love that I get to teach people this incredible new thing; how to be safe and not freaked out, all the while being out with friends and pushing your limits,” says Fishman. “My youngest student was six and the oldest was well into her eighties.”

One of the more popular rock climbs is the Bluffs in Centennial Park, just a 10-minute drive from the fun Bay & Algoma neighbourhood at the north end of Thunder Bay. At the start of your five-minute hike into the climbing site, be sure to pause and take in an amazing wide-angle view over the city, Boulevard Lake and the Sleeping Giant. There are about 120 routes on the Bluffs, and other climbing sites within an hour's drive include Silver Harbour and Pass Lake, near Sleeping Giant Provincial Park.

Prices start at about $49 per person for a two-hour session. Fishman is an experienced photographer so it’s well worth the small extra fee for a digital photo package that shows all the action. Talk about some cool family time!

[photos by Aric Fishman – Outdoor Skills and Thrills]

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