Ask most rock climbers and they’ll tell you there’s nothing better than a cold beer after a day of hanging out on the side of a cliff. Luckily for visitors to Castlegar they don’t have to venture far from the climbing routes at the area known as Pub Wall because a frosty pint is literally 20 metres away.
The Lion’s Head Smoke and Brew Pub, located on Broadwater Road about a five-minute drive from downtown Castlegar, is a decades-old, tudor-style institution that’s renowned for it’s craft beer offerings. The business was established in 1986 and Troy Pyett and Carly Hadfield purchased it in 2009. It wasn’t long after that local rock climbers approached them for permission to establish new, bolted, sport climbing routes on the impressive rock face located in the bar’s backyard.
Troy says he’s rock climbed before in Thailand and could appreciate why people were keen to try scaling the cliffs on his property. He looked into the legalities, learned about the Occupiers’ Liability Act which places all responsibility on the sport seekers versus landowners, and gave the go ahead.
Climbing is just part of the lifestyle in the Kootenays, which we fully promote, and we like to see people having fun.
Since permission was granted, rock climbers have established a dozen routes on the wall behind the Lion’s Head that include everything from easy multi-pitch to hard slab climbing. The average length of each route is about 20 metres all their names are in keeping with the locale such as “Cheers,” “Bar Star,” and “Maple Stout.”
The pub has also become the venue for the Kootenay Rock Climbing Festival, an annual event held in late September that includes day-time activities for the family, such as ziplining, slacklining and climbing on a purpose-built kid-friendly wall. It’s the perfect spot because people can rest on the back patio (children are allowed dining at the Lion’s Head until 10pm) and still see all the action thirty feet away. In the evening, the families move inside and enjoy presentations from well-known climbers and mountaineers as well as raffle draws and contests.
So if you’re interested in rock climbing and you enjoy craft beer and excellent food, we recommend visiting the Lion’s Head Pub near Castlegar, Canada’s only bar with a backyard rock climbing area.