Pulpit Rock is an iconic feature in Nelson, British Columbia, and also the most popular hike in the city. Dozens of people a day tackle the three-kilometre trail to the lookout at the top of the bluff to enjoy one of the best views around. However, a lot of people don’t know there are four quality rock climbing routes up the face of Pulpit. “The Date” was the first to be developed there in 2008 and is so named because the first ascensionist, Dave Lussier, thought it was a great, casual outing for Nelson couples. It’s a three-pitch 5.10a that is described on page 89 of the West Kootenay Rock Guide. Seven years later Nelson local Vince Hempsall developed another three-pitch route on Pulpit to celebrate the engagement to his wife, thus the name “The Engagement.” Dave and Vince then joined forces in 2016 to create “The Fling,” a two-pitch route that requires you to fling your body around an arête to gain a crack system near the mid-point of the second pitch. And last year, Vince again returned to project the show-stopper slab half way up the Pulpit face. Many people have top-roped that section of smooth granite but it didn’t go free until Vince and climbing partner Rik Logtenberg unlocked the key beta involving a mono hold on a crystal that looks like a diamond poking out of the granite slab. Naturally, the name of the route had to be “The Diamond.” Below are descriptions of the three routes that have been developed on Pulpit Rock since the establishment of “The Date” in 2008. For full access details, see page 89 in the West Kootenay Rock Guide.
Gear: All routes are sport and a 60m rope and 12 quickdraws are required including two long slings.
Access: See page 89 of the West Kootenay Rock Guide.
The Date 5.10a SPORT
P1: Start up the left hand (south-facing) slab and veer right continuing over blocks to a traverse. Finish below the dark slab at a station. (25m 5.7) P2: To avoid rope drag, use long slings on the first 2 bolts of this pitch. Step right into the dirty gully and then back left onto thearête. After three bolts the route splits – go right for the 5.6 variation or left for the 5.10a. Finish at ta station above a short slab. (25m 5.6 or 5.10a) P: Step left and then back right up to a roof and pull through this using a giant hand hold (crux). Continue to the chains. (26, 5.10a) (D Lussier, M Terlingen 08)
The Engagement 5.10b SPORT
Starts as for “The Date”. P1: Follow the first four bolts of “The Date” and then at the open-book corner, step left and finesse your way up the slab past 4 bolts to the large ledge and an anchor. (26m 5.10b) P2: Climb towards the roof, step right onto the face and continue up the easy slab to the anchor. (22m 5.10b) P3: Continue up and left, through the two roofs, then veer left to another roof. Step right and follow easy terrain to the final anchors. (26m 5.10b) (V Hempsall 15)
The Fling 5.11a SPORT
From the belay platform at the base of Pulpit Rock start on the right hand (west-facing) wall. P1: Follow the bolts to a bulge and pull the move up and to the left. Finish at the same chains as the first pitch of “The Date.” (22m 5.9) P2: Step left and down from the anchor to a small bush. High step onto a ledge and, using the arête, gently pull onto the slab. (This is the crux move of the pitch, aside from the thin crack. See video above for beta as to how to pull the move.) Follow the arête to a good rest then gently fling your body around the left side of the arête and into a corner. Climb the thin finger crack clipping the bolts on the right then step back right onto the face. Continue up easier terrain to the anchor. (20m 5.11a) P3: Finish on either the third pitch of “The Date” or “The Engagement.” (V Hempsall, D Lussier 16)
The Diamond 5.12a SPORT
This one-pitch climb is located to the right of the second pitch of “The Fling” and on the steepest part of the slab. To access it, climb either the first pitch of “The Date” or “The Fling.” From the anchors, step directly up onto the slab, then balance and finesse past the first two bolts. Trend right past the key crystal (the “diamond”) to a good finger ledge. Continue up to the open book corner and muscle your way to the top of it before stepping left onto easier ground that leads to the anchor up and right. Finish on either the third pitch of “The Engagement” or “The Date.” (V Hempsall 17)
For more written descriptions and updates of other areas in the West Kootenays, download the West Kootenay Rock Guide updates.