Vancouver Island is the 43rd largest island in the world at approximately 500km long, 150km wide with an area of 31,285 sq km. It lies off the west coast of British Columbia, Canada from where it is reached by an extensive ferry system from mainland ports. The island is shaped a bit like a squat triangle with the southern half running north to south and the northern half jutting more to the west.
The majority of the towns and cities are dotted along the east side of the island at the southern half. The northern half of Vancouver Island and the mountainous interior is largely rugged wilderness crisscrossed by extensive industrial logging roads. A few paved highways cross the island to smaller west coast communities such as Port Renfrew, Tofino, Gold River and Port Alice.
For the climber, Vancouver Island is a great destination. There are a number of well developed cragging and bouldering areas and vast resources of high alpine climbing. A good overview of the sport climbing areas can be found at: www.wildisle.ca/islandclimbing/vancouver-island-climbing-areas.html
The rock is mostly volcanic basalt and ~75% of the climbing is on this rock type. It is generally solid with good friction but lacks good, continuous crack systems so most of the crag routes on the Island basalt are bolt protected or mixed bolt & trad. There are also areas with limestone - Horne Lake, granite - Constitution Hill, sandstone - Duncan boulders and conglomerate - Saltspring Island.
Vancouver Island has exceptional alpine climbing with a very active core of local alpinists adding new routes steadily. Look for a comprehensive guidebook to the Vancouver Island mountains: Island Alpine Select from Wild Isle Publications: http://www.wildisle.ca
Vancouver Island is reached by air or sea, there are no bridges connecting the island to mainland BC. From Vancouver there are several ferry options: Tsawassen (south of Vancouver) to Swartz Bay (Victoria), Tsawassen to Duke Point (Nanaimo), Horseshoe Bay (north of Vancouver) to Departure Bay (Nanaimo) and Powell River (Sunshine Coast) to Little River, Comox.
There are regular scheduled flights from Vancouver to all the main regional airports like Victoria, Nanaimo, Comox, Campbell River and Port Hardy.
Once on Vancouver Island travel up and down the island is via the Island Highway 19 and the Trans Canada Highway 1 which runs the length of the island on the east side. Highways 4 to Tofino and 28 to Gold River connect the eastern communities to the west coast and access some of the climbing areas in the centre of the island.
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