Utgard Boulder (Útgarðar - Outlands) is a climbing spot near the peak of Bear Hill Regional Park in Saanich(W’Sanec Territory), British Columbia (approximately 48.545536, -123.406656). I have been very careful to minimize my impact to the natural beauty of this place while developing it for climbing. Please observe Leave No Trace while on Bear Hill. For more information on Bear Hill Park, please visit the Capitol Regional District Website.
Park at the Bear Hill Road parking lot, and climb the hill toward the summit via the main path. Utgard Boulder is very close to the summit, western side. When you reach the grassy look-off point you are getting quite close. A few minutes hike later you'll arrive at a large fallen tree across the path, which has been cut to allow crossing. Just past there you'll find a rock cairn indicating the start of a small game trail off to the left (unless it falls over or is removed)
You can see Utgard Boulder from this cairn. Follow the game trail for just a minute, and you'll see Utgard Boulder on your right (uphill).
Do yourself a favour, and visit the summit before you leave. The view is amazing.
The path has grown in considerably since I wrote the initial access. Here are some images of the big fallen tree. When things are not overgrown, you can see Utgard from here. Find the path access just a few steps uphill from the fallen tree.
Utgard Boulder offers slab bouldering. The wall leans generously in places, so good footwork can lead to fun and easy sending. The wall is also pockmarked with little gouges, which create a range of holds from slopers to mini jugs. There is a horizontal incut crack system, an incredible diagonal line of protruding crystals, and a general "shattered" look to the rock.
The height of Utgard is also tough to report. I dropped a rope from the top to the bottom at the high point, and it measured about 20 feet tall. That's draped over the wall though, so the slab is skewing the results slightly. It might not look tall from photos & video of me climbing, but you certainly will want to bring your pads. The more the merrier, since the most fun lines are traversing.
- If you started climbing since the Boulder House opened, and tend to climb the Yellow, Orange, Green, or Blue problems.
- If you are generally a new-ish climber, and would like to try climbing outside for the first time.
- If you just like slab climbing on good rock:
You'll love Utgard Boulder
The climbing is easily accessed. The rock is not polished, having seen almost no climbing. The landing is safe and mostly flat, crash pads work well. New climbers tend to gravitate to the front and back section of the wall at BoulderHouse, and Utgard Boulder mirrors that type of climbing. I'd say UB is also a great place for younger climbers and families.
Grading these five problems was very difficult for me. As a 6 foot tall man with a 6,2 reach and good flexibility, I found the climbing rewarded my body type. If you are shorter or high-stepping is tough for you, your mileage may vary. By that I mean that you'll find it more fun, not less.
I have experimented here with inclusion of the Allez-Up circuit grading system, since so many new climbers are getting into the sport at places like the Victoria Boulder House and Seven Bays Bouldering. The system also represents a range of possible difficulties, befitting how climber-dependent I think these problems will be.
These colour grades should give you a sense of what awaits you at Utgard, especially if you are from Victoria and enjoy the front and back sections of the gym. I don't work for Allez-Up, so please take these with a grain of salt.
I get that this is a bit backwards since the AU/Tonde Katiyo circuit grading system is specifically for gyms.
(AUGRN = Allez-Up Green, AUBLU = Allez-Up Blue, etc.)
1. Tanngrisnir (Toothgnasher) v3+**
Climbing begins from the bottom right, in the broken corner with lots of good feet. Climb up until you reach the big horizontal crack system. Follow that crack left across tiny feet, reaching the triangular gash. Once you reach the triangle continue traversing left until you can top out in the upper left corner. Last few moves earn the "plus" grade, but it's probably not a V4. (AUPUR)
2. Tanngnjóstr (Toothgrinder) v3***
Probably the most fun you'll find at Utgard Boulder. Same start as Toothgnasher except from the triangle, head upwards toward the high point of the boulder. Super enjoyable. (AUBLU)
3. WOOLLY Mammoth V2**
Also beginning in the broken section at bottom right, climb thin hands and moderate feet to finish off to the top right. (AUBLU)
4. Final Flight of the ymir v3**
Centre start, below the tallest part of the boulder (just left of the tree). A very high, hidden, but super solid left foot marks the beginning. Climb up into the big triangle gash, then up to the high point however you can (same topout as Toothgrinder). (AUGRN)
5. Petroglyph v2*
Climb begins at the logical far left of the boulder, up crystals and vertical cracks to a very thin topout off left. Shares a finish with Toothgnasher. (AUGRN)
Final Flight of the ymir
Note - everything written here (grades, access, etc.) is subject to change at the author's discretion