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Bon Echo

Welcome to climbing at Bon Echo!

Experience multi-pitch climbing on a 100 metre high granite cliff rising vertically out of the water. The routes are all traditional, ranging from 5.0 to 5.11, with the most popular routes in the 5.4 to 5.9 range. Don't let the low grades fool you; most of these routes were put up by hard climbers decades ago, when 5.10 was the hardest grade conceivable. Consequently, many routes are rated one or two grades below current standards. Many classic routes are very exposed so even at easier grades the experience is exhilarating. There are no sport routes and no top roping routes.

Important: Climbing at Bon Echo Provincial Park is not a right, it is a privilege. Bon Echo is the only Provincial Park in Ontario where climbing is allowed and this is exclusively due to the long standing relationship between The Alpine Club of Canada, Toronto Section, and the Park authorities. For this reason, Members of The Club and visitors are expected to follow and respect the established rules at all times.

Trip Classifications

Bon Echo weekends are a Type C trip. Please review the classification guidelines here: trip classifications

Although Bon Echo is a great place to socialize and meet people, you may not come up without a climbing partner. You should make arrangements in advance. This rule especially applies to those who do not lead traditional climbing routes.

How to access the cliff

There are two ways to access the cliff:

  1. With the Provincial Park: Go to the Park's entrance and let them know you intend to climb. You will have to pay for the daily fee and go to their office to sign their waiver. The Park staff is required to check your gear. As the Park is on the west side of the lake and the climbing cliff is on the east side, across Lake Mazinaw, you will need to rent a canoe or bring your own. The start of the routes is generally at water level, and the finish of the routes is at the top of the cliff. Please keep in mind that the descent routes are not the same as the climbing routes, so you need to plan your day well. You may need to swim back to your canoe. Access is possible while the Park is open to the public (Usually May to October) including weekdays. For more information please contact the Provincial Park at www.ontarioparks.com/park/bonecho

  2. With The Alpine Club: The Club has a Hut located across from the Provincial Park (on the East side of the lake, near the cliff). It is outside of the Park boundaries and only accessible by water. The Club has a boat that will pick you up at the nearby public dock, take you to the Hut and to the climbs. Access is available during our scheduled season (usually May to October) and it is only open during weekends. Please check the Calendar for available Bon Echo weekends. For more details please read the information below.

Reservations

Email the volunteer Custodian by Thursday evening of the weekend you are planning to attend. Do not show up without a reservation or you will be turned back. Please include the time when you plan to arrive, the names of everyone in your party and whether each person in your party is a Member or not. Weekends with special activities (like the Bon Echo 101) fill up fast so get in touch with the Custodian as soon as you can to book a spot. Both the Hut Custodian List and the Calendar of events have the contact information of the Custodian who is volunteering each particular weekend. The Hut is for climbers only so everyone in your party should participate.

Fees

  • ACC Members $20 per day or night
  • Non-Members $40 per day or night
  • Season's pass $200.

Fees at Bon Echo go towards the cost of fuel, hut and boat maintenance, property taxes, etc. They are payable by cash or in advance by email transfer. The weekend Custodian is an unpaid volunteer and Members often offer to cook for them or share a glass of scotch with them.

Fees are charged per day or night:

A day, for the purpose of fees, is any day you are at the hut before 5 pm, so early arrivals on Friday will incur fees. Typically, people arrive Friday evening or Saturday morning and leave Sunday afternoon. This counts as two days of fees. Arriving Friday evening and leaving Sunday morning is one climbing day but two nights which will trigger fees for two days

Season's passes are only available to Members and they include scheduled weekends from May to October. They do not include any winter activities, early arrivals or exception-based weekday stays. Note: exceptions are extremely rare.

You must show your Membership card or know your Membership number to get the reduced rates. Memberships can be purchased online at www.alpineclubofcanada.ca We cannot process ACC Memberships at the hut

Getting There

From Toronto: Take the 401 East to Belleville, then go north on Highway 37 until it reaches Highway 7. Continue East on Highway 7 until you reach Kaladar. From here take highway 41 North and drive about three Kilometers beyond the entrance to Bon Echo Provincial Park. Make a sharp right on to Mazinaw Heights Road North and follow it until you see a Parking lot on the left. This is the public dock (Tapping's Landing). Give yourself four hours to get there. Perhaps more in long weekends!

From Ottawa: Take Highway 7 west to Kaladar. Then follow the same directions described above. The drive is about two and a half hours long.

Arrivals

Standard pick up times are 10:30 pm on Friday and 10:30 am on Saturday. Since our Custodians are volunteers, it is up to them to add or modify these times. Once you arrive to the public dock, park your car in the Parking lot at Tappings Landing. If full, it is okay to leave cars on the side of the road as long as they are not obstructing traffic. There is no cost to park here. Please be considerate and pay attention to the no-Parking area near the ramp. Boat owners need space to maneuver and move their trailers up and down the ramp.

Go down to the dock and put your bags and gear on the raised platform while you wait. Don't block the dock since other people need to use it too. If possible, offer to lend a hand to other boaters. It is important to be good ambassadors of The Alpine Club. At night, having your headlamp turned on will help the Custodian see the dock better. Help them tie the boat to the dock. Look for a boat with a big sign that says Alpine Club on the side.

You will need to sign the ACC waiver before you get in the boat. Download it, print a color copy and read it carefully but do not sign it in advance. You need to sign the waiver in front of the Custodian at the dock so they can witness your signature. www.alpineclubofcanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Waiver2016.pdf

At this point you can load the boat with your gear and cross the lake to the hut. If many people arrive at the same time it may take a few trips on the boat to take everyone across. Please be patient. There are life jackets in the boat, simply ask for one if you would like one. There are no life jackets available for children. If travelling with a child you must bring your own.

As of 2016, you also need to sign the Code of Conduct which lists some important rules that must be followed.

About the Hut

Once you arrive to the other side, grab your stuff and walk up the steps to the hut.

Leave your all gear outside and bring your cooler inside. Then check in with the Custodian (or their assistant) who will take your signed waiver, fees and show you to the campsites. The ACC property is camping only. The hut is for cooking, eating and socializing. Your climbing gear goes on the outside hooks under the eaves or in your tent.

There are cooking stoves, pots and pans, dishes and cutlery. You do not need to bring any of these items. There is also a BBQ which is also for your use.

Important: Bon Echo is a technology-free zone; please leave all electronics in your tent in silent mode. We have the amazing habit of socializing and do not want to change it.

Hut life is communal. Please make sure you do your dishes immediately after you eat and keep the place clean. You cannot go climbing if you haven't cleaned up after yourself. Expect to do chores during the weekend; don't wait to be asked, ask around how you can make yourself helpful.

There is no electricity or running water. Water for dishes is carried up in buckets from the lake by everyone so make a point to help with this. Drinking water is brought from the Provincial Park in large blue jugs so be ready to help with this when asked.

Please take your garbage with you as well as your empties. Don't forget to bring a bag for your garbage.

Departures

If you are staying only for the day (most commonly Saturday) you should plan to be off the rock by 5 pm so the Custodian can take you to the public dock. They want to get back to the hut, have dinner. On Sundays, take down your tent and leave everything ready for departure before you go climbing. Plan to be off the rock by 3 pm. The Custodian needs to take everyone to the public dock and then reach the marina before 5 pm to get gas and drop off the boat. They also have a long drive home so please be considerate.

Recommendations

Many people cook gourmet meals here so don't be sad when you take out your canned tuna and someone sits in front of you with a juicy steak. You've been warned!

Don't be shy about bringing beer or wine, many of us enjoy a drink after a hard day of climbing.