News & Updates

Sep 20

Reel Rock Film Tour at Hot Docs Nov 30th!

Reel Roc

We are excited to again host the Reel Rock Film Tour, for the sixth consecutive year in Toronto! The big news this year is that we are partnering with the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema (506 Bloor St. W. @ Bathurst in Toronto), to provide viewers with a more comfortable experience, and to reduce disruption at the gym.

Reel Rock 11 will screen at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema on Wednesday, November 30th at 9:15pm. Doors open at 8:30. Tickets are $18 each including HST, and are now available from the Hot Docs box office, or their online portal. Tickets are not on sale at True North Climbing, and cannot be bought by phoning the gym. We’re going to focus on the climbing this year, and let the experts take care of the movie stuff, including ticketing!

This year’s show features 5 great short films. You can watch the trailer here!

Jul 12

Experienced Routesetter Wanted!

We are looking for a talented and experience routesetter to join our team! If you are interested, take a look at the job description and get in touch with us!

Apr 29

We Are Growing Our Team Again!

As our business continues to grow, so does our team. We’re now looking for a few Event Hosts and Climbing Instructors to introduce new climbers to our sport, make sure they know how to climb and belay safely, and to share their love of climbing.

If you are interested in joining our team, you can read the full job descriptions at:

Send your resume to

Mar 9

Hotel Information for Those Attending Difficulty Provincials

We have arranged discounts with two nearby hotels for those coming to Difficulty Provincials from out of town:

  1. The Montecassino Hotel ( is offering
    standard rooms (one or two beds) for $99.99 + HST per night, or suites
    starting at $125 per night. The hotel is located on the north-west
    corner of Sheppard Ave and Chesswood Dr, right at the newly-opened
    alternate entrance to Downsview Park. Rooms are being held under the
    booking code “OCF 2016” until March 23rd. To book call the hotel
    directly at 416 630 8100 or 1-800-334-8774.
  2. Holiday Inn Yorkdale ( is offering a rate of $134.95 for a standard room, with parking included. You can use this Online Booking Link:  Ontario Youth Championships or book by phone at 1-866-568-0046 and request the Ontario Youth Championships group rate. This rate is available until April 2nd.


Mar 9

Gym Closed for Provincial Championships April 23/24

We’re proud to once again host the OCF Youth Difficulty Provincial Championship (for youth climbers up to 19 years old), as well as the CEC National Series Difficulty Event (for adults 16 or older) on April 23/24. Only registered competitors will be climbing that weekend, with qualifying climbs on Saturday, and semi-finals and finals on Sunday. Spectators are welcome.

The tallest climbs in the gym will be disrupted starting Wednesday, April 20th as we prepare for the event.

Feb 1

We’re Looking For More Climbing Instructors!

As our business continues to grow, so does our team. We’re now looking for a few Climbing Instructors to introduce new climbers to our sport, make sure they know how to climb and belay safely, and to share their love of climbing.

If you are interested in joining our team, you can read the full job description at:

Send your cover letter and resume to

Dec 1

Holiday Hours

As usual, we will be open every day over the holidays. We’ll be open at 10am each day that we’re running our Winter Break Day Camp, and the hours will be a little shorter on a few of the holiday days. Here are the details:


December 19 10-6 (closing early for staff holiday party)
December 21/22/23 10-11
December 24 10-6
December 25 Noon-6
December 26/27 10-10
December 28/29/30 10-11
December 31 10-6
January 1 Noon-11
Oct 29

Reel Rock Film Tour Coming On Saturday, November 14th

Once again, True North Climbing is proud and excited to be the exclusive Toronto host for the Reel Rock Film Tour. The gym will close at 6pm to set up for the films, and doors will open at 7:30 for ticket holders, with the show starting at 8pm.

Tickets are on sale now at the gym, or you can purchase them by phone at 416 398-7625 with a credit card. There are no refunds or exchanges on these tickets. Tickets are $15 each, or just $12 for members of True North Climbing.

You can watch the trailer and read about the films at

Sep 2

CWA Instructor Certification Courses Offered

True North Climbing will be hosting Climbing Wall Association (CWA) Climbing Wall Instructor certification courses on both September 17th and 19th. For those unfamiliar with this certification standard, a description is available here: The cost for each course is $300.00 + HST. Discounts are available for climbing gyms sending their employees to be certified.

If you feel you have the experience and pre-requisistes described here: and are interested in signing up for one of these certification courses, please email

Jul 9

Early Closing Saturday July 18th For Youth Team Member Fundraising Event

On Saturday evening, July 18th, the gym will close at 8pm. From 8pm to midnight, we’ll be holding a fundraising event to help Youth Team member Esti Tweg fund her trip to Arco Italy, where she will be representing Canada at the World Youth Climbing Championships.

There be four activities running from 8-10pm.
1. The flying squirrel (jump off a platform and try to grab a prize)
2. X crossing (navigate webbing string across part of the gym)
3. Slack line pool noodle jousting. Duels on the slack line with a stabilizing rope, last one standing wins
4. Pull up bar dead hang competition. One hand and two handed categories (shaking out permitted in two handed category). Prizes for longest time.

From 10pm-12am there will be night climbing. BYOH(headlamp). No lead climbing.

All of this for only $15. All proceeds go to support Esti’s trip to Italy.
Delicious home made baked goods and pop will be for sale at the desk.
Invite all of your friends! We look forward to seeing you there!

Jun 25

Summer Hours!

From Monday June 29th through Friday September 4th we’ll be running on extended summer hours, with the gym open from 10am to 11pm on weekdays, and 10am-10pm on weekends and holidays. The first available Introductory Lesson on weekdays will be at noon.

May 19

Doors Open Toronto Comes to Downsview Park

We’re pleased to be one of 5 sites within Downsview Park participating in Doors Open Toronto for the first time. We will be welcoming visitors to the gym between 10am and 5pm on Saturday May 23rd and Sunday May 24th, and offering a free climb to anyone who wants one (and completes a waiver form!).

May 15

Welcome to All National Team Climbers (From Canada or Any Other Country!)

With all the climbers coming to town from both Team Canada and all the other countries, we wanted to remind everyone that True North Climbing offers free admission to anyone who is representing their country at an IFSC event. And as we have done in previous years, all members of Team Canada may climb here for free while training for an international event. We have a list of those competing for Canada in upcoming World Cups at our front desk. Athletes from other countries need only show up in their national team uniform, or point out their name on the start list online.

In the past few years we have welcomed climbers from Russia, Korea, Japan, Mexico and several other countries, and we’re looking forward to seeing who comes by this year, and practicing our fragments of a variety of languages!

Apr 13

Disruption Before And During Climbing Competition April 25 & 26

True North is proud to be hosting the OCF Youth Difficulty (roped climbing) Provincial Championships on April 25th and 26th. This event is also an adult competition: the Ontario stop of the CEC National Difficulty Series. We are expecting about 150 competitors for this weekend. This competition will disrupt our normal operations as follows:

Tuesday April 21st:

The routes in the back room (where the lead cave is) will be thinned out to one route per rope. At 10pm, the back room will be closed off for the rest of the week, as the setters strip the remaining routes and start setting for the comp.

Wednesday, April 22nd:

The back room is closed. The remaining routes on the tall walls will be thinned out to one route per rope. At 10pm, belay bars 41 and higher will be closed off for the rest of the week, as the setters strip the remaining routes on the tall walls and set for the comp.

Thursday April 23rd and Friday April 24th:

The south half of the gym is closed, except for the “J”. The north half of the gym is unaffected, including the main bouldering wall, the slacklines and belay bars 1-40.

Saturday April 25th:

The gym is closed all day for the qualifying rounds of the competition. Spectators are welcome.

Sunday, April 26th:

The gym is closed until 6pm for the semi-final and final rounds of the competition. Spectators are welcome. At 6pm the north half of the gym will reopen for members and day pass/punch card users. There will be no Introductory Lessons available that evening. The north half of the gym will be available, including the main bouldering wall, the slacklines and belay bars 1-40.

Monday, April 27th:

The second annual Master Setter Competition will take place during the day, helping us get new routes up very quickly on all the tall walls disrupted by the competition. By Monday evening, there will be a ton of new routes set by great setters from across Ontario and Quebec. Come join us all this week and vote on the best routes.

We know that major events like this one have a significant impact on the gym and on our regular customers. We try our best to minimize the impact, recover as quickly as we can, and let you know what to expect in advance. We appreciate your understanding, and we hope you’ll come out to cheer on the competitors and see how strong the young climbers of Ontario are!

Mar 19

Join Us For Climb For Cancer on May 9th!

Climb For Cancer is a charity event that has taken place at a few different Ontario climbing gyms for the past five years. It’s back again this spring, this time hosted by three gyms: Grand River Rocks (trying to defend the title they wrested from us last year), The Rock Oasis (joining in for the first time), and True North Climbing, proud to be hosting the event for the fifth year in a row.

This is a really fun event in which teams of 2-4 climbers do as many laps as they can in 4 hours, while raising a lot of money to defeat cancer. You can learn more about how the event works and the rules at


Mar 11

Hotel Discount For Those Attending OCF Youth Provincial Difficulty Championship And NSDE

For those coming from out of town to attend the OCF Youth Provincial Difficulty Championships and CEC Open National Series Difficulty Event on April 25/26, we have arranged for a discount rate at a nearby hotel.

The Holiday Inn Express Hotel in North York is located at 30 Norfinch Drive, about 7km from the gym. They are offering a discount rate of $100/night to those attending our event. If you are calling the hotel by phone at 1 877 660 8550, tell them you are part of the True North Climbing/OCF group.

Use this link when booking online:

This rate is guaranteed only up to March 25, and there are a limited number of rooms set aside for our event.

Feb 11

Valentines Day 2-For-1 Evening Special!


VALENTINESJoin us Saturday night for some Valentine’s Day fun. From 6pm on, Day Passes and Introductory Lessons will be 2 for the price of one. We’ll have some raffle prizes and sweets to help you celebrate doing what you love with the person you love.

Nov 18

Gym Disruptions for December 13th Youth Competition

We will be hosting an OCF Local Youth Bouldering competition on Saturday, December 13th. This will disrupt our normal operations as follows:

  • On Thursday evening, December 11th, we will be stripping the entire north half of the gym, starting at 8pm with the main bouldering wall
  • On Friday, December 12th, the north half of the gym will be closed.
  • On Saturday, December 13th, the entire gym will be closed for the competition. Only registered Youth competitors will be climbing that day.

We will be working hard to restore the gym back to normal capacity after the competition, but a realistic expectation is that the north side will be sparse for a few days after the competition, and it will take a few weeks to get things back to the usual standard. We know these events can be disruptive. We continue to host a few each year because we want to contribute to the competitive climbing community, and they are fun and exciting events to watch! We’re trying hard to communicate clearly about what to expect around each event, and set realistic expectations.

Oct 31

Gym Closed Nov 7th; Preparing for Tour de Bloc

We are excited about our upcoming Tour de Bloc competition on Saturday November 8th. Be aware that there will be some disruption in the gym as we prepare for it:

  • The main bouldering wall will be closed starting Tuesday, November 4th
  • The north half of the gym (main bouldering wall, slacklines and belay bars 1-22) will be closed off starting Wednesday, November 5th
  • The lead cave will be closed on Thursday, November 6th
  • The entire gym will be closed on Friday November 7th
  • On Saturday, November 8th, only registered competitors may climb. Spectators are welcome, especially for Open Finals from 6:30-8pm
  • After the comp, we will work hard to restore the usual number of routes and boulder problems. We plan to have at least one route per rope on the belay bars disrupted for the competition (1-22 plus the stalactite) and many of the competition’s Qualifier problems back up by Monday, November 10th, and will fill in more routes and problems as quickly as we can after that.
Oct 1

Tickets On Sale Now for Reel Rock 9


The tickets and posters arrived today from the printers, and we are excited to announce that tickets are now on sale at the gym for our two screenings of Reel Rock 9, featuring Valley Uprising. Head on over to the Reel Rock web site for more details of the film, including the trailer.

We’ll be screening the film twice on Saturday, November 29th, at 6pm and 9pm. Tickets cost $15 each, or $12 for members of True North Climbing. We expect both shows to sell out (the early show always sells out first!), so get your tickets now.

If you cannot make it to the gym to buy your tickets, you may call us at 416 398-7625 and buy them by phone with a credit card for later pickup. Please be patient if the phone is busy! All tickets must be paid for in full in advance, and we regret we cannot refund or exchange tickets after sale.

Jul 29

Clinics for Competitive Climbers with Chris Neve

Chris Neve, Head Coach of Canada’s Youth National Climbing Team, will be at True North on Saturday, August 9th to lead two clinics aimed at helping competitive climbers. There will be a clinic for Youth climbers from noon to 3pm ($25 + HST), followed by an Adult clinic from 4:00-7:30 ($75 + HST).

All proceeds from these clinics will be used to help defray travel costs for the Team Canada athletes attending the World Youth Climbing Championships September 19-23 in Noumea, New Caledonia. Chris Neve is donating his time, and the gym is not keeping any of the fees.

Each clinic will focus on training for climbing, rather than just climbing itself. You will get some insight into how the coaches work with the national team, with focus on the 4 Pillars of Performance:

  • physical
  • technical
  • tactical
  • mental/emotional control

Each clinic will include discussion, a short slideshow, a warmup, some exercises and technical drills and a cool-down.

The same clinics will also be presented the next day, Sunday August 10th at Climber’s Rock in Burlington.

Please call the gym or pay at the front desk to sign up for these clinics. Spaces are limited.


Jun 29

Climb For Cancer Detailed Results

Well, it has taken us a while to collect the detailed results, but Climb For Cancer 2014 was a resounding success!

Teams from True North Climbing climbed very nearly 100,000 feet (almost 19 miles, or about 30km!) and raised over $14,000 to fight cancer (our best fundraising total ever).

However, Grand River Rocks pulled out all the stops and clobbered us this year to take the overall championship. Their teams combined to climb  nearly 145,000 feet (over 27 miles or about 44 miles!) and raised over $22,000. The two-gym total of just over $37,000 is a huge increase from any previous year.

The detailed results by team are available here: CforCTotals2014

Thanks to all the climbers who came out to participate in this event, all those who sponsored them, and to Erika Vanderveer and her organizing team. We will be doing this event again next year, and invite all of you to form a team and come out to climb like a maniac and have fun raising funds to defeat cancer.

Jun 6

Closing Early On Saturday June 21st For Volunteer Apprciation Night

Over the course of the year we host a few competitions: Tour de Bloc, SummerSweatFest (stay tuned for info about that!) and Youth competitions, both bouldering and roped. Each of these events relies on a large number of volunteers to make everything run smoothly. It’s time we celebrated and thanked those volunteers, so on Saturday, June 21st, the gym will close early at 5:30pm. so we can thank all the volunteers who have helped out over the past season with food and fun.

Volunteer night

Jun 5

Special Events In The Park This Summer And Parking Survey

Downsview Park has notified us of some special events being held in the park this summer that will affect traffic. The main entrance to the park will be closed for the following events:

Friday, June 13 – Sunday, June 15: Portugal Week Celebrations

Saturday, July 12 – Sunday, July 13: Local 183 Family Day

Saturday, August 2 – Sunday, August 3: Veld Music Festival

Saturday, August 16 – Sunday, August 17: Toronto Summer BBQ

Saturday, August 23: Rastafest

Saturday, Sept. 6 – Sunday, Sept. 7: Riot Fest

Saturday, October 4: The Zombie Run

The Chesswood Drive entrance will be open on each of these days as an alternate entrance/exit.

Also, the Park will be conducting a survey to help it understand parking utilization and plan for future enhancements

The driver survey is scheduled for:

  • Sunday, June 15 from 10 am to 8 pm, and
  • Wednesday, June 18 from 8 am to 10 pm.

In order to conduct the driver survey, there will be teams of 2 to 3 surveyors at each exit to Carl Hall Road.  Drivers will be stopped when exiting and asked two short questions:

  • What time did you arrive?
  • Which business or building did you visit?

A queuing system will be organized to ensure that the process is quick and safe.  If at any time the queue lengthens creating a back log, a number of drivers will be released in order to keep traffic moving.

May 1

Guest Speaker: Nate Kutcher, May 8th

We’re pleased to welcome back Canadian Ice Climbing team member Nate Kutcher, who will be at the gym to give a talk and slide show on Thursday May 8th starting at 7:30pm. Nate participated in the demonstration of ice climbing at the recent Winter Olympics in Sochi, as well as competing again on the World Cup circuit. Join us at 7:30 on Thursday May 8th to hear and see what he has been up to. There is no charge for this event.

TN Spring Slideshow 2014

Apr 29

We’re Hiring!

Update May 1st: We were overwhelmed with application for this position! We have decided to interview a few of the candidates whom we already know well, and who have strong ties to our climbing community. We expect to fill the available positions from among those candidates. Thanks to everyone who applied for their interest!


True North Climbing is currently looking to add to our roster of Belay Staff. Contact us if you are qualified and interested!



Apr 19

Running Order for Semi-Finals

Here is the running order for Eastern Regional Difficulty Semi-Finals:


And here is the schedule:

Sunday April 20th:
8:00am: Iso Opens for Semi-finals
8:30am: Iso Closes
8:45am: Gym Opens
9:30am – 12:30pm: Semi‐finals
1:30pm: Iso Opens for Finals
2:00pm – Iso Closes
2:15pm: Gym Opens
3:00pm – 5:00pm: Finals
5:30pm: Awards and special presentation to the Toronto Bouldering World Cup.

Apr 16

Schedule for Eastern Difficulty Regionals and Running Order for Q1

(Version française ci-dessous)

The running order for the first Qualification route on Saturday morning is now ready:


and the detailed schedule is as follows:

Saturday April 19th:
7:30am: Registration & demonstrations of Q1 routes (video loop)
9:00am: Playing of the National Anthem & technical meeting
9:30am – 12:30pm: Qualifier 1

12:30pm: Demonstrations of Q2 routes (video loop)
1:30pm – 4:30pm: Qualifier 2
5:00pm: Gym closes

Sunday April 20th:
8:00am: Iso Opens for Semi-finals
8:30am: Iso Closes
8:45am: Gym Opens
9:30am – 12:30pm: Semi‐finals
1:30pm: Iso Opens for Finals
2:00pm – Iso Closes
2:15pm: Gym Opens
3:00pm – 5:00pm: Finals
5:30pm: Awards and special presentation to the Toronto Bouldering World Cup.


L’ordre de marche pour la premiére route de qualification samedi matin est prêt:


et voici l’horaire:

Samedi le 19 avril:
7h30: Inscriptions & prevues de routes de Q1 (video)
9h: hymne national & reunion technique compétiteurs

9h30 – 12h30: Qualification 1

12h30: Prevues de routes de Q2 (video)
13h30 – 16h30: Qualification 2
17h: Gym fermé

Dimanche le 20 avril:
8h: Iso overt pour demi-finale
8h30: Iso fermé
8h45: Gym ouvert
9h30 – 12h30: Demi‐finale
13h30: Iso ouvert pour Finale
14h – Iso fermé
14h15: Gym ouvert
15h – 17h: Finale
17h30: Prix ​​et présentation spéciale à la Coupe du monde de bloc de Toronto.

Apr 2

Climb For Cancer Returns May 24th

Climb for Cancer is back for its fifth year, and the fourth at True North Climbing. This is a 4-hour climbing marathon to raise money to combat cancer, and is always a huge amount of fun for the participants. There will be free food and prizes at the end, and most importantly, the great satisfaction of working together for a great cause.

Full details about the event are at Please round up a team (2-4 climbers) and join us to make this year’s event more successful than ever before.

Poster1 Poster2 Poster3

Apr 2

Eastern Regionals: Registration is Open, + Hotel Info

Registration is now open for the CEC Eastern Regional Difficulty Championships, to be held at True North Climbing on April 19/20. Competitors may register until 11:59pm on Tuesday April 15th at

All the details about the event can be found on the Facebook event page:

We have arranged a discounted rate for this event at the Holiday Inn Yorkdale, located a few minutes away from the gym:

Discounted rate of $109.95 for standard rooms with two beds and 50% off a full hot buffet breakfast. Indoor atrium with Nerf Tennis, Ping Pong, Billiards, Salt-Water Pool, Sauna, Whirlpool, Kids Hide-Away, 3 Restaurants & more!

You can contact the hotel at:

or book directly via this link.

and tell them you are attending the Eastern Regional Climbing Championship at True North Climbing.

As part of this arrangement, the hotel is also giving a commission to True North Climbing. Every dollar of that commission will be reinvested in the climbing community, in the form of financial assistance to competitors.

Book your rooms now. The hotel has set aside a block of rooms, and if those go quickly, they will open up more.

Mar 15

Our setting crew for the 2014 Eastern Regional Championships

This year True North Climbing will be hosting the 2014 Eastern Regional Championships (Difficulty) and we are extremely happy to announce our amazing setting crew. Our team is a good mix of setters from Ontario and Quebec, so both provinces will be well represented. We think it’s one of the best setting crews put together in Canada ever! These guys have years of experience and the psyche level is at an all time high! Here is your setting crew! The pump starts now!!!


Shaun Hunter (Head Setter)

I’ve been climbing for 8 years, setting for 7, and being injured for about 6. The first route I ever set was 13- and took me 6 hours to put up. It doesn’t takes as long now. Since then I’ve grown a lot as a setter. Now I have set over 15 competitions, most of them at True North Climbing  in the past 4 years.

I’ve been setting and working at True North Climbing since before the gym was open to the public and became Head Route Setter a couple of months ago. I’ve set both bouldering and difficulty competitions at the local, provincial, and regional level. I have not set any at the national level because I’m either competing or coaching the True North Youth Team.

I am extremely excited for Eastern Regionals; we have one of the best setting crews I’ve ever seen. There is so much experience, knowledge, and excitement going in to this comp. We have some awesome holds coming in and some crazy ideas. This will be one of our best comps ever!


Fred Charron 23855_412043205490_6620633_n           

Well… I started climbing in 1998, but it was only in 2005 that I finally decided to step it up, train harder and started competing.

I have been quite active in the competition circuit, not only as an athlete, but also as a route setter and coach. I have been head route setter for over 20 events in the past 5 years, from local to national competitions and set for a few World Cups.

If I had to pick my 3 proudest achievements:

  1. Obtaining my IFSC continental certification.
  2. Ranking overall #2 in Canada for the 2012-2013 bouldering season.
  3. I will finally be opening my own Bouldering Gym, “Bloc Shop”, in Montreal, this summer!

Route setting is my way of giving back to the climbing community. It is my passion and my full-time job, and I hope to keep doing it for as long as possible!

Sponsored by Five Ten, Flashed and ClimbTech.


321_72289535246_3412_nJonny Briggs

I have been setting for about 8 years and I`m one of the original setters from the start up of  True North. I have been surrounded by notable Canadian climbers my whole life which has helped improve my understanding of what climbers are capable of doing.

I have experience setting for many competitions, including Tour de Blocs, Sweat Fests, and OCF locals. I feel that climbing competitions are the best way to showcase both a climbers’ skill and the skill of the setting team. Shaun and I have set together since the start of True North, and setting comps is nothing new to either of us. I have heard nothing but good things about Adrian and Fred and I`m excited to see what we all can do. I’m sure this will be an amazing competition!


Adrian Das Adrian4

My first outdoor lead climb was a 5.7 slab in red rocks. I remember feeling weak and scared as I gradually unlocked all the little problems on the way to the top. I was hooked on that feeling of how moving through fears and challenges turned me into a ninja; I’m your everyday ninja!

I’ve been route setting for 15 years and set my first competition in 2002. I have set at difficulty and bouldering competitions from the provincial to national level and I’m currently the head route setter and head coach at Altitude Gym in Gatineau, Quebec.

I began coaching my local youth team in 2010 and for 2014 I am an assistant coach for the Canadian National Youth Team going to Youth World Championships in New Caledonia this September. In my spare time I like to spend time with my wife and two children.


Feb 8

Construction Work Delayed

Due to scheduling difficulties, the construction work planned for February 10-12 has been delayed. This work, including one new belay bar and a large number of additional lead anchors, will be rescheduled some time after March break.

We will be open at our usual time: 12 noon, each weekday this week.

Jan 29

Shaun Hunter: True North Climbing’s Head Routesetter

We are very happy to announce Shaun Hunter’s promotion to Head Routesetter at True North Climbing. Shaun now joins our full-time staff, leading our amazing setting crew and continuing as well in his roles as Director of our Youth Recreational programmes and Head Coach of the True North Youth Competitive Team.


Shaun has been part of the True North Climbing team since before we opened our doors in 2010, and has added to his setting experience by setting about 15 comps for youth and adults, including  both Youth Regionals and Tour de Bloc Regionals (where was was head setter).

Shaun is certified as a Climbing Instructor by both the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (Level 2) and the Climbing Wall Association (with Lead endorsement). Shaun likes small dogs and raisin bread.


Jan 8

OCF Youth Comp January 18th: Info And Call For Volunteers

On Saturday, January 18th, True North Climbing is hosting an Ontario Climbing Federation (OCF) Local Bouldering Competition. We’re expecting over 80 talented young climbers at this event. The gym will be closed until about 3 or 4pm while the competition is on.

We will need a lot of volunteers for this comp: at least 20 judges plus a few Isolation Zone monitors. Please let us know if you can help out, and spread the word to help us round up enough help. We’ll provide lunch on the day of the comp and a day pass voucher to all volunteers (a month’s membership to the Isolation Zone monitors, who don’t get to see the climbing!). Volunteers can contact John at

Previous judging experience is not required (though of course it is valuable!). There will be a judging clinic at True North on Wednesday January 15th, starting at 6:30pm. Dinner will be provided. This is a great opportunity for those who have not judged a comp before to learn how, and for those who have to refresh their knowledge and skills. Those attending should confirm attendance with John at so we can be sure to have enough food!

Jan 3

Bring Us A New Daytime Group, Get a Free Month Of Membership!

We’re looking to fill up unused capacity in the gym during the day on weekdays. We want your help, and we will make it worth your while. Here’s how it works:

1.  Bring us a new school group or corporate group of at least 10 people. Have the group tell us your name as the instigator when they make the booking.

2.  We’ll add a free month to your membership to thank you. If the group is 30 people or more, we’ll add another month.

Sneaky fine print:

  • The goal is to bring new groups here who have not been here before, so it has to be a new school or a new company that hasn’t previously brought a group here.
  • Weekday daytime bookings (ending by 6pm) only. Holidays and day camp periods excluded


Jan 3

Thank You To The Heroes Of The Ice Storm

Many of us were without power after December’s ice storm, and for many days after that workers from Toronto Hydro, Hydro One and other utilities, as well as police, fire and EMS staff were working long hours during their holidays to help get the heat and lights back on for as many people as quickly as possible.

We want to say Thank You to those who put the safety and comfort of others ahead of their own needs during this crisis. So we’re offering a day of free climbing during the month of January to any of the following:

  • Employee of Toronto Hydro, Hydro One, or any other power utility, including those who came in from Manitoba and across the province to help, as well as Forestry workers who helped clear the way.
  • Police, Fire Department and EMS staff who worked extra hours over the holidays.

Please show us your ID (for Police, Fire & EMS we may already have that on file, if you have climbed with us before), and we’ll be happy to let you and one companion climb for free one day in January. You can choose between:

  • Free day pass plus rental shoes & harness (for those who have passed our Belay Test)
  • Free Introductory Lesson (for those just starting out). Please call us in advance to book your lesson to make sure we have capacity when you’re coming!

Help us spread the word: if you have a friend or family member who put in extra effort to help others without power, let them know about this offer.


Dec 1

Getting Ready for Tour de Bloc

Our 5th Tour de Bloc comp is now less than a week away. Here`s what you need to know, whether you are a competitor or just a regular climber:

  • On Tuesday we`ll be stripping the traverse bouldering wall on the south side of the gym.
  • On Wednesday and Thursday, the entire north half of the gym will be closed, as we crank hard on setting for the comp.
  • On Friday, the gym will be entirely closed all day.
  • On Saturday, only competitors may climb. We encourage climbers of almost every level of ability to come and compete; if you can do some to many of our yellow tape problems, you`re strong enough to have a lot of fun in the Recreational category. Open finals are scheduled to start at 6pm, and spectators are welcome. It`s free, and it`s always a spectacular show.
  • Full schedule for the day is here:
  • We will have a restoration crew working after the comp to get the gym back in order. This event does cause some disruption to our regular routesetting, and it takes a lot of work to recover. By Sunday morning we expect to have some of the qualifying round problems back on the wall, and at least one route on every rope. We`ll continue to work through next week to get things back to normal.
  • These events need a substantial team of volunteers to run smoothly. We need and request your help! We need people for the following roles:
    • Judges: for Open Qualifiers in the morning (12-14), and Open Finals in the evening (8). There will be a judging clinic held Friday evening at 8pm, for those who wish to learn how to judge boulder problems, or refresh their judging skills.
    • Scorekeepers (4): enter scores from score sheets into the online scoring system at the end of each Qualifying round.
    • Timekeeper for Open Finals: you get to blow a whistle!
    • Isolation Monitors for Open Finals (3-4): Supervise the Isolation Zone and escort finalists to/from the bathroom. Isolation Monitors are not able to watch the final round, but if we get enough people to do this, they can take turns and each see some of the action.

All volunteers will be fed lunch and/or dinner as appropriate, and each will receive a TNCI day pass voucher. Those attending the judging clinic Friday night will also get dinner that night.

Please contact Clint Searle: if you can help, or leave your name, phone number and email address at the front desk at the gym.

Nov 24

Some Changes To Our Usual Hours

There’s a lot going on over the next few weeks, bringing some changes to our usual hours:

The gym will close early at 3pm on Saturday November 30, to prepare for the two screenings of the Reel Rock Film Tour (at 5pm and 9pm). As this is being written, the 5pm show is completely sold out, but tickets remain for the 9pm show.

The gym will be completely closed on Friday December 6th, to finish preparations for our Tour de Bloc competition the next day. On Saturday November 7th, only registered competitors may climb (spectators are welcome!).

The gym will close early at 6pm on Saturday, December 14th, to allow our staff to enjoy the annual Staff Holiday Party.

We know these special events cause some disruption in the gym, and we thank you for bearing with us. All of these are important events that we think merit a little disruption, and we’ll be back to our usual schedule after the holiday party (at least until our Youth comp in January…).

Sep 26

Reverting To Regular Weekday Hours October 1

For the month of September we experimented with longer hours, opening at 10am each weekday. We’ve been assessing the response all month, and the result of that is that we have seen very few people coming in between 10am and noon on weekdays. So as of October 1st our weekday hours will revert to Noon – 10pm.

We can continue to reassess this in the future, and we will still run the extended hours during day camp seasons (Winter Break, March Break, Passover Break and all summer, when we have staff on hand to support the day camp programme anyway).

Sep 24

Climb For Heart Was A Great Success

Here’s the lowdown on our Climb for Heart charity event last Saturday: 18 climbers participated and raised over $2700. A few more donations are still expected; maybe we can hit $3000?

The top team was the Chossy Champions: Lucas Uchida, Pia Graham, Charle Prosser and Nathan Smith, who showed how strong youth climbing is in Ontario. In second place was the Rock of Fame team, starring TNCI employees Matthew Tee and Will Jung, together with TNCI Youth team members Rosalee Mazza and Sydney Gang. The Wyett siblings (Olivia, Jack and Ethan) took third place.

We are grateful to the support of our sponsors:

  • Evolv, who donated shoes for the prize table
  • Panago, who donated pizzas to feed the participants
  • Climber’s Rock, who donated membership prizes
  • Matthew Tee, who donated massage/acupuncture certificates from his multi-therapy clinic
  • The North Face, Jones Brown Insurance, Eldorado Climbing Walls and Shibley-Righton, who are year-round sponsors of the gym, and thus support all the events we host.

We had fun running this event with the strong support of the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and we expect to bring it back again next year. Please let us know if you have any feedback about how the event went, and if you have ides on how to make it better next time.

Sep 19

Reel Rock Film Tour: November 30th

We’re very proud to be hosting the 8th annual Reel Rock Film Tour, our 4th year in a row as the exclusive Toronto host for this event. We’ll be running two screenings again this year, at 5pm and 9pm. The gym will close at 3pm that day to give us time to reconfigure into movie theatre mode. Doors will open a half-hour before each show.


Special Guest!

We are enormously grateful to our friends and neighbours at The North Face Yorkdale store, who are bringing Hazel Findlay in to speak before each screening. Hazel is a trad climber from Britain, and The North Face sponsored athlete, who appears in Spice Girl, one of the four films in this year’s show. That’s her in the red jacket (wonder where she got that?) in the poster above.

Tickets are on sale now for $15 each, including tax. Members of True North Climbing pay $12 each. Tickets can be bought at the gym, or by phone at 416 398-7625 with a credit card. All ticket sales are final and no refunds will be available (but the shows will likely sell out, so finding someone to take a ticket won’t be a problem).

We are expecting a lot of calls to buy tickets, so please be patient if you don’t get through the first time, and if possible, call during the quieter hours: weekdays from 10am to 4pm, to help our staff manage the calls.

Oh, and check out the trailer here!


Sep 14

Climb For Heart 1 Week Away! Gender Rules Relaxed!

Our first Climb For Heart event is a week away, and we’re getting excited. We have heard that some potential teams were having trouble balancing the genders perfectly, so we’re relaxing the team rule a bit: as long as your team has at least one male and one female member, you’re good to go!

Remember, Panago is donating 10 large pizzas to refuel the participants; we want to make sure we have enough people climbing to finish off those pizzas!

Details and link to registration page can be found here.

Sep 10

Four Special Events This Fall

We’ve been working on an exciting lineup of special events for the fall season. Here’s what’s coming:

Climb For Heart: Saturday September 21st

This charity event (a team competition) is coming up soon, and we’re hoping to get more of you involved! This is a great opportunity for those of you who are intimidated by the idea of competing at climbing to try out a fun team competition without any pressure! More details here.

Guest Speaker Nate Kutcher: Saturday October 26th

Nate Kutcher is a member of the Canadian Ice Climbing team. He traveled to Europe this past season to compete (supported in part by True North Climbing), and will be in Sochi to participate on a demonstration of ice climbing at the Winter Olympics. He’ll be with us to show some slides and talk about his adventures as an ice climber.

Reel Rock Film Tour: Saturday November 30th

We are very excited to once again host the Toronto screenings of the 8th annual Reel Rock Film Tour. More details to come, and we expect to have tickets available for sale around the end of September. (Please don’t call to ask to buy tickets until we announce they are on sale!)

Tour de Bloc: Saturday December 7th

For the 5th season in a row, True North will host a Tour de Bloc bouldering competition, this time in the fall.

Some of these events, in particular the last two, will cause some disruption in the gym. We’ll close the gym early on November 30th for Reel Rock, we’ll be completely closed on Friday December 6th to prepare for the Tour de Bloc comp, and open on December 7th only for the comp.

Aug 30

Climb For Heart: Prizes Piling Up!

Our inaugural Climb for Heart Charity competition is approaching on Saturday September 21st, and we have gathered some great prizes for those that participate:

All participants are eligible for these rewards based on the amount of money raised:

  • $100 – $174: a Heart and Stroke t-shirt
  • $175 – $299: a Heart and Stroke t-shirt & a water bottle
  • $300 – $499: a Heart and Stroke t-shirt & a sports bag
  • $500 – $999: a Heart and Stroke t-shirt & yoga mat (binoculars discontinued)
  • $1000 or more: a Heart and Stroke t-shirt & iPod

At the end of the comp we will tally scores, and teams will be called up in order of finish to select prizes that include:

  • Gift Certificate for The Works
  • Gift Certificate for The Annex Hodge Podge
  • Gift Certificate for Live Organic Food Bar
  • Gift Certificate for Glider Gloves (touchscreen friendly)
  • Demar DeRozan autographed plaque
  • A Hammock
  • Women’s wear from Mark’s Work Warehouse
  • 4 Port USB Hub
  • Evolv shoes (2 pairs available)
  • Petzl Xion rope
  • 1 month climbing membership at Climber’s Rock (2 available)
  • 1 month climbing + yoga membership at Climber’s Rock
  • 1 month membership at True North Climbing (multiple)
  • and hopefully more to come!

Let us know if you want to support this event by contributing a prize.

And if you’re thinking that this sounds like fun, you’re right, and it’s time to get your team organized and registered at Sponsorship donations can be made online!

If you want to participate but do not have a team, let us know; we’ll try to put you in touch with others to assemble teams.

Aug 28

Experiment: Longer Hours

All summer long, while we were running our day camp, we opened the gym at 10am each weekday (with Introductory Lessons available starting at noon). This brought a fair number of people in to the gym earlier. Some of these people may not have been able to come later in the day, and in some cases this may have deflected traffic from busier times.

We have decided to try extending this for the month of September to find out how much of this traffic was a summer-only phenomenon, and whether it’s worth making the early hours permanent. If we find that this brings in a significant amount of business that wouldn’t otherwise come, or helps increase our capacity at the busier times, we’ll continue with the early opening permanently. Please let us know if it’s important to you to come to the gym during weekday mornings, and if so, why!

Jul 24

Climb For Heart Charity Event September 21st

We will be hosting another charity event at the gym on Saturday, September 21st, from 4-7pm. This time it’s the Climb For Heart, raising contributions for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Unlike our annual Climb For Cancer event, which is a sort of climbing marathon, Climb for Heart is a co-ed team hybrid comp. What does all that mean? Co-ed  team means teams must have at least one male and female member (rules relaxed!) of 2,3 or 4 must have about as many men as women (teams of 2 or 3 must have at least one of each, teams of 4 must have 2 of each). Hybrid comp means there will be lots of boulder problems and routes to climb. Each participant’s score will be the sum of:

  • points earned for their top 3 routes completed
  • points earned for their top 3 boulder problems completed
  • the number of dollars raised in supporting donations (minimum $25/climber in order to participate)

Each team must have at least 2 members with TNCI belay tags (please get your belay tests done in advance if needed). TNCI members may participate for free; others must buy a day pass for the day.

There will be prizes for the top teams (and please let us know if you would like to donate a prize!), and pizza after the climbing, provided by Panago.

We hope this event will be as popular as Climb For Cancer has become. So start organizing your team now!

More details, and online registration at:

And here’s the poster: Climb for Heart Poster

May 15

Heading to Nationals!

This weekend the Canadian National Climbing Championships will be held at The Boulders climbing gym in Saanich, BC (near Victoria). This is the Difficulty (roped) climbing championship, mostly for youth climbers, but also for the small group of adults who compete in Open Difficulty climbing.



Seven members of the True North Climbing Youth Team will be making the trip to compete for the national championship: Indiana, Yinki, Rosalee, Ethan, Jack, Olivia and Paulette, along with Head Coach Shaun Hunter. Yinki, Jack and Olivia will also be competing in the Speed competition. We’re incredibly proud of our entire team, who worked hard all season, and had some great comps, and we’re all rooting for those competing at Nationals.

May 13

How You Can Help Us Climb For Cancer

Our big charity event of the year is fast approaching! Climb for Cancer returns on Saturday May 25th, with a few dozen climbers going up and down the walla from 3-7pm. Please be aware that we are not offering Introductory Lessons that afternoon, and you should expect the easier walls to be dominated by the marathon climbers.

There is still time to round up a team of 2-4 climbers and join in the fun! You can find all the details at

And if for some strange reason you don’t want to join us climbing your butt off that afternoon, you can still help the cause by making a donation at the front desk. Fill in your name and address on the sponsor sign up sheet if you want a tax receipt. You can also send us a cheque made out to The Princess Margaret Hospital and mail it to us at:

True North Climbing

75 Carl Hall Rd, Unit 14

Toronto ON M3K 2B9

Apr 28

Earth Day Clean-up At Rattlesnake Point

The Ontario Access Coalition is hosting their annual Spring Clean-Up Day next Saturday, May 4th at Rattlesnake Point. Here’s the lowdown:

Who: You!
What: Earth Day Clean-up + free BBQ lunch + raffle (+ climbing if you like)
Where: Rattlesnake Point (meet at the Upper Pavilion)
When: Saturday May 4th 2013, 9:00 am
Why: To give back to the community and to set an example of climber stewardship for discussions re: access at other areas. To have fun, to hang with the friends that you bring along, to be outdoors, to maybe win some cool swag, etc.!

We encourage folks to join in to help keep Rattlesnake Point clean, and demonstrate that climbers are good for our outdoor recreational areas.


Apr 24

Certifying our Instructors

We have been working steadily over the past few years to get our instructors certified, as a part of demonstrating our commitment to running a safe and professional facility. Last week we finally put the results of that work on display in the gym, by mounting the certificates we have so far on the wall above the waiver stations, across from the front desk.


So far we have gotten 14 of our Climbing Instructors certified, with one or more of the following:

  • Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) Climbing Gym Instructor (CGI) Level 1 (for Top-Rope instruction): 3
  • ACMG CGI Level 2 (for Lead Climbing instruction): 2
  • Climbing Wall Association (CWA) Climbing Wall Instructor with lead endorsement (12)
  • CWA Provider certification (Clint Searle, our Head Instructor)

The ACMG and CWA processes are different, but we feel both demonstrate a good level of capability and knowledge. Because Clint can run the CWA certification sessions in our own facility, those are logistically easier to arrange, which is why more of our instructors have that certification.

We still have a handful of Instructors left to be certified (those who don’t work during the school year, or have been hired most recently). We expect to finish those in the coming weeks, and will then be prepared to offer CWA Climbing Wall Instructor certification class to the public.

Apr 10

Join Us At Climb For Cancer On May 25th

For the 3rd year in a row, we’ll be hosting the Climb For Cancer charity event. We have a new challenger this year, as Grand River Rocks in Kitchener steps up to try to take our championship from us. I suspect that many from Climber’s Rock (who have hosted this event the past 3 years) will also continue to participate. I hope many of you will join us to fend off that combined challenge, and also help us set a new record raising money to fight cancer.


Our event will be the afternoon of Saturday, May 25th. Teams of 2-4 people will climb from 3-7pm, covering as many laps of the wall as they can. Total score is a combination of feet climbed and dollars raised. There will be food and prizes for all. Grand River Rocks will hold their event on Sunday may 26th, and the Climb for Cancer trophy goes to the gym that has the highest combined total (each dollar raised counts for 2 feet climbed). Full details and signup info can be found at:

Our goal this year is 50 climbers and $10,000 raised. And while it is exhausting to climb your butt off for 4 hours straight, it is also a lot of fun and very rewarding. So get going now and gather your team together.

Apr 4

Television Coverage Of Our Recent Competition

On March 23rd we hosted our most important competition to date: the Eastern Regional Championships of the Tour de Bloc bouldering series. For the first time we had a television crew on site to capture the event, and this weekend you can see the resulting show:

On RogersTV, cable 10/63:

Friday April 5th at 10pm
and again
Saturday April 6th at 9pm

Dave Voltan provides the commentary as the best climbers from across eastern Canada show their stuff. Don’t miss it!


Mar 29

Three Years Goes By Quickly!

We celebrated our 3rd anniversary on Wednesday with some treats and raffles, so it feels like time to look back and reflect on our progress to date. My first thought is that I cannot believe it has already been three years since we opened our doors with our first Tour de Bloc competition.

Our business has continued to grow rapidly in the past year, and probably our biggest challenge lately has been keeping up with the growth. Our membership, the average number of visits per day, and overall revenue are all up more than 20% year over year. The growth is not spread uniformly across our business hours; we’re getting pretty busy many evenings and most weekend afternoons, but things remain fairly quiet most weekday afternoons. We’re looking to fix that by working to bring in more school and corporate groups during the day!

We are exploring options to expand the capacity of the gym, and have started putting aside some of the profits to pay for that. Don’t hold your breath though, as these things do take time. Any exciting news about expansion is more likely to come next year rather than this year. It took a huge investment to start the gym and while we are paying that off at a decent rate, I’d rather save up to be able to pay for added climbing terrain than take on more debt.

Note that our injury rate has not increased with the growth in traffic. We continue to encounter the occasional sprain once in a while, but more severe injuries (i.e. broken bones) have become even less frequent (well below one incident per 10,000 visits to the facility), which makes us feel our vigilance about safety is working. Most people seem to understand that when a staff member intervenes to give a suggestion about belaying or other behaviour, the intent is always with safety at the top of our minds.

The growth in the business has made it challenging to keep up with everything lately, and that means it’s time for our little business to grow up a little. We’re adding to our management staff to share the administrative work, and we’re working to formalize some of our processes to improve communication (both internally among our staff, and with customers) and make things run more smoothly and error-free. And we continue to grow our team of Instructors and Belay Staff as the demand for lessons, parties and groups grows.

With more customers come more complaints as well. I have heard from several (between 5 and 10) unhappy customers now out of the over 130,000 visits to the gym. I take all complaints seriously, and when the complaint is not anonymous, I do what I can to understand it and make things right. If you have a concern about anything in the gym first try to resolve it with the staff on duty, and find out whom you’re speaking to so they can be held accountable. If you’re not satisfied after that, please come talk to me or email me at john <dot> gross <at> truenorthclimbing <dot> com. And if you are happy with your experience at True North Climbing, please tell your friends and family. Word of mouth is our main form of marketing, and it works!

Our success so far in our 3 years of operation is due to our great team of Routesetters, Climbing Instructors, Belay Staff and Managers, and to all the customers who have supported our business via memberships, day passes, lessons, day camp, scramble sessions, the recreational and competitive programmes, yoga and competitions. Thank you for your support. We will continue to work hard to make True North Climbing better and better.

Mar 14

Why Recreational Climbers Should Compete At Eastern Regionals

As you may have heard, we’re hosting the Eastern Regional Championships of the national Tour de Bloc bouldering series on Saturday March 23rd. This is the most important competition we’ve hosted in our 3 year history, and we’re excited to have the best climbers from across eastern Canada coming to our joint to test themselves and vie for spots on the national team, at the last stop before the national championships in Edmonton in April. So for climbers in the Open category, Regionals is a big deal.

However, this competition is for more than just the elite Open climbers. Like every Tour de Bloc comp, we have categories for Youth, Recreational and Experienced climbers. The Youth category is subdivided into 5 age tiers for each gender. While this comp is not part of the OCF Youth Series this season, we do hope to see a lot of kids coming out to boulder and have a fun day.

For those in the Recreational and Experienced categories, this comp is pretty much the same as any local Tour de Bloc comp. The Chief Routesetters are Jody Miall of Coyote Rock Gym in Ottawa and our own Shaun Hunter, assisted by Kellen Tapley from Coyote and Max Lefevre and Jonny Briggs of our team. So you can expect a lot of fun, creative and challenging bouldering problems across the entire range of difficulty.

I talk to a lot of recreational climbers who enjoy bouldering, but think they are not good enough to compete at one of these comps. What I tell them is that if you can do many of the yellow tape problems in our gym, you’re good enough to have a lot of fun at a Tour de Bloc. Like mini-golf, you’ll carry a score card around, but it’s up to you how competitively you really want to treat the day. I myself have competed in several of these comps, and while I’ve never finished very far from the bottom of the rankings, I’ve always had a blast climbing with my friends in an atmosphere that is supportive and not intimidating.

The Youth, Recreational and Experienced categories climb in the morning (registration at 9, climbing from 10am-1pm). In the afternoon the Open category has its Qualifying round, and from 6:30-8:30pm the top finishers from the Qualifying round face off in Finals. Whether you are competing or not, Finals will be a spectacle that you will want to see. And if you do compete, you’ll have a little more appreciation for how strong and talented the men and women who make it to finals really are.

Some people come into the gym in the days after the comp, to try out the comp problems. This year we are not promising to put all the qualifying problems back up after the comp. Some will be restored, but in some cases it’s simpler to put new problems up as we race to restore the gym in time for regular business on Sunday morning. So if you want to climb the comp problems, come to the comp.

This event requires an enormous amount of time, energy and money to put on, and we appreciate the support of climbers who show up and pay their comp fee to help defray some of the expenses. The gym does not make a profit on this event; with a large enough turnout, we can keep the losses modest enough that we’ll want to keep hosting events like this every year.

Information for Competitors can be found here.

Mar 14

Tour de Bloc Eastern Regionals: Information for Competitors

Here is everything you should need to know if you are competing at Eastern Regionals at True North Climbing on Saturday March 23rd:

If this is your first visit to True North Climbing:

  • You will need a valid True North Climbing waiver form. If you are under 18, your waiver must be signed and initialed by your parent. Waivers can now be completed electronically online, and we strongly urge everyone to do that in advance, to keep registration moving smoothly. More details here.
  • Please check our map before coming; like many climbing gyms, it is tricky to find us the first time. Your GPS will take you to the wrong spot! Here’s the map.

If you have not visited us in a while:

  • Please check our map again before coming! Recent construction in Downsview Park has blocked access to us from the west side of our building, and you now must drive all the way around the far east side.  Here’s the map.

If you are competing in the Open category and want your points tracked:

Hotel Deal:

Here are the medals to be awarded to the top finishers in the Open category:


Schedule of Events:

Tuesday, March 19th: Setting begins, main bouldering wall begins to get covered up

Thursday, March 21st: North side of gym closed

Friday March 22nd: Entire gym is closed all day

Saturday March 23rd:

9:00am – 9:45am:  Registration for Youth, Recreational and Experienced

9:45am – 10:00am:  Competitors Briefing

10:00am – 1:00pm: Climbing for Youth, Rec and Experienced

2:30pm: Awards for Youth, Rec and Experienced

12:30pm – 1:15pm: Registration for Open Competitors

1:15pm – 1:30pm: Competitors Briefing

1:30pm – 4:30pm: Open Division Qualifiers

5:00pm: Iso opens

5:30pm: Iso closes

6:30pm – 8:30pm Open Finals

9:00pm Awards for Open




Mar 7

Call for Volunteers: Tour de Bloc Eastern Regionals

Putting on a major event like a Tour de Bloc bouldering competition takes a log of help from dedicated volunteers. We need your help to make this event a success! We’re looking for the following people to help out between approximately 5:30-9pm on Saturday March 23rd.:

  • Experienced bouldering judges for the Open final round
  • Isolation Zone monitors (no experience needed!)
  • Time keeper for the Open final round (no experience needed)

We take good care of our volunteers: food and drink will be provided, and you’ll each get a free day pass to use or share with friends/family. Please email us at info@truenorthclimbing if you can help out.

Feb 28

Tour de Bloc Eastern Regionals is Coming!

We’re about 3 weeks away from hosting the Eastern Regional Championship of the Tour de Bloc Bouldering series on Saturday March 23rd, and we are getting pretty excited because:

  • The best climbers from across eastern Canada will be coming to compete for a spot on the Canadian climbing team. With a World Cup Bouldering event on the schedule in Hamilton this June, there is more reason to fight for a spot on the team this year!
  • We are getting amazing support from hold companies for this event, with 6 companies contributing a lot of their product to sponsor the 8 final problems. Together with the large hold orders we have also made for this event, we will have a ton of shiny new stuff on the walls, and our setters will have a field day with their new toys.
  • Jody Miall from Coyote Rock Gym and our own Shaun Hunter will be the co-chief routesetters for the event. Kellen Tapley will also be coming down from Ottawa to bolster the team. Together with our regular staff setters, we’ll have some great setting talent to challenge the climbers.
  • RogersTV will be in the house to cover the event for later broadcast.





This will be the biggest, and hopefully the best comp we have hosted, so do not miss out.

In addition to the excitement of having many of the top climbers in the country competing in the Open category, we are of course still offering Youth, Recreational and Experienced categories as well. While the stakes are higher in Open, for the rest of us it’s another great opportunity to have fun climbing great problems together.

Please note that we will not be restoring all qualifier problems after the comp. We bring in a night setting crew to get the gym back in order for regular business on the Sunday morning after the comp, and that is a big job. We have found that it’s much more efficient to put up new problems than put all the qualifiers back up. So if you want to climb these problems, you need to come to the comp!

Registration is now open at

A comp tank top is included in the registration fee only if payment is received on or before March 10th. Payment can be made at the gym, or online at

Feb 12

Special Event March 2nd: OAC Discussion Series

On Saturday March 2nd at 7pm the Ontario Access Coalition will hold a slide show and meeting dealing with access issues in Ontario and elsewhere. OAC executives and local area Land Managers will be present to discuss the issues.

You can come climb and chat with the OAC representatives from 3-6pm, and the meeting starts at 7pm in our party area.


Feb 8

We’re Looking for an Experienced Routesetter

[This position has been filled]

We’re now looking to add an experienced routesetter to our team. If you have at least a year of experienced in a commercial facility and are interested in putting magic on our beautiful walls, please review the job description and get in touch with us. Perks include good deals on climbing equipment, plus free hot sauce in the staff kitchen!

Dec 25

A New True North Mural

[Here is a guest post by Matt Chapman, who painted the new mural on the wall outside the ladies’ change room last Saturday night. Matt is an artist, teacher, and the father of one of the kids on our Youth Competitive team.]

The idea seemed to present itself. The wall was angled and I’m a bouldering enthusiast, so…

I created the drawings on Photoshop, and then printed each one on a transparency for the projector. When I arrived at the gym late Saturday night, Gerald and Gareth were closing up shop. Gerald offered to stay and help out… “That would be great!” He’s tall and manly, which came in handy when trying to balance a 25-­pound projector on a flimsy piece of plywood some 8 feet in the air. We were short on scaffolding or a hydraulic scissor lift, so tall ladders on uneven gym mats, rigged with that long piece of plywood had to sub in.


The next step was precarious; a balancing act actually (see picture above); but that’s how one turns small images into large images on a wall. When the cleaners showed up with vacuuming in mind, we needed to defend our territory! Vacuum vibrations (or even walking around the ladders for that matter) is seriously hazardous to the drawing process… We held our breath. A couple of hours later the drawings were finished and we could breathe again. The cleaners went home, and I tried to send poor Gerald home, but he refused. I was glad he stayed; there was still 7 hours of painting to go!



We survived on Mike and Ike candies and fountain water… We took turns snapping photos of the process… And by early Sunday morning Gerald and I were putting the final touches on the new mural at True North! It is a tribute to both bouldering (naturally) and the TN Youth Climbing team.

Thanks John for the blank wall!



(Click on each photo to see it full-screen)

Dec 16

Holiday Hours

We will be open every day over the winter break:

Dec 24 & 25: Noon – 6pm (short days)

Dec 26-28: 10am – 11pm (long days!)

Dec 29/30: 10am – 10pm (usual weekend hours)

Dec 31/Jan 1: Noon – 6pm (short days)

Jan 2-4: 10am – 11pm (long days)

And to help you tire out your kids, our popular day camp will run Wed-Fri both weeks. Details here: Single days and half days are available, and there is a price break if you book at least a week in advance.

Dec 10

Gym Closing Early Saturday December 15th

It’s time for our annual staff holiday party, which means the gym will be closing early, at 6pm on Saturday, December 15th. Our amazing staff do a great job all year round, and we think they deserve a night of fun and good food.

Nov 29

Holiday Gift Idea: Intro Lesson Package Available At Half Price!

[This special deal was available from November 30th through December 6th only]

Looking for a great holiday gift for friends and family? Our Introductory Lesson Package is available at half price at

The package includes our 1-hour Introductory Lesson, plus a 2-week membership that starts on the next visit to the gym. Equipment (shoes & harness) are included for both the lesson and the 2-week membership. Just $25 including HST!

This offer is available for a limited time.

Sep 16

Wow! What a Finale!

Those who attended yesterday’s Summer Sweat Fest Finale bouldering competition saw some of the most remarkable climbing in recent memory. Here’s a bit of a look at what went on yesterday. Full comp results are posted at

First off, we took some risks with yesterday’s event. We used unusual formats in two rounds:

Qualifiers: The usual friendly scramble format was modified by making every one of the 25 problem count toward a competitor’s final score, and by not predetermining the value of each problem. Instead a problem’s value was based on how many people sent it. Thanks to Coyote Rock Gym in Ottawa for sharing their experiences with this format with us, to help us prepare. We kept the number of problems low to keep things reasonable, since everyone was trying as many of the problems as they could, rather than just working to get their best 6 as is usually the case. I’ve heard from several competitors that they really enjoyed the format, and the results show that it worked, both in terms of separating the field, and in getting the right climbers into the final round.

Open Finals: We used a progressive elimination format that I had seen at The Battle in The Bubble comp in Boulder, Colorado a few years ago. 8 men and 4 woman started on problem 1. (The number who qualified for finals was based on the usual CEC quotas based on the number of competitors in each category). 6 men and 4 women advanced to problem 2. 4 men and 3 women moved on to problem 3, and problem 4 was a head-to-head showdown between the last 2 climbers in each category. This format put added pressure on the competitors to stay alive at each stage. It also put added pressure on the routesetters, to ensure that every problem created the needed separation between competitors (they nailed it!).

The Mixed Youth final round featured boys and girls 13 and under climbing against each other. Zach Richardson emerged as the winner, but all 6 finalists showed toughness, perseverance and maturity beyond their years in the spotlight.

The Open Men and Women put on a spectacular show. The elimination format was exciting. On the Men’s side, Matt Moreau and Eric Sethna made it to the final problem showdown. The format switched to alternating attempts for the last problem, so Matt and Eric took turns trying to solve the last problem. The first to send would win the comp, with Eric holding the leader’s advantage of being able to win by matching Matt on a final attempt. Neither of them were able to send the problem after the maximum of 10 attempts each, but they showed great resilience in continuing to give it their best when they were clearly both exhausted. Eric won by making more progress than Matt.

The Women’s showdown was even more exciting. Alex Kuusela surprised many by making it to the final problem against Iyma Lamarche, and then she showed she deserved to be there by giving Iyma a run for her money on the final problem. Through attempt after attempt, the women battled a tough problem, but both continued to make progress despite how much it was taking out of them (or off of them; see the photos of Alex’s worn-off fingertips posted on Facebook!). Iyma got tantalizingly close to topping out a few times, and took the comp title by getting to the final hold, a bit further than Alex managed. The crowd was amazed by how tough these competitors were, and how much they continued to battle after being pushed so hard.

Thanks go out to:

  • The routesetting team who completely nailed both the Qualifiers and the Final round problems. Shaun Hunter, Andreas Lerch, Max Lefevre and Jonny Briggs showed the local climbing community what they’re capable of, and it was impressive. Max and Andreas, along with Paul Cooper and Lina Nikolova also worked overnight last night to restore the gym to decent shape for today (most qualifiers back up, and some roped routes restored on the north side)
  • Clint Searle (our Head Judge) and Gerald Situ (general assistance all week long)
  • The volunteers who came in to judge and act as Isolation Monitors or Timekeepers: Arad, Olivia, Barak, Madeleine, Paulette, Sandi, Aaron, Kate, Nathan, Sebastien, Chloe, Esti.
  • The entire True North team for keeping everything else running while the comp prep and event went on!
  • Tim Vince and Jeff Whatham  of the Ontario Climbing Federation for giving a judging clinic Friday night. One of the OCF’s areas of focus this season is training, to improve comps in a variety of ways, including increasing the pool of qualified judges.
  • James Richardson, the owner of Climber’s Rock in Burlington, for establishing and leading the Summer Sweat Fest competition series over the past 4 years.
  • Our sponsors!
    • Rock Candy Holds and Friction Climbing both sponsored problems in the final round.
    • Flashed provided prizes for the raffle. We are also very happy with the Flashed Stinger mats we bought for the comp; the thin memory foam pads – not drag mats with edges – helped soften the landing for boulder problems on the blue mats.
    • Grand Prix Kartways donated prizes for the raffle
    • La Sportiva and Mountain Equipment Co-op were sponsors of the entire Summer sweat Fest series.
    • True North’s year-round Supporting Partners, whose contributions allow us to present events like yesterday’s: TD Canada Trust, Jones brown Insurance, Shibley Righton LLP and Eldorado Climbing Walls.

I will admit to being quite anxious on Friday night, as we worked hard to be ready for Saturday. While I had full confidence that the routesetting team had things well in hand, I wondered if we had pushed our luck by experimenting with different formats, and if overall we were trying to do too much with the comp, in the context of  a week that was very busy in other ways. Somehow it all worked out, and I think it was one of the best comps we have hosted in the 2 1/2 years we have been operation.

Now we look ahead to the next major events: the Reel Rock Film Tour November 24th, and then our first turn hosting Tour de Bloc Eastern Regionals, on March 23rd

Sep 3

Service Reduced Again on Route 101 Bus

With Labour Day come & gone, the TTC returns to its fall schedule, which means the 101 bus from Downsview Station is again reduced to weekends and holidays only.

Your City Councillor, Mayor or TTC Commissioner would be happy to hear your feedback about this reduction in service.

Aug 18

Preparing For Summer Sweat Fest On September 15th

We’re excited to host the Finale event of the 2012 Summer Sweat Fest bouldering series on Saturday September 15th. Details for competitors can be found here:

As we get ready for this event, here’s what regular customers need to know:

We Need Volunteers!

It takes a lot of people to run a competition like this, and we ask for some help. We need the following volunteers to make the event a success:

  • Judges for Finals (5:30-8:30pm)
  • Judges for Qualifying rounds (10am – 12:30 and 12:30 – 3:00pm)
  • Isolation Monitors (4:00-8:30pm)

Judging experience is very helpful, but not required. On Friday night there will be a Judging Clinic to ensure that all judges know how to do their job. Those who have judged before are invited to refresh their skills. Dinner will be provided for those attending the judging clinic.

All volunteers will be fed (lunch and/or dinner depending on the hours), and will receive a voucher for a day pass at True North Climbing.

Please email or tell John Gross or Clint Searle if you are able to help us out!

Impact on the Gym

Events like this have an impact on the gym, so we want you to know what to expect. The main bouldering wall will be shut down for a few days leading up to the comp (starting Wednesday), and kept covered by tarps to keep our secrets under wraps! On Thursday belay bars 1-10 will be covered up, and on Friday the entire north half of the gym will be closed off as we put the finishing touches in place.

On the day of the comp, the entire north half of the gym will be dedicated to the competition all day. The south half will still be open for climbing, but the Lead Cave area (the south-east quarter of the gym) will be closed off at about 3:30 to form the Isolation Area for the Final round. There will be no group events booked all day, no scramble session, and no Introductory Lessons after 1pm.

To help restore the gym after the comp, we will bring in a crew of routesetters to work overnight after the competition, so that on Sunday morning things will be somewhat back together.

Aug 18

Competitors: Summer Sweat Fest Finale Is Coming September 15th

True North Climbing has the honour of hosting the Finale event for this year’s Summer Sweat Fest Bouldering Competition Series. This will be an all-day event on Saturday, September 15th.

The day will begin with Qualifying rounds; Youth and Recreational categories climb in the morning, and Open competitors in the early afternoon. The format for the Qualifying round will be different from the local comps in July and August, and will be announced at the comp. It’s a neat twist that should make for an interesting day.

We plan to hold a Final round for the following 5 categories:

Open: Men and Women

Recreational: Men and Women

Mixed Youth: Boys & Girls competing together

The Finals for the Recreational categories will be held only if enough competitors are registered in advance; we will announce the decision on that one week before the event.

The format for Open Finals will also be different from what we’re all used to, and will be announced the day of the comp!

The fee to compete is $30 + HST = $33.90. Open competitors must pay an additional $5 + HST for a total of $39.55; the additional $5 goes into the prize pool for the top Open finalists.

The results of the Finale event after the Final round will be combined with the ranking points from each competitor’s top 3 local comps to determine the overall Summer Sweat Fest champions, with the Finale points counting double.

The Open Male and Female Series Champion each receive:

  • $1,000 cash
  • gift certificate for new pair of La Sportiva climbing shoes
  • one year of comp fees paid for by CompSeason (for all comp registrations made through my.CompSeason)

You can register for the comp now at

Here’s the full schedule for the Finale event on September 15th:

9:00 AM Youth/Rec Registration
9:45 AM Youth/Rec Competitor’s Briefing
10:00 AM Youth/Rec Climbing Starts
11:30 AM Open Registration
12:15 PM Open Competitor’s Briefing
12:30 PM Youth/Rec Climbing Ends
12:30 PM Open Climbing Starts
3:00 PM Open Climbing Ends
4:00 PM Youth/Rec ISO Opens
4:30 PM Youth/Rec ISO Closes
5:00 PM Open ISO Opens
5:30 PM Open ISO Closes
5:30 PM Youth/Rec Finals Start
7:00 PM Youth/Rec Finals End
7:00 PM Open Finals Start
8:30 PM Open Finals End
9:00 PM Awards
Aug 17

Adult Competitive Team: Tryouts August 28th

We’re getting ready for another season of competitive climbing, and this year we will hold tryouts for our Adult Competitive team.

We’re looking for men and women in both the Open and Recreational categories to represent True North Climbing. Team members will get uniforms to wear during training sessions and competitions, and their registration fee will be paid for the Tour de Bloc comp at True North (date to be announced). In addition, members of the Open team will get a break on membership fees. All Recreational team members will qualify for the discount membership rate, and the top performers will get additional membership fee reductions.

Are you interested in joining our team? If so, you should be passionate about climbing and excited about representing True North Climbing. You will be the kind of person who cheers just about as hard for the competition as for your teammate. You always play by the rules, and you share your passion for climbing with others, whether they are competitive climbers or new climbers just discovering the sport. Team members are expected to climb regularly at True North, and train together once each week.

Tryouts will be held at True North Climbing on Tuesday, August 28th from 7-9pm. Please let Clint Searle (clint.searle@truenorthclimbing) know if you plan to attend. If you’re interested in joining the team but can’t make it on August 28th, let Clint know and we’ll arrange an alternate time.

Aug 16

Youth Recreational Programmes Now Booking For September

We are now taking bookings for the fall session of our popular Youth Recreational programmes, which resume the week of September 9th. These programmes are available for kids 5 and up at any level of ability, and build skills and confidence as the kids progress through 8 or 10 weeks of regular climbing. These programmes qualify for the federal government’s Child Fitness Tax Credit.

Full details of the programmes including pricing can be found here:

Call us at 416 398-7625 to get your child signed up!

Aug 8

Alternate Routing This Weekend During HeavyTO

Here’s the latest from Downsview Park regarding alternate routing this coming weekend (August 11/12):

This coming weekend, Downsview Park plays host to another two-day music festival: Heavy T.O.

Once again, the John Drury Drive entrance and Carl Hall Road will be closed to vehicular traffic with the exception of the Downsview Park 101 bus, which will enter at John Drury and exit at Chesswood.

Please advise your staff and customers to use Chesswood as their entry and exit into/out of the Park.

The John Drury Drive entrance/Carl Hall Road will be closed effective 10:30 a.m. Saturday morning, reopening after 11 p.m. Sunday evening.

Aug 2

Long Weekend: Road Changes for Events in Downsview Park

We’re getting used to this now, right?

Two events over the long weekend will once again close the main park entrance at John Drury Drive:

Saturday, August 4 & Sunday, August 5 – VELD Music Festival

Monday, August 6 – Jambana

For most of the long weekend, John Drury Drive and Carl Hall Road will be closed to all incoming/outgoing vehicular traffic. This also applies to the Downsview Park 101 bus which will be one-way only, entering the Park at John Drury and exiting at Chesswood. The Chesswood entrance will be open to accommodate detoured vehicles (entry and exit). John Drury Drive and Carl Hall Road will reopen each night at approximately 10 p.m.

See the map on our Location page.

Jul 25

Alternate Routing This Weekend

On Sunday, July 29th, the Festival de Verano will be taking place in Downsview Park. From 11am on, Carl Hall Dr will be one-way eastbound only.

The Chesswood entrance will be open to accommodate detoured vehicles (entry and exit). See the map on our Location page.

Jul 22

World Cup in Toronto: How You Can Help

A group of volunteers is working to bring a World Cup Bouldering event to Toronto next June, and they need your help. Luigi Montilla, who organizes the Tour de Bloc series each year, is the event organizer. He has arranged for the event to be held next June 8th & 9th at Mel Lastman Square, on Yonge St north of Sheppard Ave.

The event is on the provisional calendar of the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC). A Calendar Fee of $10,000 must be paid to the IFSC by the end of August, and the organizing committee is asking the climbing community to pitch in to raise the calendar fee. Much more money will be needed later to actually stage the event, and sponsors will be brought in for that. But right now it’s up to those of us who love climbing, and want to see a world class event in our city, to step up and help out.

A World Cup bouldering event unfolds over two days, with each round in Isolation format. This means the competitors are separated from anyone who can see the problems to be climbed, so that they have no information about the problems until they stand in front of them. The Qualifying round will be on Saturday, June 8th. Each climber will have 5 problems to climb. The top 20 men and women then advance to semi-finals on Sunday morning, facing 4 new problems. The top 6 men and women from semi-finals advance to finals, with 4 more problems to determine the winners.

There has been one World Cup in Canada before: last year in Canmore. I attended that event, and despite cold, wet weather, it was incredibly exciting to see many Canadian climbers, (some of whom I knew from their visits to our gym or meeting at other competitions) take on the world’s best climbers. The hosting country is allowed additional entries in the event, so there will be a good number of familiar faces at next June’s event! Apart from Canmore, the only North American stop on the World Cup tour is the Teva Mountain Games each spring. Most World Cup events are held in Europe and Asia.

A World Cup event in Toronto will help grow the sport, a part of the process of getting climbing into the Olympics. It will give more Canadian climbers a chance to shine, and help inspire the large and growing number of young climbers who aspire to international competition. It will show our city why we love climbing, by showcasing the world’s best climbers in two days of competition that anyone can attend for free (the event will not be ticketed).

The organizing committee has set up a web site at and a fundraising site at As this was written, 57 people and organizations had contributed a little more than half of the 10,000 needed to pay the calendar fee and keep this project on track. There are perks available at various levels of contribution, so you can get something in return for what you give, but the most important thing you get is the opportunity to see this amazing event in our city. Please give what you can!

Jul 18

Alternate Route During Junior Carnival July 21st

On Saturday, July21st the Junior Carnival will be taking place in Downsview Park. As such, the main Park entrance/exit at John Drury will be closed to all incoming/outgoing vehicular traffic (with the exception of TTC) until 2pm that day.

The Chesswood entrance will be open to accommodate detoured vehicles (entry and exit). See the map on our Location page.

Jul 11

Alternate Route During Edgefest July 14th

On Saturday, July 14 Edgefest will be taking place in the North Terrace Events Centre at Downsview Park. As such, the main Park entrance/exit at John Drury will be closed to all incoming/outgoing vehicular traffic (with the exception of TTC) effective 10 AM Saturday morning and will reopen at 11 PM.

The Chesswood entrance will be open to accommodate detoured vehicles (entry and exit). See map below:

Please note that the TTC bus route Downsview Park 101 will be one-way only, entering the Park at John Drury and exiting at Chesswood.

Jul 5

Construction In and Around Downsview Park

There is a lot of construction under way in and around Downsview Park. In the short term that makes for some inconvenience getting to and from the gym. In the longer term, each of the projects underway is exciting for us.

The longest project going on near us is the extension of the Spadina subway line, extending it from the current terminus at Downsview Station to a new station at Chesswood Avenue, and then up to York University and beyond into Vaughan. The new line is expected to open around the end of 2015. Check out the TTC’s page on the Spadina subway extension for updates.

You may have noticed work going on at the railway crossing as you come in along Carl Hall Rd. A full crossing with barriers is being installed to make this crossing safer.

The largest impact on our business at present is the construction of the new hockey complex on the west side of the Downsview Park Sports Centre. This construction has cut off access to us from the west side until next spring. The 4 new hockey rinks are expected to open in Fall of 2013. The work involves the demolition of part of our building, which is why 416 Skatepark has relocated across the hall from us.

Another project planned for the coming year is a substantial reworking of Carl Hall Rd.

There’s an old joke about how there are 2 seasons in Toronto: winter and construction season. The construction in and around the park will continue year-round for quite some time, and we’ll need to cope with it. In the long run it’s all part of improving services for the Park, which will help it grow as an attraction.

Jun 23

Warrior’s Way Clinic Coming in August

Arno Ilgner, author of The Warrior’s Way, will be in Toronto in August to offer his Falling and Commitment Clinic at 3 local gyms. True North Climbing will host one of these clinics from 6-10pm on Friday, August 24th. The cost is $90 + HST for True North Climbing members, $100 + HST for non-members. There is room for only 6 people in the clinic. Call us or come to the front desk to sign up for the clinic.

Here’s the schedule of Arno’s Canada East Tour, if you are interested in the other dates/locations.

Arno was scheduled to do a clinic last year but ran into border-crossing challenges. He has enlisted some help this year in overcoming those obstacles, so we’re confident that he’ll make it to Toronto this time!

Jun 11

Roadway Changes This Weekend

Due to this weekend’s Radiohead concert at Parc Downsview Park, there will be restrictions placed on the main park entrance.

Please be advised that Carl Hall Road will become a one-way street—for eastbound (or entry) traffic only—effective 5 PM Friday, June 15 until 7 AM Saturday morning (June 16) at which time it will be then be closed to ALL incoming/outgoing vehicular traffic until Sunday morning, June 17, with the exception of public transit. Vehicles must use Chesswood Avenue as an alternate.

Check the map on our web site for details of how to enter via Chesswood Avenue:

Jun 4

Summer Membership Deal

It’s June, and once again we are offering a special price on a 3-month prepaid summer membership. The price is $150 + HST = $169.50 , or for those who qualify for our Discount rates, $126 + HST = $142.38.

No freezing or refunds on these plans, and we’re selling them only during the month of June. Rental equipment is available but not included. The Summer memberships come with all the usual Membership Benefits.

Jun 1

Climb For Cancer Results

Last Saturday was our annual Climb for Cancer charity event. Here are the results:

  • 34 climbers participated
  • we climbed a cumulative total of 77,430 feet
  • we raised a total of $5898 (though some additional money is still coming in, so we’ll likely wind up over $6000)
  • 4 students from the College of Massage joined us to ease our pain!
  • the participants got some nice prizes donated by our generous sponsors including Mountain Equipment Co-op, Black Diamond,
    La Sportiva, Petzl, Prana, Arc’Teryx, Five Ten and Walltopia/HRT
  • 7 lucky participants won a free month membership at True North Climbing

On Sunday our good friends at Climber’s Rock held their corresponding event. Their group of 28 climbers outclimbed us at 79,830 feet, and raised $4,362. Based on this year’s formula of 2 feet for every dollar raised, that means True North Climbing retains possession of the Climb for Cancer trophy, but just barely.

Gym Owner John Gross' mother Marilyn celebrates after completing one of her 2 climbs.

If you were not among the 34 people who climbed their butts off this year, please think about joining us next year. It’s a lot of fun, and a cause that touches almost everyone. Thanks to Erica Vanderveer and her support team for organizing another great event.

May 15

Construction/Access Update

Starting in late May June 19th, there will be construction on the west side of our building, the Downsview Park Sports Centre, blocking access to us from that side. When that happens, access will be via the east side of the building, going around The Hangar and through its parking lot, around the south-east corner of the building.

You can enter the park at the main entrance at John Drury Dr:

or via Chesswood Dr (gravel construction road to Carl Hall Rd skirting the airstrip):

May 11

So, Are You Gathering A Team, Or Would You Rather Sponsor Me?

My question of the week is about our upcoming Climb For Cancer event: Are you gathering a team of your own to climb on May 26th, or would you rather sponsor me? We had a great turnout last year at our first Climb for Cancer event, and we’re hoping to get a lot more this year. Grab a few friends (teams can be 2, 3 or 4 people) and sign up at Then print out the pledge sheet, and start gathering sponsors. You only need $25 or more in sponsors, plus a day pass or membership, to take part in the event. You will have a blast, you’ll raise some money for a very important cause, and you’ll feel good when you’re done.

If for some inconceivable reason you can’t take part in the event yourself, please find a participant to sponsor. I’m shamelessly accepting sponsors from anyone, or you can take inspiration from my mother and sponsor her (Marilyn Gross). You can drop off a cheque (made out to “The Ride to Conquer Cancer”, which our event is officially part of), or you can contribute online at the event organizer Erika Vanderveer’s sponsor page:

and follow the instructions including adding a Personal Note naming the climber you are sponsoring.

May 2

Getting Ready For Climb For Cancer

We’re just over 3 weeks away from our big annual charity event: Climb For Cancer. I’m gathering my team for the event: my son Stephen is on board, and my daughter Karen will be there unless another event interferes.

This year my mother Marilyn is also joining us. Today she came in to warm up for the event.

At 89 years old, my mom is the oldest climber to make it to the top of one of our walls. She made quick work of this 5.5 on the slab.

A cancer survivor herself, she’ll join our team on May 26th, and is making the rounds of her bridge group and other friends to collect sponsors for the event. Our team will be climbing in honour of her, and also in memory of Kim Lausch.

The 4 hour marathon of climbing last year was more fun than you can imagine. Now is the time to organize a team so you can be part of it on May 26th. You’ll have a blast climbing, and you’ll feel good about helping to raise a lot of money to conquer cancer in our lifetime.

Full details on how to sign up at

Apr 22

Final Results: Eastern Youth Regionals

Here are the top finishers on each category from this weekend’s Eastern Youth Regionals Competition:

Girls D

1 Estella Lamarche-Dykeman
2 Emily Belleau
3 Poet Bernard
4 Luca Gagnon
5 Indiana Chapman

Boys D

1 Zach Richardson
2 Mitchel Haight
3 Laurent Bilodeau
4 William McIlroy

Girls C

1 Mika Mercey
2 Justine McCartney
3 Courtney Belleau
4 Katrina Whittaker-Lee
5 Catharine Carkner

Boys C

1 Vincent Knesevitch
2 Ben Whattam
3 Spencer Hebb
4 Joshua Maragoni
5 Jack Wyett

Girls B

1 Erica Meister (USA)
2 Audrey Larouchelle
3 Flavie Martin
4 Beth Vince
5 Olivia Wyett
6 Charle Prosser

Boys B

1 Nathan Smith
2 Samuel Tiukuvaara
3 Lucas Uchida
4 Arnaud Roy
5 Johannes Tiukuvaara

Girls A

1 Iyma Larmarche
2 Pia Graham
3 Corinne Baril
4 Emilie Rouleau
5 Marie Eve Lebreux
6 Esti Tweg

Boys A

1Nathen LeBlanc-Limoges
2 Francis Bilodeau
3T Olivier Plante
3T Jean-Simon Damours-Cyr
5 Taylor Cameron
6 Philippe Thompson

Girls Junior

1 Victoria Belanger-Trudel
2 Brianne Kay

Boys Junior

1 William St-laurent
2 Timothe Beaudoim
3 Will Goodwin
4 Phillipe Noel
5 Tyler Gilroy

(In some case, the CEC countback rules were used to resolve ties after Finals.)

Apr 22

Final Remarks After The Comp

These were my remarks [slightly edited here to add some missed recognition] just before the award ceremony at Youth Eastern Regionals today. Pardon the imperfect French!

Merci aux douzaines de gens qui ont donné leur temp pour nous aider ce fin de semaine. Ca inclus les juges, les belayers, les juges d’iso, notre Marqueur en Chef, Clint Searle, et Michelle Monteith, pour son expertise medicale. Un merci enorme aux deux Juges en Chefs: Tim Vince et Jeff Whattam , qui ont travaillé de longues heures, et qui ont un travail difficile.

Thank you to the dozens of people who have given their time to help us this weekend. This includes judges, belayers, iso judges, our Head Scorekeeper Clint Searle,  Michelle Monteith for her medical expertise. An enormous thank you to our twin head judges: Tim Vince and Jeff Whattam, who have worked very long hours, and have a difficult job.

Aux jeune grimpeurs ici aujourd’hui, j’espere que vous pensez aux plusiers gens qui ont donné leur temp pour vous. J’espere que vous allez aider a une competition a l’avenir quand vous le pouvez.

To the young climbers here today, I want you to think about how many people have given their time so you can climb today. I hope that you will help out at a comp in the future when you can.

Merci aux routesetters: Dustin Curtis, Kellen Tapley et Josh Tuffin,et aussi Shaun Hunter et Adrian Das. Ces gars ont travalle vraiment tres dur pendent quatre ou cinq jours et nuits, pour applique le magique sur les murs. Merci aussi a Eric Sethna pour avoir forerunne les voies.

Thank you to the routesetters: Dustin Curtis, Kellen Tapley and Josh Tuffin, as well as Shaun Hunter and Adrian Das. These guys have worked very hard for the past 4 or 5 days and nights, to put their magic on the walls. Thanks also to Eric Sethna for forerunning the routes.

Merci a mon equipe ici a True North, qui font des travailles extraordinaires chaque jour de l’année.

Thank you to my team here at True North, who do an extraordinary job every day of the year.

Et finalement, merci a tous les concourants qui sont venus ici de partout en Ontario, de Quebec, et même des Etas-Unis. Merci pour votre enthousiasme, votre talent, et – dans aux moins un cas – votre courage.

And finally, thank you to all the competitors who came this weekend, from across Ontario, from Quebec, and even from the United States. Thank you for your enthusiasm, your talent, and – in at least one case – your courage.

Je suis tres heureux de vous lire (avec l’aide de Google Translate) le suivant de lieu de web du CEC:

Les 20 athlètes les mieux classés par catégorie de chaque championnat régional seront automatiquement qualifiés pour le championnat national.

D’apres moi, c’est vous tous! Felecitations!

I’m very happy to read you the following from the CDC web site:

The 20 highest ranked athletes per category from each Regional Championships will automatically qualify for the National Championships.

By my reckoning, that includes each of you who participated here this weekend. Congratulations!

And while I didn’t think it appropriate to say so in the context of being the host of the comp in front of all the other competitors, I’ll add here that I am enormously proud of our True North Youth Competitive Climbing team. All but one of these kids are in their first year of climbing, and they all did an outstanding job, both in terms of their climbing performance and the character they displayed throughout the comp. We wound up with 5 kids in finals, which is amazing, and is a great sign for the future.

Apr 21

Eastern Youth Regionals: Results of Qualifying Round 2

Here are the results after the second Qualifying Round. The running order for Semi Finals will be posted later this evening.

Boys Junior: (Top 8 advance)

Name              Height1 Pos1 Height2 Pos2 Score Position
William St-Laurent  Top    1    Top    1    4.500    1
Maxym Langlois      Top    1    Top    1    4.500    1
Gareth Ryan         Top    1    Top    1    4.500    1
Tyler Gilroy        Top    1    Top    1    4.500    1
Timothe Beaudoim    Top    1    Top    1    4.500    1
Will Goodwin        Top    1    Top    1    4.500    1
Phillipe Noel       Top    1    Top    1    4.500    1
Pablo Orozco        Top    1    Top    1    4.500    1

Girls Junior: (Top 2 advance)

Name                     Height1 Pos1 Height2 Pos2 Score Position
Victoria Belanger-Trudel    Top    1    Top    1    1.000    1
Brianne Kay                  22    2    15+    2    2.000    2

Boys A: (Top 8 advance)

Name                   Height1 Pos1 Height2 Pos2 Score Position
Olivier Plante            Top    1    Top    1    5.244    1
Jean-Simon Damours-Cyr    Top    1    Top    1    5.244    1
Eric Langis               Top    1    Top    1    5.244    1
Nathen LeBlanc-Limoges    Top    1    Top    1    5.244    1
Francis Bilodeau          Top    1    Top    1    5.244    1
Tadek Baird               Top    1    Top    1    5.244    1
Philippe Thompson         Top    1    Top    1    5.244    1
Taylor Cameron            Top    1    Top    1    5.244    1
Loick Martel              Top    1    21+    10    7.416   9
Antoine Bernatchez        10    12    Top    1    7.746    10
Isaac Marangoni           Top    1    21    11    7.778    11
Chris Clark               15    11    14+    12   11.489   12

Girls A: (Top 9 advance)

Name                  Height1 Pos1 Height2 Pos2 Score Position
Annie Banville           Top    1    Top    1    5.244    1
Esti Tweg                Top    1    Top    1    5.244    1
Iyma Larmarche           Top    1    Top    1    5.244    1
Corinne Baril            Top    1    Top    1    5.244    1
Pia Graham               Top    1    Top    1    5.244    1
Marie Eve Lebreux        Top    1    Top    1    5.244    1
Emilie Rouleau           Top    1    Top    1    5.244    1
Eve Marie Landry         Top    1    Top    1    5.244    1
Scarlet Gauthier         Top    1    Top    1    5.244    1
Louisa Murray-Bergquist  Top    1    17+    10    7.416    10
Jazmine Moffett-Steinke

Boys B: (Top 11 advance)

Name              Height1 Pos1 Height2 Pos2 Score Position

Samuel Tiukuvaara    Top    1    Top    1    6.000    1

Charles Sirois    Top    1    Top    1    6.000    1

Arnaud Roy     Top    1    Top    1    6.000    1

Lucas Uchida     Top    1    Top    1    6.000    1

Johannes Tiukuvaara  Top    1    Top    1    6.000    1

Willem Bayly     Top    1    Top    1    6.000    1

Kiefer Vandenbosch   Top    1    Top    1    6.000    1

Eric Day     Top    1    Top    1    6.000    1

Etienne Simard     Top    1    Top    1    6.000    1

Anthony Richard    Top    1    Top    1    6.000    1

Nathan Smith    Top    1    Top    1    6.000    1
Girls B: (Top 9 advance)

Name              Height1 Pos1 Height2 Pos2 Score Position

Flavie Martin     Top    1    Top    1    4.031    1
Beth Vince     Top    1    Top    1    4.031    1
Erica Meister     Top    1    Top    1    4.031    1
Audrey Larouchelle  Top    1    Top    1    4.031    1
Charle Prosser    Top    1    22+    5    5.979    5
Rosalee Mazza    Top    1    22+    5    5.979    5
Ira Harvey     Top    1    21+    7    6.745    7
Lauren Pailley     Top    1    20+    8    7.211    8
Olivia Wyett     Top    1    18+    9    7.649    9
Xiu Timmins    Top    1    17+    10    8.062    10
Alana Park    Top    1    17    11    8.456    11
Lia Wieckowski    Top    1    16+    12    8.832    12

Boys C: (Top 8 advance)

Name              Height1 Pos1 Height2 Pos2 Score Position

Vincent Knesevitch     Top    1    Top    1    3.317    1
Joshua Maragoni     Top    1    Top    1    3.317    1
Spencer Hebb     Top    1    Top    1    3.317    1
Ben Whattam    Top    1    27+    4    4.690    4
Kaelan Moffett-Steinke  Top    1    25+    5    5.244    5
Jack Wyett     Top    1    21     6    5.745    6
Emiliano Moreno-Tihane  Top    1    20+    7    6.205    7
Sam Bonnell     Top    1    18+    8    6.633    8
Elan Yaphe     Top    1    15    9    7.036    9
William Johnston    Top    1    2+    10    7.416    10

Girls C: (Top 8 advance)

Name                  Height1 Pos1 Height2 Pos2 Score Position
Mika Mercey              Top    1    Top    1    4.183
Maude Lantier            Top    1    Top    1    4.183
Justine McCartney        Top    1    Top    1    4.183
Catharine Carkner        Top    1    Top    1    4.183
Katrina Whittaker-Lee    Top    1    25+    5    5.916
Allyson Bergeron         Top    1    24     6    6.745
Courtney Belleau         Top    1    24     6    6.745
Alexa Marks              Top    1    23+    8    7.483
Mia Leblanc-Limoges      Top    1    21     9    7.937
Paulette Chee            Top    1    20+    10    8.573
Dana Monteith            Top    1    20+    10    8.573
Rebekah Clarke Robinson  Top    1    16+    12    9.354
Esther Langhelt          Top    1    16+    12    9.354
Beatrix Evans            35    14    10+    14    14.000 

Boys D: (Top 6 advance)

Name              Height1 Pos1 Height2 Pos2 Score Position
Zach Richardson    Top    1     Top    1    2.646    1
Laurent Bilodeau   Top    1     Top    1    2.646    1
Mitchel Haight     Top    1     Top    1    2.646    1
Dries Dirosa       Top    1     23     4    3.742    4
William McIlroy    Top    1     4+     6    4.770    5
Ethan Wyett        Top    1     4+     6    4.770    5
Maceo Mercey        18    7     16     5    5.916    7

Girls D: (Top 11 advance)

Name              Height1 Pos1 Height2 Pos2 Score Position
Emily Belleau             Top    1    Top    1    4.583    1
Luca Gagnon               Top    1    Top    1    4.583    1
Lillian Koolman           Top    1    Top    1    4.583    1
Estella Lamarche-Dykeman  Top    1    Top    1    4.583    1
Yinki Ying                Top    1    Top    1    4.583    1
Poet Bernard              Top    1    Top    1    4.583    1
Audrey Stuart             Top    1    25    7    6.481    7
Ellary Hofer              Top    1    21    8    6.928    8
Indiana Chapman           Top    1    4+    11    8.660    9
Kate Bonnell              Top    1    4+    11    8.660    9
Hana Mitsui Hotz          Top    1    4+    11    8.660    9
Sara Macchioni             28    12    17+    9    10.392    12
Sophie Shapiro             17    13    14+    10    11.619    13
Sophie Pilote              17    13    4+    11    12.990    14
Apr 21

Eastern Youth Regionals: Results of Qualifying Round 1

Here are the results after the first Qualifying Round.

Boys Junior:

Name                Height Rank
Timothe Beaudoim    Top    1
Will Goodwin        Top    1
Phillipe Noel       Top    1
Pablo Orozco        Top    1
William St-Laurent  Top    1
Maxym Langlois      Top    1
Gareth Ryan         Top    1
Tyler Gilroy        Top    1

Girls Junior:

Name                        Height Rank

Victoria Belanger-Trudel    Top    1
Brianne Kay         22    2
Boys A:

Name                   Height Rank
Philippe Thompson      Top    1
Isaac Marangoni        Top    1
Taylor Cameron         Top    1
Jean-Simon Damours-Cyr Top    1
Eric Langis            Top    1
Loick Martel           Top    1
Nathen LeBlanc-Limoges Top    1
Francis Bilodeau       Top    1
Tadek Baird            Top    1
Oliver Plant           Top    1
Chris Clark            15    11
Antoine Bernatchez     10    12

Girls A

Name                    Height Rank
Pia Graham               Top    1
Marie Eve Lebreux        Top    1
Emilie Rouleau           Top    1
Eve Marie Landry         Top    1
Scarlet Gauthier         Top    1
Annie Banville           Top    1
Louisa Murray-Bergquist  Top    1
Esti Tweg                Top    1
Iyma Larmarche           Top    1
Corinne Baril            Top    1
Jazmine Moffett-Steinke

Boys B

Name               Height Rank
Willem Bayly        Top    1
Kiefer Vandenbosch  Top    1
Eric Day            Top    1
Etienne Simard      Top    1
Anthony Richard     Top    1
Nathan Smith        Top    1
Samuel Tiukuvaara   Top    1
Charles Sirois      Top    1
Arnaud Roy          Top    1
Lucas Uchida        Top    1
Johannes Tiukuvaara Top    1

Girls B

Name                 Height Rank
Lia Wieckowski        Top    1
Xiu Timmins           Top    1
Beth Vince            Top    1
Erica Meister         Top    1
Audrey Larouchelle    Top    1
Alana Park            Top    1
Charle Prosser        Top    1
Flavie Martin         Top    1
Rosalee Mazza         Top    1
Ira Harvey            Top    1
Olivia Wyett          Top    1
Lauren Pailley        Top    1

Boys C

Name                     Height Rank
Sam Bonnell               Top    1
Kaelan Moffett-Steinke    Top    1
Spencer Hebb              Top    1
Elan Yaphe                Top    1
Ben Whattam               Top    1
William Johnston          Top    1
Emiliano Moreno-Tihane    Top    1
Vincent Knesevitch        Top    1
Joshua Maragoni           Top    1
Jack Wyett                Top    1

Girls C

Name                     Height Rank
Maude Lantier             Top    1
Mia Leblanc-Limoges       Top    1
Alexa Marks               Top    1
Esther Langhelt           Top    1
Justine McCartney         Top    1
Catharine Carkner         Top    1
Dana Monteith             Top    1
Katrina Whittaker-Lee     Top    1
Rebekah Clarke Robinson   Top    1
Paulette Chee             Top    1
Courtney Belleau          Top    1
Mika Mercey               Top    1
Alyson Bergeron           Top    1
Beatrix Evans             35    14

Boys D

Name                  Height Rank
Laurent Bilodeau       Top    1    
William McIlroy        Top    1    
Ethan Wyett            Top    1    
Mitchel Haight         Top    1    
Zach Richardson        Top    1    
Dries Dirosa           Top    1    
Maceo Mercey           18    7

Girls D

Name                       Height Rank

Kate Bonnell                Top    1
Hana Mitsui Hotz         Top    1
Lillian Koolman             Top    1
Estella Lamarche-Dykeman    Top    1
Yinki Ying             Top    1
Poet Bernard            Top    1
Audrey Stuart            Top    1
Ellary Hofer           Top    1
Indiana Chapman            Top    1
Emily Belleau             Top    1
Luca Gagnon                 Top    1
Sara Macchioni             28    12
Sophie Shapiro            17    13
Sophie Pilote            17    13

Apr 21

Eastern Youth Regionals: Running Order for Semi-Final Round

Here is the running order for Semi-Finals. As with Qualifiers, there are 5 Groups, with 2 categories per group.

Group 1:  Girls D, Boys D

  1. Hana Mitsui Hotz
  2. Kate Bonnell
  3. Indiana Chapman
  4. Ellary Hofer
  5. Audrey Stuart
  6. Poet Bernard
  7. Yinki Ying
  8. Estella Lamarche-Dykeman
  9. Lillian Koolman
  10. Luca Gagnon
  11. Emily Belleau_________________________________________
  12. Ethan Wyett
  13. William McIlroy
  14. Dries Dirosa
  15. Mitchel Haight
  16. Laurent Bilodeau
  17. Zach Richardson

Group 2:  Girls C, Boys C

  1. Alexa Marks
  2. Courtney Belleau
  3. Allyson Bergeron
  4. Katrina Whittaker-Lee
  5. Catharine Carkner
  6. Justine McCartney
  7. Maude Lantier
  8. Mika Mercey________________________________________
  9. Sam Bonnell
  10. Emiliano Moreno-Tihane
  11. Jack Wyett
  12. Kaelan Moffett-Steinke
  13. Ben Whattam
  14. Spencer Hebb
  15. Joshua Maragoni
  16. Vincent Knesevitch

Group 3:  Girls B, Boys B

  1. Olivia Wyett
    Lauren Pailley
    Ira Harvey
    Rosalee Mazza
    Charle Prosser
    Audrey Larouchelle
    Erica Meister
    Beth Vince
    Flavie Martin_________________________________________
    Arnaud Roy
    Johannes Tiukuvaara
    Eric Day
    Nathan Smith
    Anthony Richard
    Lucas Uchida
    Samuel Tiukuvaara
    Etienne Simard
    Kiefer Vandenbosch
    Willem Bayly
    Charles Sirois

Group 4: Girls A, Boys A

  1. Iyma Larmarche
  2. Esti Tweg
  3. Eve Marie Landry
  4. Emilie Rouleau
  5. Marie Eve Lebreux
  6. Annie Banville
  7. Corinne Baril
  8. Scarlet Gauthier
  9. Pia Graham___________________________________________
  10. Philippe Thompson
  11. Olivier Plante
  12. Francis Bilodeau
  13. Eric Langis
  14. Jean-Simon Damours-Cyr
  15. Nathen LeBlanc-Limoges
  16. Tadek Baird
  17. Taylor Cameron

Group 5: Girls Junior, Boys Junior

  1. Brianne Kay
  2. Victoria Belanger-Trudel____________________________
  3. Timothe Beaudoim
  4. Phillipe Noel
  5. Pablo Orozco
  6. Gareth Ryan
  7. Maxym langlois
  8. William St-laurent
  9. Will Goodwin
  10. Tyler Gilroy
Apr 20

Eastern Youth Regionals: Running Order for Qualifiers Round 2

Here is the Preliminary running order for Saturday’s Qualifier Round 2. The final running order will be set Saturday morning (for example, registered competitors who do not show up will be deleted). There are 5 groups climbing in parallel, with two categories running one after the other within each Group.

All Demonstrations except Girls C will take place at the start of the round. The Girls C demonstration will take place after Boys C category is done, as the route needs alteration between those groups.

Group 1:

Boys D

  1. Zach Richardson
  2. Dries Dirosa
  3. Maceo Mercey
  4. Laurent Bilodeau
  5. William McIlroy
  6. Ethan Wyett
  7. Mitchel Haight

Girls D

  1. Sara Macchioni
  2. Sophie Pilote
  3. Audrey Stuart
  4. Ellary Hofer
  5. Indiana Chapman
  6. Emily Belleau
  7. Luca Gagnon
  8. Kate Bonnell
  9. Sophie Shapiro
  10. Hana Mitsui Hotz
  11. Allyson Bergeron
  12. Lillian Koolman
  13. Estella Lamarche-Dykeman
  14. Yinki Ying
  15. Poet Bernard


Group 2

Boys C

  1. William Johnston
  2. Emiliano Moreno-Tihane
  3. Vincent Knesevitch
  4. Joshua Maragoni
  5. Jack Wyett
  6. Sam Bonnell
  7. Kaelan Moffett-Steinke
  8. Spencer Hebb
  9. Elan Yaphe
  10. Ben Whattam

Demonstration of Girls C Q2 Route

Girls C

  1. Katrina Whittaker-Lee
  2. Rebekah Clarke Robinson
  3. Paulette Chee
  4. Beatrix Evans
  5. Courtney Belleau
  6. Micha Mercey
  7. Maude Lantier
  8. Mia Leblanc-Limoges
  9. Alexa Marks
  10. Esther Langhelt
  11. Justine McCartney
  12. Catharine Carkner
  13. Dana Monteith


Group 3

Boys A

  1. Jean-Simon Damours-Cyr
  2. Eric Langis
  3. Loick Martel
  4. Nathen LeBlanc-Limoges
  5. Francis Bilodeau
  6. Tadek Baird
  7. Chris Clark
  8. Antoine Bernatchez
  9. Philippe Thompson
  10. Isaac Marangoni
  11. Olivier Blanee
  12. Taylor Cameron

Girls B

  1. Charle Prosser
  2. Flavie Martin
  3. Rosalee Mazza
  4. Ira Harvey
  5. Olivia Wyett
  6. Lauren Pailley
  7. Lia Wieckowski
  8. Xiu Timmins
  9. Beth Vince
  10. Erica Meister
  11. Audrey Larouchelle
  12. Alana Park


Group 4

Boys B

  1. Samuel Tiukuvaara
  2. Charles Sirois
  3. Arnaud Roy
  4. Olivier Plante
  5. Lucas Uchida
  6. Johannes Tiukuvaara
  7. Willem Bayly
  8. Kiefer Vandenbosch
  9. Eric Day
  10. Etienne Simard
  11. Anthony Richard
  12. Nathan Smith

Girls A

  1. Annie Banville
  2. Louisa Murray-Bergquist
  3. Esti Tweg
  4. Iyma Larmarche
  5. Corinne Baril
  6. Pia Graham
  7. Marie Eve Lebreux
  8. Emilie Rouleau
  9. Eve Marie Landry
  10. Scarlet Gauthier
  11. Jazmine Moffett-Steinke


Group 5

Boys Junior

  1. William St-Laurent
  2. Maxym Langlois
  3. Gareth Ryan
  4. Tyler Gilroy
  5. Timothe Beaudoim
  6. Will Goodwin
  7. Phillipe Noel
  8. Pablo Orozco

Girls Junior

  1. Brianne Kay
  2. Victoria Belanger-Trudel

Apr 20

Eastern Youth Regionals: Running Order for Qualifiers Round 1

Here is the Preliminary running order for Saturday’s Qualifier Round 1. The final running order will be set Saturday morning (for example, registered competitors who do not show up will be deleted). There are 5 groups climbing in parallel, with two categories running one after the other within each Group.

Group 1:

Girls D

  1. Kate Bonnell
  2. Sophie Shapiro
  3. Hana Mitsui Hotz
  4. Allyson Bergeron
  5. Lillian Koolman
  6. Estella Lamarche-Dykeman
  7. Yinki Ying
  8. Poet Bernard
  9. Sara Macchioni
  10. Sophie Pilote
  11. Audrey Stuart
  12. Ellary Hofer
  13. Indiana Chapman
  14. Emily Belleau
  15. Luca Gagnon

Boys D

  1. Laurent Bilodeau
  2. William McIlroy
  3. Ethan Wyett
  4. Mitchel Haight
  5. Zach Richardson
  6. Dries Dirosa
  7. Maceo Mercey

Group 2:

Girls C

  1. Maude Lantier
  2. Mia Leblanc-Limoges
  3. Alexa Marks
  4. Esther Langhelt
  5. Justine McCartney
  6. Catharine Carkner
  7. Dana Monteith
  8. Katrina Whittaker-Lee
  9. Rebekah Clarke Robinson
  10. Paulette Chee
  11. Beatrix Evans
  12. Courtney Belleau
  13. Mika Mercey

Boys C

  1. Sam Bonnell
  2. Kaelan Moffett-Steinke
  3. Spencer Hebb
  4. Elan Yaphe
  5. Ben Whattam
  6. William Johnston
  7. Emiliano Moreno-Tihane
  8. Vincent Knesevitch
  9. Joshua Maragoni
  10. Jack Wyett


Group 3

Girls B

  1. Lia Wieckowski
  2. Xiu Timmins
  3. Beth Vince
  4. Erica Meister
  5. Audrey Larouchelle
  6. Alana Park
  7. Charle Prosser
  8. Flavie Martin
  9. Rosalee Mazza
  10. Ira Harvey
  11. Olivia Wyett
  12. Lauren Pailley

Boys A

  1. Chris Clark
  2. Antoine Bernatchez
  3. Philippe Thompson
  4. Isaac Marangoni
  5. Olivier Blanee
  6. Taylor Cameron
  7. Jean-Simon Damours-Cyr
  8. Eric Langis
  9. Loick Martel
  10. Nathen LeBlanc-Limoges
  11. Francis Bilodeau
  12. Tadek Baird


Group 4

Girls A

  1. Pia Graham
  2. Marie Eve Lebreux
  3. Emilie Rouleau
  4. Eve Marie Landry
  5. Scarlet Gauthier
  6. Jazmine Moffett-Steinke
  7. Annie Banville
  8. Louisa Murray-Bergquist
  9. Esti Tweg
  10. Iyma Larmarche
  11. Corinne Baril

Boys B

  1. Willem Bayly
  2. Kiefer Vandenbosch
  3. Eric Day
  4. Etienne Simard
  5. Anthony Richard
  6. Nathan Smith
  7. Samuel Tiukuvaara
  8. Charles Sirois
  9. Arnaud Roy
  10. Olivier Plante
  11. Lucas Uchida
  12. Johannes Tiukuvaara


Group 5

Girls Junior

  1. Victoria Belanger-Trudel
  2. Brianne Kay

Boys Junior

  1. Timothe Beaudoim
  2. Will Goodwin
  3. Phillipe Noel
  4. Pablo Orozco
  5. William St-Laurent
  6. Maxym Langlois
  7. Gareth Ryan
  8. Tyler Gilroy
Apr 20

Eastern Youth Regionals: Schedule of Events

Here is the final schedule of events for this weekend’s competition:

Saturday, April 21st:

7:00 Registration and Lead Tests

8:45 Technical Meeting

9:00 Qualifying Route 1 Demonstration

12:30 Qualifying Round 1 Ends

13:00 Qualifying Round 2 Demonstration

16:30 Qualifying Round 2 Ends

Sunday, April 22nd:

8:00 Isolation Opens for Semi-Final Round

8:30 Isolation Closes for Semi-Final Round

8:30 Technical meeting for competitors inside Isolation Zone

8:45 Semi-final Round Starts

10:45: Semi-final Round Ends

12:30 Isolation Zone Opens for Finals

13:00 Isolation Zone Closes; Finals Start

15:00: Speed event (Demonstration)

16:00 Awards

(detailed running order of competitors for Qualifying rounds will be posted by approximately 10pm Friday night!)

Apr 16

Update On Eastern Regionals: Registration Ends Friday

Here’s the latest on this weekend’s Eastern Youth Regionals Competition (version française apparaît ci-dessous):

  • Registration for the CEC Eastern Regionals at True North Climbing will close on Friday, April 20 at 9:00 p.m. ET. No new registrations will be accepted after that time. Registration is by telephone at 416 398-7625.
  • Competing at Regionals is a pre-requisite in order to compete at Nationals
  • Provisional starting list(s) should be posted on the True North website and the OCF Facebook page by Friday, April 20 at 10:00 p.m. ET.
  • True North Climbing will be open at 7:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 21 for those competitors who may need to complete the check-in/payment process, complete a waiver, require a lead test, or require a lengthy warm-up period.
  • The official start list(s) will be posted prior to the technical meeting on Saturday morning.
  • The first climber on each starting list should start climbing at approximately 9:15 a.m., following the demonstration of those routes.
  • We are still looking for volunteers: belayers (top-rope and lead), judges and iso judges
  • Chief Routesetter is Dustin Curtis. Head Judge is Tim Vince. Scorekeeper is Clint Searle.

et on peut essayer en français:

  • L’inscription pour le Championnat Regional Junior de l’Est a True North Climbing se fermera le vendredi 20 avril at 21:00h. Aucun nouvel enregistrement ne sera accepté ensuite. L’inscription est par téléphone: 416 398-7625.
  • La compétition au Championnat Regional est un pré-requis afin de concurrencer au Championnat National
  • Des listes commençantes temporaires devraient être signalées a et la page d’OCF Facebook à 22:00h.
  • True North Climbing sera ouvert a 7:00h du matin le samedi pour ces concurrents qui peuvent devoir compléter l’enregistrement/processus de paiement, accomplir une levée, exiger un “lead test”, ou aura besoin d’une période prolongée de préchauffage.
  • Les listes officielles de début seront signalées avant la réunion technique samedi matin. Le premier grimpeur sur chaque liste commençante devrait commencer à s’élever approximativement au 9:15 heure du matin, après la démonstration de ces itinéraires.
  • Nous sommes toujours à la recherche de bénévoles: belayers (top-rope et lead), les juges et les juges iso
  • Le Routesetter en Chef c’est Dustin Curtis. Le Juge Principal c’est Tim Vince. Le Marqueur en Chef c’est Clint Searle.
Apr 12

Call for Volunteers: Eastern Youth Regionals

We are in need of belayers (top rope and lead),  and judges for the CEC Youth Regionals at True North Climbing Inc. on Sat. Apr. 21 and Sun. Apr. 22.  There will be 4 sessions (2 qualifiers on Saturday, 1 semi and finals on Sunday).  Hopefully, if we get enough volunteers, people will not have to volunteer for every session.

Basic Route Judging Course
Friday, April 20, 2012 6:30-8:30 p.m.
True North Climbing Inc.

Course description:

The course will review basic lead rules, new rules for 2012, advanced scoring, and route map drawing. Since the IFSC scoring has changed slightly this year, all judges for Regionals are required to take the course.

Anyone who cannot make the course on Friday night, will be able to take a repeat course on Saturday morning during the first round of qualifiers.  This is contingent on there being enough people in attendance Friday night, to judge Saturday morning.

If you are able to judge, even for one session either Saturday, Sunday, or both, please contact the gym at or Sally Vince at as soon as possible.  Please pass this on to anyone you think may be interested (perhaps there are some adult climbers you know who would be interested in helping, especially since there will be adult lead climbing at CEC Nationals this year and we will need certified route judges for that as well).

Dustin Curtis has also offered to give lead belayers additional training on how to belay during a competition Friday evening, so that’s an additional reason for those people to join us for the judging course Friday.

Dinner will be provided by the gym for all those attending the judging course. All volunteers for the comp will be fed lunch during the comp, and will receive a day pass for the gym.

Apr 11

Eastern Youth Regional Competion April 21/22: What To Expect

We’re getting ready to host Eastern Youth Regionals – a roped climbing competition for those under 20, in a little more than a week. Details for competitors and their families has been posted here.

During the two days of the competition (Saturday/Sunday April 21/22), expect the south half of the gym to be dedicated to the competition until mid-late afternoon each day. That includes belay bars 26-80, the stalactite and the traverse boulder wall. We will be setting routes in the lead cave area for a few days before the comp. We plan to thin out the lead cave  (hardest routes removed) on Wednesday, April 18th, and that area will be completely closed for routesetting on Thursday/Friday April 19/20.

The north half of the gym will be unaffected before and during the competition. In addition, we will not be booking any groups or offering Introductory Lessons during the times the competition is on. Events like this can be disruptive, but we feel in order to support the competition schedule and the climbing community in general.

This is also a call for volunteers to help make this event a success. We need the following:

  • top rope belayers (must have a TNCI belay tag)
  • lead belayers (must have a green TNCI belay tag)
  • judges

Please email us at if you are interested and available. There will be a judges course on Friday evening April 20th; belayers are encouraged to attend that session as well.

Apr 4

Online Digital Waivers Deployed!

Well, it’s exciting for us! We have deployed our online electronic waiver forms, which will, over time, drastically reduce both the amount of paper we shuffle for new customers, and the amount of time our staff spend transcribing data from waiver forms into our customer database.

There are two choices with the new digital waivers:

  • esigned forms: completely paperless, with the initials & signature provided either by typing and agreeing that that represents your initials/signature, or by drawing them with the mouse. The form goes directly into our database with no transcription, no paper, and no scanning required.
  • Print & Sign waivers. The data is all entered online, and the customer then prints the ewaiver to sign/initial it in the traditional manner, for those who are not ready to embrace the idea of a digital signature. Still no transcription, and the bar code on the form makes scanning faster & easier for us.

Sometime in the coming months we will also install electronic waiver station kiosks in the gym, to replace the paper waivers for those signing up on site as well. Thanks to Any Laakman and his team at Rock Gym Pro for supporting this improvement, which will make our staff more efficient and happier!

All of this has no impact on those who have already signed our waiver, but it makes things simpler going forward.

Mar 27

Eastern Youth Regionals: Information For Competitors

Eastern Youth Regionals: Information For Competitors

True North Climbing is excited to be hosting the Eastern Canadian Youth Regional Climbing Championships April 21st and 22nd. This roped climbing competition (Difficulty) for climbers under 20 is the last stop in the east before Youth Nationals, which will be held May 19-21 at Horizon Roc Climbing Centre in Montreal.

Following are the details for competitors; more details will be filled in here as available.


Registration for the comp is either in person at the gym or by phone (no online registration). The registration fee is $70 + HST = $79.10. The registration fee is not refundable. Registration can be done at the gym, or by phone: 416 398-7625. Please have the competitor’s name, category and CEC/FQME membership number available when registering. The best time to call is early in the day (between 10am and 5pm, before the gym gets very busy!). Please don’t wait until the last minute to register!

Final Schedule (updated Friday April 20th at 6:15pm):

Saturday, April 21st:

7:00 Registration and Lead Tests

8:45 Technical Meeting

9:00 Qualifying Route 1 Demonstration

12:30 Qualifying Round 1 Ends

13:00 Qualifying Round 2 Demonstration

16:30 Qualifying Round 2 Ends

Sunday, April 22nd:

8:00 Isolation Opens for Semi-Final Round

8:30 Isolation Closes for Semi-Final Round

8:30 Technical meeting for competitors inside Isolation Zone

8:45 Semi-final Round Starts

10:45: Semi-final Round Ends

12:30 Isolation Zone Opens for Finals

13:00 Isolation Zone Closes; Finals Start

15:00: Speed event (Demonstration)

16:00 Awards

Important Notes:
  • All competitors must be CEC/FQME members in order to compete. There is no other criteria for eligibility (i.e. all CEC/FQME Youth members are eligible to compete at this event).
  • All competitors in Junior, A and B categories are expected to lead climb, and must have passed the True North Climbing Lead Climbing test and have their lead tag on their harness while climbing. We will be doing lead tests Saturday morning starting at 7am, but encourage competitors to arrange for a lead test earlier if possible. Please call or email the gym to let us know when you want your lead test. There is no fee for the lead test.
  • All who enter the climbing area must have a valid True North Climbing waiver form. Those under 18 must have their Minor Waiver form signed and initialed in 4 places by their parent. Forms are available online:
  • Like many climbing gyms, ours is tricky to find the first time! Here’s a map for those of you who haven’t found us yet:
  • For those coming from a distance who plan to stay in the area overnight, here is some info about discount hotel rates:

Holiday Inn Express North York is offering discount rates for those attending the comp. You can use the link below, or call the hotel at 416 665-3500 and ask for the Sports Industry Special Rate. This offers a saving of $15-$20 per night, and includes a Full Breakfast Buffet and free parking.

Mar 27

Terrific (not Terrible) Two Today!

True North Climbing celebrates its second anniversary today, so it’s time to take a look back at our first two years, and a little bit forward as well.

Some Numbers

First some interesting numbers. In our first two years of business, we have reached the following milestones:

  • Over 75,000 visits to the gym
  • Over 23,000 unique visitors
  • Over 7,500 Introductory Lessons delivered
  • Over 6000 (successful) belay tests
  • Over 900 (successful) lead tests
  • Over 800 participants across the various competitions we have hosted
  • Over 100 Lead Climbing Lessons delivered
  • Our staff has grown to over 30 talented people who share their love of climbing with our visitors
  • We have donated over $2000 in our services to a variety of charitable causes in our community.

Evolving the Business

The focus of our gym has been to help grow the sport by being welcoming to new climbers, while providing a good range of climbing for everyone to enjoy. When we opened we kept things very simple, starting with day passes, 10-passes, memberships, Introductory Lessons and birthday parties, and not much else. As we figured out how to get the basics running smoothly, we gradually added more offerings:

  • Lead Climbing Classes
  • Youth Recreational Programmes
  • Youth Competitive Team
  • Adult Competitive Team
  • Yoga Classes
  • Equipment Sales

As we reach our 2-year milestone we have to say farewell to former Head Instructor/Head Routesetter Dustin Curtis, who is moving to Vancouver to join a new bouldering gym there, The Hive. Dustin has made enormous contributions to True North Climbing in his 2+ years with us, and we have learned a lot from him during that time. We wish him well in his next adventure. Dustin will be back as Chief Routesetter for the Eastern Youth Regional Championship roped climbing competition that we are hosting April 21/22.

Looking Ahead

Our business is still growing, and we’re now making money! In addition to making the payments on the large loans that were required to build the gym, and starting to provide a return on investment, this also allows us to invest more in improving the gym.

One change that is underway and will be visible soon is our move to electronic digital waivers. Instead of having to print out, sign, manually transcribe and scan every waiver form, we’ll be able to make the entire process electronic. This will reduce the use of paper, save our staff countless hours spent transcribing customer information into our database, and ensure more accurate information. While this doesn’t matter directly to everyone who has already signed their waiver form, it means our staff will have more time to spend on other things that are more satisfying for them, and helpful to our customers. We’ll first deploy the online electronic digital waivers, and later install waiver kiosks for electronic waiver entry in the gym.

Another important initiative for us is Climbing Instructor Certification. Some of our instructors have been certified through the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) – some at Level 1, some at Level 2. This is an excellent programme, though the logistics involved have made it a real challenge to get as many of our staff through the programme as we would like. The is now another alternative, in the form of the Climbing Wall Association (CWA) Climbing Instructor Certification programme. Gym Manager and Head Instructor Clint Searle has been certified by the CWA as a provider, and we are in the process of getting all of our instructors through that programme. When we have completed that (later this spring?), we’ll be ready to start offering the CWA certification course to the public as well. We feel both certification programmes set a good standard of skill, knowledge and professionalism, and we will continue to support both organizations.

Our goals for the coming months are to continue to grow our business, with a focus on:

  • School and Corporate groups, especially those who come during the weekday hours when the gym is otherwise empty/quiet.
  • Sponsorship/marketing partnerships. Some of the events we host are expensive to stage, and we’re looking for corporate partners who can help us continue to offer a wide range of events such as competitions (bouldering and roped, Youth and Adult), the Climb For Cancer event (mark May 26th on your calendar!) and the Reel Rock Film Tour, and make them bigger and better every year. All of our regular programmes and events provide an opportunity for companies to join with us and get exposure to a community of young, active people.We would love to hear from you if your company is interested in discussing ways we can work together.
  • Continuing to improve the facility, with ongoing investments in:
    • Training equipment
    • More climbing holds (are there ever enough?)
    • Electronic digital waivers (described above)
    • Converting from the ancient steam heaters to the gas heaters we installed on the roof two years ago. The gas line now reaches the building and will soon be connected to our heating units!

We’re aware that we don’t always get everything perfect. For example, we have heard a lot of feedback about grading, and while it’s taking longer than we would like to address this, we are investing in more time forerunning routes and getting a better consensus among the routesetters on what the grades should be like. This is a hard problem to solve with the number of setters we have in our large gym, and it’s been complicated by a busy competition season that has made it hard to focus on this issue.

We welcome your feedback, and are committed to listening and understanding every concern, and doing what we can to respond. If you have a complaint, please make sure we hear it clearly; you can email me at john.gross <at> truenorthclimbing <dot> com if you’re not getting satisfaction. And if you are happy with our joint, please tell your friends! Word of mouth is by far our most effective form of marketing.

I want to give a huge thank you to two groups who have made our success this far possible:

  • The staff of True North Climbing. While I often nag them in my pursuit of perfection, they are an amazing group of talented young people who do great work.
  • The customers who have voted with their wallets to keep our business growing throughout the first 2 years.

We’re looking forward to many more years of fun and excitement!

John Gross, Owner

Mar 15

A Look Back at Tour de Bloc 2012

On Saturday March 10th we held our third annual Tour de Bloc bouldering competition. Once again it was the final Local comp on the tour circuit, leading up to Eastern Regionals March 24th at Altitude in Gatineau.

We had about 200 competitors climbing throughout the day, including Elise Sethna who joined us from Canmore, Alberta, and a group of 8 Youth climbers from St John’s Newfoundland and Labrador. We got an early start with the Youth categories at 8:30. The Open category (generally the strongest climbers) has their Qualifying round in the early afternoon, and the last group was the Recreational and Experienced categories. By 6pm we were done with the opening round. The top 8 men and women from the Open qualifiers advanced to finals. They were sequestered in the Isolation area while our routesetting team cleared some of the bouldering walls and put up the problems for finals, starting with the 4 women’s problems.

Finals was exciting, with a strong field for both the Men and Women. The Womens final round came down to the final climb. Iyma Lamarche, who had won the previous two Tour de Bloc events had a slim lead over Elise Sethna (who had won our event last year). On problem 4 Iyma wasn’t able to solve the problem, and Elise did, giving her 1st place. Ottawa’s Kerry Briggs took 3rd spot. On the Men’s side TNCI Competitive team member  Florent Balsez took first place, with Mark Button second, and TNCI team member Eric Sethna in 3rd, in a close round. Full results are available here.

Events like this take an enormous amount of work and preparation to pull off. Chief Routesetters Dustin Curtis and Shaun Hunter, along with Andreas Lerch, Max Lefevre, Gareth Ryan and guest setter Kaleb Thomas from Wallnuts in St John’s Newfoundland did a great job of setting 70 qualifier problems and 8 finals problems. Max and Gareth were back Saturday night after the comp, along with Lina Nikolova and Jonny Briggs, working through the night to restore almost all the qualifier problems to the wall after finals, and repairing the roped routes that had been disrupted by the comp. By Sunday morning the gym was pretty much back to normal again. Michael Jackson served as our Head Judge. We appreciate all the volunteers who acted as judges for the morning Youth session, and as Isolation judges during finals. And our Gym Manager Clint Searle took care of a lot of details behind the scenes, overseeing registration and acting as Scorekeeper.

And it takes more than manpower to make these events happen. There are many expenses that go into staging this event. We are looking for sponsors to work with us to support this event and the other things that go on year-round in the gym. Please contact us if you are interested in helping us continue to hold events like this, and make them bigger and better each time around.

Here are some articles, photos and videos that have been posted from the event (hopefully more to come!):

Blog Posts:


  • From Matthew Tee


Feb 15

Preparing for the Tour de Bloc Competition on March 10th

We are gearing up for our biggest event of the year: our annual turn to host the national Tour de Bloc bouldering series. Our competition will be held Saturday March 10th, and we want to make sure all our customers know what this event is about, and how it affects our operations. Those planning to compete can find more information here.

The Tour de Bloc is a national series of bouldering competitions that runs from November through April. There are Local competitions across the country, Regional championships for the Atlantic, Eastern (Ontario & Quebec) and Western regions, and the National championships, to be held this year in Edmonton on the weekend of April 14th & 15th. Our competition is the final Local event of the season, leading to Eastern Regionals in Hull on March 24th. For the best adult climbers in the country, competing in the Open category, and the best young climbers, competing in a range of Youth categories, these competitions are where they accumulate the points used to select the Canadian National Climbing Teams. National team members travel around the world to represent Canada in World Cup competitions throughout the spring and summer each year. We expect that many of those who compete at our comp will go on to make the National team.

So there will be a lot of the top climbers competing at our gym on March 10th, but the Tour de Bloc competitions (or “comps”) are not just for elite climbers. In addition to the Open and Youth categories, there is an Experienced category (for pretty good climbers who are not quite ready to vie for a spot on the national team), and a Recreational category, for those who just want to have fun climbing and challenging themselves. If you can do some/many of our yellow tape boulder problems, you are good enough to have a blast in the Rec category, and will find enough problems that you can succeed at to keep you busy for the 3 hour climbing period. We encourage all of you to consider coming out to compete (or to “compete”, as the case may be), as it’s a very fun, social event, and not as intimidating as you might think.

The climbing times for different categories are spread out throughout the day, to avoid overcrowding. The Youth categories climb from 8:30-11:30 in the morning, then the Open category, and finally the Recreational and Experienced categories later in the afternoon. Each group will be faced with a lot of boulder problems (typically about 60), numbered roughly in order of difficulty. Harder problems are worth more points, and there is a small penalty if it takes you 2 or more attempts to get from the starting hold(s) to the finish without falling. Your top 6 completed problems determine your score. There is some strategy in choosing which problems to attempt, in what order, and how many attempts to make on a problem before giving up, to maximize your score with the ability and endurance that you have. You can watch others try each problem to help you figure out what will work for you. We raffle off a lot of prizes to those in the Youth, Recreational and Experienced categories.

The top finishers in the Open category for both men and women advance to a final round. The number that advance is based on the number of competitors registered in each category, but is typically about 8 men and women. The finalists are kept in an Isolation Area while the routesetting team puts up a set of new problems for finals. Each competitor is brought out one at a time in front of each finals problem, and given 5 minutes to attempt it. There’s a 5 minute rest period between problems (more if a competitor finishes the previous problem quickly!), and the competitors are streamed through the problems, so at times there will be 4 climbers on different problems at the same time. It makes for a very exciting spectacle! Spectators are welcome to come to watch the final round and cheer on the competitors; there is no charge for this. The top finishers in the Open categories share a cash prize pool.

Staging this event is a huge effort, and there is an impact on our regular operations. Starting on Tuesday, March 6th, the north half of the gym will be closed off so we can work on setting the boulder problems for the comp. On Thursday March 8th we expect to close off a few other areas of the gym, such as the traverse bouldering wall on the south side, and the stalactite. The gym will be completely closed on Friday March 9th to complete our preparations, and on Saturday March 10th only registered competitors may climb. We will be working hard to restore the gym for regular climbing starting immediately after the comp, so things should be somewhat back to normal on Sunday, but it may take a few days to have our usual complement of climbs restored.

This event is disruptive to our usual operations, and we appreciate your understanding if it interferes with your plans. It is a huge effort for our team, and also a major expense for the gym. While the event brings in a lot of money in the form of registration fees, the associated expenses – including the loss of 2 days of regular revenue – greatly exceed the income. We love to host this event because it is exciting for both competitors and spectators, because it draws a lot of people to our facility who don’t regularly visit, and because we believe in supporting the local competitive climbing community.

(poster design by Jovana Randjelovic)

Feb 15

Tour de Bloc Competition March 10th: Information for Competitors

Registration is now open for our Tour de Bloc bouldering competition on March 10th. Register online here.

(poster design by Jovana Randjelovic)

This is our 3rd annual Tour de Bloc event, and we’re expecting an even bigger turnout this year. It’s also the final local comp of the season, leading to Regionals at Altitude in Hull on March 24th, and Nationals at Rock Jungle Fitness in Edmonton on April 14th/15th.

Important Notes for Competitors:

  • Be sure to register by the end of February! Those who register on or before Wednesday, February 29th get the following benefits:
    • The price is $45 including HST. Those who register after this date (including those registering on the day of the event) will pay $50 including HST.
    • You get a comp T shirt. We order only what we are confident we will need based on early registration, and the chances of picking up a comp shirt on the day of the event are very low unless you register early.
    • You get a voucher worth $10 off the price of a 10-visit pass to our gym. Comps bring in a lot of people from further away, who don’t often visit our gym, and for whom membership is not an option. We want to give those people a reason to come a few more times after the comp. The voucher will be valid until the end of April, and the 10-visit pass is good for 1 year from date of purchase, and can be shared with other climbers (e.g. 5 visits each for 2 of you).

We are strongly encouraging you to register early because knowing how many competitors to expect drives how many problems we will set. Also, knowing who will be coming in the Open category will help us set finals problems that properly separate the field.

  • Pay attention to the posted schedule! The climbing times for each category are different than in previous years. We have adopted the same schedule used at Coyote Rock Gym for their recent comp. The climbing times are spread out more than in the past because we are expecting a large turnout, and want to avoid over-crowding. We are also running Open Qualifiers earlier in the day, in order to give those competitors more rest before finals, which we think will make for a more exciting final round! It will be a long day, especially for families with competitors in more than one category, but we think over all this schedule makes for a better event:
    7:30 AM Youth Registration Opens
    8:15 AM Youth Competitor Briefing
    8:30 AM Youth Climbing Begins
    10:15 AM Open Registration Opens
    11:15 AM Open Competitor Briefing
    11:30 AM Open Qualifiers Begins
    11:30 AM Youth Climbing Ends
    12:30 PM Youth Awards
    2:00 PM Rec/Experienced Registration Opens
    2:45 PM Rec/Experienced Competitor Briefing
    3:00 PM Rec/Experienced Climbing Begins
    3:00 PM Open Qualifiers End
    4:00 PM Open Qualifiers Results
    6:00 PM Rec/Experienced Climbing Ends
    6:15 PM Open Finals: Isolation Opens
    6:30 PM Open Finals: Isolation Closes
    7:00 PM Rec/Experienced Awards
    7:30 PM Open Finals Begin
    10:00 PM Open Awards
  • If this is your first visit to True North Climbing, you’ll need a waiver form. Those under 18 need the Minor Waiver Form signed and also initialed in 4 places by their parent. Waiver forms can be found/downloaded here.

For those coming from a distance who plan to stay in the area overnight, here is some info about discount hotel rates:

Holiday Inn Express North York is offering discount rates for those attending the comp. You can use the link below, or call the hotel at 416 665-3500 and ask for the Sports Industry Special Rate. This offers a saving of $15-$20 per night, and includes a Full Breakfast Buffet and free parking.

Feb 5

Fine Tuning

At the start of each year, Dustin, Clint and I take some time to take a look at how things are going in every aspect of the business, and discuss what we might improve. Two years ago, as we were launching the gym, we spent a few weeks figuring it all out: policies, programmes (very simple at first), pricing, staffing, etc. A year ago we spent a day offsite reviewing how things were going, and made a few changes, tweaking pricing, extending our hours, and adjusting a few services to make them work better.

Last month we again took a day to review how things are going, and as a result we are making some smaller adjustments, some of which you will already have noticed:

  • We have heard some feedback that our grades are sometimes inconsistent, and at times too stiff. Of course we’re never going to get general agreement on grading, but we do take this feedback seriously. We have increased the amount of forerunning we do on our routes as they go up, and we’re making an effort to keep the grades within a reasonable range. This is not an easy task! We have about half a dozen people setting the routes, some of whom are not always setting regularly. When we’re hearing roughly equal number of complaints that the routes are too hard and too easy, we’ll know we’ve got it about right! Consistency is the more important goal.
  • We have simplified our route tags. The card holders at the bottom of each wall were not standing up to abuse as well as we hoped, and our routesetters had run out of cute names for each route. The new tags are laminated and reusable, with just the belay bar number and setter’s initials added on the coloured tape attached. This makes them easier to make, and uses much less paper as time goes on. The grading is also a little easier to see. We are replacing the tags as we work our way routesetting around the gym; we’re about half way through the change right now. This is a small thing, but we think it’s a worthwhile improvement.
  • We will be stepping up our floor patrols to keep a closer eye on belay technique in the gym. We think there is room for improvement, for both top-rope and lead belayers, who have either forgotten the proper technique, or get sloppy over time. Safety is our top priority in everything we do, and I have asked our instructors to spend more time patrolling the floor, watching for any unsafe behaviour. We’ll increase staffing at busy times to ensure we can do this. We will intervene when necessary, as nicely as we can, to correct belayers who need help. When safety is not immediately at risk we will wait until the climber is back on the ground, rather than interrupting a belayer. And we will do our best to explain the reasons for suggesting an adjustment in belay technique. In extreme cases, where a climber or belayer’s actions are extremely unsafe or there are multiple interventions needed, we will revoke belaying and/or climbing privileges, as stated on the waiver form all visitors agree to.  I’ll point out that we have not had any injuries due to improper belay technique, so this is not a knee-jerk reaction to any incident. It is a proactive effort to ensure that our facility remains as safe as possible for everyone. Please bring any unsafe situation that you may be aware of to the attention of our staff, and let us know if you have thoughts on further reducing risk. We are very proud of our safety record, but we’re not taking anything for granted.
  • We are not planning any changes to our pricing structure in the near future (other than the recent addition of family discounts).
  • We are working on adding electronic waiver stations and online waivers with digital signatures in the next few months, to dramatically streamline how we handle waiver forms for new visitors to the gym. This will significantly reduce the amount of time our desk staff spend handing waiver forms, and allow them to better serve all our customers.

We think these modest changes in our operations will continue to improve how things run in the gym. Our business has been growing steadily since we opened almost two years ago, and we know that further growth depends on keeping our customers happy. Your feedback helps us understand how well we’re doing that, so please continue to speak up about any issues that may concern you.

John Gross, Owner

Jan 23

Now Hiring: Belay Staff

As our business grows, we occasionally need to add to our staff. This is one of those times, and we are now looking for a few people to join us as Belay Staff. Here’s the job description. (link removed, as we are no longer taking applications)

Jan 19

Routesetting Lesson #4: The First (Half) Route!

It has been hard to make time for my routesetting apprenticeship over the past couple of months. The holiday season was very busy, and finding a day when I could dedicate a few hours to this has been tough. Last week I spent a morning stripping routes again for the first time in a while, and I found I was a little fuzzy on the details of rigging a pulley and carabiner to increase the mechanical advantage when using the ascender. I’m being careful to make sure I do everything right as I continue to learn.

This week I again stripped a couple of routes, and at last was ready to try some actual setting. Dustin asked me to put up a 5.7 on the wall I had just stripped. In the end we decided that with the time I had before I had to be on the desk, it was more realistic to put up just the bouldering problem at the start of the route, and let Dustin finish the top half.

So I went off to the hold room and gathered some holds: big feet and fairly juggy handholds suitable for a 5.7. I set up the start jug and solid feet under it, and then tried to set up a couple of moves I liked working up from there. It felt like it went fairly quickly (though I’m sure still much slower than our real setters!), and it was a lot of fun. When I thought I was done, Dustin came over to take a look and forerun the problem. He suggested a few changes, removing one handhold, swapping a couple of others for more suitable ones (to bring the difficulty level back down to the intended 5.7), and moving a few around. When he added the top half of the route he also added a few more footholds to make the route work for shorter people as well.

In the end the sequence I had in mind pretty much survived, and I learned a bit about hitting the grade and making the route work for people of varying height & reach. I’m pretty happy with how it went. The route is the white 5.7 on belay bar #4.

Jan 19

Ice Cream, Candy Bars, And The Nestle Boycott

As you may have noticed if you have been to the gym recently, we now have a freezer with ice cream treats for sale. These include popsicles, ice cream bars and cones of various kinds, and Magnum bars. We think everyone deserves a reward after climbing!

While looking into ice cream suppliers, I became aware of the ongoing boycott of Nestle products. Nestle is accused of some unscrupulous business practices related to how they promote the use of their baby formula in developing nations. I had heard something about this years ago, but thought it was over and done with. Indeed, if you listen to Nestle, they claim that they have fixed all the problems. When one of our customers asked that we not choose Nestle as our ice cream supplier, I looked into it more thoroughly. My conclusion after some research is that Nestle is indeed doing some things I’m very uncomfortable with, and as a result I have decided to join the boycott of Nestle products.

So we have chosen Breyers as our ice cream supplier, and the treats they have filled our freezer with are pretty yummy. In addition we have switched from the Nestle candy bars we were selling (Coffee Crisp, Aero, Smarties, Kit Kat) to a new assortment including Mars, M&Ms, Twix and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

The action of choosing to boycott Nestle products was not made lightly. There are lots of companies doing things that one group or another find objectionable, and I’ve seen attempts to boycott that I did not find compelling. In general I try to keep the business apolitical (and independent of my own personal political views), but in this case I find the case for a boycott convincing.

Jan 18

The First Tour of 2012

[Dustin Curtis is our Head Routesetter and Instructor. He spends a lot of his time outside of the gym setting for comps, both locally and across North America]

So another comp. I hope you like comp reviews and my special and slightly skewed version of the inner workings and behind the scenes events of Tour De Blocs and Youth Comps, cuz to be honest, I am setting at least 6 more comps this comp season, two of which are comps at True North so I’m sure you will all be there right? Anyways down to the nitty gritty.

I left True North on Wednesday morning to go and set the Tour De Bloc that happened just this past weekend at Climber’s Rock in Burlington, Ontario. My friend Aaron Eden, is the head setter of the gym and was going to be the Chief for this comp but he asked me if I would come and help him out. Originally this request was just for my MC skillz (yes its spelt with a zed because I think it makes that word look like I mean bizznas, see again, so much more powerful than business,) however after my injury and the way the Grand River Rocks comp went (full story found he asked if I could help set as well. So I rolled in with all my tools and everything ready to get things done. I had some ideas of what I wanted to do with a couple of the finals blocs, and was, in my opinion, prepared but knowing that things could change. And with all comps, things did.

I was slotted to set 4 of the finals blocs, 2 men’s 2 women’s, plus a handful of qualifiers. Starting out we should just cover qualifiers. Qualifiers are always hard because most of the time you set them after you have finals up done and finished. Usually you’re gassed, tired and have no patience to get up a bunch more blocs after you finished setting, ticking, forerunning, tweaking, taking down and boxing finals, however it needs to be done. Fortunately for this comp, Aaron had rounded up a bunch of trust worthy setters to help out so the pressure of getting up a ton of blocs was not as heavily felt. He had arranged for his own Climber’s Rock setters, Francis Scherer and Tyler Norton as well as former Climber’s Rock setter Eugeni Kremlev and guest setter Joe Layno. It was a really good crew and I was really psyched to be a part of it. So there were a lot of setters which meant a lot of blocs could go up in a decent amount of time.

One of the things that was hardest for me setting this comp was the hold selection. Every route setter has their own way to organize holds and Aaron is meticulous with his organization however, it’s hard for me as a guest setter to find anything cuz the bins I would usually put holds in aren’t the same as where Aaron would store stuff, so immediately my productivity was not as high as usual. But I still managed to get some of the qualifiers up and I got my 4 finals blocs up in relatively good order. So lets talk about qualifiers. If you were at the comp you know that two things were very apparent to us as the route setters. I know this is crazy (sacrcasm) but we do actually watch and take in the whole comp and afterwards we sit down as a group and try to think of what we could have done better. In this case, the two things that were obvious to us was that the numbering and order of the qualifiers was a little off. We noticed this almost 30 min into the open round and there is literally nothing you can do about it. The other thing we noticed was that there were not enough blocs but that came later when we started the Rec/Experience round with 1/2 hr left in the opens round and this meant 50 blocs for just over 200 competitors…that’s a big no go. Other than that we only ended up with one three-way tie going into finals so we weren’t in bad standing at all.

So finals. Now just to be clear, we know finals ran late, you guys know it, I have rarely seen a comp where things run like clock work, but we’re trying. Anyways, there were a few technical difficulties, some stripped holds and some minor forerunning and tweaking due to the ties and things in qualifiers, we adapted the best we could. The other thing is a lot of our top end competitors (like Garry Posey, Thomasina Pidgeon, Iyma Lamarche) were all last minute entries. Tweaks were needed for sure. The reason these late entries affect things so much is because finals is always set first. When you start setting a comp the first thing you do is get finals out of the way. You put them up, you tweak them, you forerun them and then you take them down, put them in a box and forget about them until comp day. We always try and set for the field that was coming so the field that we were setting for on Wednesday and the field that came to the comp oin Saturday were completely different. Anyways, we got finals up forerun and tweaked (big ups to Max Dugal for the help) and before you knew it, the first competitor was waiting on deck. Dj Adam Wood was spinning the beats, I had a hold of the mic, this is the stage for a route setter where you sit back, clutch your wrenches and pray to the competition Gods that you got everything right because there is nothing else you can do. My personal opinion of the finals is that we got perfect separation on Women’s Finals with the winner topping all of them in less attempts than 2nd place (congrats Iyma Lamarche) and on the men’s side we were a little too hard on bloc #4, which was mine. Dave Voltan of Rockhead’s ended up taking 1st place for the men with 3 tops in 4 attempts.  All in all I think the comp turned out great, I think it was a show and I think the climbers enjoyed themselves.

As always True North is a huge part of any comp that  I go to because the gym makes the time for me to go and help out at these comps. The other setters take on more shifts and try to keep thing forerun and organized while I’m away and I really appreciate it. I hope you’ve enjoyed this, I know it’s been good for me, look forward to my next one which will be about the Youth Comp at Grand River Rocks in a week and a half. For more reviews of this comp or other comps you can check out my blog or Aaron’s blog Enjoy guys, stay psyched and I’ll see you in the gym.
Jan 11

Giving Families a Break

We have had a few requests since we opened for some sort of family membership rate. It has taken us a little while to figure out how to handle this, but we are happy to announce the following breaks for families climbing together:

  • A family is defined as one or two adults living at the same address with one or more of their children.
  • With the purchase of 2 memberships in a family (including all the adults) at the usual price(s), additional memberships may be purchased at a 20% discount.
  • With the purchase of an adult membership at the usual price, a membership for a child 4-7 years of age may be purchased at half price. One half-price child membership per adult membership bought.

Climbing together as a family is a great way to have fun. because each climber chooses their own route to climb, it doesn’t matter if everyone is climbing at their own level, which makes climbing rather unique among sports. We understand that the cost of membership can add up when several family members all climb together, and we hope the policies above will make it easier for you.

Dec 17

Special Offer This Weekend Only!

Saturday December 17th and Sunday December 18th only, you can buy our Introductory Lesson Package (regularly $50 including HST) for just $25, by snapping up the deal on

As always, this package includes:

  • The 1-hour Introductory lesson, taught by one of our qualified instructors. You will learn how to put on the climbing harness, secure your harness to the climbing rope with the approved safety knots, and operate the belay device to control the rope for your climbing partner and keep them safe.
  • A day pass, so you can climb as long as you like after your lesson.
  • Climbing shoes and harness for the day.
  • a 2-week membership to the gym, featuring unlimited climbing. The membership does not start until your next visit to the gym after your lesson, and also includes the rental equipment (our regular memberships do not include equipment rental).

This package is a great value at the regular price. Once in a while we offer it on special like this weekend, in order to provide incentive for lots of new people to try climbing out, and discover how much fun it is.

So if you’re struggling to figure out the perfect gift for someone, consider this deal, but you need to act today or tomorrow, because this offer goes away after that.

Dec 6

Updated: Lead Climbing and Intermediate Technique Classes Offered

[updated with new dates on December 13th!]

We have dates available for both our Lead Climbing Class and Intermediate Technique Class. We’re prepared to offer the Lead Climbing Class:

Friday, January 13th: 6-9pm


Friday, January 20th: 6-9pm

[Note: this class is now full!]

We’re prepared to offer the Intermediate Technique Class:

Wednesday, January 11th: 6-9pm


Wednesday, January 18th: 6-9pm

The Lead Class needs 4 people confirmed and paid by the end of day Friday January 6th for us to proceed with the class. Before taking the Lead Class, you should have been climbing for a year or more, and be able to onsight 5.9 routes and redpoint 5.10-. You should expect to climb 8-10 climbs between 5.7-5.9 during each 3 hour session, so you need to be strong enough to do that with a little rest in between climbs. We are emphasizing this because in the past we have had some take the class who were not quite ready for it, and were not able to do the climbing needed to make expected progress in the course. This not only makes it hard for the instructors to get these people where they’re going, but also disrupts the others in the class.

The Intermediate Technique Class needs 4-6 people confirmed and paid by the end of business Wednesday January 4th for us to proceed with the class (as of this writing we had 2 people signed up, so we need two more to proceed).

More details about these courses can be found here. Please call the gym at 416 398-7625 or come by in person to sign up as soon as possible. Sometimes these classes fill up immediately (there are long waiting lists for each), and sometimes it’s hard to fit everyone’s scheduling constraints.

Dec 5

Presentation Friday Night: Physics in Rock Climbing

We’re pleased to welcome Xioaping Li to the gym this coming Friday night to give a presentation on Physics in Rock Climbing. Xiaoping is the Chief Instructor at Zen Climb, and has been Lead climbing outdoors since 1994.  Here’s the agenda for his talk:

  • Tolerable Forces on Equipment
    • Dynamic Ropes: UIAA 101 Standards
      • Fall factor
      • Why 12kN
    • Climbing Harness: EN 12277 Standards
    • Braking Devices (belay & rappel): UIAA 129 standards
  • Top Rope Climbing
    • Forces on climber, belayer, top anchor Friction on top anchor
    • Ground anchor consideration
    • Belayer distance from wall
  • Sport Climbing
    • Energy and force in a fall, calculation of peak force
    • Impact forces on climber, belayer, anchor in a fall or rope or slings
    • Belayer’s lifting on impact forces
    • Bolts: types, strengths, rock types
  • Trad Climbing
    • Force ratings of protections: stoppers, hexes, camlots, tri-cams.
    • Multi-anchor force calculation
    • Belaying station master point strengths: single pitch; multi-pitch.

The presentation will start at 8pm in our party area, and run about an hour. It’s free to anyone who has a TNCI membership or a day pass for that day.

Dec 5

Routesetting Lesson 3: Practice!

I was back on the wall last Monday, stripping 2 routes from the stalactite. Nothing new to report really, as I was just applying what I had learned, and practicing to get the skills down better. I gathered my gear (including my new shiny white routesetting bucket!), got the rigging done, and had Dustin check me over before heading up the rope. Things went pretty smoothly today, apart from:

  • dropping one of my drill bits to the ground
  • needing a screwdriver bit to remove a set screw that I hadn’t noticed would need to be removed (we put in set screws on large holds that might be prone to spinning under weight at a point far from the bolt)
  • missing one piece of tape and having to climb halfway back up the wall to remove it

My left foot went to sleep at one point in the middle of the work! Hanging in the harness for a long time can cut off the circulation! To deal with this I hooked in my quickfix (basically an extra length of webbing tied securely to my harness with a carabiner at the other end) to one of the quickdraws. That allowed me to unweight my Grigri and find a comfortable position on the wall where I could stomp my foot a bit to get the circulation going again.

I was pretty tired and sweaty by the time I was done stripping 2 routes on the stalactite. Afterwards I spent a few minutes decorating my routesetting bucket with tape and stickers to make it mine, and feel like one of the gang.

I’ll keep working at stripping routes a bit more, and then I’ll be ready to start to actually set a route!

Nov 28

A Look Back at Reel Rock Film Tour 2011

We had a blast Saturday evening as we hosted the Reel Rock Film Tour for the second year in a row. The 6:30 show was sold out, and we sold about 80% of the tickets for the second show at 9:30. It’s always fun to see the gym filled with people sitting on the floor and atop the boulders to watch amazing climbing movies. This years show was outstanding, with 5 great climbing movies and a wild slacklining film (Sketchy Andy). For those who missed the show, the DVD version should be on sale soon at the Reel Rock web site. I personally found the film Origins: Obe and Ashima the most inspiring, as we have been working hard to build up our Youth Recreational and Competitive programmes over the past year, and it’s exciting to see the kids climbing hard.

And a reminder to those of you who were with us Saturday night: until the end of 2011 your ticket stub from the show is worth $5 off a 10-visit pass. The 10-visit pass is valid for one year from date of purchase, and you can use it for your friends as well. We know that many who come to Reel Rock each year come from far away, and can’t make it to the gym often enough to make a membership worthwhile, so we wanted to do something to encourage you to come back a few more times. You can apply up to 2 ticket stubs against the purchase of each 10-visit pass.

Nov 25

Updated Gym Policies

We have some pretty standard and (we think) sensible policies about how we would like everyone to behave while in our facility. It can be a challenge to communicate all of these clearly and effectively to everyone. We have some signs up in the gym, which may or may not get noticed, and we try to tell people about the important policies, sometimes in advance, and sometimes when we feel the need to intervene.

With the addition of some new equipment recently (the rope ladders and rings), and perhaps as a sign that our business is maturing, it seems like a good idea to write down each of these policies, along with the reasoning behind it. So there is now a new page in the Safety section of The Facility menu on our web site: The Policies. We appreciate everyone’s cooperation in observing these policies to ensure everyone has a safe and fun experience in the gym.

Nov 22

Routesetting Lesson 2: Stripping Routes

It’s been about 2 1/2 weeks since my first routesetting lesson. Things got busy for both me and Dustin, and today was the first day we found to continue. Today started off as a review of the rigging, as I set up my anchors. Then I jugged my way to the top of the wall, and stripped two routes to make room for new ones. When I got to the top of the wall I hauled up my bucket with the power impact wrench and bits, attached it to the top anchor carabiners, and started taking holds off the wall. The holds used 2 different kinds of bolts, so occasionally I had to swap bits. The holds and bolts went in the bucket as I worked, and I peeled off the old tape as well. Every few feet I had to move the bucket down to the next draw on the wall, and lower myself using the Grigri.

I made a few mistakes in the course of this. None were dangerous, but they all made me do extra work. Partway down I realized I had left my ascender at the top of the wall, so I had to climb my way back up to retrieve it. Near the bottom Dustin pointed out that I had missed one hold and one strip of tape, so again I had to go back up to get those. Apparently these are common errors, but the extra climbing made me want to look more closely as I work next time! By the time I got to the bottom my legs were a bit sore from hanging in the harness throughout the process.

Overall today was pretty straightforward, and actually kind of fun. I need to keep practicing what I’ve learned, and stripping routes is the best way to do that, while also contributing some useful work to the gym. So I’ll try to do some of that once or twice a week until everything feels a little more automatic.

Nov 11

Routesetting: Starting At The Bottom

I am at the start of a new adventure, and I’ve decided to share some of my experiences along the way. Dustin has agreed to take me on as an apprentice routesetter!

It’s been over two and a half years since I started on the whole project of opening a climbing gym, and more than a year and a half since we opened the gym. I learned a phenomenal amount during the design and construction stages, and again in the early months of operation. We have added many layers to the simple offerings that we started with, and each of those additions has brought new lessons with it. This continuing opportunity to learn new things is probably the best part of what I’ve been doing. In the past few months though, the learning opportunities have been fewer, and I’ve been looking for something new to do. During the summer I asked Dustin if he would help me learn how to set routes, and he agreed. A knee injury delayed my ability to act on that, but last week we got started.

I should admit that this is not really the best use of my time. I’ve been realizing recently that I ought to be spending less of my time working in the gym (Clint and I generally run the joint from noon to 5pm each weekday before the part-time staff come in), and more of my time growing the business. The gym is making money now, but not as much as it can, and my focus should be reaching out to bring in more school groups and corporate groups, especially during the quiet weekday hours. And I am doing that, but I also feel the need to do something new to stretch myself and teach me new skills. So I’ll be spending a few hours a week learning about routesetting, and finding out whether or not I can be any good at it. The other benefit to doing this is that I have not been climbing enough, and I expect the hard work of routesetting to help make me stronger and help my climbing. Most people assume that a gym owner gets to climb in his gym all the time, and is necessarily a great climber. In fact I spend most of my time working the front desk and teaching Introductory Lessons, as well as tending to the myriad tiresome tasks such as paying the bills and looking after bookkeeping &payroll, as with any business. I’ve been climbing once or sometimes twice a week, and remain largely stuck in the 5.9/5.10- range.

I do have a little experience at this. I set boulder problems on the home walls I’ve had at my last 2 houses, and one day in 2009 Andrew McBurney let me set a couple problems at Boulderz as I was starting to learn about the climbing business. He had to fix both my problems after I thought I was done; I had made the classic error of setting what I wanted to climb rather than the grade I was told to set!

Anyway, last Thursday Dustin and I got started on my training. The first session was all about rigging. Unlike climbing, routesetting has the setter alone on the wall, and when setting from a rope there is more involved in keeping yourself safe when you have no belayer to help out. If you have wondered why our gym has bolt hangers attached at the bottom of our walls, it’s mainly to support safe rigging for routesetting. I learned a little about rigging as part of my ACMG Climbing Gym Instructor certification course 2 years ago, and asked Eldorado Climbing Walls to install the hangers along the base of the walls to support anchoring the ropes when routesetting. This was important because our belays are not anchored (gyms with anchored belays can use those anchors when setting). It turned out the hangers are also pretty useful to keep top-ropes out of the way of lead climbers, but that was just a happy side benefit.

The first part of my rigging lesson was learning to tie some new knots: a figure eight on a bight (I had seen this before and it was easy to master), and a clove hitch. This turned out to be the hardest part of the lesson for me. I think my 3D spatial skills are not very good (strange for someone who spent 25 years working in the field of 3D computer animation?), and it took me a while to master the clove hitch. I felt pretty stupid during this part, but Dustin was patient with me. I spent most of the session practicing these knots, and setting up an anchor (figure eight on a bight at the base bolt hanger, clove hitch on the first draw above it) both from a ladder and from a rope. I think I drove Dustin slightly crazy with a lot of questions, as I always want to understand why things work the way they do, and am rarely satisfied just learning how to do something. He also explained that as with other aspects of climbing, there are multiple safe ways to do all of this.

Going up a rope on your own (without a belayer) involves some extra gear. In addition to the Grigri attached to your harness, you need:

  • an ascender: a device that attaches to the rope above you, gripping it as you pull yourself up, and then sliding up for the next step
  • an aider or etrier: a piece of webbing that hangs down from the ascender with a loop at the bottom where your foot goes in to push yourself up
  • a quickfix: a piece of webbing that attaches to your harness and has a carabiner at the other end to let you attach yourself to quickdraws as you go up the wall. This allows you to unweight the rope as you ascend, which is necessary while you are attaching the clove hitch to the first draw. It also helps you work close to the wall without swinging while setting.

So there’s a lot more going on with all this stuff set up. Going up the wall is a combination of sliding the ascender up the rope, stepping down in the aider, and pulling on the brake line to pull the slack in the rope through the Grigri. Every once in a while you tie an overhand knot in the brake line, as a stopper in case somehow the cam on the Grigri gets depressed to release its braking action (which is not at all likely to happen, but we always want backup safety measures). Without your hands and feet on solid holds you’re swinging around a lot more, which can be a little uncomfortable. I think I’ll get used to that as I do this more.

Once I had gotten all of this clear in my head, Dustin had me set my anchors, and jug my way to the top of the wall. “Jugging” means moving up the rope by alternately pulling on the ascender with one hand, stepping into the aider with the opposite foot, and then pulling the slack rope through the Grigri with the other hand. I had climbed and done yoga the night before (yes, I have my excuses ready…), and jugging my way to the top of the wall was really hard work; I had to rest on the way up! When I got to the top he then had me haul up a bucket full of holds (typical of what might be needed to cover most of a route). I already knew that our routesetters work really hard to set each route, but this practice drove it home. Doing this is definitely going to make me stronger!

That was it for lesson 1. I still need more practice at all these skills before I’ll feel really comfortable at it. And I need to be extra careful and disciplined about double checking every part of my rig, because there is no climbing partner to do that for me. I’m probably in the Conscious Competence stage of learning now, and I need to get to Unconscious Competence before I’ll have enough of my brain available to really start thinking about the routesetting process itself!

Nov 10

Now Booking Day Camp For Winter Break

Our popular day camp returns over the winter break, running December 27-30 and January 3-6. We will take your 7-12 year old kid(s) and wear them out for you while you recover from the stress of the holidays! Full details can be found here:

Because both the Boxing Day and New Years holidays fall on the Monday each week, we’re running the day camp 4 days each week.

Note that there is a price break if you book at least a week in advance,  since this gives us the time to schedule our staff. You can book the days you want now by coming in to the gym or calling us at 416 398-7625 and paying with a credit card.

Oct 20

Recent Improvements

We’ve been busy the past few weeks both fixing up a few things that needed attention, and getting ready to make a few other improvements around the gym:

  • The carpeted area was steam cleaned in September. Please be careful to keep all food and drink (except for water) off the padded floor, to help us keep it clean!
  • The tiled floors were all stripped and rewaxed
  • A few minor repairs were done around the gym, including replacing a few broken tiles, as well as the nosing on the stairway leading to the men’s change room.
  • We brought a painter in to refresh/touch up the paint in areas that had taken a little wear and tear
  • We brought our electrician in to add more power outlets. These will support the second cash drawer & credit card terminal that we expect to have up and running next week, which will help keep things running more smoothly on busy days. And at some point we expect to add electronic waiver stations, which will streamline the processing of waivers for new customers.
  • We upgraded our computer network (in part to support the second credit card terminal), and as a side benefit we can now offer free wireless internet access to our customers.
  • We’re looking at bringing in some more fitness equipment:
    • We have a new dumbbell rack for the set of dumbbells that should be arriving soon. The adjustable dumbbells were a great idea, but they have not fared well in the gym environment, as they get jammed too frequently.
    • We plan to install a set of rings and a rope ladder. These will be attached to a cross beam in the north side of the gym, and will be available for use most of the time on weekdays. They will be tied up out of the way on weekends and other busy times.

All of this is part of both keeping the gym clean and fresh, and improving the facility over time to keep our members and other customers happy. Please let us know if you notice anything else that needs attention, or if you have suggestions for ways we can improve what we’re doing.

Oct 17

Public Wireless Network At The Gym!

We upgraded our network equipment this past weekend, and are now pleased to offer free wireless access to our customers while in the gym. The public wireless network is called TNCI-guest.  When you tell your device to connect to this network, your browser will display a login screen. You can get the password for it by asking at the front desk; the password will change each week. Note that there is currently a limit of 10 connections at a time to this wireless network.

Oct 14

Hallowe’en Costume Contest

We’re going to celebrate Hallowe’en with a costume contest and special admission prices for those in costume. Here are the details:

  • All day passes are half price on Hallowe’en (Monday October 31st) for those in costume
  • Punch card holders can admit two climbers for a single punch as long as both are in costume
  • We’ll let the roar of the crowd determine the winners of best costume in 3 categories:
    • Men
    • Women
    • Group costume

The winners in each category will get a free month’s membership (your choice of prepaid membership starting when you like, or a month of free dues for EFT members). For the Group costume category, we will award at most 4 memberships to the group. Judging will take place atop the bouldering wall at around 9pm, with our judges deciding who gets the loudest response from the audience.

Please join us to celebrate Hallowe’en in style (and in costume)!

Sep 14

Reel Rock Film Tour Returns November 26th

We are excited to again be the Toronto host for the Reel Rock Film Tour. This year’s show features 6 films showcasing climbing and slacklining in Canada, the US and Pakistan, and climbers such as Will Gadd, Tommy Caldwell and 9 year old US phenom Ashima Shiraishi.

Last year’s show sold out, with 200 people filling the north half of the gym, including some sitting atop the bouldering walls! We plan two screenings this year, an early show at 6:30pm and a late show starting at 9:30pm. Tickets will go on sale at some point in October. We’ll announce availability on Facebook & Twitter as well as signs posted in the gym.

More details about the lineup at:

Aug 29

Youth Programmes Return In September

Starting the week of September 12th, our popular Youth Recreational and Competitive Programmes start back up. We are now taking bookings for these programmes.

The Youth Recreational Programmes are offered at Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced levels, with kids grouped roughly by age as well. These programmes get your kids climbing regularly, and develop their climbing and safety skills from week to week. Depending on each child’s readiness, they can learn how to belay on top-rope and potentially start lead climbing as well during the course of the programme. Beginner classes are 1.5 hours/week for 8 weeks, while the Intermediate and Advanced classes run for 2 hours/week for 10 weeks.

Our Youth Competitive Programme is for kids who are climbing hard and ready to make a bigger commitment to climbing. The focus is on training for competitions, and the programme runs 3 hours every Tuesday and Thursday evening (6 hours/week of training).  Kids in this programme are expected to attend multiple comps during the season.

All of our Youth Programmes are eligible for the federal Child Fitness Tax Credit. You can find more details about each programme (including pricing, dates & times) at, by picking up the orange flyer at the front desk, or by talking to our desk staff. We expect these programmes to grow from last year, and some will fill up, so booking early is advised.

Aug 11

Intermediate Technique Class Now Available

Following a pilot session of the Intermediate Technique class, we have fine tuned it a bit, and are now ready to make it a regular offering.

The next class will be held:

Wednesday, August 24th: 6-9pm
Wednesday, August 31st: 6-9pm
(that’s 2 3-hour sessions)

A full class is 6 people, and we’ll run the class if we have at least 4 confirmed & paid. Two instructors will present the class, so there will be plenty of time to work on various exercises with individual attention.

The fee for this class is:
$120 + HST for members of True North Climbing
$150 + HST for non-members (and a day pass must also be purchased for each visit)

If you want to take this class, please  call or visit the gym to confirm your spot with payment.

A description of the course is now posted on our web site:

Aug 10

Park Entrance Will Be Blocked Again On Saturday Aug 13th

This Saturday, August 13th is Rastafest, and the main entrance to Downsview Park will be closed. For most of the day, access to our facility will be via the construction entrance on the south side of Sheppard Avenue at Chesswood Dr. Coming in that entrance, keep to the right around the north end of the airstrip, and you’ll come to The Hangar (the north-east corner of 75 Carl Hall Rd). You can go around 75 Carl Hall Rd either way from there to reach us at the south side of the building.

For those taking TTC, please note that the Route 101 bus will be only running eastbound through the site and exiting at Chesswood Drive on its way to Downsview Subway Station. Please note that the bus stop at the north east corner of 75 Carl Hall Road (near the Hangar entrance) and the bus stop at the south west corner of 65 Carl Hall Road will be out of service. You can only board the east bound bus to Downsview Subway station at the stop in front of the Canadian Air and Space Museum at 65 Carl Hall Road if you are on the east side of the railway crossing.

Jul 20

Road Disruption in Downsview Park July 31/August 1 & July 23/24

This weekend, July 23rd and 24th, is HeavyTO, and the main entrance to Downsview Park will be closed. The next weekend, on Sunday July 31st and the holiday Monday August 1st, there are two cultural festivals. For these 4 days, access to our facility will be via the construction entrance on the south side of Sheppard Avenue at Chesswood Dr. Coming in that entrance, keep to the right around the north end of the airstrip, and you’ll come to The Hangar (the north-east corner of 75 Carl Hall Rd). You can go around 75 Carl Hall Rd either way from there to reach us at the south side of the building. We are open from 10am to 10pm on the August 1st holiday.

For those taking TTC, please note that the Route 101 bus will be only running eastbound through the site and exiting at Chesswood Drive on its way to Downsview Subway Station. Please note that the bus stop at the north east corner of 75 Carl Hall Road (near the Hangar entrance) and the bus stop at the south west corner of 65 Carl Hall Road will be out of service. You can only board the east bound bus to Downsview Subway station at the stop in front of the Canadian Air and Space Museum at 65 Carl Hall Road if you are on the east side of the railway crossing.

Jul 20

Gym Closing Early on July 29th

On Friday July 29th, the gym will close at 6pm. We are hosting a special bouldering competition that evening as part of the Canadian parkour Summer Meet, in partnership with The Monkey Vault. Admission to the Summer Meet event is limited to registered participants.

Jul 7

Road Disruption Again Saturday July 9th

This Saturday, July 9th, is Edgefest, and the main entrance to Downsview Park will be closed. For the entire day, access to our facility will be via the construction entrance on the south side of Sheppard Avenue at Chesswood Dr. Coming in that entrance, keep to the right around the north end of the airstrip, and you’ll come to The Hangar (the north-east corner of 75 Carl Hall Rd). You can go around 75 Carl Hall Rd either way from there to reach us at the south side of the building. We are open from 10am to 10pm on Canada Day.

For those taking TTC, please note that the Route 101 bus will be only running eastbound through the site and exiting at Chesswood Drive on its way to Downsview Subway Station. Please note that the bus stop at the north east corner of 75 Carl Hall Road (near the Hangar entrance) and the bus stop at the south west corner of 65 Carl Hall Road will be out of service. You can only board the east bound bus to Downsview Subway station at the stop in front of the Canadian Air and Space Museum at 65 Carl Hall Road if you are on the east side of the railway crossing.

The roadways and TTC service will return to normal on Sunday July 10th.

Jun 29

Special Event July 19th: Girl On the Rocks

Join us Tuesday evening July 19th at 7pm for a free slide show by Leslie Timms. Leslie is an accomplished climber, a sponsored athlete, and a certified outdoor guide. She will be with us on July 19th to share photos and stories about her climbing experiences, and to talk about the outdoor clinics she’ll be running in August.

You can learn more about Leslie and her course offerings at her personal web site as well as the site for her new guiding company On The Rocks.

Jun 27

Getting To Us On Canada Day

This Friday is Canada Day, and Downsview Park will be a busy place. The evening concert will result in the main entrance being blocked for much of the day. See below for the alternate route to get to/from the gym.

The day starts with a Canada Day breakfast from 8-10am at 40 Carl Hall Rd, followed by a citizenship ceremony for new Canadians, across the street at 35 Carl Hall Rd. In the evening there is a concert by The Tragically Hip, which is a ticketed event with restricted access.

Starting at approximately 1pm, the main entrance to Downsview Park will be closed. For the rest of the day, access to our facility will be via the construction entrance on the south side of Sheppard Avenue at Chesswood Dr. Coming in that entrance, keep to the right around the north end of the airstrip, and you’ll come to The Hangar (the north-east corner of 75 Carl Hall Rd). You can go around 75 Carl Hall Rd either way from there to reach us at the south side of the building. We are open from 10am to 10pm on Canada Day.

For those taking TTC, please note that the Route 101 bus will be only running eastbound through the site and exiting at Chesswood Drive on its way to Downsview Subway Station. Please note that the bus stop at the north east corner of 75 Carl Hall Road (near the Hangar entrance) and the bus stop at the south west corner of 65 Carl Hall Road will be out of service. You can only board the east bound bus to Downsview Subway station at the stop in front of the Canadian Air and Space Museum at 65 Carl Hall Road after 1:00 p.m. on Friday if you are on the east side of the railway crossing.

The roadways and TTC service will return to normal on Saturday July 2nd.

Jun 23

Dustin Curtis: On the World Cup Tour (Eindhoven)

Our Head Routesetter/Head Instructor Dustin Curtis is in Europe, representing Canada and competing at 3 of this year’s World Cup bouldering events. He shares his impressions of last week’s comp held in Eindhoven, Netherlands

Hey all, thought I would drop a line and keep everyone a little up to date on my travels over here in Europe. I just finished the first of the three world cup stops. This last one, Eindhoven, was an awesome time and really really memorable.

Holly Reid and I arrived in where they told us the hotel was located, in a place called Helmond. It was nothing what we expected it to be, small little village, a really close-knit community and no hotel, or any building over 3 stories save for a church, in sight. With me carrying a crash pad full of gear and Holly carrying two bags packed to the breaking point, we were in no mood to adventure across the “burbs” of Dutchland. We found some nice people to help us out though and they directed us to what became a 30 min hike to our hotel. After the epic of getting there though, things panned out for a while, we spent one day trying to get accustomed to the time change, with really no success and spent a bunch of time walking through Helmond and the town our hotel was actually in (Mierlo).

We went to the gym a couple of days before the comp, just to remind our bodies how to climb on plastic and to sample the local flavour. We walked into the gym Monk, and my first thought was instantly: WOW. Now you have to understand, Monk is a bouldering-only gym, so seeing more bouldering than I knew what to do with, well I nearly lost my mind. And to add to it, there was a coffee and full liqour bar attatched! The problems themselves were really well laid out, although they used a colour coding scheme that I think could have been done a little better. I never find myself having trouble with colour coding but even i had trouble seeing the difference in some blocs. Oh and I forgot to mention I forgot my shoes for this visit to Monk so I just campussed, warmed up and stretched.

But now for the real meat of things, the World Cup in Eindhoven:
One word can describe this experience for me: Rain. There was a lot of it! There was a rain delay in Semi-finals, I think there could have been one for finals, cuz standing out in the crowd in just a rain jacket (that I bought the day before) and watching was really quite a fight. I mean I love watching comps but there were a couple of moments standing in frigid cold downpour where I was ready to give up and go home kind of thing. But I’m ahead of myself; let me start with qualifiers.

The problems themselves I thought were really well done, well the five in my group. You see, because there were so many men registered, they had to run us in 2 groups, so group A got five problems and group B got five problems. The top 10 from each group moved on to semis. The warm up area was all right, it was a little small for all of us and I found I had to start warming up much earlier than I wanted because of the sheer amount of people on the wall.

Problem number one turned out to be a lot of fun: a weird and awkward stem start to pulling on decent holds out a volume, to a dynamic move to a gaston edge with a “hat” on it. A “hat” is a hold that is screwed in on top of another hold in order to make it a slot, and thus, more accuracy dependant. Then you moved to a matchable hold over a feature and then the top. I ended up flashing this problem and started to think that things were going to go. I was warm, I felt light and strong and most importantly, I was enjoying myself. Already everything was looking up.

Problem #2 had different ideas for me though. Awkward undercling start to a move to a volume, and then throwing your feet up and left to get this awkward and quite painful knee bar on the point of the triangle feature. From there, there were a couple of bad pinches, one of them the bonus hold and then another bad pinch which was just out of reach from the knee bar for me and I couldn’t figure out how to release the knee bar and stay on those bad pinches.

Problem number 3, when I was brought to it, I thought it was a give me. I was a little disappointed I didn’t get this one. Start on a triangle feature with both hands, make a couple of moves laying it back to get to its point and then a dynamic move to hit a pancake on another triangle feature. I was a little shocked that the pancake wasn’t textured at all and I had to readjust on this hold every time I stuck it. From there you heel hooked the first feature and made a long pull to a really giant pinch feature. This was the zone and again, there was no texture on this, so moving off of it proved to be too hard for me, but I think I was missing a drop knee between a foot far out left and the starting feature. That’s the thing about these problems, I got to talking to the routesetters and they told me that there is no point in making things really hard. They have to separate a field of 60 dudes who can all pull V12-14, slapping bad holds on the wall and hoping that will stop them is not really the answer. Instead what they do is set easier problems but make them awkward, painful and sometimes learned movements. This way its more like a puzzle. The people that advance aren’t necessarily the strongest but they’re the ones that figure it all out.

Problem number 4 was by far my favourite and the one I am most dissapointed in not sending. Started on two white ball features in a roof and you had to heel/thigh master the first one to match the second one and then keep the tension and reach up to a triangle feature. After that you popped to a triangle feature that you could wrap the edge of (this one was also without texture) and then you heeled and made a big pull for the finishing hold. I fell going to the finishing hold three times, each time smiling to myself thinking “what an absolutely rad problem”. Big ups to my boy Tonde for putting that one up, one of my favourites.

Problem number 5 was straight up hard! Long traverse movements into iron crosses on bad slopers. I didn’t get very far on this one, maybe 3 holds but it was a cool problem never the less.

Semis the next day were really awesome to watch despite the rain break and Holly, Luigi and I all cheered as hard as we could for Sean. In the end he came 11th; he needed to be 6th to go into finals. I think someone told me that if he had finished the last problem, which he was really close to doing, he would have made finals. Next time man. Full results are available on the IFSC web site:

After the after party that night, which was held at Monk gym, I got home late, crashed out and the next day we checked out of our hotel room to head to Amsterdam. Luigi and Holly headed straight there. I ended up going to Monk to boulder and having one of the gnarliest days of my life. If anyone that reads this was part of that crazy adventure from the afterparty, to me getting to Amsterdam, thanks so much! It was epic, scary, adventurous and probably one of my favourite memories. It will go down in my mind as one of the best times I had in Dutchland.

Well that’s the wrap for now, I’m running out of internet at here in the cafe in Barcelona, hope all of you are doing well and hopefully I´ll drop you guys something after this weekend. Peace all!

Next up for Dustin is this weekend’s comp in Barcelona, followed by Sheffield, England next weekend.

Jun 20

Petzl Recalls Grigri2s

Petzl has recalled some Grigri2 belay devices due to a potential safety issue. Full details can be found here:

If you have a Grigri2 belay device with the first 5 digits of the serial number between 10326 and 11136, stop using it immediately and contact Petzl to arrange for a replacement. The serial number can be found under the black lever.

This recall affects all Grigri2 devices that we have sold since March, and the ones we have been using in the gym. We are contacting all customers that we know we sold one to, and have removed ours from use pending exchange.

Note that because this is a consumer safety issue, all exchanges must be done directly through Petzl. We have been directed by Petzl not to accept any of these devices for exchange or return. Petzl will replace your device and pay all shipping charges involved. Petzl is not aware of any accidents resulting from this issue.

Jun 13

New Technique Class In the Works

There is currently a bit of a gap in our instructional offerings, between our Introductory Lesson and the short free technique classes we offer on Monday evenings, and the Lead Climbing Class. We are working on a new course to fill that gap.

The Intermediate Technique Class will be aimed at those who have been climbing for a little while, and are finding it difficult to progress to the next grade of difficulty, whether that next grade is 5.8, 5.9 or 5.10. The class will cover the following areas of climbing technique:

  • Precision Footwork. Including:
    • Effectively Weighting Your Feet
    • Careful Foot Placement
    • Pulling And Pushing With Your Feet
    • Technical Heel Hooking
  • Shifting Your Weight. Including:
    • Keeping Your Arms Straight
    • Effectively Using Your Hips
    • Rock Overs
    • Drop Knees
    • Flagging
  • Using Momentum. Including:
    • Dynos
    • The Arc of Motion.

We expect this course will consist of 2 2-hour classes, scheduled a week or so apart to allow time in between to practice the techniques learned in the first class. The cost of the class will likely be around $100-$120 per person.

We’re looking for a few people to take a pilot class with us, to help us refine the curriculum. We know what we want to teach and how to teach it, but have not exactly figured out how much time we need to spend on each area. We’ll work through the topics, and then gather your feedback to fine-tune the course. In exchange for your help refining the programme we’re offering this pilot session at a reduced price: $60 for True North members and $75 for others.

Let us know at the front desk or via email at if you want to take this pilot class. We could offer it on Mondays or Wednesdays during July; exact dates to be arranged once we have 6 people signed up for the class.

Jun 1

World Cup Bouldering Event in Canmore

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the first-ever World Cup bouldering event held in Canada. The event was held at Millennium Park in Canmore, Alberta, about an hour west of Calgary. 66 athletes from all over the world competed on Friday and Saturday. I was there to learn about the event, and cheer on the 23 Canadians competing, including our own Dustin Curtis.

Friday was the Qualifying round. Each climber did 5 problems, on a very cold day. The climbers came out one by one, getting 5 minutes to do each problem with 5 minutes of rest in between. After the first few worked their way through the problems there were 4 climbers going at a time. It snowed throughout the day, and the snow mostly melted as it fell, leaving the ground very soggy. Fortunately the outdoor wall was under a large tent, so the wall and the climbers stayed dry, but it was very cold, and that made things quite a bit tougher on the competitors. The crowd was sparse in the morning as the men got under way, but more spectators showed up for the women’s round in the afternoon.

In each round, the climbers are ranked by the number of problems they are able to complete (“tops”). If there is a tie, the first tie-breaker is the number of attempts needed to achieve the tops. If there is still a tie, the next criterion is number of bonus holds achieved (the bonus hold is a clearly-marked hold partway through the problem that the climber needs to touch while under control). The last tie-breaker is number of attempts to achieve the bonus holds. So basically you’re trying to get to the top of each problem in as few attempts as you can, bagging the bonus hold along the way. This formula usually breaks all the ties, but after the qualification round, there was a 4-way tie for 20th place! So 23 men and 20 women advanced to the semi-final round on Saturday morning. Among those were 4 Canadian men and 4 Canadian women.

The semi-finals had men and women climbing concurrently, each facing 4 problems. This meant that for much of the round there were 8 climbers on the wall at once, making it challenging to keep your eye on everything going on! 6 men and women advanced to the final round, including one Canadian: Sean McColl, the reigning Canadian men’s national champ.

Finals featured 4 more problems each for the men and women, with a different format. Men and women climbed at the same time, but all 6 completed problem 1 before moving on as a group to problem 2. This made it easier to keep track of who was in the lead, and made the finish a little more dramatic.

Overall it was a great event. The routesetters did a good job of separating the field (though some felt the men’s problems were a little harder than they might have been), and the problems provided great entertainment for the spectators. The weather initially made things a little miserable, but it warmed up a fair bit on Saturday. The crowd was loud (spurred on Saturday by Dustin Curtis, who stepped in as MC for the semi-final and final rounds), and supported all the climbers, especially the Canadians. Japanese climbers Akiyo Noguchi (women) and Tsukuru Hori (men) were the winners, with Sean McColl taking third place and a place on the podium for Canada at our first ever World Cup event.

The Alpine Club of Canada has posted some photos from the event:

May 13

Summer Day Camp is Coming!

We are now booking spots in our popular day camp for the coming summer. We started a small programme last summer, and it has grown substantially through the Winter/March/Passover breaks.

Based on feedback from parents, kids and our staff, we have made a few changes that we believe will make the programme better and easier to manage as it continues to grow. This includes changes to times, ages, prices and our policies for changes and cancellations. Please review the description of the programme carefully before booking your spots:

We are also exploring a new senior camp programme for the older kids (12+) that would focus more on developing climbing skills, and could also potentially offer a half day of circus school training or squash, in partnership with our neighbours. Please let me know if you have kids who would be interested in this, and I’ll see what we can put together.

We are now accepting full-week bookings only, for every week except the weeks starting June 27th and August 1st (the two weeks containing the holidays).

We will start accepting single-day bookings starting June 20th, subject to availability.

To book your child(ren) for camp please call us at 416 398-7625 or visit us at the gym and pay in advance with a credit card.

May 2

Special Class This Week: Gym To Crag

Starting on Wednesday evening, ZenClimb will be offering a course for those who want to start outdoor climbing. The class is called Gym to Crag: Top Rope Anchor Setting and Rappelling.  It starts with a 3-hour session (7-10pm) in the gym, and then moves outdoors on Saturday from 9:30-5:30 at Rattlesnake Point, followed by a practice climbing session on Sunday (or another day of your choice.  Full details and prices can be found at the ZenClimb web site. Please make all arrangements through ZenClimb. Note that members of True North Climbing are eligible for a 10% discount on the course fee. As of this writing there are still a few spots left in this class.

Apr 27

Climb For Cancer

Last spring Climber’s Rock in Burlington hosted an event called Climb for Cancer, to raise money to fight cancer by climbing and gathering sponsorships. They’re doing it again this year (on May 7th), and this time we’re joining in by hosting a second event the following weekend, on Saturday May 14th. You can find all the details at the Climb for Cancer web site.

The gang at Climber’s Rock has got it in their heads to try to show everyone that they can do a better job than we can of rounding up teams to join in and kick cancer’s butt. So let’s show them that the people who climb at True North also care about this. Start a team and sign up now, and let’s have fun on May 14th doing something really worthwhile.

Apr 26

A Small Change to our Event Schedule

Starting Sunday May 1st we’re making a small tweak to the way we schedule events. Our Introductory Lessons change from every hour on the half hour (12:30, 1:30, 2:30, …) to every hour on the hour. We’re doing this for two reasons:

  • It turns out that it’s actually difficult to explain to people on the phone that we offered lessons every hour on the half hour. A common response from customers when hearing that has been “OK, how about 2 o’clock?”. This change simplifies that communication.
  • Our staff change shifts at 5pm on weekdays; this change aligns the lessons with the shift change so the old 4:30 lesson isn’t awkward to staff.

In order to keep traffic flowing smoothly at the front desk, and avoid having multiple groups arrive all at once, we’re also switching our event times for birthday parties and our weekend scramble sessions from starting on the hour to starting on the half hour, so they remain offset from the Introductory Lessons. Party slots will now be 10:30, 12:30, 2:30, …, and the Weekend Scramble Sessions will now run from 11:30-1:30 on Saturdays and Sundays.

Any events booked in advance on the old times remain unchanged.

Apr 18

On Location

Every once in a while we are approached about the use of our space for filming, whether for an ad, a TV show or a movie. Recently we had a request from the Girl Guides to shoot part of a Public Service Announcement at the gym. You can read a bit about that and see the finished piece here.

Apr 7

Rolling Out Lots of Changes This Week!

As we head into our second year of operation, we’re making a bunch of changes to our business:

These changes are the result of taking a good look at every aspect of our business, and thinking about what we can do both to make the business run more smoothly, and to deliver more value to our customers. As always we welcome your feedback, whether it’s critical (as long as it’s something we can learn from) or positive.

Apr 6

New Yoga Programme Starts May 4th

We’re excited to announce that starting in May we’ll be offering a weekly Yoga for Climbers class. This new programme is being offered in partnership with the Spiral Movement Center, a unique cutting-edge bodymind studio located in Leslieville.  Opened by somatic pioneers Stephanie Gottlob & Yuji Oka, the studio serves a diverse clientele including artists, athletes, professionals and people with disabilities and special needs.  SMC offers instruction in meditation, yoga, bodywork & relaxation, internal & external flow patterning, cognitive/emotional processing, creativity, and more.  SMC also offers contemporary rehabilitation and body alignment services which have been quite successful with injured rock climbers.  For more info and testimonials, visit their website at or their Spiral Movement Center Facebook fan page.

The classes will be every Wednesday evening at 8pm, starting May 4th. Single classes cost $12 including HST, and a 10-class pass is $100 including HST. Members of True North Climbing (monthly prepaid or EFT, and annual prepaid members) are eligible for a 50% discount: $6 for a single class or 10 for $50, including HST. Anyone may take the first class for free to try it out.

Apr 4

We’re Adjusting Some Prices

As a result of a thorough review of the business after the first year we have decided to adjust some of our prices. There are two changes coming:

  • The discount price (for day passes, 10-visit cards and memberships) that we offer to students, seniors and others is being adjusted to be approximately 85% of the regular price for the corresponding item. This results in increases ranging from about 4-8% on the discount rates.  The regular rates are unaffected by this change.
  • The prices for items usually paid for with cash are being rounded to even dollar amounts after HST. In some cases this means a small increase, and in others a small decrease. We’re doing this to try to make things run a little more smoothly at the front desk, by simplifying change-making.

Out of about 85 items that we sell, 21 are going up a little, 13 are going down a little, and the rest remain unchanged.

Most of these pricing changes take effect Monday April 11th. The new discount rate for monthly Electronic Funds Transfer Membership Dues and the Late Fee increase will take effect as of the June 10th billing, since we promised our members at least 60 days notice before changing those fees.

You can review the new prices:

Apr 4

New Hours Starting Next Week!

We’re rolling out a bunch of changes as we enter our second year of operation. Our first announcement is that starting Monday April 11th, we will be open from Noon-11pm every weekday. Our weekend hours remain unchanged: 10am-10pm.

We’ve been open at noon on Fridays for some time now, and feel the business has grown enough that it’s worth opening at noon every weekday. One sign of that has been that more people have been showing up well before 2pm, expecting us to be open!

Apr 3

Ontario Youth Provincials: Speed Results

Name    Category    Gender    Time Route 1    Time Route 2    Total time
Waugh, Evan    Junior    B    7.14    6.13    13.27

Baird,Tadek    A    B    7.18    7.61    14.79
Goodwin, Will    A    B    8.16    7.05    15.21

Richard, Anthony    B    B    7.94    6.74    14.68
Attal, Benjamin    B    B    9.85    9.12    18.97
Clark, Chris    B    B    11.75    10.66    22.41
MacPherson, Ryan    B    B    13.69    16.03    29.72

Graham, Pia    B    G    8    8.69    16.69
Prosser, Charle    B    G    12.13    11.55    23.68
Tweg, Esti    B    G    11.08    12.69    23.77
Timmins, Xiu    B    G    15.31    11.5    26.81

Haley, Kanoa    C    B    8.8    9.12    17.92
Bayly, Willem    C    B    9.15    9.93    19.08
Brown, Seth    C    B    10.52    10.76    21.28

Whitaker-Lee, Katrina    C    G    12.05    13.16    25.21
Mercey, Mika    C    G    13.14    15.05    28.19

Haight, Mitchell    D    B    9.3    9.04    18.34
Richardson, Zach    D    B    10.49    9.57    20.06
Whattam, Ben    D    B    11.33    10.1    21.43
Bonnell, Sam    D    B    10.83    11.43    22.26
Johnston,William    D    B    14.52    14.55    29.07
Haley, Tacoma    D    B    15.43    14.48    29.91

Belleau, Courtney    D    G    8.08    9.78    17.86
Belleau, Emily    D    G    10.13    11.45    21.58
Lamarche-Dykman, Estella    D    G    13.26    13.9    27.16
Carkner, Catherine    D    G    14.09    13.51    27.6
Marks, Alexa    D    G    13.03    14.66    27.69
Bernard, Poet    D    G    14.72    15.99    30.71
Evans, Bea    D    G    17.4    18.01    35.41
Bonnell, Kate    D    G    21.08    17.99    39.07
Shapiro, Sophie    D    G    22.92    22.03    44.95

Apr 3

Ontario Youth Provincials: Difficulty Results

Results from the Difficulty (Roped) Competition Sunday April 3rd, 2011:

Boys Junior
Waugh, Evan    671
Orosco Ruiz, Pablo    340

Boys A
Baird,Tadek    470
Goodwin, Will    450

Girls A
Lamarche, Iyma    695

Boys B
Richard, Anthony    540
Attal, Benjamin    455
Clark, Chris    350
MacPherson, Ryan    340

Girls B
Graham, Pia    660
Prosser, Charle    455
Tweg, Esti    425
Timmins, Xiu    360

Boys C
Bayly, Willem    535
Brown, Seth    480
Haley, Kanoa    450

Girls C
Vince, Beth    680
Whitaker-Lee, Katrina    450
Mercey, Mika    410

Boys D
Richardson, Zach    500
Whattam, Ben    440
Haight, Mitchell    420
Johnston,William    396
Bonnell, Sam    340
Haley, Tacoma    160
Manning, Adam    135

Girls D
Carkner, Catherine    455
Pawczuk, Lana    420    TIE BROKEN BY COUNTBACK
Belleau, Courtney    420
Marks, Alexa    390
Belleau, Emily    380
Graves-Ward, Morgan    376
Lamarche-Dykman, Estella    350
Bernard, Poet    330
Bonnell, Kate    250
Shapiro, Sophie    195
Evans, Bea    100
Pilote, Sophie    60

Apr 3

Ontario Youth Provincials: Bouldering Results

Results from the Bouldering Competition Saturday April 2nd, 2011:

Junior Boys
Waugh, Evan Junior B 1132
Orosco Ruiz, Pablo Junior B 1081
Boys A
Gilroy, Tyler A B 1064
Baird,Tadek A B 1022
Goodwin, Will A B 947
Brown, Hunter A B 640
Langis, Eric A B 410
Girls A
Lamarche, Iyma A G 1170
Bollinger, Nicole A G 570
Kay, Brianne A G 0
Boys B
Day, Eric B B 597
Attal, Benjamin B B 591
MacPherson, Ryan B B 431
Clark, Chris B B 411
Girls B
Vince, Sasha B G 1082
Prosser, Charle B G 731
Timmins, Xiu B G 688
McIntosh, Stephanie B G 666
Tweg, Esti B G 450
Boys C
Bayly, Willem C B 932
Brown, Seth C B 931
Haley, Kanoa C B 687
Moreno-Tihane, Emi C B 516
Bollinger, Steven C B 120
Girls C
Vince, Beth C G 1066
Mercey, Mika C G 675
McCarney, Justine C G 662
Whitaker-Lee, Katrina C G 441
Wilson, Michelle C G 0
Boys D
Richardson, Zach D B 821
Whattam, Ben D B 625
Haight, Mitchell D B 496
Hebb, Spence D B 495
Bonnell, Sam D B 452
Johnston,William D B 236
Mercey, Maceo D B 191
Haley, Tacoma D B 150
Girls D
Belleau, Courtney D G 681
Lamarche-Dykman, Estella D G 476
Monteith, Dana D G 393
Carkner, Catherine D G 381
Pawczuk, Lana D G 331
Belleau, Emily D G 250
Bernard, Poet D G 250
Graves-Ward, Morgan D G 250
Hofer, Ellary D G 250
Evans, Bea D G 240
Bonnell, Kate D G 195
Mitsui-Hotz, Hanah D G 191
Marks, Alexa D G 150
Pilote, Sophie D G 145
Mar 31

Guest Post: Roundup of Upcoming Competitions

This email arrived this morning from Sally Vince, the CEC’s Ontario Youth Representative. It’s a great summary of all the competition action coming up in the next month or so.

We are looking forward to a very busy and exciting month in April.
First stop this weekend (April 2-3) is True North Climbing in Toronto for the first ever Ontario Under 20 Provincials.  Saturday will see bouldering and Sunday will see difficulty and speed routes.  A Provincial series champion will be named in each age/gender category, on Sunday night.  Youth cups (similar to the CEC cups) will be awarded to the Provincial series Champions.  Thanks to the following gyms for supporting this venture:  Boulderz Climbing Centre, True North Climbing, Peaks Team Steel, Coyote Rock Gym, The Rock Oasis, Climber’s Rock.
For more information regarding the U20 series, follow this link .  If you have not registered yet, not to worry, you can still register at the door.  You can register for one day or both.  Check out True North’s web site for further information .  If you would like to volunteer, please contact John Gross at .  Questions about U20 series points should be directed to Sheila at .
The weekend of April 16-17 will be amazing as the best ‘Open’ climbers in the country will be looking to earn points towards becoming members of the Canadian National  Climbing Team.  They are looking forward to competing in World Cup Bouldering comps in Canmore, AB and Vail, CO this year.  As well, we will have some competitors travel overseas.  Kids can be a part of this action by climbing in the citizens’ competition at Climber’s Rock (youth and rec climbers compete on Sat. morning; Experienced climbers compete Sun. morning) and they can watch the Open climbers in qualifiers Sat. afternoon and finals Sun. afternoon.  They won’t be disappointed!  For more information or to register follow this link
Also, in conjunction with this weekend, Laurie Weldon will host a judges course for bouldering.  Information about this course can be found here (in the news and updates section).  Please note that if you attend the course on Fri. night, you will be required to do some judging on Sat./Sun.  You can contact Laurie for more info. .  We hope that many people will take advantage of this opportunity so that we can have certified judges across the country.
Looking to be a member of the event staff for this comp, contact Maria Richardson at Climber’s Rock .
Still more excitement to come at CEC Eastern Youth Regionals on the Easter weekend at l’escalade Verticale in Montreal A little bit more information about the format and registration can be found on the U20 site Everyone who has qualified for CEC Regionals should have received an email from the Youth points coordinator, Bill Hendsbee, a few weeks ago.  Essentially all CEC members who have competed in the required 3 local comps (for Ontario) have qualified this year because the quotas were set high enough to allow as much participation as possible.
Questions specific to this comp can be directed to Eric at Questions about CEC points should be directed to Bill at . You can also visit the CEC site Please note deadline to register for Regionals is April 21.   Those climbers finishing in the top 20 at Regionals will earn an invite to Nationals.  CEC Youth Nationals will take place on the July 1st long weekend at Cliffhanger in Coquitlam, B.C.  More details to come.  Canada Youth cups and team qualification are based on climbers points at Regional and National competitions only.
If you need any clarification, or more information, feel free to contact me.  Looking forward to a great month of climbing!
(svince ‘at’
CEC Ontario youth rep
Mar 29

Retail Gear Now on Display!

Just a quick note to mention that we got our Petzl gear in a week or so ago, and finally have our retail display up and running. You can now actually see all the stuff we sell, with prices and everything. Almost like a real store! This includes not only the new Petzl gear (rope, harness, belay devices, carabiners) but also the stuff we have sold all along, but kept hidden so no one would know we sold it: T shirts, water bottles, chalk balls and bags and climbing tape.

Prices are posted here online. Those who are taking our Lead Climbing class are eligible for some special package prices on all the gear they’ll need to move up to lead climbing.

Mar 22

Youth Provincials: April 2nd & 3rd

Our first multi-day competitive event is coming up soon, and we want to let everyone know what to expect. We’re hosting the first-ever Ontario Provincial Youth Championships on April 2nd & 3rd. This is the grand finale of the Ontario under 20 competition season, and coincides with the formation of the Ontario Climbing Federation, which is a new organization that will oversee competition climbing in Ontario.

On Saturday April 2nd the Bouldering event will take place. This will take over the north half of the gym, including the main top-out bouldering wall. The south half of the gym will remain open for regular business, though there will be no birthday parties or other large groups that day. The Bouldering event will run roughly from noon to 6pm, after which the north half of the gym will re-open.

On Sunday April 3rd, the Difficulty and Speed events will be held, and most of the south half of the gym will be dedicated to those events. The north half of the gym will be open for regular business, but there will be no birthday parties or other groups, and no Introductory Lessons available that day. The Difficulty (top-rope or lead climbing, depending on the climber’s age) and Speed events will run from about 10am – 6pm, after which the south half of the gym will re-open.

We will not be closing the gym in advance of the comp, but there will be more routesetting than usual going on in the days leading up to that weekend. Youth competitors should avoid coming to True North to climb between Tuesday March 29th and the comp. Because there are no finals in this event, we will not need to take anything down, so all the competition problems and routes will be available to climb immediately after the comp. The overall disruption to regular customers should be much less than what occurred around our Tour de Bloc event, and closer to what occurred at our January youth comp.

We need volunteers to make this event a success!

On Saturday we need a few bouldering judges (preferably experienced ones!). On Sunday we need more help:

  • top-rope belayers
  • lead belayers
  • judges

All volunteers will receive a free day pass in exchange for each day they volunteer, and we’ll also make sure everyone who helps out is well-fed. Please let us know if you can help. Those planning to help belay should get certified in advance of the comp.

If you are a competitor or a parent of a competitor, here’s more Information for Competitors.

Mar 21

Growing Up: We Post Our Business Policies

As we approach our first anniversary in business we have been reviewing how things are going, and how we can improve how we run the business. One thing that became clear was that we could do a better job of communicating our policies around cancellation, refunds, and booking of our services. So we have written all this stuff down and put it up on the web site. We hope it’s clear and reasonable, and hopefully having this all written down can help avoid some misunderstandings in future.

You can read about our Business Policies here.

Mar 21

Warrior’s Way Mental Fitness Clinic: May 12th

We’re pleased to announce that we will be hosting a clinic by Arno Ilgner on May 12th. Details below. You can learn more about Arno and his work from his website:

Clinic Title: Warrior’s Way Mental Fitness Clinic

When / Where:

Now 2 sessions!:

Thursday, May 12, 1-5pm

Thursday, May 12, 6-10pm

Register at: True North Climbing, 416-398-7625

Cost: $75 + HST for gym members; $85 + HST for non-members

Max number: 8 / clinic

Instructor: Arno Ilgner

LIMITED OPPORTUNITY: This is the only time this year to take advantage of this training at True North Climbing. The clinic is also being offered during the same week by Boulderz and Rock Oasis.

Clinic description: The Warrior’s Way teaches how to focus attention during the climbing process, especially when you’re full of doubt and under stress. By focusing this way you improve your commitment and climb more deliberately.

You’ll learn to:

  • Become aware of your mind’s limiting tendencies
  • Use your mind’s intelligence to do effective risk-assessment
  • Distinguish between no-fall and yes-fall zones
  • Make appropriate risk decisions
  • Practice falling in small increments
  • Give a cushioned belay
  • Engage your body to develop flow and momentum
  • Deal with climbing stress
  • Improve problem-solving skills
  • Reduce fear, and more

Content of the class

We’ll do awareness, movement, breathing, and resting exercises on moderate routes. Then some falling practice. We’ll finish with a challenging route to apply what we’ve learned.

Prerequisites for clinic:

  • It’s helpful if you’ve read The Rock Warrior’s Way or Espresso Lessons, but it isn’t absolutely necessary.
  • The clinic seems to be best for those who have hit a plateau, experience frustration, fear, loss of motivation, or other mental fitness issues.
  • You DO need to know the fundamentals of knots, belaying, and basic climbing skills.
  • You DO NOT need to be able to lead to take the clinic.

Equipment Needed:

  • Harness, shoes, belay device, and a rope if you will be lead climbing. The gym can provide a helmet to anyone who wants one.

All participants must be top-rope or lead certified at True North Climbing before the clinic begins.

Mar 15

Petzl Rep Visits As We Launch Our Gear Sales

Petzl rep Matt McCormick will be demoing the new Grigri 2 and Ange wiregate carabiner this Friday night. They’ll be plenty of opportunity to try out the new Grigri as well as ask any Petzl questions you might have!

This visit coincides with our launch as a Petzl retailer. Our first shipment of gear to sell is on its way, and expected to arrive by the time Matt comes to visit. We will be selling gear mainly aimed at those taking our Lead Climbing Course:

Matt plans to be at the gym starting at 6pm on Friday. And if you can’t make it Friday, he’ll be leaving behind a Grigri2 for us to put on one of out top ropes so everyone can try it out.

Mar 15

Youth Provincials: Information for Competitors

On April 2nd & 3rd True North Climbing will host the first Ontario Youth Provincial Climbing Championships. Here is what you need to know if you are a competitor, or the parent of a competitor.

Youth Provincials Poster

(poster design by Jovana Randjelovic)

Schedule of Events:

  • Saturday April 2nd: Bouldering comp; 30 problems, scramble format (multiple attempts allowed), judged, top 5 problems count for final score.

o   12:00pm-12:45pm: Registration

o   12:45pm: Competitor’s briefing

o   1:00pm-5:00pm: Climbing

o   6:00pm: Awards for the Bouldering Comp.

  • Sunday April 3rd: Difficulty Comp; 20 routes, scramble format (multiple attempts allowed), judged, top 4 routes count for final score.

o   10am-10:45am: Registration

o   10:45am: Competitor’s briefing

o   11am-3pm: Climbing

o   3pm-4pm: Speed Climbing (exhibition event, 2 routes total time)

o   5:30pm: Awards for the day and also for the U20 Climbing Series Championships

Competition Rules & Notes:

  • CEC rules generally apply to both comps. (Go to for more information.)
  • If there is a tie in any of the single discipline competitions, the Judge(s) will “count back” to the next highest scored problem/route until the tie is broken.
  • Ribbons will be presented to every competitor.
  • The U20 Series winners will receive a prize and their name (or names) will be engraved on a Series Cup that they can display at their home gym until the 2012 U20 Provincial Championships. (Go to for more information about the U20 Climbing Series.)
  • On Saturday, during the Bouldering comp, there will be a competition zone marked with tape on the floor several feet in front of each wall area with comp problems. Only judges, the current competitor, and a spotter of their choice will be allowed within the competition zone.
  • On Sunday, during the Difficulty comp, there will be a competition zone marked with a rope barricade. Only competitors and official judges & belayers will be allowed within the competition zone. All parents and coaches must remain out of the competition zone.
  • Many of the volunteers (judges, belayers) are either parents of competitors or affiliated with a gym that has a team competing. Volunteers will be arranged such that no parent or gym employee judges or belays a competitor from their family/gym.


  • By email: (provide competitor’s name, gender, year of birth)
  • By phone: 416 398-7625
  • On site, day of competition
  • Note that CEC categories are based on year of birth, not the climber’s age on the day of the event.
  • Fee: $45 + HST for one day, $75 + HST for both days

Contact Information:

  • True North Climbing, 75 Carl Hall Rd, Unit 14, Toronto, Ontario M3K 2B9
  • Phone: 416 398-7625
  • Web site:
  • Those coming for the first time should refer to the map at
  • The TTC’s planned track maintenance on the Spadina subway line appears to have been rescheduled for later in April!
  • Everyone entering the climbing area must have a valid waiver form. This includes those observing the bouldering competition from the padded floor area on Saturday. Those under 18 must have their waiver signed & initialed by their parent. Details at:

Resources in the Neighbourhood:

  • Hotels

o   Montecassino Hotel, at Sheppard Ave & Chesswood Ave: 416 630-8100,

o   Holiday Inn Yorkdale: 416 789-5161

  • Banks

o   Royal Bank: Keele St & Sheppard Ave

o   CIBC: 1119 Lodestar Rd at Allen Rd

o   Bank of Nova Scotia: Finch & Dufferin

o   TD Bank: Bathurst St & Sheppard Ave

o   Bank of Montreal: Bathurst St & Sheppard Ave

  • Restaurants

o   Hangar Grill (north east corner of the Downsview Park Sports Centre building)

o   Food court at Merchants Market (40 Carl Hall Rd)

o   California Sandwiches (in plaza at Chesswood & Sheppard)

o   Boston Pizza: 180 Rimrock at Allen Rd

o   McDonald’s: 150 Rimrock at Allen Rd

o   Starbucks: Bathurst & Sheppard

o   Tim Horton’s: Keele & Wilson, Wilson Heights & Sheppard

  • Shopping: Yorkdale Mall is a short drive from the gym!
  • Other activities in the Downsview Park Sports Centre:

o   GrandPrix Kartways (electric go karts)

o   HoopDome (basketball courts)

o   The Rail Skatepark (skateboarding)

o   National Squash Academy (squash courts)

Details at

Mar 3

March Break Day Camp

We are now booking spots in our March Break Day Camp. You can read all the details about how the programme works here. The camp runs each day from March 14-18; single days are available as well as the whole week. Book your kids in now; we promise to tire them out for you each day, and they will have a blast while we do!

Mar 3

Tour de Bloc: Looking Back

The Tour de Bloc competition we hosted last Saturday was  a great success. Once again we had over 200 competitors, and the field for Open was strong. We’re very proud that we attracted a large enough field of Women’s Open competitors to send 8 women to finals, which is a rarity at local comps. Those who stayed for finals saw a great show, with the Sethna siblings (Elise & Eric) sweeping the top spots. I’ve thanked everyone I could think of in another post.

I want to share a few thoughts about the event, after a little rest, listening to feedback from customers, and discussions with the staff. This is in the interest of responding to some of the feedback, and looking for ways to make future events like this even better.

We could have done a better job communicating the policy of allowing only competitors and coaches in the climbing area.

We decided on this policy for a few good reasons, including increasing safety by reducing the number of people near climbers, and maintaining the integrity of the youth competition (yes, some parents have been known to assist their children in ways that transcend the rules). We had adopted a strict “no parents in the climbing area” policy for our Youth competition in January, and that worked very well. For the Tour de Bloc the policy was not universally well-received. Some parents felt their kids needed them with them for moral support. Some felt that at a bouldering comp they needed to spot their kids. Some were just upset that the policy wasn’t clearly explained before the comp, and the criteria for who was allowed in the climbing area could have been clearer. We had dozens of parents and friends trying to declare themselves as “coaches”.

For future comps we will do a better job of announcing the policy in advance and having clear criteria for who is allowed in the climbing area as coaches.

Why did we award cash prizes to the top 6 men but only the top 4 women?

I’ve heard that some felt this was unfair. We follow the CEC rules regarding how many men and women advance to finals, and how the prize money is distributed. Those rules clearly state in Section 2.8:

Prize Money:  Prize money will be equal for female and male competitors.  Places awarded will be as follows:

# Competitors Places Paid
36+ 6
26-35 5
16-25 4

Based on 66 Men and 23 Women Open competitors, we awarded prize money to the top 6 men and top 4 women, with equal payouts for the same placing in each category.

It’s tough to put on an event like this and make everyone happy.

To get the 68 problems (60 qualifiers and 8 finals problems) ready for the comp, we had to tarp off half the gym for a few days in advance, and then close the gym the day before the comp. This part was clearly announced well in advance, and almost everyone understood what to expect. We appreciate the understanding of our members who managed with half a gym for a few days.

Immediately after the comp (on Sunday) things were in a similar state, with many of the qualifier problems taken down to make room for finals, and many routes disrupted to make room for comp problems at the bottom of those walls. Some customers were disappointed with what was available on Sunday, and I understand that feeling.

To those who came on Sunday expecting to climb all the competition problems, why didn’t you come on Saturday and support the comp with your registration fee? Running a comp like this is not a profitable proposition (we lost a few thousand dollars overall by hosting the event), and that support would be appreciated.

At the same time we could have done a better job of setting expectations for those coming to the gym in the days after the comp. It takes a lot of work to restore the gym after the comp, both in terms of getting the qualifier problems back up (we do want people to be able to work those problems for a few weeks after the comp) and repairing roped routes that get disrupted by boulder problems. And the people who need to do that work are generally completely wiped out after the effort of setting for the comp. They need and deserve a break to recharge and recover. So it’s not reasonable to expect everything to be back to normal right away.

When we hosted the Tour de Bloc last year, it was our opening day event. That meant we had the luxury of setting the comp without having to keep the gym running at the same time. We were able to take more time to prepare for the comp, including preparations for restoring the gym quickly afterward.

Next time we’ll try to look for ways to somewhat reduce the post-comp impact. Possibilities include

  • Increasing the routesetting staff for the comp so that some of them have a little gas left in the tank to get started immediately after the comp on restoring routes & problems. This would increase the complexity of managing the routesetting for the comp.
  • Limiting which walls are used for comp problems. This would reduce the number of roped routes affected, at the cost of compressing the comp problems into a smaller space.

Perhaps there are other things we could do as well; ideas are welcome! Whatever we decide to do about this issue, we will be clearer to customers about what to expect right after the comp.

Events like the Tour de Bloc are important to us, as part of building and supporting the climbing community. We know they can be disruptive, but we feel it’s worth it overall.

Feb 27

Tour de Bloc “Thank You”s

I’ll post a general review of the comp when I’ve had a little more rest, but right now I want to thank a lot of people who made yesterday’s Tour de Bloc bouldering competition such a success. I’m almost certainly forgetting some people (and I apologize for that, and will add folks to this list as I remember!), but for starters:

  • All the volunteers who pitched in time, and in some cases missed out on seeing important parts of the competition. This includes:
    • Judges: Paul Cooper, Tim Ng, Gareth Ryan, Bonnie de Brujn, Head Youth Judge Tyler Pascuzzo and Head Judge Clint Searle
    • Timekeeper Zenia Tsui
    • Isolation Judge Christine Ma
    • Jack of all trades Gerald Situ (routesetting support, iso judge, traffic cop, …)
    • Jill of all trades Michelle Day (lighting, care & feeding of the routesetters and lots of other help)
    • All those who helped tally the scores: Lisa, Bonnie, Gerald, Jovana
    • The DJs: Adam Salsberg & Tyler
  • The competitors, including the kids who climbed in the Youth categories, the adults who competed in Recreational and experienced (some for the first time), and the very deep, strong field of Open competitors. I’m very proud that we had enough women in Open to send 8 women to finals (the first time I have seen that at a local comp), and it was good to see the women have to work hard to qualify for finals. Overall almost half of our finalists were among those who competed in finals at Nationals last May. Having such a talented pool of competitors show up for our little local comp is a key part of why last night’s final round was such a good show!
  • Laura Moore, who helped out without being asked when her first-aid skills were needed. While all of our regular staff have first aid training, it was nice to have a nurse there to help out.
  • Luigi Montilla, who runs the Tour de Bloc season, and has established the Tour as the premier Canadian bouldering event.
  • Jovana Randjelovic, who designed the poster for the comp:

  • Zenia Tsui, who designed the sweet comp T shirt:

  • Our sponsors, who provided raffle prizes and in some cases holds used for the comp. Tour sponsors include:
    • Mountain Equipment Co-op
    • Outdoor Research
    • Gripped Magazine
    • Evolv
    • Friction
    • Climb-It
    • Delire
    • Blurr
    • Metolius

and these additional sponsors added prizes:

    • Red Pine Equipment
    • Eldorado Climbing Walls
    • Teknik
    • Toronto Roller Derby
    • True North Climbing
  • Dan Iaboni and his gang from The Monkey Vault, who performed the parkour half time show.
  • The True North staff who worked incredibly hard all week preparing for the comp:
    • Shaun Hunter
    • Dustin Kerr
    • Max Lefevre
    • Jonny Briggs
    • Jovana Randjelovic
    • Gerald Situ
    • and especially Clint Searle and Dustin Curtis, who led the charge
Feb 26

Tour de Bloc: Final Results

The Sethna family must be pround tonight, as they swept both finals categories!

Final order of finish after Open finals:

Women’s Open:

Elise Sethna
Stacey Weldon
Erin Ford-Zieleniewski
Marine Cusa
Iyma Lamarche
Regan Kennedy
Holly Reid
Sasha Vince

Men’s Open:

Eric Sethna
Ayo Sopeju
Mark Button
Florent Balsez
John Bowles
Max Dugal
Ali Morbi
Feb 26

Tour de Bloc Results: Open Qualifiers

Results after Open Qualifiers. Top 8 men and top 8 women advance to finals!

Men’s Open:

Mark Button
Eric Sethna
Florent Balsez
John Bowles
Ayo Sopeju
Max Dugal
Ali Morbi
Mat Moreau
Tony Berlier
Keith Mackay
Jamie Stuart
Nick Collins
Jake Tiger
Evan Waugh
Carmen Ing
Omar El Akkad
Anthony Tellez
Andreas Lerch
Will Johnson
Colin Lipowitz
Bill Martin
Dave Zieleniewski
Jason Primeau
Max Summerlee
Thomas Chalopin
Matthew Sapiecha
Timothy Ng
Bruce Carlson
Siu Cheong
Daniel Wojcik
Andrew McBurney
XingXing Xing
Thomas Veitch
Rockson Chang
David Donaldson
Jonathan Koscik
Corey Mabbutt
Antoine Bouchard
Mike Alejandro
Miguel Jette
Scott Murray
Justin Dwyer
Tandy Malmstrom
Philip Buchanan
Andrew thomas
Dylan Lerch
Timothy Hurst
Peter Holdsworth
Adrian Murray
Christopher Nicdao
Patrick Eisenberg
Chris Vandenende
Kevin Pawliw
Pablo Orosco
David McCutcheon
Blair Niles
Kevin R Chan
Charles Croy
Bensan Chong
Grant Girouard
Jonathan de Vries
Danny de Koning
Kenneth Law
Warren Douglas
Aryan Goharzad
Jean-Philippe Grenier
Josh Tuffin
Kevin Morawski
Richard Hanna

Women’s Open:

Elise Sethna
Stacey Weldon
Iyma Lamarche
Erin Ford-Zieleniewski
Marine Cusa
Holly Reid
Sasha Vince
Regan Kennedy
Kaska Kowalska
Jany  Mitges
Eve Switzer
Lindzie O’Reilly
Su En Neo
Adrianne Gore
Stephanie Benard
Jen Novakovich
Julia cetnar
Tatiana Chiesa
Chloe Kerzner
Robyn Bertram
Natalie Wong
Melissa Raquid
Cindy Williams
Katie Demois
Celia Lee
Feb 26

Tour de Bloc results: Morning Session

Youth Boys D (11 & Under):
Zach Richardson
Ben Whattam
Mitchell Haight
Sam Bonnell
Maceo Mercey
Dawson Shepherd

Youth Boys C (12/13):
William Bayly
Seth Brown
Steven Bollinger

Youth Boys B (14/15):
Chris Clark
Benjamin Attal
Nico Macias
Paul Gann
David McGowan
Ryan Macpherson

Youth Boys A (16/17):
Tadek Baird
Matthew Southon
Dan Perozzo
Joe Fincham

Youth Boys Junior (18/19):
Eric Delorme

Youth Girls D (11 & Under):
Courtney Belleau
Serina Whittaker
Ellary Hofer
Dana Monteith
Poet Bernard
Lana Pawczuk
Emily Belleau
Alexa Marks
Maeve Stemp
Kate Bonnell

Youth Girls C (12/13):
Felicia Nemet
Justine McCarney
Mika Mercey
Katrina Whittaker-Lee
Michelle Wilson

Youth Girls B (14/15):
Charle Prosser
Xiu Timmins
Esti Tweg
Steph Mcintosh
Eden Morris
Youth Girls A (16/17):
Laura Marks
Nicole Bollinger
Stephanie Traina
Sara Mitchell

Men’s Recreational:
Konstantin Dzjubei
Matt Dil
Neel Parikh
Giancarlo Giorno
Bruce Darling
Lap Ho
Greg Wheeler
Derek Hartley
Ryan Deska
Alexy Cherkashov
Micheal Winger
Justin Chu
Adam Metz
Steve Olsthoorn
Randy Dodson
Robert Whittaker
Keith Colterman
Jared Bishop
Ken Briggs
Patrick Duff
Jeff Eades
Manny Almeida

Women’s Recreational:
Bonnie Lee
Laura Moore
Laura Forrester
Jessica Phillips
Emma Switzer
Mandy Lam
Sarah Tarnowsky

Men’s Experienced:
Daren Bernier
Mike Tran
Yuri Doubov
Marius Hexan
David Himelfarb
Jake Ford
William Lerch
Pete Rochacewich
Corey Kelly
Malo Bourgon
Doug Grzetic
Abhishek Talapatra
Stephen Ling
Neil Abe
Kevin Chan
Tim Beckner
Matthew Lausch
Dan Iaboni
David Smith
Jeff Eades
Mike Jackson
Alex Vermeer
Max Stussi
Dave Shepherd
Kevin Arcand
Janek Armstronge
Alex Aylwin
Paul Cooper
Tre Nguyen
David Albert-Lebrun
Adam Wong
Jaaved Singh
Gen Okita
Stan Silantev

Women’s Experienced:
Adrianna Pirko
Dina Harrow
Zenia Tsui
Amy Rand
Laurie Joyce

Feb 16

Climbing is for Everyone

Since we opened True North Climbing last March, one of our key messages is that climbing is for everyone. We have experienced climbers, new climbers, men and women, kids and seniors coming into the gym each week. I like to challenge the parents who are dropping off their kids to give it a try, and when they laugh at the idea, I tell them about my 87-year old mother, who made it to the top of one of the walls. As a large gym, we have enough space to maintain lots of easy routes and problems for kids and beginners, as well as lots of really tough ones, for some of the strongest kids and adults. So we really believe that anyone can come give climbing a try and succeed at whatever level they start at.

A few weeks ago, a young man came to climb who underscored this message. Ka (pronounced “kie”) Li is a blind teenager who came in with a group of classmates from Thornlea Secondary School. He was accompanied by FedEx, his guide dog – the first dog to visit True North Climbing. FedEx helps Ka make his way around the gym between climbs, and lies under a chair when Ka is climbing. He remains calm as Ka goes up the wall, though Ka says he occasionally gets curious and comes out from under the chair to see what’s going on.

(note FedEx under the chair at the bottom of photo!)

While Ka has a little vision that shows him some light and shadows, and outlines of objects very close to him, he relies on his other senses and non-visual techniques to be independent. His classmates also provide beta to him from the ground, helping him know where the next hold is for the route he is climbing. He has been climbing since he was 7, when his mother found a rock climbing camp where he spent a week. Far from being overprotective, his parents wanted him to be active and fit, and encouraged him to try different sports.

I was not really surprised to see a blind climber in the gym; I’ve done blindfolded climbing myself, and we often offer that as an exercise with our kids and corporate groups. I watched Ka climb a few 5.9 routes the last time he was here, and was impressed by his strength, which gives him the time he needs to search out the next hold. Apart from that, there was little to distinguish him from the other climbers in the gym, and that’s how he wants it. Ka climbs for the same reasons as anyone else, with the additional motivation to exercise his independence:

Even though it is nice to have someone tell me where the holds are, I find that I can still complete a route without any verbal directions and that to me, is very important because it is another way to increase my independence. Also, it’s a sport that challenges you mentally and physically and I get a sense of satisfaction when I complete a route. The challenge, the sense of satisfaction and the independence/confidence that I gain when climbing, are a few of the reasons that attract me to this sport.

We asked Ka about his participation in climbing competitions:

I’ve participated in a few climbing competitions and they were very fun. Points were awarded to people depending on how far they could climb. I remember a year where all the walls had several different routes crossing over each other. This made it difficult for me to determine which holds I could use so they allowed somebody to tell me where they were. The year after, they decided to change things by making sure none of the routes crossed each other which meant that no one could tell me where the holds were. I had to search them out myself. There were advantages and disadvantages to both methods of setting up the routes but a common problem was the fact that I couldn’t plan out my moves before I climbed. I recently read online that in Japan, there are rock climbing competitions for the blind. Their solution to the problem of not being able to plan out the moves ahead is to give the competitors a 3D model of the route.

Are there other things Ka does that might surprise people?

Over the years, people have found out that I can do anything a sighted person can do but their amazement comes from seeing me doing those tasks successfully without sight. People have jokingly compared me to Superman but I usually tell them that they can do it too. They just have to have an open mind and learn how to use their other senses to the fullest. I travel independently with a cane/guide dog, I’ve participated in other sports such as swimming and skiing and I am into technology and drumming. Although those things may sound impressive, anyone can do them if they have the knowledge and the belief that anything is possible.

Anything else you want to say about your experiences climbing?

Even though I was interested in climbing at a young age, my interest grew when I read about Erik Weihenmayer and his accomplishments. His story is very inspirational and he clearly demonstrates to the world that the sky is the limit. He’s the only blind person in history to have reached the summit of Mount Everest.

[You can learn more about Erik Weihenmayer from his web site:]

Thanks to Taylor Ber for the photos in this post.

Feb 16

Feb 26: Tour de Bloc Bouldering Competition

(poster design by Jovana Randjelovic)

It’s almost time for another Tour de Bloc bouldering competition, and we are getting very excited. We’re hoping to match or beat last year’s turnout (218 competitors and another hundred or more spectators). You can register for the comp at the Tour de Bloc registration page (unfortunately the deadline to qualify for a free comp T shirt has passed now). And here are the details of the day’s schedule.

This is a major event that covers many parts of the climbing community, from the kids who compete in the Youth categories, to the casual climber who has fun in Recreational, to some of the best climbers from across the country who will compete in Open for entry to the finals, cash prizes, and CEC points that will help determine the makeup of our national climbing team. Dustin Curtis and his routesetting team will dish up a wide selection of fun and challenging bouldering problems, and we’re planning another half-time show that should be pretty cool.

Those planning to come to the gym in the days leading up to the comp should be aware that we’ll be working hard to prepare for it, and that means some disruptions:

  • The north half of the gym (including the main bouldering wall) will be closed Tuesday February 22nd through Thursday February 24th. The south half will remain open these 3 days, although the small traverse wall and the stalactite will get covered by tarps on Thursday the 24th.
  • The entire facility will be closed on Friday February 25th.
  • On Saturday February 26th the entire facility will be dedicated to the competition. No climbing will be available other than by competitors on that day.

If you have not attended a bouldering competition before, be sure to check this out, especially the Open finals in the evening. And if you think competitions are only for elite climbers, think again! There will be a huge number of climbers in the Recreational categories coming out to have fun climbing as hard as they can. Grab a friend and a scorecard and join in on the fun.

Feb 1

A United Appeal to the TTC from Businesses of the Downsview Park Sports Centre

February 2, 2011

The businesses of the Downsview Park Sports Centre

Mayor Rob Ford
TTC Chair Karen Stintz
Ward 9 Councilor Maria Augimeri
All members of the TTC Board

Proposed reduction of service on TTC bus route 101 (September through May)

Dear Elected Representatives,

We are writing you as a group to appeal for you to do whatever is humanly possible to maintain the route 101 bus service to Downsview Park. By speaking with one voice, we aim to inform you of the importance of this service to our businesses, our employees, our customers, and the Downsview Park Community.

We represent 11 diverse sports-related businesses operating under one roof in the historic former hangar building that is the Downsview Park Sports Centre. Collectively we represent not only our individual businesses, but the hundreds of employees whose jobs we created, and the thousand or so customers who come through our doors each day (plus the 500-1,000 fans who typically attend a Roller Derby bout). Many of these employees and customers rely on route 101 to reach us each day. Beyond the routine traffic, we also host numerous special events, such as competitions and tournaments that bring additional large numbers of people to the park on specific days.

We understand that route 101 is among those identified for service cuts due to a low average number of riders per hour. It’s true that there are times when this bus is far from full, but we hope to show you that its importance goes far beyond average ridership numbers.

For most of our businesses, our peak business hours are during evenings and weekends. During those times many people are relying on the service, while at other times very few are using it. The significant exception to this is the PEAC School for Elite Athletes, whose peak usage hours coincide with the start and end of the school day. Averaging this out to a number of riders per hour dilutes the importance of the service to our customers.

While the Downsview Park Sports Centre has been in operation for several years, 5 of our 11 businesses are new within the past 2 years, and 3 of those have been operating for less than a full year. These are growing businesses, and as they grow, ridership will grow as well. We’re creating jobs, along with building a larger community of active people who take part in our diverse collection of sports. The bus service is needed to nourish that growth.

The impact on our customers who rely on route 101 if service is eliminated would be harsh. The walk from the main park entrance on Sheppard Avenue (the nearest remaining bus stop) is over a kilometer to most of our doors. At night (when much of our business is done), that walk is through an inactive area that is not well-lit. This presents a safety concern for those who would have to walk this distance. And cutting weekday service during the colder, darker months makes the least sense of all, as that is when the long walk will be the most arduous and intimidating. We are very concerned that many of those who currently rely on route 101 would stop coming to the Downsview Park Sports Centre and find more convenient activities, which would seriously affect our businesses, and our ability to grow and continue to create jobs.

Even with the latest adjustment that would retain weekend service, of all the service cuts under consideration, this is the only route where service would be completely eliminated, 5 days out of 7, 9 months of the year. We hope that makes this proposed cut stand out as harsher than the others, and more worthy of reconsideration. But if service cuts are absolutely required on this route, please consider alternatives. While the outdoor fields are active in summer, the winter hours are the busy time for most of our businesses, and the walk from Sheppard Avenue is less onerous during warmer weather. Thus a summer reduction would be slightly less painful than a winter one for most of us. And for most of our customers the service is most needed during evenings. Reducing service early on weekdays would have less impact.

We hope this letter has helped you to better understand how critical this bus service is to the businesses of the Downsview Park Sports Centre, and the community we serve. And beyond our sports-focused businesses, there are more than 20 other businesses also operating within Downsview Park that are undoubtedly affected in similar ways.


Jamie Hollins, President
Athletic Training Professionals

Anthony Romeo, General Manager
GrandPrix Kartways

Ted Badner, President
Glen Grunwald, Chairman

Jonathan Power, Director of Squash
Jamie Nichols, General Manager
National Squash Academy

William Mok, Owner
The Rail Skatepark and School

Jennifer Watson, President
Toronto Roller Derby League

Decker Ladouceur, Director of Operations
Toronto School of Circus Arts

John Gross, Owner
True North Climbing

Also note that these other businesses also operate out of the Downsview Park Sports Centre:

Defcon Paintball
The Hangar
PEAC School for Elite Athletes

Jan 31

TTC Backs Down a Bit, But Service Cuts Still Loom

The latest TTC proposal, to be presented at the Feb 2nd Commission meeting, restores some of the services that were proposed to be cut. In the specific case of the Route 101 cuts, they are now proposing to keep Saturday and Sunday service, but the weekday service would still be eliminated from September through May.

While this is better than the initial proposal, it still means that many of our staff and customers would have a much harder time getting here 5 days out of 7, during the coldest and darkest 9 months of the year. For all the reasons that we initially proposed the cuts, we still feel strongly that this is a move in the wrong direction.

Please continue to speak up to oppose the reduction of this critical service. We have made some progress, but the current proposal will still hit us hard.

Details of the revised proposal can be found here:

Jan 30

Weekend Subway Closures in Feb/Mar/April

Thanks to our friends and neighbours at the Toronto Roller Derby League for alerting us of some upcoming track maintenance that will affect those taking TTC to the gym on eight weekends over the next few months. The Spadina line will be shut down between Wilson and Downsview stations, with buses running between them instead. Those taking TTC to the gym should allow extra time on these days.

Jan 25

Help The Rock Oasis Fight The Premature Demolition Of Their Building

As many of you have probably heard, the Rock Oasis (one of the three pioneering climbing gyms in Toronto) is facing a serious threat. Their building is slated for demolition to make way for condos, and the demolition date has been moved up on them. They are now faced with having to shut down their gym before they have enough time to build the new replacement facility that owner Karen McGilvray has planned.

You can read more about this at the web site they have set up to spread the word about this crisis:

I urge everyone in the climbing community to speak up, write a letter to Councilor Vaughan, and help the Rock Oasis win a reprieve that will allow them to keep operating until they can have a smooth transition to their new facility.

Jan 22

Youth Competition Results

Here are the results of today’s Youth Climbing Competition at True North Climbing:

Junior Boys

  1. Orosco Ruiz, Pablo Alejandro    1240
  2. Robinovitch, Leo                1095

Category A Boys

  1. Gilroy, Tyler      1575
  2. Baird, Tadek       1390
  3. Brown, Hunter      1160

Category A Girls

  1. Lamarche, Iyma      1770
  2. Traina, Stephanie    940
  3. Kay, Brianne         840
  4. Marks, Laura         640

Category B Boys

  1. Richard, Anthony    1420
  2. Attal, Benjamin     1200
  3. MacPherson, Ryan    1170
  4. Clark, Chris         660

Category B Girls

  1. Graham, Pia           1600
  2. Prosser, Charle       1295
  3. Tweg, Esti            1040
  4. Timmins, Xiu           880

Category C Boys

  1. Bayly, Willem         1535
  2. Brown, Seth           1470
  3. Moreno-Tihane, Emi    1055

Category C Girls

  1. Vince, Beth                 1680
  2. Whitaker-Lee, Katrina       1585
  3. Clarke Robinson, Rebekah    1150
  4. McCarney, Justine           1085
  5. Mercey, Mika                1050
  6. Chee, Paulette               700

Category D Boys

  1. Richardson, Zach   1480
  2. Hebb, Spencer      1410
  3. Whattam, Ben       1195
  4. Bonnell, Sam       1100
  5. Haight, Mitchell   1080

Category D Girls

  1. Belleau, Courtney            1555
  2. Belleau, Emily               1300
  3. Marks, Alexa                 1055
  4. Lamarche-Dykeman, Estella    1045
  5. Monteith, Dana               1015
  6. Stemp, Maeve                  920
  7. Bernard, Poet                 875
  8. Bonnell, Kate                 865
  9. Lumsden, Jennifer             720
  10. Pilote, Sophie                660 (tie)
  11. Stuart, Audrey                660 (tie)
  12. Silver, Maya                  520
Jan 11

Bus Service to Downsview Park Threatened; Speak Up Today!

We learned yesterday that the TTC is proposing to eliminate the bus route (#101) that serves all the businesses of Downsview Park from September through May of each year, reducing it to summer-only service. This Toronto Star article describes the proposed changes in detail. This Globe and Mail article conveys how this could affect our business, including an interview with gym owner John Gross.

This elimination of bus service would make it considerably harder for many of our customers to get to us, and would have a profound impact on our business. And at a time when our business is growing, and other new businesses are opening in the Downsview Park Sports Centre, the bus service is more important than ever, and ridership is sure to grow.

We need your help to speak up and help prevent this decision from going through.

Please help us try to prevent the cancellation of this critical route by contacting TTC Chair Karen Stintz, Mayor Rob Ford, and Councillor Maria Augimeri (Ward 9, covers Downsview Park).

To contact TTC Chair Karen Stintz: 416-392-4090 or
To contact (the office of) Mayor Rob Ford: 416-397-2489 or
To contact Ward 9 Councillor Maria Augimeri: 416-392-4021 or

And there are a few online petitions you can add your name to:

Jan 7

January 22nd Youth Competition

We’re holding our first Youth climbing competition in about 2 weeks: Saturday, January 22nd. All of our previous comps have been bouldering comps, but this will be a roped comp, with 20 routes set specifically for the kids. The age categories run from Under 11 (and we expect some kids much younger than 11!) to Junior, which is 18/19 year olds.

We encourage all young climbers to consider registering for this comp. It will be a fun day of climbing, and there will be some prizes given away. Don’t let the word “competition” scare you off! It will be fun, and everyone will be supporting each other. Those who are interested in attending should have a close look at the previous post to this blog, which contains a lot of the details of interest to participants.

For our members and regular customers, this competition will have an impact that you should be aware of. We’ll be using all of the ropes in the south-west quarter of the gym (the area containing the stalactite and all the surrounding walls, including the “J” and the west side of the archway). This area will be closed to all climbers starting Wednesday January 19th while we do the routesetting for the comp, and then Saturday the 22nd from 10 until about 3pm for the competition itself. And expect that Saturday to be hectic, with dozens of young competitors working those routes.

We need volunteers to help make this event a success! Please contact us at if you can help with any of the following:

  • belaying: we need both top-rope and lead belayers (preferably certified with a tube device)
  • judging: one judge per route
  • registration/scoring/runners: general help
Jan 7

Jan 22nd Youth Comp: Information for Competitors

Our first Youth competition is just over 2 weeks away, and we want to make sure all potential participants have all the information they need:

  • The comp will be on Saturday January 22nd. Registration/check-in starts at 10am. Climbing will go from approximately 10:30am to 2:30 pm. The results will be announced and awards presented starting at 3pm.
  • There are 10 categories, 5 each for boys and girls:
    • D Category: Under 11: for those born in 2000 or later
    • C Category (12/13) for those born in 1998 or 1999
    • B Category (14/15) for those born in 1996 or 1997
    • A Category (16/17) for those born in 1994 or 1995
    • Junior (18/19) for those born in 1992 or 1993

Please be sure to specify the correct category when registering!

  • This is a roped competition, with 20 routes available in redpoint format. That means competitors are allowed multiple attempts on a route, with fewer points awarded for completing the route on the second or later attempts. Each competitor’s top 4 routes will be used to determine their final score. Those in the Junior and A or B categories (turning 14 or older this year) are expected to climb on lead (and must do so in order for their points to be recognized by the CEC). Lead tests will be done before the competition for those who are not already lead certified at True North Climbing. We encourage those who can to come in a week or more before the comp to complete their lead test (there is no charge for the test). Those under 14 climb on top-rope. Complete rules are available on the CEC web site, and there will be a technical meeting with the head judge before climbing begins to ensure all competitors are clear on how the comp will be conducted.
  • The cost to register is $30 + HST (total: $33.90, by cash, credit card or debit card). You may pay the fee when registering in advance, or when checking in the day of the comp, but doing so in advance will help keep things moving smoothly the day of the comp! Registration can be done by telephone (416 398-ROCK), email ( or in person at the gym. You will need to provide the following information when registering:
    • Competitor’s name
    • Competitor’s birth date (to determine the category)
    • CEC membership number (if available; there is a one-week grace period for those registering for their first competition)
    • Home Gym (if applicable)
  • If this is the competitor’s first visit to True North Climbing, they’ll need a waiver form completed before entering the climbing area. Competitors 18 or older can fill out their own Adult waiver form; those under 18 will need a Minor Waiver Form completed and initialed in 4 places and signed by their parent. Other parents or team coaches may not sign a minor’s waiver in place of the child’s parent. Waiver forms are also required for any family members or friends who wish to enter the climbing area to watch & support a competitor. The waiver forms are available for download here.
Jan 4

We’ve Changed Our Tune(s)

Some of you may have noticed a change in the music being played at the gym. Until the end of November we used a music service (Max Music) that offered a certain selection of tracks that we could build a play list from. We paid them a fee each month, which included the license fees that must be paid in order to legally play music in a business establishment.

In late November we got word that max Music was ending their service. Apparently they were unable to secure the rights to enough music to continue, and so decided to withdraw from the business. They suggested we contact Muzak!

Instead we have obtained a more general license from SOCAN (the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada) that allows us to play any music we like in the gym (as long as that music was not illegally downloaded or otherwise pirated). Coming from the software industry, it’s important to me to be sure that we are obeying the law as far as how we use music and software, as well as knowing that the artists are getting something out of it, so I wanted to be sure that we’re properly covered in terms of licensing rights.

So now we are free to play any legitimate music source in the gym, including internet radio and iPods/mp3 players. We have mostly been using Groove Shark as our music source, building play lists from their very extensive selection of tracks. We’re still getting the hang of this, but mostly it seems to be working well, and I’ve heard several comments from customers that they’re happy with the change.

Dec 7

Holiday Hours

We’ll be keeping different hours over the holiday season, trying to match what our customers will be doing, and also trying to be considerate of our staff.

We’ll open earlier (at noon) each weekday during the 2-week Christmas break.  Our Winter Day camp will also be running those weeks, but we think it’s a good idea to let those kids have the gym to themselves in the mornings.

We’re closing early (at 10pm) on Wednesday December 22nd for our staff holiday party. And we’ll remain open, but with shorter hours (noon-6pm) on Christmas and New Year’s Eve & Day. Some of our services (instruction and belay service) may be in limited supply on those days as well. The full details are spelled out at

We hope to see you all over the holiday season. Climbing is a great way to work out that holiday stress!

Dec 6

Winter Camp and Youth Programmes

Here’s an update on two of our popular programmes for kids this winter season:

Winter Camp:

We will run two weeks of day camp during the school break: Dec 20-24 and Dec 27-31. Like our Summer Day Camp, this programme will keep your kids busy climbing much of the day, with arts & crafts and other games and activities when their arms get tired (which does not happen as quickly as you might expect!). In addition to the full week option, you can send your kids for half days all week, or single days on the days you choose. Full details and rates are available at Please book early so we can schedule enough staff and make sure we have room for your child.

Youth Programmes:

We started our after school and weekend youth programmes in September, and the feedback so far has been very strongly positive. These 8-week (Beginner level) and 10-week (Intermediate/Advanced) programmes build climbing and safety skills, provide a challenging and fun activity, and qualify for the federal Child Fitness Tax Credit. We are booking new sessions now, so call us or email us now to reserve a spot for your kid(s). Programmes are running on Sunday and Monday afternoons & evenings; we will start Wednesday sessions as well given enough enrollment. Full details are available at:

Dec 3

Special Price on Intro Lesson Package until Dec 5th!

It’s holiday shopping season, and we have a way to help. Today through Sunday, our Introductory Lesson Package is available at less than half the usual price on This includes the following:

  • The 1-hour Introductory lesson, which teaches how to put on the harness, tie into the climbing rope with the approved safety knots, and operate the Grigri to safely belay the climber
  • Day pass for the day of the lesson (climb as long as you like after the lesson)
  • Rental of climbing shoes and harness
  • A 2-week membership to the gym. The 2 weeks does not begin until the next visit to the gym after the Introductory lesson, and also includes shoe & harness rental.

The Introductory lesson package normally goes for $45 (already a great deal). Today through Sunday you can pick it up for $22 from DealTicker. (Note: HST is extra; that $2.86 will be collected when the DealTicker voucher is redeemed.)

You can buy up to two of these deals for yourself, and as many as you like for friends. You also have the option to skip the lesson and buy this deal purely for the membership value: 2 of them give you 4 weeks of membership with rentals for $44 + tax, which is a sweet deal if you don’t own your own equipment, and even less than our usual prepaid monthly membership rate!

Note this deal is available only through, and only for these 72 hours!

Nov 29

REEL Rock was Reel fun!

Saturday night was our first movie night in the gym, and it was a blast. We sold 193 tickets for the REEL Rock Film Tour, 33 of them to anxious folks lined up at the door who didn’t know for sure if they would get in! As we did for our inaugural Tour de Bloc bouldering competition back in March, we removed the slacklines & posts to create a large open viewing area on the north side of the gym. It was fun to see people watching the movies from atop the bouldering walls. Everything ran smoothly, and we figured out our “theatre capacity” (200). We will look for more opportunities to put on events like this.  Here are a few shots of the gym in movie mode.

Photo: Natalie Wong

Photo: Rio Penabella

Photo: Natalie Wong

Nov 24

Advance Tickets Sold Out for Reel Rock Film Tour

We cut off advance ticket sales Tuesday evening, when we reached 160 tickets sold. That is my (probably conservative) estimate of how many people can sit quite comfortably and watch the movies. We are bringing in a big screen (14′ x 10′) for the show, and it looks great. We had a staff screening a week and a half ago to make sure everything works smoothly. I measured my staff on the floor and extrapolated across the parts of the gym with a good view of the screen, then estimated how many more might sit atop the bouldering walls or on chairs at the back.

We may well sell more tickets at the door, after we get most people settled and assess how much more room there may be. But because this is our first movie night in the gym, I prefer to err on the side of selling too few tickets than overcrowding and making people uncomfortable.

I think we’re going to have a really fun night on Saturday, and we are looking forward to it.

PS: We’re expecting a busy day of climbing before the films, as many people are coming in from out of town. If you are coming to the gym for the first time and will want a lead test, it would be helpful if you let us know in advance. We’ll do our best to keep up!

Nov 24

Welcome To Our New Web Site!

After several weeks of hard work, we’re proud to launch our new and much improved web site. We’ve been working with Pixel Thought Media, and are very happy with the new site they have helped us build. The improvements include:

  • More professional and attractive design of the site throughout, with better use of the screen real estate
  • Integration of this blog into the main site (all previous posts have been carried over)
  • Addition of an event calendar, to keep track of everything that’s going on in the gym
  • Sidebars to provide easy access to recent blog posts and upcoming calendar events from throughout the site
  • An F.A.Q. to hopefully answer many of the questions that new visitors to the site may have
  • Full details of all the activities and programmes we offer, and lots of other new content
  • A Search box and Site Map to help you find what you’re looking for
  • Better integration of photos & videos of the gym, as well as our monthly newsletter: True Notes

We hope you enjoy the new site, and more importantly that it provides the information you are looking for in a way that works for you. Please let us know what you think.

Nov 8

New Web Site Coming Soon

I set up the original web site for True North Climbing over a year ago, just after incorporating the company and long before we started building the joint. It was a simple, minimalist site that I was able to set up and run myself, and it served its purpose for a while. It’s time now to replace that with a more complete and professional website that really reflects what our gym is like.

Over the past couple of months I’ve been working with the folks at PixelThoughtMedia designing a new web site that is more visually appealing, more well-structured, and more complete. We’re in the final stages of beta-testing it, and it should be ready to launch within the next week or so. The new site will include more photos of the gym, a deeper menu structure to keep the content in more easily-digested chunks and an FAQ to help those new to climbing figure out how things work. There will be an event calendar integrated into it, making it easier to learn about coming attractions, group events and lessons. And this blog will be folded into the new site as a WordPress blog, so that it will look a feel more like it belongs with the web site.

So stay tuned for the launch of the new site in the coming days. We’re excited to share it with you!

Nov 4

BullFrog Power Is Bringing Their Friends To The Gym!

The November issue of e-Buzz, the newsletter from Bullfrog Power, arrived in my Inbox today, and True North Climbing is in it! Bullfrog is bringing a group of their customers to our gym on November 28th, footing the bill for Introductory Lessons and lunch! We’re proud to be a Bullfrog Power customer, and excited that they’re helping to share our love of climbing with their community. Look here for full details, and if you know someone who might be interested, note that this is limited to the first 60 people who sign up.

This is just one example of the groups we welcome to the gym. In addition to hosting birthday parties, True North Climbing is a great place for group outings for your team (hockey, soccer, roller derby or whatever your second-favourite sport is!), school group or corporate group. We will provide the instructors (for those 13 or older) or belayers (for younger kids), and make sure everyone has a blast. Call us or talk to someone at the desk for the details.

Oct 15

Date Announced for Reel Rock Film Tour

Last month we announced that we will be the host for the Toronto stop of the Reel Rock Film Tour this season. Now we’re ready to tell you when!

The show will be Saturday evening, November 27th. We will close the gym early that night (at 8pm), and take a half hour or so to switch things over for the screening. The slacklines will come down, and the screen will go up. We’ll reopen under separate admission, with showtime at 9:00 pm. The price will be $10 for members of True North Climbing and $12 for others. The 5 films run about 90 minutes in total.

And this may seem strange, but we will require a waiver for all those who attend (for those under 18 the Minor waiver Form must be initialed & signed by a parent). The reason is that we intend to let people watch the films from the top of the top-out bouldering wall and the natural boulder. if you have been to our gym before you should already have a waiver on file.

We are very excited and proud to host this event, and hope you’ll all join us for what promises to be a fun evening of cool climbing films. Check out the trailer!

Sep 30

What The Heck Is Going on?

I thought it was time to put up a post to go over what has been going on the past week. This is gathering up a lot of what we have been putting up a bit at a time on Facebook, while filling in some of the gaps.

Here’s the story:

  • On Friday evening September 24th, one of the sprinkler heads mounted on the surface of our bouldering wall went off, sending a lot of water into the gym. While no one was hurt, a couple of women who were in the immediate vicinity were very surprised (and upset) by what happened.
  • It took about half an hour for the fire department and the landlord to get the water shut off. By then the entire north half of the gym was thoroughly soaked. The water found its way behind the walls, and intruded several feet into the south half of the gym as well.
  • Our landlord immediately called in a restoration company on our behalf. Strone Restoration is very experienced in cleaning up after these kinds of incidents, and they got to work very quickly. Within a few hours all the padding from the north half of the gym had been lifted and brought to a vacant unit across the hall, where they set up heavy duty drying equipment. The gym got filled with fans and dehumidifiers to dry the concrete and climbing walls, while the spare unit became a giant dehumidifier, with a trailer outside blowing in warm dry air, and pulling out the damp air.
  • As the open cell foam dried, each piece was disinfected and deodorized. The carpet-bonded foam (the blue and red top layer) was steam cleaned. The red modular pad covers from the bouldering area were sent out to be cleaned.
  • As the restoration company released pieces of padding to us after testing them for dryness (using a moisture meter that probed deeply into each piece of foam), we began to reassemble the enormous jigsaw puzzle of foam. We had labeled each piece before it was lifted Friday night, and drawn a map charting where each section belonged. The reassembly was actually pretty easy. Think of a 200-300 piece jigsaw puzzle, only each piece is about 5′ x 7′ x 4.75″. This part was kind of fun (if there can be fun in the middle of a nightmare).
  • We were pretty close to having the gym reassembled and ready to open when we got the results of the environmental test on Wednesday evening September 29th (see below). That shut things down until we could figure out the next step.
  • A second environmental test was done Thursday morning September 30th. The results from that test came in on Saturday October 2nd. The bacteria levels had dropped enough that the environmental consultant recommended a second steam cleaning of the blue carpet would get things clean enough for us to reopen the gym.

Some questions you may have:

Q: Why were there sprinkler heads on the climbing wall surface?
A: The National Fire Code requires sprinkler coverage in areas where an overhang blocks 4′ or more of the area beneath the main sprinkler system. To satisfy this, our architect’s engineers designed 8 sprinkler heads to be installed into the climbing wall surface: 6 in the bouldering area and 2 on the steep face of the lead cave.

Q: Why did the sprinkler go off?
A: We believe a climber made contact with the sprinkler head, causing it to go off. Those sprinkler heads were supposed to be “tamper-proof”, but apparently they are not. It now appears that it was a mistake to install this kind of sprinkler head on the wall.

Q: Why did you have to do environmental testing?
A: The water that came out of the sprinkler was dark and smelly. At a recent meeting of tenants of Parc Downsview Park we had learned that the sprinklers are fed from a very old underground water tank, and the water in it is of questionable quality. Based on that information, I decided it was prudent to request an environmental consultant be called in to assess the situation. No one directed us to do this, but it seemed the right thing to do to ensure the safety of our customers and staff. On Monday afternoon September 27th samples were randomly taken from 12 of the pads. On Wednesday evening September 29th we got the results of the test: 5 of them showed the presence of bacterial contamination, 4 of them at high levels. The test was repeated on Thursday morning September 30th, after the padding had been dried and disinfected. The levels had dropped substantially. At this point the environmental consultant recommended a second steam cleaning of the blue mats with disinfectant as all that was necessary to take care of the remaining bacteria.

Q: How do we know this won’t happen again?
A: The sprinkler head that went off has been removed; it turns out that it was not in a place with more than 4′ of overhang, so in fact it was never required. We have patched the hole in the wall at that location. The other 5 heads on the boulder wall have been replaced with a flush-mounted design. Those 5 and the 2 on the lead cave are now also protected by wire cages to prevent contact. We’re not keen on having these obstacles on the wall, but it’s the price we have to pay to make sure this never happens again.

Q: How do we know the gym is clean and safe now?
A: We are relying on our environmental consultant, DCS Ltd for their expertise in these matters. We have also consulted with the Toronto Board of Health to ensure we are satisfying them in how we dealt with this situation.

Q: When will the gym reopen?
A: The carpets were steam cleaned on Sunday, and then left to dry for 24 hours. We will replace the padding Monday and get the gym back in order, and will reopen Tuesday afternoon at 2pm as usual.

Q: What will you do to compensate members who were unable to come climb?
A: Prepaid members (including those with 2-week memberships that came as part of our Introductory Lesson Package) will have their membership expiry date extended by the number of days we were closed. Monthly Electronic Funds Transfer members will have their October dues reduced by an amount proportional to the fraction of a month that we were closed.

This past week or so has been extraordinarily difficult for us at the gym. Our pride and joy was disfigured and despoiled. We worked our buns off to get things put back together, only to be stopped by the initial test results. But there has been a bright side as well. Strone Restoration did an excellent job getting things clean and dry. Our insurance company (Front Row Insurance Brokers, and Crawford & Company Insurance Adjusters) have taken good care of us, and clearly have been working for us to help us through this mess. The landlord has been helpful and supportive, most significantly by calling in Strone Restoration immediately after the water was shut off. My staff has stepped up and pitched in to move things ahead. And the warmth of the support from the climbing community has keeping us going. This includes all our customers who have voiced their encouragement, the kid who told his mom he would rather reschedule his birthday party than do something else, and the other gyms (Climber’s Rock, Boulderz and Off The Wall) who have offered our members a good deal on climbing while we’re shut down. We can’t wait to reopen, and we won’t forget that support.

Sep 25

Mopping Up

Just a short post to spread the word that True North Climbing is closed until further notice (hopefully just for a few days) while we clean up after a sprinkler failure Friday evening.

We’re using our Facebook page at as the primary way to get information out about the incident and our progress towards cleaning/drying the flooring so we can get things back to normal.

We apologize to our members and other customers for this disruption, and will get the gym fixed up and open again as quickly as we possibly can, but at the same time we will be careful to do things right.

Thanks to those who helped out last night, and to everyone for their support.


Sep 21

Special Guest Technique Class Coming Soon!

Every Monday evening we offer a free Technique Lesson, aimed mainly at helping new climbers to build their climbing skills. It’s also part of our efforts to build a fun community around the gym. The topics rotate somewhat regularly among the following:

  • Hold Recognition
  • Sequencing
  • Foot work
  • Heel hooking
  • Bouldering Safety
  • Dynamic Movement
  • Flagging
  • Crack Climbing
  • Resting on a Route
  • Slacklining

Starting on Monday, September 27th, we add a new topic to the mix. Dan Iaboni, owner of The Monkey Vault Parkour Gym, has agreed to join us every couple of months to give an introduction to Parkour. If you’re not familiar with Parkour, it’s a sort of urban gymnastics that has people doing amazing tricks and movements around and on obstacles that can be found in a city landscape. Dan has established the Monkey Vault to help people train safely indoors before trying anything too crazy outdoors.

Dan was here with some simple equipment last Friday to work out the logistics of the intro session. He has some simple things that even beginners can do to explore movement and get a bit of an idea of how to get started at Parkour. It should be a pretty fun session; don’t miss it! Like every Monday Technique Lesson, it’s free with membership or admission to the gym.

Sep 13

Recent Changes in the Gym

I thought it was time for a brief update on a few things we have done recently to respond to requests from customers and otherwise make a few small improvements to the gym:

  • Large campus rungs: the small and medium rungs now have their big brothers to keep them company. Metolius finally got the large size rungs in stock, and Clint installed them today. These are the ones that regular people can actually hang onto!
  • Locks for rent: by popular demand, we now rent out locks to use on the day lockers in the change rooms, for $1/day
  • Chalk bags for rent: also by popular demand, instead of loaning out whatever chalk bags happen to be in the lost & found (without chalk), we now will rent you a chalk bag with a chalk ball in it for your use in the gym, for $2/day
  • Chalk bags for sale: we got a bunch of Flashed Weave bags (made of hemp), for sale for $17 including HST.
  • Adjustable dumbbells in the training area: a few weeks ago we added a pair of Bowflex adjustable dumbbells. These are adjustable from 5 pounds each up to 52.5 pounds. The adjustment mechanism is both really cool and a little fragile, so please be careful setting them back gently into their cradle. They have gotten jammed a few times, but Clint has gotten them working again each time.

The addition of chalk bags to our retail inventory is a good opportunity to let everyone know all the things we have for sale at the front desk. We have not done a great job of advertising what we have for sale, because we haven’t yet figured out a good way to put it all on display, and other things have taken priority so far. We don’t mean to keep all this a secret! In any event, we have the following items for sale:


  • pop, vitamin water, iced tea, Powerade, Simply juices: $2
  • Odwalla fruit juices/smoothies: $3.50
  • chocolate bars (Coffee Crisp, Kit Kat, Crunchie, Smarties): $1.50
  • Clif bars: $2


  • climbing tape: $3.50
  • chalk balls: $5
  • TNCI water bottles: $15
  • Flashed Weave chalk bags: $17
  • TNCI T shirts: $20
  • bandaids: free!

All the above prices include the HST

Sep 9

REEL ROCK Film Tour is Coming To Toronto

A few times in recent years I have enjoyed attending the REEL ROCK Film Tour when it made a stop in Toronto. Films like King Lines, Progression and some of the Dosage series are classic climbing films that get me going each time I see them.

This season it is our honour to announce that True North Climbing will be hosting the tour. We have not yet chosen a date, but will probably close the gym early one Saturday night and then reopen for the screening under separate admission. We are waiting to see the full fall/winter schedule for competitions and other events of interest to the climbing community before pinning down the date. Let us know if you know of any other upcoming events that we should avoid conflict with!

In the meantime, you can check out the trailer for this year’s films:

Aug 31

Summer is Over; Back to School !

[Today’s post is from Shaun Hunter, who heads up our Youth programmes. We are launching our Fall programmes, which begin the week of September 13th. For full details of each of the programmes, download the Youth Programme flyer.]

Well here goes my first blog post…

A lot of you may not know me. You’ve probably seen me at True North Climbing or another gym for a competition. I’m pretty easy to recognize because well most of the time I have a bunch of youth climbers around me. My name is Shaun Hunter and I’ve been coaching and training youth for a couple of years now. The summer is slow for me because most of the youth I train go away on vacation.

Although I was childless this summer I still had a bunch of fun times. My summer was always bright, I had cool temperatures for sending projects, and it never rained on me. I went to many different climbing crags through the summer. All were filled with many people who were very friendly and very enjoyable to climb with. I also got to see a lot of my buddies who I don’t get the chance to see that often. As I reflect on the awesome summer I just had I can only think “Wow, I really did go on many trips to the gym”. This brings me to my reasons why I love the gym,

10. A place to stretch
9. Bathrooms (as a guy this is pretty low on the list)
8. Meeting new people
7. Friendly Staff
6. I don’t have to drive out of Toronto to get there, or drive at all
5. Nice safe landings
4. Good old water fountain
3. New Boulder Problems and Routes
2. The A/C
1. Did I mention the A/C?

(I love count downs)

The gym is just such a great environment to learn, train, and have lots of fun, especially if you’re a youth climber. Youth climbers have so much potential and here at True North Climbing we’re very dedicated to fulfilling that potential. I do believe we held the only two Summer Sweat Fest Competitions with youth only Problems. That may not mean so much to parents and adult competitors but for youth climbers it means they have problems where their height won’t determine if they send the problem or not; their strength, technique, and climbing ability will. For youth setters it’s awesome to see youth climbers learning and climbing to their full potential on problems set for them. Here at True North Climbing, we have the best youth setter in Canada (my boss) Dustin Curtis, and a very dedicated youth coach (me).

This September we are launching our True North Climbing Youth Programs for children from ages 5+. We have a bunch of recreational programs and competitive programs. Children will learn the fundamentals of climbing working with experienced coaches and being with other kids at their skill level in programs designed to bring out the best in them. This brings me to my reasons why I love coaching and training youth climbers:

10. I can push them around because they’re smaller than me
9. Kids just say the darnedest things
8. Kids don’t yell back
7. They agree that climbing is more fun than homework
6. Watching them grow taller than me
5. Realizing that they can love something that isn’t that mainstream or ordinary
4. Eager to learn and absorb everything you teach them
3. Watching them push past and realizing that they are without limits
2. Seeing them grow into strong climbers (mentally and physically)
1. Seeing the look on their face when they accomplish something they never thought they could do


So if you’re young and you think climbing could be for you come check it out. We want to turn you in to the climber you want to be, whether that’s climbing for the love of the movement or becoming the strongest climber in the world and crushing every one in your path (other than your coach, I’ll always be stronger). Most of all I want you guys to have fun because that’s what climbing should be about. So I hope to see you guys at the gym this September and hopefully I’ll be coaching you.

Aug 30

We’re Growing; Come Join Our team!

The summer vacation is almost over, and at True North Climbing we are getting back to work at recruiting more staff! While summer is typically the slow time of year for climbing gyms, our business has grown month by month. Our membership keeps going up, we have now taught over 1,000 Introductory lessons (that’s a lot of new climbers!), and recently we had our 10,000th visit to the gym, all in less than 5 months. We have also run several sessions of our lead climbing class, and had a bunch of kids come enjoy our summer day camp programme. Stay tuned for news of our Fall Youth programmes, for both Recreational and Competitive sessions.

As the business grows, we need to expand our staff to keep up. We are currently looking for part-time employees in the following roles (click on each link to see the full job description):

Climbing Instructor


The work is mostly evenings and weekends, though there is some weekday daytime work as well, especially for routesetters. If you are interested, drop your resume at the gym, or email us at

Aug 10

Bouldering Competition, or Bouldering “Festival”?

We have another bouldering event coming up next Thursday, our second SummerSweatFest event of the season. We’ve been calling these events “competitions”, and indeed there is a competitive element to them for some people. Each participant keeps score, and there are awards for the top finishers in each category.

The down side of using the word “competition” is that it seems to keep some people from participating, because they think they aren’t good enough. That’s nonsense. I’m participating, and I’m really not very good. Really, I’m not. Ask any of my staff! But I “compete” because it’s fun, and so see whether I can improve from event to event.

So this time I’m going to call next Thursday’s event a “Bouldering Festival” instead. Yes, there will still be a scorecard for each participant to keep track of how they’re doing. But think of it like a mini-golf scorecard. You keep score, but you don’t have to take it very seriously if you don’t want to.

We kept the problems from our last event up on the walls for a few weeks, to give everyone a chance to try them out (they’re being taken down this week as we move ahead on our routesetting). Hopefully some of you took the opportunity to try out the problems to see how many you could do. If you were able to get at least a handful of them, it’s worth coming out to next Thursday evening’s SummerSweatFest Bouldering Festival, for 3 hours of bouldering fun with a great bunch of people. We had 79 competitors – er, participants – at our last SummerSweatFest in July, and hope to grow that number this time around. There will be some raffle prizes again, so no matter how you do at the problems, there’s a chance to go home with a prize!

So come join us Thursday August 19th!

Jul 21

Banned From My Own Gym!

I have been banned from my gym for today and most of tomorrow. No, I haven’t been behaving badly (no worse than usual at least). I’ve been convinced by my staff to compete at our SummerSweatFest competition Thursday evening, and that means it wouldn’t be fair for me to be around the gym while they’re setting for it. So I get a couple of days off, which I actually desperately need right now anyway.

Don’t get the wrong idea here; I am not a serious competition climber. I’m a V1/V2 boulderer, and generally finish very close to the bottom of the Men’s Recreational division, able to do perhaps a quarter of all the problems in a given comp. The point of my competing tomorrow is really to set an example for those who think they are not good enough to enter a competition. If you can do the white problems and some of the yellow ones in our gym, you’ll be able to do enough of the comp problems to keep you busy for a while, and you’ll have a lot of fun. These comps are friendly and the other climbers will be very supportive. If you have ever even wondered what a bouldering competition is like, come on out and “compete” Thursday evening. Think of it as a chance to come have fun bouldering with an enthusiastic group of like-minded individuals.

As added incentive, there will be some raffle prizes for the Youth & Recreational divisions, generously donated by some of our sponsors. We’ll have about a dozen prizes to give out, so the odds are decent. Those in the Open category will be competing for a cash prize funded by their registration fees.

Full details about the comp are available at
We encourage you to register in advance and print out your scorecard. If this will be your first visit to our gym, you can save time by bringing a completed waiver form (signed by your parent if you are under 18). Waiver forms are available for download from

Jul 19

Wrap Up Of Atlanta Trip

[Dustin Curtis, our Purveyor of Destiny – that is, Head Routesetter and Head Instructor – concludes his coverage of his visit to Atlanta, during which he was part of the setting crew for the US Youth Nationals Championship]

Day 3

We began on Qualifiers #2 today. For those of you not familiar with the format and categories, let me explain. Youth categories are as follows:

  • D (11 years and under)
  • C (12 and 13 years old)
  • B (14 and 15 years old)
  • A (16 and 17 years old)
  • and finally Junior (18 and 19 years old)

These are each split into Male and Female. Each category will climb two qualifying routes, one on each day, that will hopefully separate the number of competitors enough to take only the top 16 to semi-finals. The competitors then will climb a semi-final route on the third day of the comp, which will hopefully separate the field enough to take only the top ten to finals, which happens on the last day of the comp. The problem with Qualifier 2s, or Q2s, is that they have to be tweaked down from a Q2 to the age category above’s Q1. Doesn’t sound that bad right? The trick with youth climbing, other than them not climbing like adults and being short and having a smaller hand size, is that C category and under don’t lead. I don’t know if anybody has looked at pictures of the gym (see but nothing on that main wall screams top rope to me. When you lower off the anchors anywhere along that wall, you’re easily 25 ft away from the base of the wall, and in some places, more.

So we continue the process of setting, fore running and tweaking to get these routes perfect for the kids. When we all had breakfast this morning there were definite signs of being worked. The rigging, the ascending and fore running, even hauling holds back and forth starts to wear on you.

Day 4

This is last day of setting before the comp. Everything has to be comp ready by the end of today and we’ll stay as late as we need to to make that happen. We started with tweaking down the Q2s to Q1s. Yesterday I had set Female C Q2 (5.12d by the way! Damn these kids are strong!) and now I’m tweaking it down to the Female B Q1 which should go at 5.11d. In other words, the harder qualifier for the 12/13 year old girls gets modified to become the easier qualifier for the 14/15 year old girls. This is more efficient than setting completely different routes, both during the initial setting, and during the switchover between qualifying rounds. Again the other difference between those two categories other than their height, is that Female B doesn’t top rope. Clipping positions need to be safe, all the draws that aren’t being used in the route need to come off and the rope drag needs to minimized. After all is said and done, the route should be safe – safety is always the first priority – it should build (get harder as you get higher,) and it should look PIMP! The idea of it looking “pimp” is that it should look “TV worthy.” I’ve got to say I’m not a fan of colour coding setting but when there’s only one route up on the wall, it’s all the same colour and style of holds, the starting hold, finishing hold, and placards are all perfectly boxed in the same colour of tape and all the draws are taken off except the ones you clip, the route looks AMAZING. It’s the little things that make a comp spectacular, not just amazing routes (those are key). but if everything else looks like it was rushed and put together, it takes away from the true ‘pimpness’ of those routes.

Jul 16

Intro Lesson Package on TeamBuy today

Got a friend who has been thinking of trying our rock climbing? Today is the day for them. True North Climbing is the featured deal on TeamBuy right now. Our Introductory Lesson package (which includes the 1 hour lesson, equipment rental, day pass, plus a 2-week membership with rentals) can be had for just $25 including tax, which is just under half the usual price.

Please help us spread the word about this offer, which lasts only until Sunday.

Jul 15


Thanks to Seth Brown (who suggested it), we now have a Suggestion Box at the front desk. We have received a good pile of suggestions in the few days it’s been available, and I wanted to go through some of what we have heard, and tell you what we’ll do about it.

The suggestions we have received so far fall into a few categories:

  • routesetting
  • facility
  • policies
  • silly comments (mostly from our own staff)
  • other

I’m not going to exhaustively review every suggestion, and I won’t promise to act on every one, but we will read and consider everything that comes in. Here are the ones I’ve chosen to respond to for starters:

Please do not put pink tape close by orange (hard to recognize holds)
We realize that some of the tape combinations (another is white tape on the light-coloured walls) can be hard to deal with, and we will be more careful about that.

Horizontal routes along bouldering walls
This is definitely coming. We do plan to backfill both the bouldering walls and the bottom part of the roped walls to provide more traverses (eventually very long ones!), but we need more holds before we can do this. The good news is that I have now given Dustin a monthly budget to buy more holds, and over time as our inventory grows, we’ll have more available to do this.

The “no shirt” rule sucks.
I’m not sure if this came from a guy who wants to take his shirt off, or a woman who wants to see guys with their shirts off. We adopted the policy of requiring shirts to try to establish a family-friendly atmosphere. I felt that shirtless/sweaty guys would make the place feel more hard-core, and could intimidate many of the customers I want to feel comfortable here. I still feel that way. The place is air conditioned, so temperature should not be a reason to need to take your shirt off. I’ll keep listening to feedback, but for now I’m keeping the policy in place.

Play iPods
This is a reasonable request, but one I cannot adopt. As a business I need to obey the law, and that means making sure that artists are properly compensated for music that is played in my place of business. The only way I know to do that is by paying for a music service that takes care of paying the appropriate licensing fees. Perhaps because of my background in the software industry, I am very aware of the issues regarding illegal use of software and music, and I’m being careful to do things the right way.

double back by Christma$
I have no idea what this suggestion means. If the person who submitted it will explain more about what they are requesting, I’ll listen.

Thanks for all the suggestions!

Jul 9

SummerSweatFest Heading North (True North)!

Last night was the third SummerSweatFest comp, hosted by Andrew McBurney at Boulderz. It was a great night of bouldering with a good crowd (over 65 climbers), great problems, and a little bit of sweat despite the A/C!

If you’re not already familiar with this series of comps, SummerSweatFest consists of 7 bouldering competitions at 5 different gyms over the course of the summer. The comps are friendly and fun, so if you haven’t been to one before, don’t be intimidated by the word “competition”.

Here’s how it works:

  • There are a bunch of bouldering problems set up on the walls, each labeled with a number. Generally the higher the number, the harder the problem (though that’s not always strictly true; your mileage may vary!)
  • Each problem is worth a certain number of points if you can get to the finish hold (or top out, depending on the problem) without falling. You get fewer points if you get the problem on a second or subsequent attempt
  • You try as many problems as you can, and keep track of your score
  • There are 3 divisions: Open for the best climbers, Youth for those under 20, and Recreational for those who aren’t that impressed with themselves. Don’t be scared off by the thought of competition. If someone like me can “compete”, just about anyone can and should. And this is a great way to try out a comp before the slightly more serious Tour de Bloc rolls around in the fall. [Side note: I have challenged Tim Vince to the “Old Guy Cup” over the course of the season. He is ahead so far, but I gained on him last night just by showing up. Winner buys a 6-pack of beer, so it’s pretty serious….]
  • There is a great prize available for the 6 champions (the male and female winners of 3 age groups: under 15, 15-35 and over 35). Each champion wins a 9-month free pass to all 5 gyms that are hosting competitions in the series.

The next comp on the schedule will be held Thursday evening July 22nd at True North Climbing. We’ll be setting 15 problems for adults (Recreational and Open categories), and a different 15 problems specifically for Youth climbers. The intent is to make sure that all the young climbers who come out can reach the holds they need to grab on all their problems!

So we’re hoping to see a great crowd join us for this comp. You can sign up here!

Jul 6

Set It and Forget It? Not Here!

[Head Routesetter Dustin Curtis is in Atlanta this week as part of the routesetting team for the US Youth Nationals competition. He shares what’s going on leading up to the comp]

So: day 2.

The way things run here is so different. I set for Canadian Youth Nationals earlier this year and it’s so far from equal. I’ve never seen a route fore-run so many time. I took a whole day to set one qualifier route, Female B category by the way, (that’s 14-15 years old) After a setter finishes a routes, he/she is expected to fore-run it once, make all tweaks necessary (which usually ends up being at least 10-12 spins or swap-outs) then you get a partner to climb it, then make the tweaks that they’ve suggested, then you climb it again, make the tweaks, then the head setter climbs it, suggests tweak, you make the tweaks, and then you climb it again to make sure, finally, you’re done, except if it’s a semi-final or final, then you have to mark it and string it, which involves marking the hold with its orientation and then stripping it, putting it on a string of holds in numerical value to how high it is on the wall and marking the bolt hole with an ear plug with a numerical value equivalent to that hold. There’s so much attention paid to the fore-running and checking of quality of routes. It’s such a different feel to setting here. Attention to aesthetics, whether a hold is right-handed or left-handed, what the route looks like, how it climbs overall, NO CRUXES at all, no height dependents. I’m so amped, I’m learning so much. The route setters are so critical about what they want, and are unbending in their determination of providing a sequence that is unique, inventive, creative and enjoyable. You can never fore-run enough.

Jul 5

Update from Atlanta

Here’s a guest post from Dustin Curtis. Our Head Routesetter/Instructor is in Atlanta this week, as part of the setting team for the US Youth nationals competition. The comp will be held at Stone Summit, which opened in June and is now the largest climbing gym in the US.

So after, a 6 hour wait at the border, my car torn apart and searched, a missed flight, a newly purchased flight, and 18 1/2 hrs of traveling and one extraordinary public transportation ride through down town, I arrived in Atlanta last night: tired, annoyed and ready to spin wrenches for USA Climbing. I’m slotted here as an intern for Youth Nationals. The setting crew is gathered from all over the country, and one foreigner (me) and we have four grueling days to put together a full Youth Nationals for something like 350 competitors. At least that’s what I heard.

The gym is crazy, and tall and intimidating and awesome and metric…yea I don’t know how that happened. But today we got up all of the semifinals, the speed routes, (they’re called RE-OUTS here by the way, ‘cuz RE-OO-TES grow…crazy Americans…) and tomorrow we begin finals and then hopefully we’ll be doing qualifiers. It’s so cool to be in such a creative, encouraging environment with innovative and imaginative individuals. It’s truly a growing experience and I’ve never been involved in a comp this big before.

Jul 3

Important Notice to Members

There will be some disruption in the gym on July 14th & 15th, and I wanted to let our customers know what will be going on, and what we’re doing to help them avoid the disruption.

We will be holding a routesetting clinic as a professional development activity for our staff routesetters. Chris Danielson, one of the top setters in the world, will be spending a few days with us, sharing his wisdom and working hands-on with our setters, helping them hone their craft, to help make our routes and boulder problems even better. And Chris himself will put up a few routes & problems while he’s here.

Before anyone asks, the clinic is full. We’re limiting it to 8 participants to make sure Chris has plenty of time to spend with each person, and those 8 spots are taken.

In order to prepare for the clinic, which will run all day July 15th & 16th, we’ll need to strip some of the walls on Wednesday July 14th. Much of the top-out bouldering wall will be stripped, as well as the main lead cave and the east wall next to it (the 4 ropes on belay bars 70-75). These areas won’t be filled back in completely until the clinic is done Friday evening, meaning that most of our toughest boulder problems and much of our best lead climbing terrain will be out of action Wednesday and Thursday evenings.

We understand that might be an issue for some of our members. For those who climb at a beginner or intermediate level (including lead climbing), there will still be tons of routes & problems available. But for those advanced climbers who feel this makes a visit on those nights less than worthwhile, we have decided to do something to compensate you.

We have made arrangements with a few of the other climbing gyms in the area to provide day passes. We will have a limited number of vouchers available at the reception desk on the following terms:

  • each voucher is valid only on one specific day (either Wednesday July 14th or Thursday July 15th)
  • one voucher is available to prepaid annual, prepaid monthly or monthly EFT members only
  • the supply of vouchers is limited (there are not enough for all our members), and they are available on a first-come first-served basis
  • at most one voucher per member, and they are not transferable (your name will be written on the voucher)

Vouchers will be available for the following gyms:

  • Boulderz
  • Climber’s Rock (Burlington)
  • Toronto Climbing Academy

We want our members to know that we value their commitment and contribution to our gym, and we want to make up for the disruption of taking these walls out of commission for a couple of days. For those of you who don’t manage to grab one of the vouchers and still feel put out by this, we will be happy to extend your membership by 2 days (for prepaid members) or credit your account for 2/31 of your monthly dues (EFT members).

Thanks for your understanding as we invest in our staff to help them do their jobs even better.

Jun 29

We’re Hiring (again)!

We’re growing, and a few positions have opened up at the gym. We’re looking for Climbing Instructor(s) who can also work the front desk, and Belay Staff to work the ropes for parties and other events. Details here.

Jun 29

Canada Day at Downsview Park

Every year on Canada Day, Downsview Park pulls out the stops for a big birthday celebration. This year is no different, with lots of fun (and free) activities for all, including a lot of family-focused stuff, including:

  • free amusement rides
  • a petting zoo
  • music all day
  • performances by our friends & neighbours at the Toronto School of Circus Arts
  • fireworks at dusk (around 10pm)

More details available here.

We will be open holiday hours on Thursday: 10am – 10pm. We will also be offering one free climb to all new visitors to the gym, so if you have friends who might want to try climbing and are not sure how to get started, this is a great opportunity to try it out with no big commitment!

And after the Canada Day celebration is done, Downsview Park will be starting its summer Movies Under The Stars series, with outdoor movies running every Friday night in July and August. Here’s the full programme.

Jun 24

Our G20: 20 Great Reasons to Join Us This Weekend

Downtown Toronto is expected to be difficult to get around this weekend, with the G20 in town. Here is our own version of the G20: 20 Great reasons to come to True North Climbing:

  1. No traffic disruptions are expected in our part of town
  2. There is plenty of free parking
  3. The air conditioning will keep things comfortable
  4. No politicians are expected to attend
  5. We have replaced the 2″ slackline with a clean piece of webbing!
  6. As always, there are lots of great new routes and boulder problems that our team of routesetters have put up this week.
  7. There is still almost a week left in our Summer Membership Special deal (3 month pre-paid membership for $150; $120 for those who qualify for the discount rate: students, seniors, police, fire fighters, paramedics, bouldering-only)
  8. Still no HST on a day pass!
  9. All your friends are coming. Don’t have any friends? Come by and make a few new ones!
  10. Coca Cola finally made their delivery; our drink coolers are full of cold refreshing drinks again!
  11. There will be some additional activity on the airstrip next to our building. While no VIPs are expected to fly in or out, the military will be bringing in some CF18 Hornet fighter jets. The landlord has apologized for the noise that they will make. We think that’s pretty cool.
  12. And speaking of loud rumblings, if there is another earthquake, don’t you want to be standing on a padded floor?
  13. The merchant’s market at 40 Carl Hall Rd will be open Saturday and Sunday. Check out the food court at the south end for some good eats.
  14. By Saturday morning the railroad crossing at Carl Hall Rd (just before you turn right to get to our place) will be redone, so most of those bumps should be smoothed out.
  15. After the week you have had, don’t you need to work out a little stress?
  16. Our friendly staff (Natalie, Stephen, Clint, Jamie, Jonny, Shaun, DK, Kyle, Mike, Martin, Jackie, Roman, Ryan and Gerald this weekend) will be there!
  17. The chimney.
  18. The slab.
  19. The cracks.
  20. It’s climbing; who needs another reason?
Jun 16

Some Little Upgrades

Just a quick post to let everyone know about a few little things we’ve done this week to improve things:

  • We have rearranged the foam in the custom modular padding in the advanced bouldering area (red nylon covers). These pads contain 3 layers of foam: 2 1″ layers of closed cell foam and 10″ of open cell foam. The design of the padding is to have the open cell sandwiched between the two layers of closed cell, and then after a year or so (when things have gotten pretty soft), bring the bottom layer of closed cell to the top to extend the life some more. When these pads arrived we found them to be stiffer than expected, and so initially put both layers of closed cell at the bottom. After a few months we decided that they had softened up enough to go back to the original plan. Clint and Dustin had fun yesterday opening these big pads up and rearranging the foam. So you’ll find that area a little firmer than it was last week.
  • More T-nuts! Since 25,000 T-nuts obviously isn’t enough, we spent some time drilling and screwing today, and have added another hundred or so to the Slight Overhang area of the top-out wall. We’ll continue to add more T-nuts each week as we reset this wall, to provide more options for putting up holds.

Neither of these are a big deal, but sometimes the little things count too!

Jun 1

Gonna be a Cool Summer!

It seems appropriate, with our air conditioning units being installed today, to kick off the summer season with some cool new offers:

3 month Summer Membership Deal:

During the month of June only, you can get a 3-month prepaid membership for only $150. This is $30 off our usual monthly prepaid rate over the 3 month period. The corresponding discount price (for students, seniors, etc) is $120, also a $30 savings. Price does not include GST/HST, and these memberships cannot be frozen.

Weekend Scramble Sessions for Kids:
On Saturdays and Sundays starting at 11am, you can drop off your kids (completed Minor Waiver Form in hand if they have not been here before!) for 2 hours of climbing, ending at 1pm. We’ll provide the staff to belay them in groups of 4 or less, as well as a harness and climbing shoes if desired (subject to availability of the small sizes!). Call ahead to book this session to guarantee a place for your children. The cost of each Scramble Session is $30/child plus GST/HST.

Summer Camp Programme:
OK, this one is not new, but we want to remind everyone of our day camp programme running throughout the summer. Monday to Friday from 8:30 – 4:30 (with optional extended drop-off/pick-up hours available), we’ll keep your kids busy with climbing, slacklining, sports, arts & crafts and other diversions. Full details available in the Summer Camp flyer.

May 29

Changes/Progress at Downsview Park

There’s a lot going on within Downsview Park that I thought was worth a quick mention here:

  • This weekend is the Wings & Wheels Heritage Show, which makes the park a very busy place! There will be aircraft coming in, and on display at the Air & Space Museum and at The Hangar.
  • The roadway has been reworked along the west side of 75 Carl Hall Rd (the Downsview Park Sports Centre). The zigzag that used to be near the Roller Derby has been shifted 50-100 m south, so you now keep going south longer before cutting in just in front of Grand Prix Kartways. Unfortunately the old route was closed off before the new roadway was completed, and the large blue sign that guides you to our joint has not yet been repositioned. I have shared my concerns with the landlord, and they will work to make things better, but in the meantime bear with these changes.
  • New signs will be going up throughout the park within the next few months, to improve navigation from the main entrance.
  • The railway crossing on Carl Hall Rd will get reworked and improved in a few weeks. The plan is as follows:
    • Close the entire crossing starting at 10:00 p.m. on Friday June 25
    • All vehicles already on site would exit at the Chesswood and Sheppard intersection; signage and police would be at the intersection to manage traffic
    • Anyone entering after 10:00 p.m. Friday June 25 would enter via Chesswood and Sheppard
    • Remove the existing track, ties, etc. and replace with new ones overnight
    • Pave the new crossing in the morning and complete by 8:00 a.m. Saturday June 26
May 27

The Evolution of the Rating Card

We’ve been working on our rating cards. You know, those white cards at the base of each climb that tell you:

  • Which rope to tie into. This is important, because our routes do tend to wander a bit, and it’s not always obvious from where the starting holds are. Of course you should be looking at the route all the way up to the belay bar before starting, to see where it finishes.
  • The name of the route. This is of no real importance, but we try to make them fun
  • The initials of the routesetter who set the route. Do you have a favourite yet?
  • Whether the route is intended for Youth. These routes not only space the holds for smaller climbers, but the hold selection is also done with small hands in mind. Large climbers may find these routes uncomfortable!
  • The rating for the route
  • The rating for the boulder problem that starts the route. We try to put a boulder problem on each roped route to get a lot more boulder problems into the gym. The boulder problem ends at the second taped “V” (or a box on some of the older routes; we switched to a “V” because they are less likely to get rubbed off by wayward feet).

As we started our refresh of the gym a few weeks ago we started replacing the original laminated rating cards with plastic holders. This protects the card better, and looks better. These are working well, except on the stalactite. We found that putting the rating cards on the bottom of the stalactite was interfering too much with foot placement at the start of each climb. There just isn’t any wall below your first foothold on this feature! the rating card holders were getting beat up, and we felt we were covering up too much needed wall space, so today we made a change. the rating cards for the routes on the stalactite are now displayed on the side of the reception desk that faces it. We hope this lets you still find the info you want, without having it get in the way of the actual climb! Let us know what you think.

May 27


Last weekend was the annual Canadian National Bouldering Championships, the culmination of a fantastic Tour de Bloc season. Joe Rockheads was the host gym, and they put on a fine (if somewhat hot) show. True North Climbing was well-represented, with 4 of our routesetters competing in the Open category, one of us judging, and some of our members also competing.

I took the judging course Friday night, to learn both how to judge bouldering problems, and what is involved in being the Jury President (aka Head Judge) for a competition. We plan to have a bunch of comps at our gym, and at some point I figure I should be prepared to be the head judge, so this was a start in that direction. (At our inaugural Tour de Bloc comp on march 27th I had the role of “host”, which was a lot of fun, and required little training!).

Saturday was the qualifying round for the Open competitors. 15 women and 45 men each did 5 boulder problems in iso format, with 5 minutes to work on each problem and 5 minutes to rest in between. I was the judge on problem #2, which for the women featured a fun dyno opening move, and a nice balancing finish, with both hands high on the wall in a taped box with no handhold.

Sunday morning and early afternoon was the “citizen’s comp”: Youth, Recretional and Experienced categories in a scramble format, choosing among 50 problems (including the 10 qualifiers from Saturday) to get their best 6 scores. Sunday at 5pm the finals began, with the top 10 men and women (actually 11 men due to a tie for 10th place) again working their way through 5 problems each. It was very hot in the gym, and perhaps in part because of that, the men’s problems were very tough on the finalists.

Our Head Instructor/Routesetter Dustin Curtis was 7th after qualifiers, and finished 10th on Sunday, earning him another berth on the Canadian team. Dustin will be heading to Vail, Colorado in June for the World Cup event as part of the Teva Mountain Games. Stephen Tambling just missed the cutoff for finals, finishing 12th in Men’s Open. Dustin Kerr and Shaun Hunter rounded out the TNCI team, with DK having a spectacular fall on men’s problem #3 on Saturday (extra padding went up right after that!).

Watching the comp as a judge was a very different perspective. I got to see all the climbers, but pretty much only on one problem each, each day. I got a great view up close, but had to keep my mouth shut instead of cheering them on. It was a good learning experience, and it’s good to have more people trained to do this, to support the sport as it grows.

May 26

The Heat is On (but not for long!)

Hot enough for you? I just wanted to reassure everyone that our air conditioning has been on order for weeks, and is scheduled to be installed starting next Tuesday. The venting and electrical system were set up to be ready for this, but I delayed purchase of the two large rooftop units until we had some revenue coming in, to help manage expenses during the start-up phase of the gym. I had hoped the start of June would be before any really hot weather, but I was wrong. Hang in there for a few more days, and soon it will be comfortable in here!

May 21

Dustin Dishes

[Today’s post is by Head Routesetter/Head Instructor Dustin Curtis]

The rock climbing gym is changing in nature from its once dark dungeon of plywood and resin to the new generation of plastic paradises, with clean, sleek professionally-built walls, well-lit open spaces and beautiful poly urethane shapes. The chefs of these five-star restaurants must also learn to clean up, learn new dishes and out-cook even themselves in order to provide the top dishes expected of these world class facilities.

But Dustin, why is your first blog post about restaurants, especially since you work in a rock climbing gym? Is that what you’re thinking? Allow me to continue instead of interrupting me with your punitive thoughts of boredom, desk jockey. Read on harness chuffer, there will be a test.

Rock climbing gyms function on almost the same principles and policies as a restaurant. The two run the same kind of staffing functions and protocols. Don’t believe me? Check it: when you walk into a restaurant for the first time, a host or hostess greets you and shows you to your table; when you walk into a rock climbing gym for the first time, a member of the desk staff greets you, gets you to sign a waiver and gives you a belay test or sets you up with a lesson. In a restaurant, a server comes by, (hopefully one that is good looking but if not, after a couple of alcoholic beverages, he/she will be) and they introduce you to the menu and more importantly, the food. In a rock gym you get an instructor who shows you the ins and outs of how to keep yourself safe while you’re enjoying the great joy that is rock climbing. In a restaurant, behind the scenes, you have the kitchen. This is where the magic happens. Chefs bring their greatness and creativity to balance with well-rehearsed and practiced recipes that eventually leave the kitchen and get served to you. Chefs bring together a mosaic of ingredients and spices to create their dishes; we as route setters bring together a collection of holds to publish a choreography of movements and body positions that will be loved by many, liked by most and hated by only the very few. You hope.

Chefs have enjoyed illustrious careers that are, for the most part, engaging, schooled and – very importantly – paid, for many years. Route Setters have endured the opposite, as creatures with no education in their craft save for some harsh words by a member once, and the intro lesson of ‘this is how to spin a wrench’ from the head setter at the time and in return for hours suffered in a harness, retribution is given with free climbing on the holds that you slung up.

But much like the gyms we work in now, we must also evolve and redefine ourselves in this growing industry. While chefs enjoy having a consistent recipe that, in cooperation with each chef’s creativity and ‘personal touches’ will almost always come out the same, with the exception of some colossal mess ups I’ve seen, Route Setters have no such luxury. Sure we have a repertoire of moves, and some oppositional theory that is the consistent basis of climbing, but that’s about it and for the record, recycling ideas and movements on routes is a quick way to move your route setting career from in the harness (or on the ladder if that’s how you do things). By the way, if that is how you do things than you’re a useless wrench monkey who has decided he’s way too good to be on a harness not trying the moves and never challenges himself to do anything more creative than the eighteen crossovers or six gastons that he/she consistently puts in every one of your no-knowledge, uncreative and incredibly generic routes/boulder problems. You deserve that transfer from Route Setter to a behind-the-desk, I manage the gym and make Coke orders, desk job. Sit down and take notice wrench spinners: we are paid for creativity, not reusing the same boring sequences in order to make the extra cash.

My apologies. I got off on a rant, but from that you can tell exactly how passionate I am about providing an engaging and thought provocative climbing experience. We, the Setters, have a not-so-easy task, and on top of the everyday trials and tribulations of being creative is the simple issue that with creativity and passion come the terrible traits of opinionated and personal attachment. It’s different for a Chef: after the dish is prepared, it gets sent out to a patron who gobbles it down. If they didn’t like it, they whisper it lowly among their table or maybe they keep it to themselves. If it’s not amazing but not terrible, they complain to the serving staff or the manager. In the rare case that it’s just absolutely terrible it gets sent back and made again, probably in the same fashion, except added saliva and maybe dropped on the floor and stepped on. In any case, the Chef rarely finds out, unless it’s so sinfully terrible that it warrants being remade. Granted there are some very picky eaters out there but let’s generalize people.

Route Setting is much different. Instead of cooking for an anonymous patron, most of the time, we’re cooking for our friends, co-workers, acquaintances and most importantly fellow climbers. These are the people we sit in our harnesses for excruciating hours of the day (I hear you chufferton! “I sat in a harness for 2 hours the other day while I belayed my friend on his new super project”. I’m sure you did, you goober-handed grease monkey, however, you didn’t (and I know you didn’t) have a bucket strapped to your ass full of urethane shapes and bolts as well as a drill and your wrenches. We haul all that plastic and creative thought, slap it on a wall with some tape and then have to listen to the unwarranted complaints and non-descriptive reasons of personal feelings towards movements or holds.

Route Setters are fragile creatures; yes we’re opinionated but for good reason. We put part of ourselves into each one of our routes and then put it on display for the climbing community to judge, criticize and generally abuse on a regular day basis.

The words you’re looking for people: constructive criticism. Feedback is important to us but not in the manner you’re thinking of. Route Setters are evolving; we are no longer the egotistical climbers, who scrounge a living from the nothing wage and answer any kind of balking at our routes with the answer “I did that move in my street shoes”.

I don’t know what it is like for any other route setting crew, but I have worked with some of the best Setters in both the US and Canada and consistently try to challenge my team of Route Setters to create the most creative and interesting routes possible. I have the most talented group of route setters I have ever seen gathered in one gym, consistently putting brilliance and creative movement up on the walls, in one of the most fantastic facilities I’ve ever been in and what pains us the most (especially me because I know how hard we work and how much thought we put into our routes) is the unjustified comments of some cranky alpinist climber, wearing old Asolo’s and sporting ‘the latest’ in euro lyrca, complaining that the route was really awkward when the only move that he or she managed not to be crossed up on was the starting holds and the finishing hold.

The point of this is that at True North, we’re specifically attempting to make our routes thoughtful, enjoyable and creative. We will never recycle movement and we will continually attempt to provide flow and comfort in our routes while challenging the climber to be thoughtful, mindful of position and continuously ‘think outside the box.’ Like Chefs, we’re sharing our passion with you, so eat up and enjoy.

1. Route Setters throughout history have endured and made money by:
A) Checking underneath their car seats and tearing apart their cars for change,
assuming they could afford cars.
B) Selling their bodies on the streets.
C) Finding a sugar momma who thinks they’re the next Chris Sharma
D) Working two fast food jobs while belay-slaving at the gym on their non-setting hours.
E) Becoming the next Chris Sharma.
F) A and D
G) B leading into C

2. The proper method for providing constructive criticism after climbing a route is:
A) “That feels awkward and I don’t like it”
B) “It was good but some of the moves didn’t flow right, I think possibly adding some feet or maybe some minor tweaks on that section (pointing to the section) would make it feel just a little more natural”
C) “Dude, sweet route!”
D) “Brah, that sucks”
E) If you actually picked A, C or D, email me and I’ll get you a shirt that’s bright orange and reads “I NEED TO BE WATCHED!” So that the desk staff know to assign you one watcher because if you actually picked those answers I doubt you know how to put your clothes on right in the morning, let alone belay. In fact, if you chose A, C or D check your pants right now: are they on right?

3. The Route Setters of True North are:
A) Fickle creatures that need only alcohol and Clif bars to survive
B) Egotistical maniacs involved in a childish game of sandbagging to destroy and demoralize the entire climbing community
C) Creative and fragile creatures that need to be both nurtured and compassionately encouraged with swift kicks to their special areas while providing constructive criticism in order to allow them to find their own setting style
D) You only wish it was A and B!
E) Mindless muscle heads that put up holds in unimaginative sequences that force their 9 allotted crossovers or gastons into every route.
F) C without the abuse; although the abuse is very convincing and thoroughly effective, it is against the Human Rights Code of Ontario

4. The only education that Route Setters of the past received was:
A) A quick introduction to forcing movement with Louis Anderson as well as a signed copy of “The Art Of Course Setting”
B) A twelve-step program to rid them of certain addictions while they are trained in the fine art of vertical dancing
C) The head setter performs a ritual dance which then unlocks the ancient knowledge of route setting inside the apprentice route setter and they blossom into the creative genius of the next generation of climbers while the head route setter crawls into the hold room where he/she will forever rest in some kind of reverent pose as inspiration to their former Padawan learner.
D) A quick intro of the necessary ins and outs of route setting, along with continual constructive feedback from the head route setter

5. The Head Route Setter, like the Master Chef, is to:
A) Sit in the corner and drink to their hearts content while heckling and daily abusing their crew
B) Motivate their crew to provide the best quality of product. Motivating methods may include: wedgies, allowances for sexual fraternization, ‘bonuses’ and half-witted compliments and insults where appropriate.
C) Offer constructive feedback and encouragement while forcefully containing egos by continually squashing with reasons of failure and disappointment.
D) Gloat uncontrollably about how he/she has the best crew that cannot be matched by any other establishment and that those establishments should simply fire their existing crews and pay the obscene amounts of money that would be charged for their crews to come in. Just saying.
E) B and C
F) A and D

Please grade yourself:
1. F
2. B
3. F
4. D
5. E

5 correct answers: You Rock!
4 correct answers: Good Work!
3 correct answers: Don’t worry, there’s a next test.
2 correct answers: Did you pass your belay test?
1 correct answer: You don’t even know what a Route Setter is do you?
0 correct answer: Next bridge you pass, over you go.

May 19

Slackers Rejoice!

[Today’s post is a guest post from Ben Iseman, our resident slackline expert]

Slackers rejoice! Finally, there is somewhere you can slack in the rain or when it’s snowing (it is only May after all) in a safe and comfortable setting. No more worrying about whether you are slacking in a dog park! True North Climbing is the only place in the GTA where you can walk the line indoors.

Michael Palma, using his extra appendages for balance!
Photo by Chris Gregorowicz

Whether you are new to the sport of slackline or a seasoned pro you’ll have 2 very different lines to play around on. First off we have a short 2″ line that can be more forgiving to learn on or to try advanced jumping tricks. The second line is a more traditional 1″ line that stretches and wobbles as you walk across it. Our ratchet tightening system allows for quick and easy adjustments to the tension of each line giving infinite possibilities and challenges; just ask a staff member!

As daunting as it may seem at first, you will take a couple of steps on your first day. With some hours of effort you will be amazed to actually be walking, recovering your balance and walking some more on something that is only 1″ wide. Eventually you can work your way up to surfing back and forth on the line, jumping across it or even attempting the seemingly impossible backflip. Come out and give it a try!

Dustin Kerr playing with some high bounces.
May 19

Lost & Found (Part 2)

I wrote last month about all the stuff that people have been leaving behind in the gym when they’re done. Today I have a bit to say about the opposite problem: stuff going missing from the gym. In the past month we have seen 3 pairs of rental climbing shoes disappear. (Actually the net loss is only 2 pairs, as one pair that was missing last month has turned up!)

I tend to be very naive about this kind of thing, and it’s hard for me to imagine that anyone is actually deliberately taking rental shoes with them after climbing. I’m sure it’s just that people are absent-minded, and accidentally tossing everything into their bag. If that’s the case, I hope the missing shoes will find their way back soon. If you find yourself with a pair of bright blue velcro or grey lace-up Evolv rental shoes (with the big size number on the back of the heel) and are too embarrassed to bring them to the front desk, you can discreetly leave them in the change room for us to find.

If this trend continues, we will need to start buying more rental shoes, and will also need to consider taking some form of security when we loan them out. We really don’t want to do this, as it will slow down check-in for everyone, and it would also be kind of insulting to suggest to our customers that we don’t trust them. Hopefully the missing shoes will find their way home soon!

May 17

2010 Climbing Wall Summit

Just got back from this year’s Climbing Wall Association Summit Conference in Boulder, and I thought I would share my impressions.

First, for those who aren’t familiar with it, the Climbing Wall Association is the industry trade group representing climbing gym owners & operators. It’s a non-profit organization focussed on education, standards (for engineering, inspection and more recently instruction) and looking out for the industry in areas like insurance and regulation.

This is the fourth year running that the CWA has held a conference in Boulder Colorado to bring together gym owners and their staff, equipment manufacturers, and others who make their living in this cool business. At last year’s event I was a wannabe gym owner, soaking up as much information as I could to prepare me for the adventure that followed. I learned a lot of important things that affected how True North Climbing took shape. The biggest lessons I listened to were:

  • If you’re going to build a gym, build a big one. Many gym owners regret building a small facility (which they often do to keep the costs manageable), and find it quickly fills up and they have to build another one!
  • Treat routesetting as a profession, and recognize that having great routes that are changed regularly is the key to a successful business

This year I saw a lot of familiar faces, both from people I had met at last year’s conference, and those who got involved in helping me build my gym. I picked up some good bits of advice from a few of the sessions, but on the whole the value in this year’s trip was more in the people I met and talked to. I met several people who are where I was a year ago, and it was fun to be able to share some of what I have learned to try to help them, as many others helped me last year.

The highlight of the week was the Battle in the Bubble bouldering competition. After qualifying and semi-final rounds at The Spot, the finals were Saturday night, outdoors at the Boulder reservoir. This comp used an elimination format, in which the initial 10 men and women were reduced over 5 problems to 6, 4, 3 and then 2 for the final problem. Daniel Woods and Alex Puccio were the winners, but it was close, and the action was really thrilling. Here are some other articles with more details of the comp, and some good photos:

There was also a round-table session for Canadian attendees. There was good representation from north of the border this year, and we had a good chat about a few topics we can cooperate on.

The CWA does a good job of serving the climbing gym industry, and we definitely benefit from keeping up on their work. the Summit conference each year is a great opportunity to learn what’s going on in the business, and share lessons and best practices with gym owners from all over the world.

May 1

Programmes and Lessons Starting Up!

Now that we have the basic operation of the gym running fairly smoothly, we’re ready to offer some children’s after-school programmes and Lead Climbing Lessons.

There are 4 levels of children’s programmes being offered: 3 levels of Recreational programme, and a Pre-competitive/Competitive programme for youths who are getting serious about their climbing, and are interested in competing. Full details of the programmes are available for download from our web site.

The Lead course is also now available for those who are proficient at top rope climbing and are ready for the next level of challenge. The course is available Monday or Wednesday evenings from 6-9pm on 2 consecutive weeks (2 3-hour sessions), and is normally held in groups of 4 climbers. Climbers are expected to provide their own equipment (harness, shoes, lead rope and belay device). The fee for the class is $150 ($120 for gym members), plus GST/HST. Email us if you want in.

May 1

The First Full Month

April is over, and we can look back at our first full month of business now. It has been a pretty good start. We have had over 1,500 people through the door since we opened, and more than 100 of those have become members: a mix of prepaid monthly, monthly electronic funds transfer (EFT) and prepaid annual. We have given introductory lessons to about 150 people, so we’re also off to a good start at introducing climbing to new people and growing the market. We’re not quite profitable yet, but we’re getting there, and as we add after-school programmes for children (now available; info at the front desk), summer camp, lead classes (now available!), school groups and more birthday parties, we’ll get where we need to be.

While the feedback we have heard so far has been overwhelmingly positive, there have been suggestions on how to make the gym better, and we’re trying to listen. We have already added lockers, removable shower heads in the change rooms for foot-washing and the training area. We now sell climbing tape (important for those trying the cracks!), and are ready to teach lead climbing. We have heard from a fair number of people who would like us to extend our hours (in both directions), and I expect we will respond to that soon, once we find a way for a few of us to work a little less and sleep a little more.

We have also heard clearly that our route grades need to be more consistent, and we agree. It is taking a little time for our 7 routesetters (who bring experience from at least that many other gyms!) to come together in a consensus of what each grade ought to mean. With the first refresh of our routes this past week (belay bars 1-16, the “Atari Arete” of the main bouldering wall, and some of the lead-only routes have been replaced) we started having all the routesetters forerun each other’s routes and problems. This generates more feedback on how to improve them, and gets us closer to a consistent set of grades. You may not necessarily find that our grades exactly match what is at other gyms, but we are trying hard to make things reasonably consistent across what we offer.

I want to thank everyone who has come to climb at our new gym, and especially those who have trusted us with their membership. We are working very hard to make this gym better every day (there is a lot to do!), and we haven’t yet got everything we have in mind rolled out.

OK, I gotta get some breakfast and get to the gym soon…

Apr 25

The Crack Has Been Sent!

On the wall opposite our lead cave is our full-height finger crack. Since we opened 4 weeks ago, some pretty good climbers have had a go at it, cramming their fingers and toes into the crevices, and trying to reach the top without falling. Today, for the first time, someone make it all the way. Mark Button, of Nottingham, UK, has become the first person to send the finger crack (on lead!). As a result has earned the honour of naming the crack. He has chosen to call it “Nathan’s”. Nathan is a friend of Mark’s and the other evening they were sitting in a pub discussing this climb. Nathan said that if Mark sent the climb he should name it after him, and for some reason Mark has decided to take that advice. Hopefully that is worth a pint or two the next time they’re back at the pub!

Mark Button, first to send “Nathan’s”,
our 36′ tall finger crack climb.
Apr 25

Lost & Found

After only 4 weeks of operation, we have accumulated a surprising amount of stuff in our lost & found:


  • 1 pair of sandals
  • 3 pairs of socks
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 3 shirts
  • 3 sweatshirts

Other Gear:

  • 5 chalk bags
  • 5 water bottles: one with a wristwatch attached to it, another with “Myles” written on it
  • 7 combination locks
  • 5 keys
  • 1 Richard Scarry book

So it seems like a good time to announce our Lost & Found Policies:

  • We don’t want to let this stuff just accumulate forever, so anything we find is ours to dispose of as we see fit after 30 days. We’ll keep a This Month box and a Last Month box, and at the start of each month we’ll clear out the Last Month box. Usable clothing will be washed and donated to a worthy cause (in some cases our staff!).
  • Loose chalk will be removed, since we ask that it not be used in the gym, and shouldn’t be here in the first place. We’ll use it to refill any refillable chalk balls we find.
  • Abandoned chalk bags will be kept and loaned out for free to customers who need them.
  • Locks can be claimed by anyone who can open them. We have started tagging them with where & when they were found, to help their owners identify them.

Please come and claim your stuff if you see it shown or mentioned here!

Apr 18

Getting On Top of Things

Rock climbing is all about getting on top of things, but this post is about how we are getting caught up on a lot of the aspects of our business.

After 3 weeks we have had over 1,000 visitors to our new gym, and our membership is growing nicely. We have figured out most of our processes (and thank you for bearing with us as we did so; we know we made a few mistakes but we think we have corrected them all!). Here’s a short list of what we have caught up on recently, and what will be coming in the near future:

New last week:

  • New lockers arrived last week. These 60 small lockerettes (6 in a stack) are available for annual rental for $50 plus tax. Note that, like our annual memberships, these will become subject to pro-rated HST starting on May 1st. The 102 larger lockers in the change rooms remain free, and are for day use only.
  • More ottomans! The colourful foam cubes from Asana have proven very popular. They are comfortable, light, and easy to move where you want them in the gym. Some people have even discovered that they can be used as another falling sport, stacking them up and trying to clamber on top of the stack. We added another 10 of these last week, after getting an electric carving knife to cut foam with!
  • Training area: we now have two hangboards and a chin-up bar installed, along with the campus board and adjustable system board.
  • Our brochures have been printed and are now available at the front desk.
  • Gripped magazine is now available for sale. We should be getting Climbing and Urban Climber in soon as well, and the free Deadpoint Magazine when the next issue is out.
  • All documents have been scanned in: this is a behind-the-scenes thing, but I think it’s pretty cool. The software we use to manage the business (point of sale, customer records and monthly billing) is called Rock Gym Pro, and one feature it offers is the ability to scan in all of our waivers and membership forms. On the rare occasion when we need to go back and look at the form, we can now pull it up onscreen in seconds, instead of rummaging through a box for hours. We caught up on the scanning this week, and now have all of our waiver and membership forms digitally saved. This has already helped us quickly resolve a billing error that we caught this week.

Coming soon:

  • We bought a couple of removable shower heads for the showers, to help those who want an easier way to wash their feet. These will get installed this week.
  • Membership cards: we had ordered membership cards with bar codes on the back, so that members and punch card holders can have an express check-in method by scanning their card as they come in. We had a little trouble scanning the bar codes, and spent some time showing the problem to the card supplier. They have agreed to reprint the cards. By the end of April we should be ready to start handing these out.
  • Tape is coming: we will soon be selling climbing tape to help protect fingers and hands, especially useful for those attempting the crack climbs!
  • We will be selling Odwalla juices any day now. Odwalla features fresh fruit juice smoothies and a very yummy chocolate protein shake.
  • Lead climbing course: we thought that we had a little time before people would be asking for lead climbing classes. Our thinking was that experienced climbers already know how to lead, and the people just starting out will take a while before they get to that stage. We were wrong! We have already had a few requests for a lead class, and are working on finishing up the course plan so we can start to offer this, hopefully within the next few weeks.
  • New routes! It’s almost time to start changing over the first section of routes and boulder problems! Look for the Chopping Block list on the front white board as a warning of what routes are slated to be taken down.

Other things we are thinking about:

  • Many of you have asked us to extend our hours and stay open until 11pm on weekdays. This will probably happen, but first we need to get a few of us working a little less, before we add more hours to the schedule. I think we can do this in the near future, so stay tuned.
  • Improved route tags: we’re looking at ways to make the route tags a little neater, easier to find, and more professional.
  • Improving the web site: we’ve been adding information and reorganizing the pages a little to try to help people find what they are looking for. We still need a lot more photos of the gym (it is surprisingly difficult to capture what the place really looks like in still photos), and will try to get a video walk-through posted as well. I would also like to improve the look of the site from the simple, spartan approach we started with. Anyone with experience with Drupal themes might want to drop me a line (Drupal is the content management system we use to create and manage the content on the web site).

Please let us know if there are other things you would like us to consider to make the gym better. If you see a problem, please let us know about it right away, and we will try to make thing right. And if you like the gym, please tell your friends!

Apr 15

Media Coverage of True North Climbing

We have been fortunate to attract a fair bit of attention from the media lately, as we head towards our Grand Opening Celebration on Saturday (10am – 3pm):

  • Last weekend we were featured in the Globe and Mail. The half-page article is available online.
  • Yesterday I recorded an interview with my brother Peter of 680 News. We expect that to be broadcast on 680 Friday morning.
  • Breakfast Television will bring their Live Eye crew with Jennifer Valentine to the gym tomorrow morning. Excerpts should be available at Jennifer’s Breakfast Television blog sometime shortly after that.
  • Toronto Post Magazine called a week or so ago, and will be sending a photographer over tomorrow. I expect there will be an article in an upcoming issue.
  • The Mirror will be coming in next week to talk and take photos, which should also lead to an article soon.
Apr 12

The HST is Coming – and Sooner Than We Thought!

This will be one of the least cool blog posts ever to appear in this space, but the issue is important.

On July 1st, Ontario will combine the federal GST (5%) with the provincial PST (8%) resulting in the new HST (13%). This has a significant impact on our business.

We currently charge the 5% GST on everything we sell, and the 8% PST only on retail sales (food, drinks, T shirts, water bottles, chalk balls, and equipment rentals). When the HST takes effect, we will be required to charge the full 13% on everything.

The HST will drive up prices on a lot of things that consumers buy, including memberships in our gym. The government is offering some other tax credits to soften the blow this year. And the change is supposed to be good for business, as it allows us to deduct the HST we pay on things used for our business, an improvement over the current GST credits. In the long run that will lower the cost of doing business, allowing us to hold the line on price increases or hire more staff.

We chose to post our membership prices exclusive of taxes specifically to deal with the coming HST change. Some may ask why, if this change is good for our business, we don’t just absorb the price increase. The answer is that the change comes too late for this business. A climbing gym involves an enormous initial investment, and then has moderate ongoing expenses. I will recover my start-up investment gradually over the next several years, but everything I spent to build the gym was without the benefit of the HST deduction that will be available starting in July.

Now on to the real point of this post. I just discovered that the impact of the HST actually begins well before July 1st. As of May1st, we are required to collect HST on a pro-rated basis for all memberships we sell that run past July 1st. We’re working out the details of how to calculate this properly (the amount of HST will change each day from May 1st to July 1st!).

We had planned to have a “Beat the HST” promotion in June, making sure people knew to lock in their memberships before it takes effect. Now we realize that promotion needs to start immediately. Annual prepaid memberships bought on or before April 30th will still have only the GST applied. The 8% difference adds up to $41.60 on a regular annual membership, or almost a month of climbing. So if you are thinking about buying an annual membership, the best time to do so is this month!

Apr 9

Our Grand Opening Celebration

We’ll be celebrating our new gym with a Grand Opening Celebration on Saturday April 17th from 10am – 3pm.

But wait, didn’t the gym already open a few weeks ago? Yup. We launched the gym March 27th with our Tour de Bloc bouldering competition, and then threw the doors open with free admission for climbers the next day. That was our welcome to the climbing community. Since then we’ve had a steadily increasing stream of climbers coming through our doors and enjoying Toronto’s newest indoor climbing gym. Climbers have been enjoying the top-out bouldering, scaling the stalactite, sitting atop the natural boulder, playing on the slacklines, and some have even tried to conquer the full-height finger crack (no successful ascents so far though!).

The Grand Opening Celebration on April 17th is our chance to introduce ourselves to the broader community, especially those who live in neighbourhoods near the gym. It’s being held a few weeks after we opened for business because we needed that time to get photos of people enjoying the completed facility, put those into our brochures, and get them printed and distributed in time to announce the event.

On April 17th from 10am – 3pm the gym will not be available for climbing. This allows us to welcome visitors to come in and look around without needing to sign a waiver as is usually required. We’ll have some demonstration climbing going on in a few roped-off areas, to show everyone how the joint works. We plan some slacklining demonstrations, and a few other things to keep people who drop by interested. We even have a few raffle prizes.

So if you have not yet seen our shiny new gym, please drop by on Saturday the 17th. If you have been wondering what this indoor climbing craze is about, come see for yourself. If you’re a climber and have friends or family who don’t understand why you do this, bring them along. We’re proud of our new joint and want to show it off!

Normal operations will resume at 3pm, after the Grand Opening Celebration.

Apr 5

The First Week

Our first week operating as a business (instead of being a construction site!) is now behind us. It was a very good week. We started with a bang with the Tour de Bloc comp, followed immediately by a very busy day last Sunday (free admission will do that!). The rest of the week was of course not as busy, but we are starting to steadily build up a membership base. Over the course of the week we got caught up on a lot of things:

  • Almost all the routes are now up, including route tags, and we’ve filled in a lot of the boulder problems we intend to have up.
  • All the waivers (several hundred of them!) that were signed have been entered into our computer system. Thank you desk staff!
  • We’re getting some sleep, and even the odd day off work!

As we worked through the week we figured out and refined a lot of our processes. We’ll continue to do this, and try to make things run as smoothly as possible, to make things better for both our customers and our staff. There may still be a few bumps here and there, and we appreciate you bearing with us as we figure everything out. We still don’t have our membership cards in use (they seem not to be recognized by our barcode scanner, and we’re working with the card supplier to get that fixed), so for the time being members and 10-pass holders will still need to check in at the front desk. And the web site is still a work in progress. Let us know what you expect to find there that you cannot, and we will respond.

The feedback we have had so far has been overwhelmingly positive, which makes us feel pretty great. There have been some suggestions though on things we can improve:

  • Some of you want rental lockers for storage of ropes and other gear between sessions. We have ordered 60 lockerettes (6 small lockers in each column), which should be in place within a few weeks.
  • Some of you want us to stay open until 11pm each night. We will probably extend our hours, but first I’d like to see our work schedules settle down a little, and make sure we are really on top of everything within our current hours. The managers are working much longer hours than I want to see, and I’m hoping that gets better over the next few weeks. So please be patient with us, and we’ll get to this in a bit.
  • Some have asked for weights to be added to the training area. We’re thinking about this one. I have some concerns about where they would go, how much room we would need to set aside, and how to be sure they can be used safely, and kept out of the hands of young children. I’d like to hear more details about exactly what kinds of weights are needed to help us figure out what to do about this.
  • A few people have asked us to provide rope buckets. This is not high on my priority list right now. Some think it makes more sense for each climber to provide their own means of carrying their rope around (I use a Mad Rock rope bucket, which I like a lot). I have a slight concern about these cluttering up the gym, and adding to what our staff need to keep an eye on. It’s not a big deal either for us to provide them, or for climbers to get their own, but we’re focusing on bigger things first.
  • I heard some concern on the forum about the slacklines being in the way. So far that doesn’t seem to be a problem, but we’re keeping an eye on it. We have added padding to the posts, and we have the option to take them down, or reconfigure them as a single line running parallel to the north tall wall. If they start being too much in the way at busy times, we’ll consider not having them up all the time.

Please keep the feedback coming. I have told the staff that our goal is to delight our customers. That’s a big step beyond merely satisfying them, and it’s something we take very seriously. If there is something wrong with the gym, please let me or my staff know about it right away. And if you like the gym, please tell your friends. Word of mouth is the best form of advertising.

Apr 1

Holiday Hours

We have a couple changes to our normal hours for the coming holiday weekend:

  • On Friday, the power will be shut down from 6am-6pm throughout much of Downsview Park for electrical work. As a result, we will be open only from 6pm-10pm that day. We’re thinking of it as making up for missing Earth Hour last Saturday when we had our Tour de Bloc comp hitting its climax around that time!
  • On Monday we will be open all day, from 10am-10pm to give people more time to climb if they are off work for Easter Monday.
Mar 28

A Good Start

Yesterday’s competition was a blast. We had 218 competitors, and the energy in the place was buzzing all day. Thanks to Luigi for staging a great comp, to the setting crew of Jody Miall, Kellan, Dustin, Stephen and Luigi for setting a great slate of problems, and to all our sponsors for providing a great array of prizes, and contributing to a large cash prize pool for the Open category winners. Laura from the Toronto School of Circus Arts (among our very cool neighbours at the Downsview Park Sports Centre) blew everyone away with her half time silk performance. I’d go on, but I need to get some breakfast and get ready for another exciting day: our first day open to the public for all kinds of climbing.

Several people asked yesterday whether they could lead climb today, and the answer is: yes, of course! We will be conducting top rope belay tests and lead tests for all who need them. Please be patient as we are expecting a large crowd, and it may be a challenge to keep up with those at first.

Come join us and check out the new gym. A reminder that all annual and continuing monthly EFT memberships come with your choice of a free TNCI T shirt or water bottle, for a limited time only!

Mar 27

This is It

Ten months of planning (and years of dreaming before that) have brought us to today, when we open our doors to the public for the first time for our inaugural Tour de Bloc bouldering competition. We have surpassed our goal of 200 competitors (we were a little over 210 last night, with a few more expected to sign up at the door today), making this the largest Tour de Bloc debut turnout (but not the largest turnout ever at one of these comps). Much more important, our team has done a fantastic job and we are ready (though a lot of important stuff happened yesterday!). Come join us this weekend to see what we have built. We’re proud of it, and we hope you like it.

This is It!

Mar 26

Free Stuff

We have two special offers as we kick off life at our new climbing gym:

  1. Climbing will be free on Sunday March 28th. We will be open from 10am – 6pm that day. We’re closing earlier than usual to help us recover from an intense week of preparation for our Tour de Bloc competition the previous day, and general craziness as we put all the finishing touches on the gym!
  2. For a limited time only, all new annual and EFT monthly memberships will include your choice of a True North Climbing T shirt or water bottle. This offer will last until our Grand Opening Celebration on April 17th, or while supplies last (whichever comes first). This offer does not apply to monthly prepaid admission.
Mar 24

The Press Release

[Note: We are planning a Grand Opening Celebration for April 17th, a few weeks after we are up and running. This gives us time to mail out brochures in the community with the exact date of the celebration pinned down. We are of course launching the gym this Saturday, March 27th with our Tour de Bloc bouldering competition, and opening for regular business the next day.]

True North Climbing Rocks Your Week!Home Toronto, March 23: True North Climbing, the newest addition to the Downsview Park Sports Centre, holds its official grand opening event April 17.

With over 14,000 square feet of climbing terrain, including the largest fully-suspended artificial stalactite in North America and a huge top-out bouldering area, True North Climbing is a state-of-the-art indoor rock climbing facility. Built in what used to be an airplane hangar, the gym features ceilings of up to 36 feet, with abundant natural light coming in from windows in the high space.

Owner John Gross, a former computer animation software developer, fell in love with climbing over six years ago and is excited to realize his dream of turning an obsession into a career.

“The first time I tried climbing, I went to try something new and to have an enjoyable activity with my kids,” said Gross. “I knew from day one I was hooked. I walked out of that gym with a new sport at age 45. Since then, I’ve seen three year olds take to climbing like a duck to water and I know individuals in their 60s and above who are as active climbers as they were three decades ago. From birthday parties or an unusual date night, to team-building exercise or for a social way to get in shape — it truly is a sport for everyone. Our focus is to provide fun climbs for climbers of all abilities.”

Indoor climbing is reaching new heights in Toronto, which now boasts five indoor climbing facilities in the city and more within an hour’s drive in the GTA. This is more than any city in Canada. True North Climbing’s location just north of Highway 401 makes it especially convenient for those who live in the northern half of the city or the surrounding suburbs.
Gross brought Eldorado Climbing Walls on board to design and build the custom climbing terrain. Eldorado has been building climbing walls for over 15 years, and has installed hundreds of walls across North America.

“When I first visited the True North Climbing facility I instantly found inspiration,” said Jason Plumb, lead designer at Eldorado. “The building’s architecture and history played a huge role in the look and feel of the climbing wall designs. The ideal size and structural conditions were available to create climbable features that I had been dreaming about for years. I know I speak for the entire Eldorado Wall Company team when I say that we are proud to have built a facility that will give the climbing community of Toronto a unique climbing experience.”

The look and feel of the space uses the building’s original purpose as inspiration. The hangar was the site of de Havilland’s production of Mosquito bombers in the early 1940’s. Plumb was inspired by the look of these planes, and used that to drive the design of the shapes of the walls and the colour scheme as well.

The True North Climbing management team also includes Gym Manager Clint Searle and Head Instructor/Routesetter Dustin Curtis, a member of the Canadian national climbing team. “These guys are top-notch, and I was thrilled to be able to hire them to join my team” says Gross. “They are both well-respected in the climbing community, and they bring many years of experience that will help us make True North Climbing an exceptionally safe and fun place to climb.”

Fact Summary
What: True North Climbing Inc. Grand Opening
When: Saturday April 17th from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm
Where: 75 Carl Hall Rd, Unit 14 [map]
The entrance to Parc Downsview Park is off Sheppard Ave, onto John Drury Drive (the first set of lights east of Keele St.). Turn left on Carl Hill Road. The sports complex building is on the right and True North Climbing has a separate entrance on the back of the building.
BY TTC: Take the 101 PDP bus from Downsview Station.
Information: or 416-398-ROCK (7625)

Media Contact:
John Gross
(416) 398-ROCK (7625)

Amy Stewart

Mar 24

Treading Lightly

One of the things that is really important to us as we launch our new business, is to find ways to be environmentally responsible in everything we do. It is in our minds every day, but it can be hard to do, and we aren’t perfect.

There are some easy things to start with: all of the paper products we use, whenever possible, are made from 100% recycled content. This includes our copy/printer paper, toilet paper, paper napkins, paper towel, and the paper used by our printers for brochures (in the works!) and signs. We also ask our printers to use only vegetable-based inks. When the Tour de Bloc started working on the posters for the comp, we asked them to do the same. We also buy only ecologically friendly cleaning supplies, and insist that our cleaning service do the same.

During construction, we made the decision to take down all of the existing high bay light fixtures (dating back to World War II?) and replace them with new, efficient ones that use compact fluorescent bulbs.

We will become a business customer of Bullfrog Power, who have a programme for businesses whose power is supplied by the landlord (as ours is).

And speaking of our landlord, Parc Downsview Park also has a commitment to operating responsibly with respect to the environment. One example of that is the waste disposal service they provide for the tenants. Turtle Island Recycling takes care of all the garbage, recyclables and food waste from the entire Downsview Park Sports Centre. While their service does not require us to separate all these materials (apart from cardboard), we decided to do so anyway as part of sending a clear message to our customers that recycling and minimizing waste is important to us.

Another decision we have made is not to sell bottled water. We have a drinking fountain with a bottle filler spout that provides good quality water for free. If you don’t have a refillable water bottle, we’ll sell you one with our logo for a reasonable price (once). The amount of waste generated by the bottled water industry is staggering, and there is no reason for it. We will not be a part of that.

While we are doing what we can, we’re far from perfect. Building a climbing gym means buying thousands of climbing holds made from polyurethane (though we have decided to avoid the use of polyester resin holds, which we believe are less environmentally friendly). It also involves thousands of cubic feet of foam. We have been assured that our foam contains a certain (small) amount of vegetable content (still working to verify that), but the flooring is still a part of the business that represents an impact on the environment that we wish could be smaller.

We’ll continue to work to come up with ways to operate more environmentally responsible, and we welcome your suggestions to help us do that.

Mar 19

Ceci n’est pas une mise à jour de construction

This is not a construction update. The construction is all done. This is just an update on some stuff we’ve been doing since construction wrapped up, and before we open the gym.

The padded floor is all done, and looks beautiful. The floor was a collaborative effort between Asana Climbing (the modular custom pads in the advanced bouldering area look beautiful) and Kyle Wilson and his gang from Rock Climbing School. Kyle came up with an elegant way to set up the padding around the slackline posts so that when they are taken down (for example, for the Tour de Bloc comp next Saturday) the floor will be seamless with no indication where the posts were. It’s much better than the design I had in mind!

With the ropes all up, routes covering most of the walls, and the flooring now in place, the place looks really stunning. We’ve been too busy this week to take new photos (seriously), but I’ll try to take some fresh ones next week. Or you could come out to the comp or come climb after that and see for yourself! I have to say that the photos do not really capture the scale of the place, or the magnificence of what the Eldo gang have built for us.

All of the late crises now seem under control. The leak in the roof is fading to a distant memory; luckily it was in our office area, and not near the climbing walls or the padded floor. Our credit card terminal got installed today (connected to our fax line instead of the DSL line we are still waiting to have installed). And we have an appointment Tuesday afternoon to get the fire alarms wired into the landlord’s system, so we can then get occupancy approval and open our doors for business!

A lot of hard work has gone into getting us this far. The routesetters have put in a lot of hours this week, and we’ll have a good selection of routes to try out after the comp. They’ll be back at work after the comp as well, filling in routes on the areas where the comp problems will be. And Clint and Dustin are both doing a great job of knowing what needs to be done to build and run a great gym, and then getting it all done.

We’re all taking a bit of a breather this weekend, to gather our strength for the final push. We are tired! But we are also incredibly excited and very proud of what we have put together – together.

There is still time to register for the comp, and I’ll remind everyone that you don’t need to be a great boulderer to sign up in the Recreational category and come have fun trying out some of the problems. We look forward to welcoming you to Toronto’s newest gym.

Mar 19

Opening Day

Since last fall, when I arranged to hold a Tour de Bloc competition in the new gym, our main target has been to be ready for that comp. We are still on track for that.

We had hoped to be able to hold a preview this weekend, letting people come climb for a couple days to check out the gym, before closing down again to prepare for the comp. Unfortunately, as is the case with almost every construction project, there are a few things that have not been completed in time to have the preview weekend. The main reason is that our electrical contractor ran a couple weeks late on their work, and that has cascaded into delays in integrating the fire alarms into the landlord’s system, and the installation of our DSL connection, which we need to support credit card processing. There are a number of other things we ourselves still need to do, and the week or so before the comp will give us the time to put the finishing touches on what is starting to look like a pretty fine gym (and I do say so myself!). Our inspections, while not yet complete, are proceeding well, and we’re taking care of the minor deficiencies that have been noted. I’m confident there are no big obstacles to being ready for the comp.

Last I heard, we already had 150 competitors signed up, with more than a week left to go, so I think we are on target to have the 200 we are looking for. There will be great bouldering problems (as is always the case at a Tour de Bloc event!), some very interesting and unique features to climb on, and a “half time show” to help get us through the wait between finals and results/awards. Note that our slackline posts will be down for this event (yes, they are removable!), in order to allow more room for the large crowd to move around, and to provide a large seating area for finals.

We will launch True North Climbing with a great comp, and then open for “normal” business on Sunday, March 28th. Our hours (which I will post on the web site once we are open) will initially be 10am-10pm on weekends and 2pm-10pm on weekdays.

Mar 18


Several of you have been asking about pricing, and now we’re ready to share that information. Our web site now includes a Pricing page which outlines the services we offer, and the cost of each.

Our prices are at or near the top of the range of gyms in our area, but not out of range. We feel we have put together a first class facility with some features that are unmatched by any other gym. It takes a huge up-front investment to build a place like this, and with that comes a long-term commitment. Our lease is for 10 years, with an option for another 5. Our 2 bank loans run for 10 and 20 years. Our pricing is set to produce a good return on that investment. We aim to provide excellent value for the money you spend with us, and as much as possible we have tried to keep our pricing structure simple and free of additional fees and conditions. And all of our staff have the goal of delighting our customers on every visit.

Mar 13

Construction Update #12 (last one!)

Yes, indeedy, this will be the last Construction Update entry. We are almost done, and from here on it’s just a lot of finishing touches before we are ready to open. A lot, though.

The Eldo gang have been cruising, and are just about done, right on time. They have a few lead anchors left to install, a few hours of training for us on care and feeding of the beautiful walls they have built for us, and then they’ll pack up their truck and head off to build someone else a gym nearly as nice as ours. 🙂

Steve and Mark from Asana are now on site, installing our padded floor. See the photo below for a peek at their work in progress. The custom modular pads in the advanced bouldering area are now in place, and they’re working on the 6″ blue carpet stuff now. That should all be in place by the middle of next week.

Some of the other construction has taken a little longer than planned to wrap up, but there too we are down to finishing touches like soap dispensers and toilet paper rolls. Yes, after about 3 1/2 months of construction, we now have indoor plumbing! There was much rejoicing.

We are holding our initial staff orientation day on Sunday, and then we’ll be routesetting like mad, and doing a million other things to get ready for opening day. We’re certainly on track for the competition on the 27th, and we are hoping to have a little preview before then, but can’t announce anything until we get past the required inspections and have approval to open our doors for business. Stay tuned!

This will be the final Construction Update, but we’ll continue to post updates on our opening plans and everything else that is going on in the gym.

Here are a couple of recent shots of the last bits of work.

The stalactite, before it got painted.
The custom modular pads in place in front of
the advanced bouldering area, and the open cell
foam is going down in the rest of the north side.
The foam gets cut out to make room for the
slackline posts, and we’ll have foam inserts/caps
to cover the holes when the posts come down
(for example, to make a nice large spectator
area for the Tour de Bloc comp).
Mar 11

Farewell To the Old Girl

Toronto Climbing Academy is closing the doors at its original location today, after having opened their spiffy new gym last month. It’s a sad day, as many of us spent a lot of time at the old gym. I have been a TCA member for over 6 years, and brought many friends in to climb there, mainly on Wednesday nights after work. It was a good gym, with a great relaxed social atmosphere, and I always felt welcome there.

The new location on Curity Ave (near St Clair & O’Connor) is bright and shiny and new. It’s spacious, with glass on 2 sides bringing in a lot of natural light. They have put in a ton of lead lines, and there are some great routes up on the walls. Overall it has a lot of improvements over the old location. While it’s sad to say goodbye to the old gym, it’s great to see the new location looking so good.

Here’s the Facebook event for the closing ceremonies:!/event.php?eid=10150114401555402

Mar 10

Getting Ready

about 5000 climbing holds, 3 ladders, carpet bonded foam, big rolls of open-cell foam, fold-up tables, folding chairs, dishes, cutlery, garbage cans, garbage bags, shop vac (make sure you get a “Ridgid”), track lighting, bolts, wood screws, 4 maillons (“what’s a maillon?”), find a fridge on Craigslist, power supply for the thermal printer, replace the cash drawer that was ordered with the wrong interface (serial vs printer-driven), water bottles ready yet?, membership cards, rope & quickdraws, harnesses, rental shoes, quicklinks, meet with window consultant, alarm system connected to phones?, DSL installed, meals for staff during training sessions, belay tags, laminating pouches (what sizes?), reconsider paint colours, review brochure mock-ups, inventory of prizes for the comp, register with additional police departments for police reference checks/vulnerable sector screening, offer packages for new staff, epipen for first aid kit, attend Toronto Sports Summit, plan for trip to Boulder for Climbing Wall Association Summit, plan staff orientation, update policy/procedure manual, microwave, toaster oven (reuse old one from basement?), coffee machine, “what do you mean my house needs a new roof now?”, run payroll, arrange for sales of climbing magazines in the gym, couches?, lighting for exterior sign, music service, cleaning service, audio system, build training area, posters, talk to day camp operator about working together, sprinkler system modifications for climbing wall, copies of all first aid certificates, routesetting tape (“but John can’t tell the yellow from the green!”), get leaking pipe fixed, membership forms, soap dispensers, benches for change rooms, install locker numbers (need rivet gun?), hangboards, campus rungs, comp boxes, helmets, bent-gate biners, locking biners, ascenders, aiders, daisy chains, gri-gris, slacklines, 800 m of rope, all waivers into Rock Gym Pro, set up all purchase items, write construction update for blog, arrange half-time show for comp, scaffolding behind the walls, about 25,000 T nuts, hand cleaner, get second porta-potty, replace drinking fountain (need one with bottle-filler spout!), make sure we have hand dryers that actually work, shoe cubbies, price list, block spammers from overrunning the online forums, forerun new routes as they go up, I’ll have a double-double, assemble quickdraws, design route tags, corner braces, concrete anchors, padding for steel beams & slackline posts, malware cleanup software, drill bits, more 2×6’s, paper cutter, propane torch, rope cutter, strip basement cave to sell holds to the gym (sigh), barcode scanner, printer cable, stencils, power bars, U bolts, pick flavors of drinks to sell, buckets for hold storage, buckets for routesetting, …

Mar 5

Construction Update #11

We’re in the home stretch now. Eldorado has just over a week left, and the non-climbing construction is just about done as well. Here are the latest updates:

The locker rooms are nearing completion,
with just a few finishing touches remaining.

The reception desk is in place.

The tile is going down; here is a view of the party area.

Dustin had a bunch of boulder problems up
a week and a half ago, but this is the first roped route.

This is the view from under the stalactite,
looking up, taken before all the wood was in place.

This thing is seriously cool,
and larger than I had expected!

So things are still on track, though we keep thinking of a million more things we have to get done before we open. It’s an exciting time.
Mar 4

Tour de Bloc is Approaching!

As we put the finishing touches to our new gym over the next week or two, we are getting very excited about our big launch event: our first Tour de Bloc bouldering competition. If you’re not familiar with the Tour de Bloc, check out their website, and you can catch up a bit on our earlier blog post about it.

Our comp, on Saturday March 27th, will be the eighth and final local competition of the season for the Central region (Ontario & Quebec). After that come the Regionals at Centre d’escalade Délire on April 9th & 10th, and the Nationals at Joe Rockhead’s on May 22nd & 23rd.

Jody Miall will be the head setter for the comp, as usual, and he will be ably assisted by our own Dustin Curtis. We’ll be giving them plenty of time to get ready, so expect some great problems, including a few on our stalactite! Can you climb upside-down?

Because this is the major launch event for our new gym within the climbing community, we are pulling out the stops to make it a great comp. I have decided to add the gym’s share of the gate receipts to the cash prize pool, and have also secured a few other contributions. We have the usual comp box provided by the Tour, and have added to it with contributions from other partners. A nearly complete list of those who have donated cash for the prize pool or prizes to be raffled off includes (in alphabetical order):

  • Asana Climbing (our flooring supplier)
  • Beta Clothing
  • Bluewater Ropes
  • Blurr
  • BS Productions
  • Climbing Hold Review
  • Climb-It Holds
  • Delire
  • Detroit Rock Climbing Company
  • Eldorado Climbing Walls
  • Evolv Sports
  • Grand Prix Kartways
  • HoopDome
  • IM Boulderer
  • Metolius Climbing
  • Mountain Equipment Co-op
  • Petzl
  • Project Holds
  • Revolution
  • Rock Empire
  • So Ill
  • Toronto Roller Derby
  • Toronto School of Circus Arts
  • Tour de Bloc
  • True North Climbing

In all, the cash pool and raffle prizes add up to over $5000 in prizes to be given out at this comp. There are over 70 raffle prizes, ranging from chalk balls and T shirts to ropes, shoes, a hangboard and a crash pad. And there are some great prizes from our local partners in the Downsview Park Sports Centre as well. We also have a half time show planned, to entertain you between the end of finals and the announcement of the winners.

This is looking to be a great comp. Registration is now open at Don’t think you need to be an amazing climber to participate, as the recreational category is there for those who just love to climb. We invite you to join us as we launch our new gym.

Feb 26

Construction Update #10

I’m off site this week (attending a few Olympic events in Vancouver, including yesterday’s impressive gold medal victory by our women’s hockey team), so this week’s construction update is courtesy of our first guest blogger: Skylar Pais, crew chief of the Eldorado Climbing Walls gang.

The last shape was hung on the stalactite today. That feature just took this gym to another level. We also climbed on the boulder for the first time tonight. Great shape, great setting, and really new holds. I lost some skin!

Feb 20

Construction Update #9

We’re nearly done with the north half of the gym. The bouldering terrain has its two coats of paint, and will get its “speckle coat” soon. We’re also done putting T nuts in there. The north tall wall with the chimney is partly painted, and partly T-nutted. Here are a few recent shots:

On the south side, the steel is almost all up, and most of the wood is in places as well. The south bouldering wall went up in just two days: the steel on Thursday, and the wood on Friday!

The change rooms are almost ready for their finishing touches. Light fixtures are up and the wiring & switches will soon be completed. The tile (both the ceramic tile in the shower area and the vinyl composite tile in the rest of the change rooms) should go down in the next few days, after which the lockers & plumbing fixtures should go in quickly.

Next week I will be in Vancouver, catching a few Olympic events. I’m going to miss the start of the stalactite, as the Eldo crew puts up the large steel columns that form its backbone, and then build the shell in two pieces on the ground before hoisting them up and welding them in place. And the freestanding boulder should arrive while I’m gone as well.

As usual, there are additional recent photos in our Picasa Construction album.

Feb 12

Construction Update #8

More great progress this week. The Eldorado crew is rocking along! This week we saw the arch completed between the lead room and the front area where the stalactite will soon start to grow. The texture was applied to the walls on the north side, and drilling out of the T-nut holes has begun. I installed the first T-nut and then attached the first hold on the wall! And the hand crack was carved by Chris Pope, who showed us his artistry. Let’s just let the pictures speak for themselves:

Chris Pope of the Eldorado crew carved this hand crack for us,
facing the entrance doors. It’s intended as a 5.9 (maybe 5.9+?) climb.
First ascent was expected this weekend (as part of quality assurance
by the Eldorado construction crew, of course)

Panoramic view of the north bouldering terrain
after texturing, from a scissor lift above it.
Panoramic view of the north tall wall, with chimney, after texturing.

More photos are available as usual in our Picasa Construction album.

Feb 7

Updated Panorama Views

Last weekend Mark Banas returned to the gym, and shot another set of panorama images. You can view them here. And to see what the space looked like before we started, compare that to the “before” panorama.

Apart from how cool these are, what strikes me is how much progress was made in the week since Mark shot these:

  • the drywall now covers the non-climbing areas
  • the windows have opened up on the north side, over the bouldering terrain, so there is natural light in there once again
  • the steel in the south side is now pretty much all covered in wood

Enjoy! Thanks, Mark!

Feb 6

Construction Update #7

OK, time for a few more photos and an update on how the work is progressing.

New windows are making their way in around the high monitors.

The finger crack begins to take shape
on the roped wall opposite the lead cave.

Things are rolling along pretty well. The Eldorado crew continues to push ahead, covering just about all the steel already in place with wood and getting much of it ready for texturing. They were also starting to sculpt the cracks: a 16′ high hand crack facing the entrance area, and a full-height (36′) finger crack in the wall shown above. The bouldering wall is ready for texturing (the top surface is done, and the sides will get sprayed soon). The steel shapes for the lead wall have been welded together, and with the base plates now attached to the slab floor, more steel will soon be going up in the lead cave.

The non-climbing construction is also advancing well, and moving ahead towards wrapping up at the end of this month. The change rooms are really taking shape, and other work such as electrical and sprinkler systems are going in.

While the construction professionals keep all that going, the climbing professionals have been busy as well! We had a few more shipments come in this week, bringing lots of gri-gris, locking carabiners, various routesetting rigging gear (ascender, pulleys, daisy chains and etriers!), as well as about another 20 boxes of climbing holds! Next week looks like a few more hold shipments and our rope. We’re having a good time checking out all the goodies, and Dustin has our holds organized and ready for setting. Can’t wait until we have the first few sections of wall textured, painted and T-nutted, so the holds can start to go up!

The other thing that is starting to occupy more of our time is interviewing. We have a steady stream of candidates coming in to talk about the part time positions we have posted.

There are additional photos to peruse in our Picasa Construction album beyond the couple included in this post.

Oh, and one more thing I almost forgot! Here is the last of the renderings sent up by Jason Plumb, our wall designer at Eldorado in Boulder. This is a view from around where the reception desk will be. The stalactite will hang from the ceiling 36′ up, and stop about 2 1/2 feet above the padded floor. We can’t wait to see that get built!

As usual, click on the image to see it in full resolution. I’ve uploaded all 4 hires renderings to the Renderings album on our Picasa page.

Feb 6

The New TCA is Looking Good!

I stopped by Toronto Climbing Academy’s new location earlier today. They had a good crowd out for their grand opening, and the place is looking really nice. I did a few climbs (good routes), and saw a lot of the usual TCA community there.

I was especially pleased to see they have a large seamless padding system around their huge top-out boulder, and that just about all their walls have lead anchors installed. These are two things in common with our new gym, so obviously I agree with both those decisions!

Congrats to Chris, Sacha and Ana on the beautiful new facility. I’m looking forward to working with them to keep growing the climbing community in Toronto.

Feb 6

Not Quite Ready for Visitors!

Just a quick note to remind everyone that for the time being, the gym is still an active construction site, full of busy workers and hazards. We wear hard hats and safety shoes at all times while in the space, and we have a few extra hard hats for the occasional visitor who has a reason to come by.

In addition, things are getting busy. The Eldorado crew is pushing hard to make sure the climbing terrain is done on time (and they are on track). The general contractor has a variety of trades working on the electrical, plumbing, sprinklers, drywall and other aspects of the facility. And the landlord has a crew completing the replacement of the clerestory windows. It’s a hectic place! The True North Climbing staff are also fully occupied now, taking inventory of all the shipments that are arriving (holds, gri-gris, harnesses, rope, etc.), and interviewing candidates for the part-time positions that are currently open. Pretty soon we’ll also have some construction work of our own, putting together the training area and the hold room.

So for reasons of safety and keeping our work on track, we are not really able to handle visitors
without advanced planning. Accordingly we must ask that people not drop by unannounced. We know that some of you are nearly as excited as we are about the new gym, and we are eager to share what we are up to. But please wait another few weeks until the construction wraps up, when we will be in a state where it’s safe to show you around, and will have the bandwidth to do so. Thanks for your understanding & patience!

Feb 1

Construction Update #6

Here’s a quick update and a few more recent photos. Things continue to move ahead well.

The lockers have arrived.
There will be 52 lockers (half height)
in each of the men’s and women’s change rooms.

The Eldorado crew surprised me with this nice bonus:
a solid ladder behind the walls, to provide safe and comfortable access
to the two tiers of scaffolding behind the walls.
This isn’t a terribly exciting photo,
but what it represents is pretty exciting.
The letter Ls painted on the floor mark where lead lines
will be placed on the climbing terrain.
Eldorado is installing metal plates
to which bolt hangers will be mounted
spaced a few feet apart along the metal structure
above each of these points.

Dustin was pretty stoked to be able to specify
where we want each of our lead lines,

and our gym will have a lot more leadable terrain
than most gyms

(just about every wall, except for the slab section).

These photos are from late last week. We saw really dramatic changes in one day today:
  • lots of drywall got installed around the change room areas
  • lots more wood sheeting got nailed up on the climbing structure in the south half of the gym. Seeing the wood covering the steel makes the forms stand out more clearly, and suddenly makes it feel more like a climbing wall!
  • the window replacement reached the north half of the gym for the first time, so there was natural light pouring in above the bouldering terrain for the first time in weeks!

There is still plenty of work left to do. the non-climbing construction (change rooms, reception area, plus the general work on electrical, lighting, heating and plumbing) will continue for the rest of February. By then the north half of the climbing terrain will be complete, and the south half will need just another couple of weeks to finish up.

Jan 29


While construction continues (and stay tuned for another little construction update, maybe over the weekend), we have started to receive all the gear we will need to operate the gym. First were the rental climbing shoes from Evolv:

99 pairs of Evolv rental shoes!

A few days later came our first shipment of holds, from 4 hold companies (Teknik, So Ill, e-grips and Franklin):

We have 5 more hold shipments still to come, from Atomik, Climb-It, Detroit Rock Climbing Company (DRCC), Friction and Project. And we’re also expecting shipments from Bluewater (ropes & slings), Petzl (gri-gris, locking biners, helmets and some other stuff), Rock Empire (harnesses, bent-gate biners). It’s fun seeing all this stuff coming in, and sorting through it.

More photos on our Picasa page, in the Unpacking! folder.

Jan 28

TCA #2: Grand Opening February 6th

As you may know, we’re not the only new gym opening soon in Toronto. Our friends at Toronto Climbing Academy have been working very hard to get their second gym ready. Right now they’re getting ready to lay down the floor padding and next week they will be setting routes like crazy, to be ready for their Grand Opening on Saturday February 6th.

I had a look at their new facility a month or so ago, and it was looking pretty cool. It’s a modern, bright space (huge windows on 2 sides bringing in lots of natural light), with spacious change rooms, and some pretty nice terrain, including a huge top-out boulder in the middle.

The second TCA is located at 11 Curity Ave, near St Clair Ave East and O’Connor Drive, not far from the DVP and Don Mills Rd, and a short bus ride from Woodbine subway station. Check them out on opening day. Who can turn down a free day of climbing?

Jan 24

The boulder from Boulder

A quick update on one of the cool features we’re putting in the gym: a freestanding boulder. Here are a few shots of the early construction of it, which is happening at Eldorado’s facility in Boulder, Colorado:

The boulder starts as a stack of 8 1-foot thick pieces of foam, glued together. It’s been carved into its rough base shape. Next cement texture will be applied over the foam base, and that will be hand-carved to form all the holds. We decided not to install T-nuts for modular holds on this (although Eldorado is quite capable of doing that), because we want this to just sit in the middle of the gym and look like a real rock, about 8 feet high and 8 feet in diameter. It’s intended as an easy boulder for kids and beginners, and a warm-up for more advanced climbers.

Jan 22

Construction Update #5

Another good week, and I’m feeling like things are really under control. I figure it’s the eye of the hurricane, and more crazy stress lies ahead. In any event, I am enjoying the feeling of being on track, and thinking we know what we’re doing.

Here are a few shots of what has gone on this week:

Framing for the storage room near reception.
This is where the dishwasher, water heaters and storage will go.

The sheeting nearly complete on the north tall wall, opposite the
bouldering terrain. Much of the lath work is done,
including a nice flake on the left edge of the chimney,
and some of the texturing is done on some seams.