Revelstoke dumping ground reclaimed as kids bouldering area

Douglas and David Sproule clean up illegal dumping ground to uncover kid-friendly bouldering area.

Douglas Sproule at the Big Eddy Boulders.

Douglas Sproule at the Big Eddy Boulders.

It was a dumping ground. When David and Doug Sproule worked to develop a small bouldering area just off Westside Road, their first order of business was to clear out the “mountains of garbage.”

“We’re talking truckloads,” Douglas told me when I met him last week for a tour of the Big Eddy Boulders. “It was incredible.”

The Big Eddy Boulders are a small cluster of boulders located off Westside Road, about one kilometre from the Trans-Canada Highway, just before the Jordan River bridge.

The collection of eight boulders are tucked along a small side road, sandwiched between Westside Road and the Columbia River. They lead to a rock that juts out over the Columbia River providing views of the surrounding mountains.

Sproule hopes to develop it as a kids climbing area, where they can scale easy routes and learn other climbing skills such as top roping. “This is child, kid and adult friendly,” he said. “It’s close to town. You could build a bike path here, picnic tables, ropes, an out house — turn it into a park.”

I was early when I went to meet Sproule at the boulders. I parked on Westside Road and walked less than 100 metres down the small spur road, where a large slab or rock stood. It stretched for about 20 metres from end-to-end, ranging in height from 3-5 metres. I scrambled up an easy looking section of rock. Even in running shoes, it was fairly simple, with large hand holds and foot holds big enough for my sneakers.

Other boulders feature overhangs, gentle slabs, cracks and more features. Some rocks are smooth, while others were filled with holds of varying sizes. The boulders are all fairly short and less consequential than you might find elsewhere. “The rock is so featured that even the tall problems are super easy,” said Sproule.

The area was discovered years ago by David Sproule, but he only recently told his cousin Douglas, who’s on the board of the Revelstoke Climbers Access Society, about it.

They went in together and spent several long weeks clearing away brush, scrubbing the rocks, building trails, and hauling away the trash, getting help from many others along the way.

Photo: The garbage pile amassed by David and Douglas Sproule at the Big Eddy Boulders. The liquor bottle boasts the label “A Proud Canadian.” ~ Photo by Douglas Sproule

They were given a waiver by the Columbia Shuswap Regional District in order to bring the garbage to the dump for free, and were given a deal by Revelstoke Equipment rental on equipment. Douglas said they stopped several people from dumping their trash while they worked on the site.

Nothing was done through official channels.

“The stuff gets done by the people. I just decided to do it,” he said. “It’s going to take two years to get the permits. Better to beg for forgiveness, then ask for permission. If anyone has a problem, they can blame me or fine me.”

Now that the area is cleaned up, they plan on applying to turn into a park or recreation site. The area is Crown land, but sits within city limits. The goal is to make it official so the access society can get funding for it and continue to add features.

“My vision is a ropes course, Tyrolean traverses, swings, slack line, picnic tables — all of it,” said Sproule. “A whole bunch of people have put in a bunch of killer ideas already. None of it is hard to do. It’s all pretty cheap.”

You can find out more about the Big Eddy Boulders, and other bouldering spots, at