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Push yourself: Enter a climbing competition

Climbing up the Skaha Bluffs in Penticton, B.C.

Darryl Leniuk/The Globe and Mail

What's the deal?

Race up a rock wall.

Where's it at?

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Rock climbing is a sport that requires strength, skill and finesse. Speed seldom comes into the mix, as even the quickest climbers move in a methodical, yogi-like rhythm. For those wanting to take their climbing to a new level, consider entering a climbing competition. Head to Penticton's Skaha Bluffs for the second annual Skaha Climbing Festival.

Situated in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley, better known for its beaches and wineries, the 489-hectare provincial park has more than 650 climbing routes, from beginner to expert level and the autumn climate is ideal. The walls here are gneiss, a very old rock characterized by numerous tiny ledges and holds, the smallest of which require fingertips of steel. Base yourself at the Waterfront Inn, on the shores of Skaha Lake, a 10 minute drive from the Bluffs.

For the beginner and intermediate events, climbers will have between 10 and 15 climbs to complete, each scored according to difficulty. There will be clinics led by pro climbers in case you need some last-minute advice. Advanced climbers will square off on a 5.14-plus route that commands gecko-like skill to ascend. Winners will bring home some nice swag and have bragging rights over one of Canada's top rock-climbing destinations.

Who's it for?

Those who like rock, ropes and have little fear of heights. The 2012 Skaha Climbing Festival runs from Sept. 21 to 23. Call 250-490-6084 or visit for more details.

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