Three granite boulders like those seen here will be shipped to a Calgary park; (photo/Philip Schubert)
Three granite boulders, much like those pictured here will be shipped to a Calgary park; (photo/Philip Schubert)

Canada Ships Boulders Cross-Country for Flatlands Climbers

It’s the first we’ve heard of anything like it — come July 2022, a Canadian skatepark will be home to several 13-foot boulders. Calgary climbers, prepare your crashpads.

Three all-natural granite boulders are about to embark on a journey from British Columbia to a recreational park in Alberta.

Usually, companies pay demolition service providers to haul off and destroy oversized boulders to make way for new construction. This time, the City of Calgary is flipping that script.

First Imported Boulders?

Shaw Millenium Park in Calgary, Alberta; (photo/Chuck Szmurlo) granite boulders
Shaw Millenium Park in Calgary, Alberta; (photo/Chuck Szmurlo)

According to the CBC, the three granite slab pebbles will ultimately reside at Calgary’s Shaw Millenium Park. Once in situ, local climbers can treat the formations like any other climbable boulders. Bring on the crashpads, yerba mate, and chalk.

But wait, there’s more! Each boulder will undergo 3D scanning. Those scans will then upload to a climbing app.

What they’ll do there, we don’t exactly know. In the parks, however, project officials hope they’ll result in a wider user base.

“We see that there’s a need for these types of diverse structures in our parks,” explained James Papineau, a project manager overseeing the au naturel addition. “We’re always looking to make our parks attractive to people and accessible to all.”

Given the well-documented uptick in outdoor climbing’s popularity, this sort of move seemed somewhat inevitable — if a bit indulgent.

Highball boulderer Miles Adamson told Gripped that the idea had crossed his mind before. And if the Millenium Park project team executes the transfer without substantially altering the boulders, he thinks the addition could be worthwhile.

“If they could somehow dig up and transport Squamish-like boulders that felt natural and stuck them in Calgary, I would definitely check it out,” he said.

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Potential Cruxes

But Adamson also raised some prescient concerns about the concept’s experiential quality that many climbers will likely sympathize with.

First, “they would probably be completely blank boulders that have no holds to break, and [the project team would then have to] chisel the problems in. At that point, you might as well just go to the gym.”

Second, there’s the probable issue of overcrowding. “It’s probably super expensive to transport the boulders,” he continued. “So there’s probably going to be very few of them. So if they are any good at all, they will be too busy anyways.”

Concept illustrations and information about which app will host the boulder scans were not available at the time of press.

Nonetheless, the pebble wrestlers here at GearJunkie are eager to see how it all shakes out.

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Jilli Cluff

Jilli grew up in the rural southern Colorado mountains, later moving to Texas for college. After seven years in corporate consulting, she was introduced to sport climbing — and life would never be the same. She now works as a contributor, gear tester, and editor for GearJunkie and other outlets within the AllGear family. She is based out of Atlanta, Georgia where she takes up residence with her climbing gear and one-eared blue heeler, George Michael.