A Love Letter to Val-David

Some towns have all the luck. They’re the kind of places that beg you to ask yourself if it’s possible spend all of your time there. These places come right off the tip of my tongue: Keene, New Paltz, Stowe, North Conway, and for that last couple of years, Val David.

Val David cliff

Three years ago, I don’t think I knew of Val David, I learned of it shortly after relocating to Montreal. It’s an hour north of the city but a world away.

If rock climbing legend Fritz Weissner spent his time here, you can rest assured that it is absolutely spoiled with classic rock. For skiing, it is a mini-paradise too: Mont Alta is one of three downhill ski hills in town, and now serves as the only uphill area I know of in these parts.

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Thacher State Park Climbing

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once famously said “You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.” This rings true at Thacher State Park, where the tireless efforts to keep the park safe from budget cuts and then open the area to climbing have created the newest sport climbing area in the Northeast.

Before New York added climbing at the park — named for a former Albany mayor John Boyd Thacher — I had entirely overlooked this green oasis. Located 20 miles west of Albany, it’s an easy drive from the Capital District, but for climbers coming from the north or south it meant driving by the Adirondacks or the Gunks.

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Quebec: Long Lakes and Climbing Takes

I looked up at the stars with my head cocked all the way back, as if my body was about to be sucked up into the heavens. This view alone was worth the two year wait since I first heard about the cliffs along Lac Long, a little north and west of Quebec City. It was Friday night, and it felt great to settle in after hiking by our campsite inadvertently, well past dark.

The park is a climbing-insiders favorite here, providing a mix of established and open traditional lines in a setting that is neither remote adventuring or old news, a locals spot that’s also worth a pilgrimage. Perhaps the reason it is so perfectly overlooked, like Val David, is that it resides in yet another Quebec regional park.

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