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First rock climbing festival held at Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park

Rock climbers at Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park, in Penticton, B.C, raised money for their Park Watch Program, during a two-day festival filled with games, climbing, and entertainment.

This was the first-ever Skaha Climbers Festival and it turned out to be a popular affair.

“It’s been an overwhelming response. We’ve probably had over 1,700 people in the last two days climbing here in Penticton,” said Rolf Rybak, organizer of the Skaha Climbers Festival.

The Park Watch Program keeps the area safe and secure.

In the past, climbers at the bluffs had a number of issues with theft and vehicle break-ins. This program, which Rybak says has been a huge success, employs people with disability barriers who can watch the park for any suspicious activity and report it immediately if needed.

“We initiated the park watch program with Penticton Area Co-operative Enterprises and hired people with barriers. And since then we’ve had one break-in in this park and the big benefit is we’ve integrated people with barriers into our community and supplied thousands of hours of employment for them,” said Rybak.

“When we had the break-ins we lost tourism visits by over 40 per cent.”

This festival is also expected to boost tourism in the Okanagan-Similkameen area, as it invites climbers from across the world.

“People are here from Quebec, from Ontario, from Oregon, from Washington State. It attracts climbers from around the world. It is an impact, for all of us in the region, it’s not just Penticton. We all benefit from this kind of activity,” said Ron Obirek, the RDOS Director Electoral Area “D.”

Moving forward, the festival is expected to run semi-annually at the Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park.

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