Flatbloc Festival: Bouldering on the East Coast


Editor's Note - While the east may lack the scale of other Canadian climbing destinations, it has a committed community to make up for it, dedicated to developing (and uncovering) local gems; enter the Flatbloc Fest!

The festival is an annual competition hosted by the ACC Newfoundland & Labrador Section, challenging participants to top out as many boulder problems as possible in a six hour period.

FlatBloc is an shining example of what the ACC represents: genuine effort and motivation to gather the outdoor community together, celebrating the activities that we love.

Nick Ivany on Unnamed V2. Photo: Greg Locke

Flatrock and the festival

Sarah Spurrell on Nazis and Their Chickens (V3). Photo: Greg Locke

Flatrock is a small town, about as far east as you can get in Canada before the long swim to Ireland. Despite its diminutive size, this town is home to over 100 boulder problems and 50+ single pitch climbs within 15 minutes hike of a parking area and less than 30 minutes from the Newfoundland and Labrador capital of St. John’s.

Capitalizing on the plethora of easily accessible climbing, last year the ACC Newfoundland & Labrador Section hosted an open bouldering competition, lightheartedly named “FlatBloc Fest”. The goal? Top as many boulder problems as you can within the 6-hour event timeframe.

Approximately 40 local climbers came out on a slightly grey August day to get their guided trip around the various boulders and short sea walls, plus an early release of an upcoming Avalon Bouldering Guidebook from then-volunteer trip leader, now-ACCNL chair, Joel Harvie.

Building the community

Brittany Sobol on O. C. Bee (V2). Photo: Joel Harvie

Joel had spent the summer building up the local community’s stoke with weekly bouldering events, hitting most major areas within 40 minutes of the city - Newfoundland is called ‘The Rock’ for a reason! There are countless sea walls and boulders across the island, with limitless opportunity for development still waiting for people to clean and tick new lines. For these efforts in building the local community and leading the weekly events, Joel was one of this year’s recipients of the Don Forest Service Award for distinguished service to the Club.


2017 Festival Highlights

Stephen Ryan on Blinded by the Light (V0). Photo:Greg Locke

Despite the grey weather, reception to the event was spectacular. Stephen Ryan came out with his A-game and crushed 78 of the 106 available problems within the time limit, including a strong ascent of Nosferatu (V5) right at the end of the day, to take first place for the men! Sarah Spurrell, Head Youth Coach at local gym Wallnuts Climbing Centre, narrowly edged out the provincial youth champ Erinn Locke with 37 problems to Erinn’s 35.

2018 festival and future development

Ben Winstanley on Catch me Quicker (V2). Photo by Greg Locke

This year’s event will be taking place on August 25th (rain day of the 26th) and has garnered amazing sponsorship from local gear shop The Outfitters, supplying pads and packs as prizes for most tops and hardest sends for both male and female divisions, and Wallnuts loaning us all of their rental pads for the day!

If you’ve not been to the area before, the trip leaders will be running circuits of the areas, and everyone signed up gets an updated PDF copy of the Flatrock section of the Avalon Bouldering Guidebook (still in pre-production, as ongoing development happens almost as fast as Joel can add route descriptions)!

Come join local ACC Events

Regional sections of The Alpine Club of Canada are its strength. Opportunities to learn the crafts of climbing and attend events like the ones above are available. Just find your local ACC Section for the event calendar and sign up!