Bouldering Gym Review: Backbone Boulder, Bromont, April 2023

Posted by Patrick Lam on Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Table Of Contents

And now for something completely different: a bouldering gym review.

I was staying at the in-laws’ in Bromont and noticed that there was a bouldering gym 15 minutes’ walk away. It was also raining and the walk involved being on the side of the rural highway, so we took the car.

What you need to boulder topless

Backbone Boulder, tagline: “Pas juste un centre d’escalade” (“not just a climbing gym”) is in the corner of a field in Bromont, next to a small forest. Except for its transit-inaccessible location, it reminds me of European gyms, e.g. minimum. Though unlike minimum, it has heating, and problems in a more modern style.

Backbone Bouldering Gym

The main thing is that it has bouldering problems. It has the usual angles: not much slab, some vert, and various angles of overhang, through to the usual cave-style of overhang. The walls are also pretty high for bouldering. I took a fall on a last move and it felt like I was in space for a long time before hitting the ground.

It’s not a huge gym; I almost flashed one of the orange (reasonably fair Quebec gym V4-V5) routes and sent two others after a couple of attempts; the corner blue-holds, orange-tape took me a solid 4 or 5 tries before finding beta that worked. That accounts for about a quarter of the orange routes. Bromont is also not a huge population centre, though it does have a popular ski hill. I wonder if I’d climb all the problems before they reset them. Not if I were trying hard enough problems.

Problems in the corner

In terms of problem quality, there was definitely interesting movement required on the corner problem that I tried the most times and had to find beta to unlock, which is what we’re looking for. Sometimes I looked at a problem and thought the holds would be too annoying, but that’s not unique to this gym. There were definitely two cruxes at top holds.

Their website also talks about free and non-free climbing lessons, which seems useful for getting people climbing better and hence more likely to come back. (Grand River Rocks also used to do similar instruction before the pandemic and the Waterloo location still seems to do grrls technique).

I did not try the food or drink, but they have ramen and a BBQ where you can grill your own food or buy sausages from them. Also a full café offering (espressos, lattes, teas). They also have a hot tub and hammocks. If I was really serious about reviewing, I would have tried them and reported back to y’all. I also didn’t check out the training area upstairs, but it looked like your average reasonably-serious training area at a climbing gym.

Hammock (and ghost bike?)