Overview: Squamish in British Columbia, Canada
The stereotype of Canadians is true; they are extremely kind and unknowingly say “eh” a lot. Squamish, B.C. has one of the most amazing atmospheres of any climbing destination in the world. A fjord shapes the coast, with British Columbia’s mountains giving a constantly beautiful view. The summer months of relatively dry weather attract people from across the globe to climb the perfect fine grit granite. The rainy weather can come back at any time, but that’s part of what makes Squamish such a special place. The huge forest below the Chief changes constantly. Moss takes over quickly. You can come back year after year and keep discovering new things. If the rain just doesn’t stop, Gibb’s Cave and the Circus Wall can be great climbing options, or the gym just 5 minutes away.
The rangers that work at the Stawamus Chief Provincial Park only add to the relaxed community in Squamish. Many of them will climb right alongside you. Most of the best quality rock is between a five minute to half-hour walk from the campground, and the high density of climbs creates endless entertainment and challenges. Amazing smaller crags are spread out in every direction, most being only a three to fifteen minute drive away. Paradise Valley is a standout among the smaller crags as an incredibly beautiful and fun place to climb. To be able to get around, the rope and bouldering guidebooks written by Marc Bourdon are highly recommended. Both offer a great list of suggested climbs.
“The Top 100” goal is a great one, but hard! Whatever your favorite style of climbing is you will have your hands full; the beginner climber will not miss out. Squamish has incredible test pieces for every grade.
Specific description of climbing style
All three styles of climbing have amazing quality climbing, but there are substantially more world class bouldering and trad climbs. If interested in other outdoor activities, Squamish claims the title as Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada. Mountain biking, kite surfing, hiking as well as the climbing are all world class.
Bugs and humidity will never entirely go away during the summer months of Squamish, but it’s usually very manageable. If bouldering in the North Wall areas, bring a mosquito coil!
Climbing grade range
If learning how to trad climb, you’re in luck. There are plenty of well-protected easy cracks, as well as a huge amount of moderate to difficult climbs that will allow you to progress as fast as you want. Bouldering offers a wide range, especially many high quality V4s, V8s, and V11s.
Top climbs in Squamish
Check out the top 100 list for Marc Bourdon’s guide. My personnel favorite climbs in Squamish:
- The Grand Wall (5.11a) – Goes straight up one of the most obvious line of the Chief.
- The Split Pillar (5.10b) – A tapered hand crack.
- The Sword (5.11a) – An awesome finger testing crux pitch directly above The Split Pillar.
- Young Blood (5.13b) – The Cacodemon boulder doesn’t stop giving. Young blood starts in a giant roof over an immediate 30-foot drop; well protected but feels bold. This is a stand out if you enjoy climbing steep granite roofs or technical granite faces; it offers both.
- Straight Outta Squampton (V9) – Jason Kehl continuously seems to choose beautiful looking lines that are tall. Straight Outta Squampton is one of his coolest and most striking lines. It no longer sports the obtrusive bolts and is a pure highball boulder with a dynamic finish to make your heart beat just a little faster.
How stiff is the grading?
The first two weeks in Squamish on your first trip will feel like an 80% on the stiffness scale. It takes some time to learn Squamish, but once you do, it becomes closer to the fair 50% or lower.
Best local spot
For endless coffee refills and free Wi-Fi, check out the Adventure Center. One loonie* Samosas at Bisla are one of the best things that exist. And when you are ready to rest with a hot tub jet on your back, swim in a pool, sit in a steam room, and take the long awaited shower—the Brennan Park Recreation Center is only two loonies between 11:15 and noon and you can stay for as long as you want.
*a loonie roughly equal to a U.S. dollar
Where to stay?
On the weekends the chief is packed with hikers, and a fair amount of climbers show up from Vancouver. Those are nice days to check out the smaller crags or places like the North Walls. The day to tick off your top 100 climbs should probably not be on Saturday or Sunday, unless you want more pads for the amazing list of highballs Squamish has to offer.
Best kept secret
You can find free camping if you can’t afford staying the whole summer paying in the campground.
Now to you
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