Bouldering in Squamish, BC
An hour outside of Vancouver, there’s a beautiful temperate rainforest unlike any place I’ve seen before. The land is green with trees, moss, and other forms of vegetation, in the middle of which are boulders, boulders, and more boulders. There are granite boulders everywhere. This place is called Squamish, and I might just call it my bouldering paradise.
When to Go
I’d been hearing about the bouldering opportunities in Squamish for a long time, so this past October a friend and I decided we’d make the trip. Going to Squamish in October is risky; it rains a lot there, and it had been raining for about two weeks straight before we made our trip. But when we checked the weather and saw a good forecast for the upcoming week, and we decided it might be a good time to pack up and go.
The best time to go to Squamish is in July or August, the lowest rainfall months of the year. It’s warmer during these months, but it’s still comfortably climbable since most of the boulders are shaded by the trees. The safest bet is to plan for rain on at least one day and pack accordingly.
We didn’t take much on our trip. I’d recommend taking all your normal camping items, including a waterproof tent, some changes of clothing, and a warm layer like a packable down jacket.
Don’t forget any of your climbing gear, and if you’re coming from outside Canada, make sure you have your passport.
The best place to camp is probably right in Squamish. Even though the campground was closed for the season, we were still allowed to park in an open parking lot outside the campground and walk into the campsites. When the campground is open, you can park closer to your campsite. My favorite campground is right by The Chief, where most of the bouldering is. Make sure you get the newest guidebook or map of Squamish before you go so you can easily find your rocks. Our guidebook was outdated, and it took us some time to find where everything was. The next Squamish bouldering guidebook is scheduled for release in May 2014.
On your first day, take a minute to walk around the boulders and scout things out. Getting to know the area a little bit will help you have a smooth, well-planned climbing trip. All of the bouldering opportunities near The Chief area are very close together, and the farthest boulders require only about 10 minutes of easy walking with a little bit of scrambling.
I suggest taking as many crash pads as you can, because there are many different types of climbs in Squamish. For many of them you’ll only need about three crash pads, but once you start getting into the higher grades, v8+, there are a lot of classic climbs for which you’ll need more. Between the three of us we had about six pads at all times, and I felt that was a good amount to pad the climbs safely.
The rock in Squamish is unique granite. Its features range from pinches to great heel hooks to cool side pulls. The climbing can be difficult, so go to Squamish with a happy attitude and don’t plan to send everything you try. Even if it’s a low grade that you normally flash, this rock can be difficult. There were some v4s that I couldn’t do and that some of my friends who climb v12 had a hard time doing. It may be difficult climbing, but it’s a very rejuvenating place.
Joe Meiners on The Egg (V11)
Some of the climbs we really liked:
- The Rookie (V8) (split-level landing, need lots of pads)
- The Resurrection (V9) (very tall, take lots of pads)
- Viper (V5)
- Detached Flake (V0)
- Worm World Cave (V9)
- Titanic (V3)
- Timeless (V4)
- Trad Killer (V4)
- Space Monkey (V5)
- The Egg (V11)
- More classic routes courtesy of the Mountain Project >
There are plenty of things to do in Squamish on your rest days. We hiked up to the third peak of The Chief, and it was beautiful! If you want to hike all the way up, just be prepared to spend 2 to 2.5 hours to reach the top.
There’s a visitor center in Squamish that has free wireless Internet if you need to use your computer. In the summer when it’s warm, you can go to the lakes and swim, so consider bringing a swimsuit. The town is less than a mile away, and where there are grocery stores for food and supplies and restaurants if you want to eat out.
Driving to Squamish took a long time, but it was worth the trip. I can honestly say that Squamish has some of the coolest boulders I’ve ever climbed, and I hope to go back sometime soon. I’d recommend this trip to all.
The MBH Diner aka The Mountain Burger House – Location
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Read Diana’s report on bouldering in the Uintas >
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