Squamish

If I had to describe Squamish in a few words, I’d say: adventure at your doorstep. Only one hour north of Vancouver, Squamish has it all. There’s intimidating, big walls, world-class single pitch and bouldering, with both trad and sport climbing on offer.

Few places have so many world-class routes between grades and climbing disciplines. Because of this and such easy access to so many crags, I find Squamish to be a truly unique place. The climbing is on the finest slick granite, which means plenty splitter cracks. There are classic crack lines of all grades — from 5.8 to 5.14. If you don’t have prior experience with crack climbing, be prepared to learn from the hard way. I have seen (and experienced first-hand!) climbers falling off cracks that are way below their usual sport climbing level. Finally, I have to mention the rain. It can be rainy in Squamish, but there has to be something, right? Otherwise it would just be too perfect.

Squamish’s most prominent climbing feature is the Chief, a mighty 700m granite wall that looms over the town. The easiest way up is only 5.9, but the route requires some efficiency to complete it before nightfall. I advocate starting with some of the smaller walls, like the Apron, to get a feel for the climbing and so you practice moving quickly. There’s also easier routes up the Chief, and they’re quite popular, so I recommend an early start to avoid getting stuck in traffic.

For single pitch, I’d recommend Smoke Bluffs, Murrain Park, and Leviticus, ordered with respect to the increasing level of difficulty. The forest below the Chief is littered with boulders. Even if Squamish is not primarily known as a bouldering area, don’t be fooled, bouldering in Squamish truly is world-class, as evidenced by frequent visits of world’s best boulderers. It is worth mentioning the two gems of the area that attract world’s climbing elite: Cobra crack (5.14b), one of the hardest crack climbs in the world, and Dreamcatcher (5.14d), the most esthetic sport climbing line as far as I am concerned, first ascended by the legendary Chris Sharma.

About the author

Jurica Levatic

Jurica Levatic

PhD, climbing nerd, 5.14 crusher, and big wall speed climber

Jurica got bitten by the climbing bug 15 years ago. Since then, there was hardly a week without him obsessing about a climbing project, new training plan, or visiting a new crag. He used his spare non-climbing time to earn a PhD in Computer Science and win the first ever ESA data-mining contest.

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