If I had to describe Squamish in a few words, I’d say: adventure at your doorstep. Only one hour north of Vancouver, it’s got everything an outdoor adventurer needs, including perfect granite climbing. There’s intimidating, big walls, world-class single-pitch and bouldering, with both trad and sport climbing on offer.
Routes for all disciplines and skill levels
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 of 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.
Climbing the Chief
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 to 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.
Where to go for single-pitch routes and bouldering
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, and the world’s best boulderers will attest to that. It is worth mentioning, the two gems of the area that attract the 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.