Squamish Climbing Suggestions


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Trad climber
Bay area
Topic Author's Original Post - Aug 16, 2008 - 09:17pm PT
Hey everybody,
Heading up to Squamish soon for the first time for a full week of climbing... super psyched!

Does anybody have any favorite routes, crags, or linkups that we should try to get on? Non-climbing beta would also be much appreciated. (My partner and I both climb up to 5.10 crack and face.)

Thanks in advance!

Todd Gordon

Trad climber
Joshua Tree, Cal
Aug 16, 2008 - 09:58pm PT
I have one suggestion;...bring a rainjacket.....

The Clean Crack

Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
Aug 16, 2008 - 10:05pm PT
Of course Mighty Hiker is a distinquished guidebook author for the area, but I'll throw in my two cents worth anyway. Lots of great climbing there.

favorite crack climbs:

Quarry Man 5.8
Penny Lane 5.9
Seasoned in the Sun 10a
The Zip 10a (perfect hands)
Exasperator 10c
Centerstreet 10a (hard for 10a, took one of my few leader falls on this)
Flying Circus 10a
Apron Strings (some 10b liebacking) 10b
Merci Street 10b (intimidating -- good practice for the Split Pillar right side)
The four pitch thing that goes up the Neat and Cool Area


Deidre 5.8
Merci Me 5.8
Local Boys Do Good 10d

There are more, I'm not remembering the names and can't find my guidebook

EDIT: I find the stuff up to 10c overrated at squamish. That is, Squamish 10b = Yosemite 10a = Index 5.9

But in the harder routes, the ratings are very similar to Yosemite.

And, the weather is usually great this time of year

Big Wall climber
A cube at my soul sucking job in Oregon
Aug 16, 2008 - 11:16pm PT

Clean crack is now off limits. The lower malemutes down by the tracks got closed back in 2003 by the railroad because some dumbass with a walkman on (climber) got hit by a train.

So Old School, Crescent Crack, Hand Jive, Caboose, and whatever else what down there are all toast.

According to Carly the Offwidth Freak (used to work for Locker I think? or at least got knocked up by one of his employees?) reported back that the closure sign was bolted right next to clean crack, lowering the rating to about 10b if you used it as a foothold (which she was doing when she got rousted by railroad workers...)

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Aug 16, 2008 - 11:46pm PT
We just went there for the first time in July. So here's a kind of long bit on some of the things that we learned as area newbies...

First...all of those signs about leaving valuables in your rig...believe them. Our credit cards only got stolen from the Apron parking lot. By the time we phoned them in, some numbnuts had tried to buy $1800 in booze which at least sent up the red flag and got the cards automatically shut off. We left the rig at the campground, hid a little plastic and cash, and hoofed it from there on subsequent adventures.

We were partial to doing longer stuff and didn't do any sport climbing or boulders. Angel's Crest was the favorite overall of my bf and I both. The climbing is not all scrubbed clean splitters to say the least but the position is often outrageous.

Rock On to Squamish Buttress was a fun long link to the summit too. We both thought that the pitches themselves were the best on Rock On and the Squamish B. crux is really cool!

I didn't find the grades soft as others have, but I did find the pitches on these routes to be pretty short b/c of the wandering and vegetables, so they went a lot faster than I'd normally expect routes of that length to take. The descent is super cushy.

We did most of the super-popular moderates up the Apron, and they were all good. It's easy to do 2 or 3 in a day with nice rests back at the truck in between. St. Vitus Direct to St. Vitus Dance to a 10a hands-to-face-traverse to Memorial Crack is also a nice link (and you can keep going up Squamish B if you want). There's a direct start to Banana Peel that lets you make a really long route, especially if you link up to Granville St. or the big 5.5. hand traverse (forget name...you can't miss it.) Lots of the linking possabilities are explained in the big (non-select) guide.

The 5.9-11a cragging cracks at the base of the Grand Wall/Campground area were pretty reminiscent of what you find in Yosemite, but the crowds were 3 parties deep at times on the classics.

We went in search of crack cragging another day over at the Smoke Bluffs, but the crowds + veiw of people washing their SUVs made us feel like it would be awesome if you lived there and wanted a few laps after work, but wasn't perhaps the best destination spot.

If you're taking a rest and go to the Adventure Center to check e-mail or get tourist brochures, you can ask them to play the movie about the FA of the Grand Wall. It was so well done, and learning about it added a whole new dimension to my trip. It's almost worth it just for the soundtrack.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Aug 17, 2008 - 12:20am PT
You should buy, or borrow, "Squamish Select" (Bourdon) or "A Climber's Guide to Squamish" (McLane). Both should more than cover your needs. www.squamishclimbing.com is another source.

Highway construction closures shouldn't be a problem, but do slow things down a bit - see http://projects.ch2m.com/TrafficUpdate/travelling-sts.asp Ditto Melissa regarding valuables and cars.

Most of the next week is forecast to be rainy - see http://www.weatheroffice.gc.ca/city/pages/bc-50_metric_e.html The last few weeks, and this weekend, have been warm and sunny.

Don't forget other amusement and recreation possibilities in the Vancouver/Squamish area, of which there are many. The Black Tusk/Garibaldi Lake is a fine hike.

Todd's picture of Clean Crack is reversed. There is/was a cruxy move at the bottom, which the "Thou Shalt Not" sign eases. The crux is higher up, above the pod in the crack, roughly where the climber is.

Squamish grades seem a bit soft for several reasons. First, many classic routes were upgraded in the 1980s and 1990s, unlike areas like Yosemite. (Eric and Daryl originally said the Split Pillar was 5.9, in 1975.) Second, many pitches aren't all that sustained, and/or have good rests. A 5.9 from Yosemite may be just that - every move for 40 metres is 5.9, plus it's strenuous = 5.10 modern grade. A Squamish 5.9 is technically 5.9, but maybe nothing much more. There is also a bit more convenience bolting at Squamish, especially belays, which again eases things.

You should sample all the different types of climbing. Those that others have mentioned are all ok. On the Apron, Diedre is perhaps the world's most over-climbed "multi-pitch", and dull at that. Banana Peel, Snake, White Lightning, and Vector or St. Vitus' Dance are much better. There are a half dozen good 1 - 5 pitch climbs at the base of the Grand Wall, lots of friendly stuff in the Little Smoke Bluffs, etc etc. Things like Boomstick Crack and North Gully are good novelty climbs.

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Aug 17, 2008 - 12:44am PT
I didn't climb one lick harder in Squamish than I do in Yosemite. I guess you know what you know.

Ice climber
hartford, ct
Aug 17, 2008 - 01:02am PT
An easy and neat way to the top of the Chief at 5.10a max. Good belays on decent ledges higher up. Good pro and bolts where you need them.

Start with Diedre (5 pitches up to easy 5.8)

Climb Boomstick Crack next (2 pitches or one 60m of easy 5.6)

Scramble up and left to the start of the "Ultimate Everything" (10 pitches of up to 5.9 with one 5.10a/b on the final cool pitch)

Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
Aug 17, 2008 - 01:32am PT

Anders Ourom is the one and only ST Mighty Hiker. His guide was published in 1980, Gordon's in 1975.
Jeremy Handren

Aug 17, 2008 - 01:36am PT
Don't miss this one, a few extra points of aid and you've got a nice 5.10.

Trad climber
Butte, America
Aug 17, 2008 - 02:08am PT
Cirque of the Uncrackables--it's up behind the Chief, gets Southern exposure, and lives up to its moniker. Listed In the McClain guide, prolly others, it's that good for the one pitchies. Expect wider cracks, but they are all excellent (Cobra Crack is here), especially in your lead range--TR "Scimitar" for a wide testpiece at .11+

My family and I have been there 3 times the week after Labor Day and were satisfied every trip. Have fun.

Trad climber
Bay area
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 17, 2008 - 03:57am PT
You guys rock!

Maybe I'll try to scrounge together a TR of the highlights after we get back. :)
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Aug 17, 2008 - 05:00pm PT

Despite growing up in the Seattle area, I've only been to Squamish once. But for a plan of climbs to do, you might try what my friend Steph did with Ross:


 Unfinished Symphony
 Grand Wall
 Milk Run to Upper Tantalus Wall
 Sunblessed + Enlightened

Have fun,


Aug 17, 2008 - 09:32pm PT
I've spent two summers in Squamish. The best things 5.10 and under include:
Pipeline-10d, Exasperator-10c, Rock On-10a, Unfinished Symphony-11b or 10d A0, Cruel Shoes-10d, Crescent Crack-10d, Diedre-5.8, Calculus Crack-5.9, St. Vitus Dance-5.9, The Grandwall-5.11a A0 or 5.10 A1.
Pretty rad. One difference between Yosemite and Squamish is the route's don't all end with heinous 5.9 offwidthing but instead finish with mellow climbing. This is probably the reason why most people think Squamish is soft.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Aug 17, 2008 - 11:11pm PT
Squamish is an absolutely delightful place to climb and the guidebook recommendations are usually right on with respect to quality and grade. The rock is stellar and user friendly.
A good pair of binos is a must and beware the unseen green that can occasionally fill in the more obscure though highly starred lines.
Stick to routes that have been re-bolted as well due to the deleterious effects of sea air.

Howe Sound is also a first rate sailboarding destination.

Certainly the best accessible granite climbing in the Northwest.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Aug 17, 2008 - 11:23pm PT
Steve may mean the southwest. Or possibly the west. It may depend on how you look at it.

As I seem to have been 'outed', perhaps I'll add some suggestions, bearing in mind that my guidebook was written back when p'terodactyls were still nesting on the Chief. When going to a new area for say a week, I like to spend the first day or two doing moderate classic climbs, getting a feel for the rock and the climbing 'culture', figuring out where things are, and so on. I also like to do a variety of types and lengths of climbs.

You should have no trouble filling up a week. Given your ability level, I hope it includes:
 Two or three slab routes on the Apron.
 A day at the Little Smoke Bluffs.
 A day at the base of the Grand Wall.
 A trip up Apron Strings, Mercy Me, and so to the top of the Split Pillar (5.10 A0).
 Squamish Buttress, preceded by Rock On or a route on the Apron and then Boomstick Crack.
 Angel's Crest.
 A few routes like Blazing Saddles, something on the Papoose, something on the "Squaw". Four - five pitch routes.
 If so inclined, a trip to Cheakamus Canyon for some bolted routes.

Don't forget to post a TR!
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Aug 18, 2008 - 10:20am PT
If so inclined, a trip to Cheakamus Canyon for some bolted routes.

Enjoyed that on our trip in May 07 (great on a rainy day). Also, near there, we did Star Chek in the gorge. Fun route with neat position. Unique location. I'd recommend that as a diversion too.

-Brian in SLC

Trad climber
On the road again!
Aug 18, 2008 - 08:09pm PT
I'm in Squamish and love it.
Last year our favorite climbs were Squamish Buttress and Great Game on the Squaw. Our first two days here we got lost - did the start of Birds of Prey on the Squaw with a new and different finish; and St. Vitus Dance on the Apron, which is really nice. We wanted to climb Calculus Crack (if I'd bothered to look at the Apron before hiking up we might have found it..).
We're in Site 56 (my son Tristan and I); stop by for more beta.

Trad climber
Aug 18, 2008 - 08:23pm PT
I hoped to get back this August, but work got too heavy.

Grand Wall was one of the best routes I've ever done anywhere. And I know this is a trad site, but the sporty Pet Wall has amazing bullet granite that climbs like limestone. DOA, Black Water, and Burnin are all absolutely stellar. Plus it gets into the shade for evening sessions.

Trad climber
Bay area
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 18, 2008 - 09:32pm PT
Oh, man... the Grand Wall looks great! Although, I'm a little bit intimidated by the 11a pitches...

Maybe we can build up to it and learn how to climb 5.11 cracks by the end of the week?! :) Or... more realistically... is it difficult to rap after the Split Pinnacle pitch?
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