Squamish, BC is a place I’ve been planning to visit for a couple years now. The majestic forest, towering granite cliffs, and proximity to the Howe Sound make it an outdoor-adventure lover’s paradise. The focus of my trip was climbing and photography, which was incredibly accessible in a place like this.
For the most part we had amazing uncharacteristic weather for the area. Super dry and warmer than normal temps. This resulted in a very dusty area, but everything was dry! Dry and in a rainforest, who would have thought? However our luck didn’t last as a massive rain system came in towards the end of our trip dumping a lot of rain on us in a short amount of time. The flora no doubt was happy, but most of the climbers scurried off cutting their trips short. When it rains in Squamish, climbing is pretty much shut down.
Squamish the town is a fantastic place. It houses some amazing little shops. From Zypher the town’s premiere café to Big D’s breakfast and lunch diner, and then Climb On the local climbing shop. The Howe Sound Brew Pub was also an amazing spot, both the beer and the food are fantastic. The people are extremely friendly and welcoming to climbers. A very happy contrast to what we’re used to here in Ontario. The best way to describe Squamish for me is actually with a German word, Gemütlichkeit, it doesn’t have a direct translation into English, but basically means a state of warmth, and friendliness, with an emphasis on social acceptance.
I’ll start with the rock climbing. My partner for the trip, Milos, and I wanted to try it all, and we did. We started out with some easier single pitch trad climbing at the Smoke Bluffs to get a feel for the area and style of climbing we could expect. Ticking off Top 100 routes the first day, and being inspired by some of the harder lines (Zombie Roof looks really tempting, but I need to get a bit more comfortable placing gear before trying that one).
The bouldering in Squamish is world class, with tons of problems scattered under the Chief, and many more throughout the area. Again the goal here was to tick off Top 100 problems, and a few of the classic Top 25 highball problems peppered in for good measure.
The climbing highlight to the entire trip was doing a five pitch route called Skywalker at Shannon Falls. The style was fun, and not super hard (though that second pitch was pretty physical), it was a blast with us moving extremely well together. The fourth pitch was by far the gem of the climb. It’s an exposed, slabby, traverse with great feet, and hands the whole way. It was nothing but bliss while climbing that pitch. At the end of the route the guidebook mentioned there are some pools if you take the trail up the hill. Thinking they were just some pools of water in the woods we choose to check them out with a pessimistic mindset. Boy, were we wrong. These pools were filled by Shannon falls near the top of the cliff. What a beautiful and perfect way to finish a climb!
After a few days of climbing we needed some rest, so we decided to do the hike to Garibaldi Lake in Garibaldi Provincial Park. Yes “rest” is subjective here since the hike was 9km all uphill to reach the lake, which we then had to reverse to get back to the car. Now I’m not complaining at all. This was by far one of the most beautiful locations I’ve ever been, and it was absolutely worth the effort from the hike. The glacier fed lake was a surreal blue colour that was very hard to capture in a photo. The mountains on the far side of the lake shoot straight out causing involuntary smiles on everyone’s face. The alpine flowers produce a wonderful contrast to the hard jagged granite and volcanic rock causing a sense of comfort. I think my photos will do a better job describing the location, so please enjoy.
The other part of my trip was to focus on some photography. In particular capturing some landscapes, especially of mountains. I feel like I accomplished this, and now have the prints available here. The weather again helped a lot, it made hiking to the areas very accessible, and not having to suffer in the rain is always a bonus. Check out a few of my shots I captured here.
Eventually the rain did come, and we were left with only two options. Find some overhanging crags to avoid the rain, or option two head to the Rec Centre for a spa day! We did both, towards the end of the trip we huddled at the Circus Wall at Chekamus Canyon with the rest of the climbers that didn’t want to stop climbing. The water slowly seeped shrinking the amount of climbable rock until we were left with a 20m span of the only dry rock left in Squamish. It was quite cozy, but lots of fun.
To sum it up this was one of the best trips I’ve done to date. The climbing was truly world class, and fun was had beyond explanation. I hope to return again soon, this is a magical place that should be experienced by anyone who has a passion for the outdoors and outdoor recreation sports.