So you want to climb Squamish eh?
Today’s your lucky day, as you have just stumbled upon the internet’s most painstakingly complete guide.
Today we’re going to show you absolutely everything you need to know about climbing in Squamish.
Rest assured, if you’re looking for all things climbing Squamish, you’re in the right place!
Climbing In Squamish: A Brief Introduction
Squamish in a fantastically located town in the Canadian province of British Columbia.
A mecca for outdoor recreation in pretty much every form, due to being perfectly nestled within the Pacific Coastal Mountains on the north end of Howe Sound.
The town of Squamish has been around since 1910 and has traditionally relied upon forestry as its main industry.
Nowadays it is mostly focused on tourism, as well as being the perfect little hideaway for people that work in either Vancouver or Whistler.
Don’t want to pay the astronomical prices for accommodation in either of those places.
The land in which Squamish town is located belongs to the Squamish Nation.
The Squamish Nation was formed by the amalgamation of a number of different indigenous villages in the 19th century.
The Squamish territory covers part of southwestern British Columbia.
This includes North and West Vancouver, Howe Sound, Whistler and other areas and tributaries into Howe Sound.
Why Should You Go Climb Squamish TODAY?
Climbing in Squamish is hugely popular amongst the worldwide climbing community for a number of reasons.
As mentioned, the stunningly beautiful backdrops visible in all directions due to the Coastal Mountains.
The ocean views can sometimes bring with them magical wildlife encounters.
For example: a few years ago a pod of orca herded some dolphins into the bay.
This was followed by a scene worthy of an Attenborough narration, as orcas fired out of the water, breaching the surface in the hope of getting a backbreaking hit on a dolphin.
Now, there is no guarantee that this will happen during your stay. Incredibly unlikely, in fact.
But the point being that the wilderness and the wildlife that inhabits it, is right here in Squamish, on the doorstep.
When you climb Squamish, you also have a welcoming and friendly community of climbers all looking out for one another – lost gear is endlessly getting posted online and returned to its rightful owner.
It makes all the difference to be greeted by a smiling face when rocking up at a new climbing area.
This is the Canadaian way. They really are all lovely.
And finally, a huge draw to climb Squamish is the easily accessible crags mostly within 10-20 minutes from Downtown Squamish.
Many of which have straightforward approaches that don’t require miles of bushwhacking.
A lifetime’s supply of solid granite sport, trad, multi pitch, aid, bouldering… even ice climbing during the really cold winters!
When Is The Absolute Best Time Go Climb Squamish?
SQUAMISH Sending Temps
It is possible to climb Squamish all year round.
Without stating the obvious, the winter will be far colder and the summer much warmer.
These temperature levels aren’t so drastic that there is ever a ‘no-go’ time.
If you’re looking to find climbers or get beta, head on over to our BRAND NEW FB GROUP and drop a post with your dates!
But, of course, the winter can be slippery or icey after a cold front. The main challenge is more to do with the annual precipitation, most of which comes in the winter time.
If you have time on your side then you can wait out whatever rain storms come down.
But if you do not have this luxury, then June through to August will be the most hospitable weather with the lowest chances of getting rained out.
Where is Squamish Climbing and How Do I Get There?
Squamish is located on the Sea to Sky Highway, a breathtaking drive that takes you north from Vancouver and up into the mountains.
If you hit Whistler, you’ve gone too far.
First you need to get yourself to Vancouver. I imagine you will be flying in, so these suggestions shall begin from the international airport.
How To Climb Squamish Via Bus
There are daily buses leaving straight from the airport every few hours for the 2 hour journey.
Tickets cost roughy $60CAD
The Squamish Connector is a company that will take you from within Vancouver to Squamish.
This is a cheaper option, particularly if you needed to head into the city for any reason before heading up.
Round Trip is around $30 and the metro fare into the city from the airport is cheap.
Here are the pick up and drop off locations for the Squamish Connector:
Squamish Connector Locations in Squamish:
Squamish Connector Locations in Vancouver:
Squamish Connector Locations in West Vancouver:
How To Climb Squamish Via Car
If for some reason the bus schedules don’t work for you, then you have a few car options from very cheap to crazy expensive.
For $110-$250 a taxi will take you there in about an hour.
If time is of the essence then this will get you up to climb Squamish.
A cheaper option that is actually fairly reliable is using Poparide.
This is a safe and convenient car sharing app all across Canada.
The premise is, if I am driving from Vancouver to Squamish I would post my leaving time, how many seats I have and how much money for gas I would expect.
Passengers can then message the driver and arrange to carpool.
This will get you there for as cheap as $5-$10.
Cost effective, as well as reducing carbon emissions by tagging along with rides that are already going there anyway.
You may even meet some rad new pals! This would be the first place I’d check before arranging any other transport.
You can download the app for free onto your mobile and see what journeys are already happening.
The final and cheapest option is to hitchhike.
I’m not going to go into the pros and cons of hitchhiking, as this article is about climbing.
But one bit of advice is it would be easier to hitch back from Squamish to Vacouver, than the other way round.
A Super Useful Overview of the Rock Climbing In Squamish
When you climb Squamish, it really offers something for everyone.
Whatever your chosen discipline, you will no doubt be able to find it here in the sea of surrounding granite.
Most of the climbing areas are very close to town compared to a lot of crags, which allows you to feel some level of comfort in knowing you aren’t completely alone.
Unlike the climbing in the Todra Gorge in Morocco, or the climbing in El Potrero Chicho in Mexico which area all bolted, the climbing areas in Squamish are mostly trad.
However, you would be able to find bolted routes at pretty much all of them. Likewise with multi / single pitch. You’d be able to find both options at most spots.
I’ve picked out a couple of my recommended highlights below with a quick run down, to give you an idea of why you need to circle it in thick black sharpie in your guide book.
Must-Do Multi Pitch When You Climb Squamish
Let’s start with the absolute classic route, the most well known in Squamish and possibly Canada, The Grand Wall 5.11a.
9 pitches of perfection: runout slab, crack, laybacks and of course the incredible Squamish scenery.
A spectacularly picturesque route to climb and one that all visitors would love to get in the bag.
The Grand Wall is the main face of the Stawamus Chief, which is the focal point of the entire area.
‘The Chief’ – Stawamus Chief, a 2,300ft granite dome overlooking Squamish town and Howe Sound.
The Chief itself encompases many areas such as The Apron, Squamish Buttress and The Bulletheads, just to name a few.
All of these areas have their own classics, and are worth checking out.
The Chief is one of the largest granite monoliths in the world. An incredible lump of rock, which draws in climbers, hikers and tourists alike.
This is a popular area, so it is an especially good idea to be wearing a helmet.
There is likely to be people climbing above you as well as potentially walking around the top.
If you’re looking to find climbers or get beta, head on over to our BRAND NEW FB GROUP and drop a post with your dates!
As you drive in to climb Squamish, keep your eyes right and look up the face. No doubt there will be folks dotted around the wall. Even in the early evening and into the night.
The fourth pitch, Split Pillar is the highlight of the route up The Grand Wall.
A long, layback or jam crack. Jamming starts with fingers and ends with fists (giggidy) over a 100ft stretch.
You’ll then find yourself in some fun chimney moves before perching up for a phenomenal top rope belay position.
Another classic route that deserves a mention is Star Check, found at Cheakamus Canyon.
Comprised of 3 pitches, the most challenging being a slightly run out 5.9 to finish.
The lower grade and ridiculous position above a flowing rapid make this a very popular spot.
So popular, in fact, that it can become crowded. As you probably already know, crowding increases risk, due to people being rushed and making silly mistakes.
If you are visiting in the height of summer you will want to be here as early as you possibly can manage. You’ll need to do 4 rappels down the reach the river.
The first two pitches are fairly low grade and nothing to worry about. A lovely sport route that is very easy on the eyes.
For the fledgling crack climber, Skywalker (5.8) at the Shannon Falls areas is a must do.
This 5 pitch ultra classic multi-pitch is the main attraction in the Shannon Falls area, as is worth the trip.
Single Pitch Climbing In Squamish
I keep banging on about the views, the scenery and the awe inspiring landscape around Squamish.
And I shall continue to do so, because once you get there you will know why.
Some of the most scenic climbing can be found at Seal Cove.
As the name suggests, there is a high chance of spotting seals around this area, as well as the occasional otter, because it is right on the water.
In fact there is a high chance of dipping your ropes in the ocean! So be sure to check the tide times and be aware of that.
Most routes are long, slabby and on the water.
Around 10km from Squamish, you’ll find parking at a viewpoint just off of highway 99 near the mining information sign.
You’ll need to cross a train track which is in active use. Do not walk along it.
Be mindful that a single pitch can be as long as 55 meters. The routes range from 5.8 to 5.11a.
A highlight here is Sole Mate 5.10b. A slabby sport incline with a pretty straight forward approach.
Seal Traverse is also not one to miss. A thrilling traverse across the whole face barely above the water. A fall here will quite likely end in wet feet and hilarity.
Although it is 5.9, it is not to be taken lightly. With all traverses, a fall will end up in a swing and a very unpleasant experience for a new 5.9 climber.
The Smoke Bluffs
Another really great climbing area to check out if single pitch is more your style.
There are approximately 20 different crags here, making the Smoke Bluffs a quintessential Squamish climbing area.
Located just opposite of Downtown Squamish, this is semi-residential, so be respectful coming in and out.
Also be sure to park in the designated zones.
There is a little something for everyone here with both bolted and trad routes.
Also plenty of great beginner options for those that are just starting to dip their toes into the wonderful world of climbing.
Laughing Crack 5.7 is popular moderate. This 25m finger crack is a great place to wet your beak into the world of Squamish climbing.
Penny Lane is a another cool classic crack.
This 5.9 route starts spicy on the bottom with some bouldery moves, before easing off as you make your way jamming all the way up.
Split Beaver 5.10b is also worth a shout.
A pretty wide crack that can be done if you have meaty hands.
May need to throw two in there if you’re shaped more like a regular human. Final anchor point comes just after the widest point, on a ledge.
Crime of the Century 5.11b is a serious finger crack located to the left of Penny Lane.
It may not be super long, but boy is it intense. Highly recommended route.
Just outside of Squamish to the south, you’ll find a whole load of routes here in Murrin Park around a lake – which is an excellent place to cool off during those hot summer months!
Jugs, Not Drugs 5.8 makes the list not just because of its absolutely fantastic name, but it’s also a pretty great route.
As the name suggests it’s a super juggy climb up flakes with 5 bolts for protection. Great to get yourself moving.
Burning Down the Couch 5.11d, found at the Petrifying Wall.
A long line going straight up. There is a bail point approx 85ft up, with the total route being about 120ft.
This route holds great whipper potential as the top end bolts become fairly spaced out. You’ll be fine.
There are a lot of routes in this area so you can really find all that you are after. Another great thing about it is that it is always shaded.
This makes it a popular place in the summertime.
And for the boulderers? The consistently shaded boulder fields make it one of the greatest spots to escape the summer heat.
The 2,500 boulder problems in the area can be found all over the place, from Furry Creek to Pemberton.
But a good start is going to be at the feet of The Chief, many spots being just minutes from the car park.
This is where you’ll find the famous Sharma route Dreamcatcher. Pick up the local guide book Squamish Boulder and you will be entertained for months on end.
Local Guiding Companies For When You Climb Squamish For The First Time
If you would be more comfortable to climb Squamish with an experienced local to show you the ropes and ensure not only that you got to the best routes going, but that your safety was always first and foremost?
Then check out one of the many local guiding companies:
Mountain Skills Academy & Adventures have a number of courses available, including 1 or 2 day beginner, as well as intro to Trad or Multi-pitch.
Canada West Mountain School’s ‘Squamish Rock Classics’ tour is a great option if you’re looking to tick as many boxes in not much time.
They will take you to the must-do routes between Squamish and Whistler, hitting up all the classics whilst the ACMG credited rock guides keep you safe and stoked.
There are many more climbing schools and guiding companies operating in Squamish.
There really is no shortage.
Have a look around, find one that offers the service that is best suited to your needs and you are good to go!
Be sure to check for recognised certifications and avoid paying people you meet at bars or parking lots to show you around.
Yes people do that. And yes it’s a bad idea.
Where to Stay When Climbing in Squamish?
Being a very popular tourist destination means that there are a lot of accommodation options for you.
Climbing gear is expensive so I will go ahead and assume you are looking for the more cost effective options and maybe spare you the Fairmonts and Chateaus?
Save your cash for new quickdraws.
Hostels / Hotels In Squamish
A great choice is the Squamish Adventure Inn & Hostel.
A picturesque backdrop of The Chief will help you eat, breathe and sleep climbing.
This relaxed hostel is set up with you in mind, where you will meet other wonderful climbing folk to share stories and beta.
Room options include dorm, private and kitchenette. You can also book tours and rentals from here.
The Crash Hotel Squamish is another good shout if you were looking for a private space with maybe more of a party vibe.
Describing itself as ‘one of the coolest hotels on the planet’, could be worth checking out if you were looking for a wacky experience and a good drinking establishment.
It is located right in the centre of town and a short walk from The Chief.
The Lowdown on Camping When You Want to Climb Squamish
Beautiful British Columbia is THE place for a camping adventure.
Incredible temperate rainforests make the perfect basecamp for a climbing trip, as well as some of the ocean side campsites.
The areas around Squamish are provincial parks and offer a number of camping locations.
One of the best for climbers is the Stawamus Chief Provincial Park Campground.
There are 62 camp spots as well as 15 vehicle accessible sites.
There is a central cooking area as well as sink and prep zones and food storage sites.
If you’re looking to find climbers or get beta, head on over to our BRAND NEW FB GROUP and drop a post with your dates!
This campsite costs $10 per person per night, and is on a first-come basis – no reservations.
Another great option is the Klahanie Campground.
Here you can park up your tent or RV for a reasonable rate, as well as have access to facilities such as washrooms and showers.
There are cabins located here too if you ‘glamping’ is a bit more your vibe.
MTN Fun Basecamp is another spot with adventurers in mind.
It’s located in a pine forest with a river running through the property.
There are trailheads all around as well as Brackendale eagle watching sites close by; stores and restaurants too. Camping and room options are available.
Squamish Free Camping, Van Life and Dirtbaggin’
Most of Canada and in fact North America is unbeatable when it comes to this way of life.
I myself spent the best part of a year living out of my van between Whistler and Vancouver Island.
Crown Land is considered public access, and therefore free for you to stay on for up to 14 days at a time before legally moving on.
People and communities are really welcoming to that free way of life, as you are there to respect and enjoy nature.
A lot of the locals I met in mountain towns were curious to hear my story, share their own and often recount stories of adventures passed with me.
That’s if I’d even see anyone, as there are so many open spaces that it is quite easy to disappear up a logging road for some isolation.
You can find some top van life and multi-week roadtrippin’ tips right here, for your next adventure!
Unfortunately this freedom has been abused in Squamish.
The community grew too big, with people from all over the world rolling up to trailheads and carparks essentially setting up makeshift camping areas for weeks, even months at a time.
There are many good people in the van communities. There are also some not so good people.
Unfortunately, the large number of people living in this way had adverse effects on the environment when it comes to waste disposal, which in turn affects wildlife.
I believe this was the main driving force that led to a by-law banning camping on Crown Land around Squamish.
This is a recent development, with some fine tuning still in place with the local year-round van dwelling community and how it will affect them.
Food, Water & Supplies Around Squamish
Squamish is one of the more accessible climbing areas in comparison to some of the ‘out in the sticks’ crags that you’ll find at the end of a 3 hours drive on a dirt road followed by a 2 hour hiking approach.
When you climb Squamish, Everything circulates around the town so morning supply runs are straightforward and easy.
Save-On-Foods, Nesters, Walmart and Independent Grocers can all be found in town.
The camping areas are mostly located near food supplies, so which one you go to depends on where you base yourself.
A lot of trailheads and campsites also have water refill stations as they are in provincial parks.
This makes life pretty easy. If you need a refill from whatever crag you end up at, figure out where the nearest campsite is and try there.
Drinking from a river will be the most deliciously tasty and refreshing water you can find on the planet.
It is best practice to treat any water that you collect from the ground.
Be sure to bring some sort of water filtration with you!
Suggested Packing List For Squamish To Get You Started
- 70m rope or 60m x2
- Trad gear
- Bear Spray
- Guidebooks can be picked up online or at Climb On shop in Squamish- Squamish Boulder , Squamish Rock Climbs , Squamish Sport Climbs
- Bug spray
Rest Day Activities Around Squamish For When Your Skin Is Wrecked!
As mentioned previously, Squamish is an absolute mecca for all forms of outdoor recreation.
I could write an entire separate guide on all the things going on here.
But I won’t.
I will try to keep it brief with some best-of’s and mention a few things you might not think of.
Squamish Indoor Climbing Gyms
Maybe not a ‘rest day’ activity, but when its too wet to climb Squamish, there are two indoor gyms.
Ground Up Climbing – top rope and lead climbing setups. Bouldering and training area and a cool space to hang out.
Climbing Co-op – nothing fancy, but it is a dry climbing space for the wet days.
Biking & Hiking
One of the reasons Squamish is so popular is due to biking.
A lot of the ski/board crowd in Whistler live in Squamish so they can continually mountain bike all year round. Check out Trail Forks for a complete list of all the trails with difficulty grading.
There are plenty of bike rental stores in town. All Trails is a really great hiking app you can use to see the trailheads nearby. All Trails gives users the option of rating the trail, adding photos and leaving a review.
Be sure to hike up The Chief at some point during your stay!
Brackendale Eagle Watching
Squamish is home to one of the largest congregations of Bald Eagles in all of North America.
The best viewing is from mid-November to mid-February. The eagles come in their 1000s to feed on the salmon heading up river.
I was there in October and still saw loads of eagles, so always worth a visit.
Walk along the river near Brackendale and you will see them perched in the trees.
There’s a couple official viewing areas along there, with the best viewing near The Nest restaurant, opposite the Brackendale Eagle Provincial Park.
Airhouse is a freestyle training centre.
Trampoline park, parkour, gymnastics, skateboarding, snowboarding etc.
They offer training and lessons in all of the activities or buy a drop in pass and go nuts!
Check Out Whistler
Whistler is the largest ski resort in North America and holds a solid footing as one of the world’s top international ski resorts.
The ski hills are open from mid-December to May, with some glacier skiing running even later.
During the summer months there are loads of gondola accessed mountain biking and hiking routes. The village itself is worth checking out too.
Wifi, Internet & Power Around Town
Phone signal is pretty good all round and easy to regain just by walking away from the cliff face a little bit.
If internet connectivity was important for you then picking up a local SIM card would work. Wifi and power depends on your choice of accommodation.
Free wifi can be found at the fast food restaurants such as Tim Hortens or Wendy’s, or at Canadian Tire.
Other Top Tips & Super Sneaky Beta
The Leave No Trace principles should always be practiced everywhere you go. I hope you already have some understanding of them.
They become even more important in places such as Squamish because you are in bear country. You are in their home. Not the other way round.
It is not uncommon to see bears around the crag.
It is really important to understand best practises so have a quick read of this guide before you arrive: How Not to Get Eaten by a Bear.
TLDR: bears can climb 5.10 and they will sniff out food that you leave in your bag at the bottom of the belay.
Best advice is to use bear bins when provided and ALWAYS have bear spray. Bear spray has helped 92% of people escape injury from bear attacks. Be loud and climb in groups of 4 or more.
I’ve already mentioned the wonderful community of climbers in Squamish.
Here is a link to the Squamish Access Society, who work tirelessly to maintain paths and crags.
There is also a very active Facebook page called Squamish Rock Climbing where you can find more info, as well as any lost & found queries.
Final Thoughts On Climbing In Squamish
Well, there is a motherload of information to get you well on your way for a Squamish climbing adventure.
If to climb Squamish wasn’t already on your bucket list of climbing destinations, then it should be now. Right at the top.
A truly spectacular location, easily accessible whilst still feeling wild, plenty of guides and resources as well as a welcoming community ready to greet you with a smiling face – it’s the Canadian way.
Thanks for taking your time and reading all the way to the bottom of the guide! I hope you found the information you were looking for, as well as some bonus stuff you may not have known about. My name is Chris and I am an adventure travel writer, photographer, snowboard instructor and sea kayak expedition guide. Outdoors is what I do. You can find more of my work over on my website or keep up with the latest on my Instagram @global_shenanigans. Enjoy!