Whistler Blog

Just as big as it looks

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The first time I stopped in Squamish on my way up the Sea to Sky Highway, I was blown away by how the Stawamus Chief dominated the scenery.  The granite face named for some long ago first nations nobleman was dark and brooding, even in the sunshine, and its sheer size held me in awe. I was not alone in this sentiment, but unlike myself, instead of being content with taking the “back way” and hiking the trail that lead up to the summit, these others decided to confront the frowning face head on.  I learned that day, that the granite gave off a siren call that lured climbers from far and wide. Climbers from south of the border are taken in by the promise of temperate summer weather, lack of crowds, and of course, the scenery. Called a “little scenic town located at the end of Howe Sound,” by one climber, another calls him on his understatement… “some of the walls reach up to 600 meters in height, but they start pretty much straight from the sea level. Lush green forests surround neighboring mountains and peaks. In the distance Tantlus Range and Mt. Garibaldi are covered by glaciers. Spring and Fall show the most colors and flavor of the place. Because of marine warm climate quite often it is possible to climb on sunny rock in shorts and t-shirts, while surrounding mountains are covered in snow.”  While most of climbers who visit the area come during the summer months, when the “wet coast” weather is generally a little drier. “Pad People” aka boulderers also make the pilgrimage to Squamish during the summer even though the best conditions for this sport usually occur during late fall to early spring, when the temps are on the cooler side. Generally you can climb here year round! There are several sectors of rock in Squamish. The heights of walls range from single pitch crags to 15 pitches walls. The highest is of course The Chief. Sonnie Trotter , one of the best known Canadian climbers, tackled and successfully completed a Squamish project … a beautiful but desperately hard overhanging arete. In his blog he mentions: I climbed a project of mine which I was really happy about.  An overhanging arete.  It’s the sort of feature you look up at and WISH it had holds on it.  This one did, but barely.  I tried the line last spring, and found the tiny crimps that linked it all together… I reckon the line is a 5.11 to a V10/V11 to a 5.12b.  It’s the direct start to Big Daddy Overhang, so we called it Sugar Daddy, and I suggested a rating of 5.14 because of it’s bouldery nature, an endurance climber might find it hard, a boulderer might find it easy. Interested in climbing and want to learn more about it from a master? Trotter is holding two day climbing clinics this summer in Squamish.  Called the “Stonemaster Series the clinics have been developed as hands on in a safe learning environment so that students can truly absorb the skills that will make them more confident climbers: “The Stonemaster Series is designed to get you competent in leading on gear, falling on gear, belaying on gear, building anchors, crack climbing (from tight fingers to wide fists),  route reading, and a better understanding of the overall systems and principals to get over any fear that may creep inside the mind.   These clinics will be held with 2 certified guides to make sure every participant feels safe and secure – creating that feeling is what will allow us all to push beyond our comfort zones, and into a place where the sky is the limit.”