An Easy Route up the Squamish Chief

No, I’m not talking about hiking up! Although… that would be “easy”..

This post will serve as my first [rock] climbing related post and as my first trip report ever! Anyways, we’re talking about the Squamish Chief today kids and finding a relatively easy way from sea-level to the top of The Chief (ele. 703 Meters). Now, I know my climbing buddies out there will tell me that there are more impressive and involved routes up the Chief and don’t worry kiddies, expect a trip report all about the Angel’s Crest coming to you this summer. Right now however, I wanted to outline a nice rock route up the Chief that isn’t too involved. I’m talking right from sea-level to the top top top (703 Meters) in about 11-12 hours (with pack-out time). *Side note: I think it’d be fun to walk the 2 blocks from the parking lot before starting your day of climbing to the ocean, dip your toe in and look up at the top. Then you’d truly be going from sea-level to the top. Just say’n… This report does not “go to eleven” but it should serve as some good information for those looking to go all the way on the Chief.

Our route will take us up the lower ramps of the Apron (next to the Highway), up to the start of the most popular routes on the Apron, up to Broadway Ledge, Boomstick Crack, through the forest, across the South Gully, up most of The Ultimate Everything and finishing with Upper Echelon. Got it? Good, let’s go!

First, drive to Squamish and then park here. Hike down to the water if you are sentimental (see above). I’d recommend getting on this climb just after first light. Some of the linkups are very popular and as such may have lines latter in the day. You’ll need a standard rack. Josh and I did it with a thinish set of cams, a full set of nuts plus an extra #1 Camalot, runners for almost all pieces and two 60M ropes just in case we wanted to back off.

All belays have rap bolts or good trees to anchor to. Now, when Josh and I climbed this puppy we weren’t really doing it to make a trip report so sadly I do not have pitch by pitch photos beside description captions for folks but I shall do my best to be descriptive. So let’s start linking some routes. The first one in the link-up is The Bottom Line (5.9, 3p).

From the car, walk along the path into the forest taking the first trail to your right (follow the highway). Walk along this trail for no more than 5 minutes. The start of the route is pretty obvious. Find a granite ramp with a horizontal crack/cutout about 20 feet up, a small tree that looks like it has been felt up by too many climbers grows out of the rock to climber’s left. The 3 pitches are entirely bolted but I’d say you’d feel better with your #1 Camalot placed in the horizontal crack up there as a first piece. Pitch one goes straight up, follow the bolts. Pitch two trends right and up through a grass patch onto some really nice slab climbing. Pitch three heads out right on a traverse and then straight up to the anchors. The top out might be nicer if one just belayed from a tree.

From here, walk through the woods to the left. You come out at the start to Diedre (5.8, 6p) and other popular Apron climbs such as Sparrow and Banana Peal. First pitch on Diedre trends up and left. Some just do a small pitch up to the tree that’s clipped in the photo.

Pitch two/three gets you to the small patch of grass to the left of John’s helmet in the photo. The photo is taken from atop pitch four.

John was a solo climber from Calgary. It was really interesting to see how his system worked with his anchors set for an upward pull and the need to rap every pitch he climbed up. John, if you are reading this: Good job!!

The route goes straight up and follows the crack systems from said patch of grass. This is the pitch just before the final pitch. The final pitch is easy (5.6/7?) but committing as if you do manage to find a piece on this pitch, it’ll probably pull out if you fall. The good news is that it’s so low angle that you could probably catch your own fall. The move up on to Broadway is protected by a #1 Camalot.

Enjoy the view! It only gets better!!

Josh at Broadway. Cliff Bar time! Where are the Miss Vickies Chips???!

Met some cool dudes from Seattle! ;)

Now it’s time to tackle Boomstick Crack (5.4, 2p). Move to the right down Broadway Ledge a little and start belaying next to a small tree (I think). Boomstick Crack is the obvious left trending crack heading almost horizontally out to the left. Climb it for two pitches. It can be done in one with a 60M rope, but there’s no need. Josh lead this and did it in two as it was windy and we couldn’t hear each other. Later, on the higher pitch, I actually had to use my cell phone to call Josh and say “Off belay!” to him. It was windy at times.. The belay for pitch two of Boomstick is at a tree 2/3rd’s of the way up. Finish into the woods.

And now for the route finding….. There’s a trail for the most part. The Ultimate Everything Topo said:

“Pick up trail, and up fixed rope. Head left (NE) towards South Gully. Go up slabs along gully. Scramble past small head wall, and follow trail up through trees. Find trail left going around corner and down to gully.”

That’s true for the most part. We went up a fixed rope, up the trail, keeping the gully on our left, up some slabs and cut into the forest, following a trail.

We cut too much to the right and missed the turn for the South Gully (left) and ended up scrambling into an uncomfortable stance from atop the apex of the Apron. We were looking at the walls to the South so that was no good… Well, back down to find the turn for the South Gully again. This time we did, and I believe that there was a cairn.

Descend/scramble down to the South Gully in order to traverse it using the hand line.

Cool view!

Follow the trail for just a little bit longer to find the start of The Ultimate Everything. The route starts to the right of Upper Echelon (a route that we’re linking up with higher up).

The 1st pitch. The photo’s not mine.. I think the source is Alpine Dave.

No photos of the second pitch up the dike but you can have a look at the topo we used:

Pitch three has trad pro lower down and then bolts higher up plus it just looks cool!

Pitch four starts from its tree belay and heads out right. There’s no pro but the anchor for a moment and while the climbing is pretty basic, it’s kind of “heady” with a large exposed drop below.

Go up, and head left.

Pitch five was short and not too hard and started from a BIG terrace. (Time for an energy bar).

Pitch six of The Ultimate Everything starts by going around this weird blocky thing. It doesn’t look that hard but I was kinda freaked and slapped two cams into the lower crack to make an anchor-like bomber placement.

Keep going! We’re almost at the next linkup in this epic day of climbing! Pitch 7 goes up this dike and then cuts (like, 90 degrees) to the left. Turn at that small tree.

Here’s what the second gets to face. A nice big potential pendulum (it’s actually really easy climbing, just don’t fall).

Now you’ll be able to enjoy this really large ledge…

…and amazing views of Howe Sound. We relaxed and ate more energy bars (probably why the whole day took over 12 hours with the walkout..).

Now comes the sneaky bit! As you may have noticed, The Ultimate Everything has two finishes: one is a 5.11 bolted pitch and the other is a 5.10b traverse. Since this post is entitled “An Easy Route up the Squamish Chief” we won’t be taking either of those options! :) The last two pitches of Upper Echelon are rated 5.8 and 5.9 kinda like the rest of our pitches. I first got the idea to connect Upper Echelon and The Ultimate Everything from this post. Traverse less than 100 Meters to the left along the big-ass ledge. The second to last pitch for Upper Echelon starts by a bolt. I’m sorry I don’t have a better description. The route is mostly trad and the ramparts of Upper Echelon are not to difficult. For the most part it’s just a straight shot up to the last ledge of the day.

Here’s the start of the last pitch of our linkup. Josh led this.

The belay station at the top of Upper Echelon and the top of the Chief!

I walked up to the top to take his picture.

Team Huddysport makes on top of the Chief!

Don’t forget the headlamps! We ended in the dark.

Walk to the summit and find the trail, follow it down to the campground.

The walk down took longer than we thought so things were closing up for the night. A guy in Squamish told us that the only place open for food would be Boston Pizza…

Look for another Squamish trip report this Fall!!!

You can download this whole trip report and print it out  BUD!


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