Steep but easily
accessible cliffs that rise on the west and north sides of 60-acre
Provincial Park make it a popular destination for novice rock
climbers who wish to work on their technique. Climbing trails branch
off from the main trail to Petgill Lake (see Hiking), located north
of Murrin's parking lot.
At last count
there were 180 routes to climb on Stawamus Chief Mountain
(see Hiking) in Squamish, all of which begin from the base of one
the largest free-standing granite monoliths in the world. Estimated
to be 93 million years old, the Chief is one of the senior members
of the local landscape, parts of which were laid down as lava a
scant 12,000 years ago. Advanced and novice climbers alike look
for appropriate routes on 'The Chief,' 'The Squaw,' and 'The Apron,'
which together form the main climbing area. The best barometer of
the Chief's international reputation is to check the wide range
of licence plates on the cars parked in the climbers' lot at the
base of the mountain, and to eavesdrop on the languages being spoken
here in the staging area, where as many as 25,000 climbers gather
annually. The climber's parking lot in Stawamus
Chief Provincial Park is located on the east side of Hwy 99
at its junction with the Stawamus River Forest Rd, just north of
the Stawamus Chief roadside viewpoint. The new park has 40 walkin-campsites
and 12 drive-in sites; though a great base camp for climbers, these
sites are not well-suited to RV travellers. For those who prefer
to experience The Chief without rock-climbing gear, the Blackside
Trail is a hiking route up the back of the monolith. But don't be
fooled, it's steep and strenuous. If you simply want to watch others
climb, there is a rest stop with picnic tables just off Hwy 99.
As you travel
north of Stawamus Chief Mountain into Squamish, keep your eyes on
the bare-faced bluffs that rise above the Mamquam Blind Channel
on the east side of the highway. These are the Smoke Bluffs,
a novice and intermediate climbers' delight. The bluffs get their
name from the mist that rises from them when lit by morning sunlight.
Not nearly as imposing as the Chief, the Smoke Bluffs receive more
direct sunlight than their renowned neighbour, and thus routes here,
although shorter, dry much faster. There are two approaches to the
Smoke Bluffs. The easiest one to find is on Loggers Lane. Turn right
off Hwy 99 onto Loggers Lane at the Cleveland Avenue stoplights,
across from a string of fast-food franchises. Drive a short distance
to the top of the Mamquam Blind Channel. There's plenty of parking
in a clearing here that is often occupied by pieces of heavy equipment.
The north end of the Smoke Bluffs Trail begins along a gated service
road. An alternative approach begins from the traffic lights just
north of the Stawamus Chief. Turn right at the lights, then left,
and drive past the hospital to the top of Vista Crescent. A map
posted in the parking lot here details the various approaches to
the bluffs and shows the locations of several good viewpoints. The
solid granite on both the Chief and the Smoke Bluffs is prized by
climbers; at present, there are about 200 climbing routes from which
The trail north
around the base of the Smoke Bluffs descends onto an open plateau
and below to the bank of the Mamquam Blind Channel. Wood and rock
staircases lead up to one section called the Octopus's Garden.
Farther along, the loop trail narrows as it curves between two granite
walls. Watch for wooden stairs leading down to Pixie Corner.
This 2-mile (3-km) loop trail brings you out at the notice board
near Vista Crescent. Even if you don't come to climb, a walk around
the Smoke Bluffs will provide plenty of inspiration.
The limestone walls of Marble Canyon northeast of Lillooet
are easily reached from Hwy 99. Dozens of routes have been opened
by Lower Mainland climbers over the past decade in this area, which
has come to be known as the 'Cinderella of BC rock,' because of
its still relatively undiscovered beauty. A maze of canyons runs
off on both sides of the main canyon, through which the highway
makes its way as it passes beside the brilliantly hued Turquoise,
Crown, and Pavilion Lakes.
Chimney Rock (known as Coyote Rock by members of the Fountain
Band First Nation) dominates the crenellated skyline. The best description
of routes such as the Headwall and the Great Gully are found in
Central B.C. Rock by Lyle Knight, a comprehensive climbing
guide to routes in the Lillooet region north through the Central
Interior and east through the Okanagan and West Kootenays.
that rare breed of mountain cat - the ice climber - Lillooet is
the centre for ice climbing in British Columbia, and Marble Canyon
Provincial Park has one of the best and most easily accessed
icefalls in the region. Good ice is also found in several places
beside the D'Arcy-Anderson Lake Road.
Owing to the ease with which nearby glaciers can be reached, the
Joffre Glacier Group in Joffre
Lakes Provincial Recreation Area has been visited by novice
and expert ice climbers alike for decades and its popularity continues
to grow. Beware exploring the glacier. Even knowledgeable climbers
run the risk of falling into a crevasse.