Few places in the world have ever made me want to uproot my life to move there. Squamish easily made it onto this list of dream places to live for a rock climber like myself. Upon leaving the hustle and bustle of downtown Vancouver, we hopped on the Sea to Sky highway for the short trip to the rock climbing paradise that is Squamish. One of the most amazing sites upon arriving into Squamish is the view of the Stawamus Chief, a 2,300 foot mammoth granite dome that is the central attraction for trad climbers in the area.
Squamish isn’t just known for its surplus of amazing trad climbing. It is also home to some hardcore sport climbing and bouldering. I was able to get a small sample of both while I was there for the Squamish Mountain Festival presented by Arc’teryx. I took in a few days of sport climbing at Chekamus Canyon and two days of bouldering at the Grand Wall boulders at the base of the Chief. One of the greatest aspects of climbing in Squamish is the time of the sunsets. The soft warm glows of the sun setting did not begin until 9:00 p.m. We spent the days climbing from 10:00 a.m. until sunset with breaks to get a hearty meal in between. We drove no more than a half an hour to get to any climbing crag or boulder field. The downside to western Canada, though, was the unpredictability of the weather.
The weekend brought some rain showers, which hampered some of the clinics that were taking place for the festival. However, the granite rock in the area would easily dry within an hour after the rain stopped, making it very easy to just wait out any passing shower. On a rest day, a half day hike up the Chief provided some stellar 360 degree views of the Squamish mountains. Squamish definitely lived up to its nickname, “The Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada”. I hope to make it back here for a much longer trip next time sample even more of the climbing that this heavenly destination has to offer!
The next leg of the trip brought me to Hawaii. This paradise provided more beach time than actual climbing but there were some prime boulders to play on at Waimea Bay on the island of Oahu. The bouldering there was actually quite impressive and not as sharp as I expected it to be since it is volcanic rock. Even with temps in the 90’s I was able to get a couple of morning hours in before the sun crested over at noon to make the rock unbearably hot. Being on the North Shore, I had to hit up some of the surfing at Turtle Bay to catch some waves and cool off. Surf and stone, no better way to end a vacation.