by Robert Rogo¿, www.robertrogoz.com
If hot summer weather, crowds, constant hassles with park rangers is not your cup of tea, think about your alternatives. You might find yourself traveling to Squamish in Canada. This little scenic town is located in the Province of British Columbia, at the end of Howe Sound, half way between Vancouver and Whistler. To call this area “scenic” is rather understatement. Not only 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.
Most of the climbers visit this spot from June till the end of September. The most reliable weather (if such term exists!) is usually from mid July through the end of September. Later in the summer usually days are drier, so is the rock. Squamish is also bouldering Mecca. A lot of “pad people” visit this area during the summer. But the best conditions usually happen during clear spells in Fall, Winter and Spring, when the temps are on cool side. Generally you can climb here year round- IF IT’S NOT RAINING! (as I write these words we had 39 out of 41 days with rain)
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.
Enough of this poetic bullshit, let’s get down to biz and give you the low-down on where and what.
Most of visitors will arrive to Vancouver, where the airport is located. From there you have 3 options. The easiest is by car- just follow signs for Highway 99 North to Whistler. In Squamish car is not absolutely necessary, but it will make your life a lot easier.
You can also catch a Greyhound bus. They leave from Downtown terminal several times a day and usually the driver will stop by the campground if the request is made. Traveling from the airport to downtown you have 3 options: city bus, shuttle or a cab.
Eats, sheets and treats:
Again several options here and they all depend on your budget. If you are loaded with a wad of money and you don’t know what to do with it (yes, you can give it to me) there are several hotels in the area and the prices usually start at about 60 CAN per night. There is also Squamish Hostel for people with mid budget range. The rest of us, dirtbags, will stay at the Chief Campground. Last season it charged 9 CAN per site. There are walk-in and drive-in sites. Campground can get full around holidays, so the best time to show up is usually early in the week. Campground has running water, shelter for cooking and restrooms. For showers a trip to aquatic center will make you about 1 CAN pourer and much less smelly, so you can try to pick up some fatties at the local watering hole. The most popular venue for pounding some brews is Howe Sound Brewery. There are other bars, many restaurants (don’t expect too much of the local cuisine). You can purchase your groceries at 3 supermarkets. Beer, wine and liquor (aka climber’s life-line) has to be purchased at the specially designated liquor stores.