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Sky Pilot Scramble

Squamish-Lillooet Area, British Columbia

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Sky Pilot Scramble

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  • Lots of water on the approach.- Sky Pilot Scramble
  • There can be plenty of snow in the early season.- Sky Pilot Scramble
  • Land camping is possible on the crown. Make sure to follow Leave No Trace principles and find options for bear caches. There are no trees for hangs in the alpine.- Sky Pilot Scramble
  • A good view toward the short glacier crossing and steep climb up the Sky Pilot and Co-pilot Col. - Sky Pilot Scramble
  • Halbrich hiding in the clouds- Sky Pilot Scramble
  • The crux slab section. While not daunting, it can slow parties down. There is a set of rappel anchors above the pitch, so experienced climbers can belay newer scramblers up this section if required. A 30-meter rope is sufficient if you're rappelling back - Sky Pilot Scramble
  • Moving around the first steep section into the gulley.- Sky Pilot Scramble
  • The first gulley climb. Popping to the left at the chockstone provides easier and more aesthetic scrambling up mantly face moves.- Sky Pilot Scramble
  • The gendarme. Crossing to the looker's right avoids this and heads into another gulley. - Sky Pilot Scramble
  • Beautiful views from the Sky Pilot ascent.- Sky Pilot Scramble
  • Looking back from the gendarme. The good trail can be easily observed. - Sky Pilot Scramble
  • The second gulley.- Sky Pilot Scramble
  • The one exposed move that crosses between the two gulley features in the second gulley. It's not hard, though it is a bit reachy. - Sky Pilot Scramble
  • Last few steps to the summit. - Sky Pilot Scramble
  • There are fixed anchor stations above the second gulley, allowing down climbing of the crux to be bypassed. A 30-meter rope got us almost to the bottom. - Sky Pilot Scramble
  • Descending from the gendarme.- Sky Pilot Scramble
  • Waiting to get back on the gondola.- Sky Pilot Scramble
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Quality scrambling. Easy route finding.
Cons: 
Gondola doesn't open until 10 a.m. Long hike in is the only other alternative. Snow slope requires mountaineering experience.
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Region:
Squamish-Lillooet Area, BC
Access: 
Vehicle
Climbing:
Non-technical rock
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes, with restrictions
Site characteristics: Drinking water: 
Unfrozen water
Recommended Equipment:
Helmets, Ice axe / crampons
Highest point: 
2,031.00 m (6,663.39 ft)
Alpine climbing NCCS rating: 
Grade I
Year round: 
No
Open from: 
May 17 to November 01
Parking Pass: 
Private or commercial fee
Permit required: 
No
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Primary aspect: 
West facing
Total Distance: 
16.48 km (10.24 mi)
Total elevation gain: 
711.00 m (2,332.68 ft)
Trailhead Elevation: 
880.00 m (2,887.14 ft)
Typically multi-day: 
No
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Pro Contributor

Sky Pilot is a granitic spire with an enticing prominence, and the scramble is worth the rather arduaous approach. If you enjoy moving up gulleys, this route has suprisingly little exposure with only one traverse move and a slaby crux early in the day. This prominent peak has rapidly become a Southwestern British Columbia classic thanks to the new gondola that has dramatically cut down the approach time. 

Parking is found across from Shannon Falls. While the gondola seems obvious, hikers are encouraged not to park there, particularily if they are staying overnight; it is safer to park elsewhere. A shuttle does run from this second lot, though there is also a short 20-minute walk to the gondola. 

The gondola is rather pricey. At about $40 for a round-trip ticket, it's worth considering getting a season pass for $150 if you plan on taking the ride more then once or enjoying some winter backcountry skiing. Alternatively you can either drive up the Mamquam Forest Service Road and access the route from the back along a gently inclining logging road or take the steeper but more direct Sea to Summit hike. 

From the gondola you take the logging road directly east, following it past a large granite cliff. Follow this increasingly rocky road. There are multiple trails shooting off, but stick the road as it heads up the valley. It gradually narrows until abruptly ending in a fairly fresh trail singletrack trail that abuts old coastal cedar groves. This trail zigzags sharply and gains elevation quickly until it reaches the subalpine meadows that take a gentler angle. This leads to a small valley with a large gulley that is often snowfilled in the early season.

From here it's a bit more of a hike until you find yourself in the alpine bowl beneath Sky Pilot. The col is a straight shot, and it is filled with snow well into the summer. A pocket glacier sits to the left directly beneath the peak. Ice axes and crampons are recommended for this section because the snow has been responsible for deaths in the past. If you haven't been trained in proper ice ax arrest technique, it may be worth waiting a bit before attempting this one. 

The route wanders along the ridge to slab. The easiest section is on the climber's left of the slab facing northwest. Beyond this you'll have to work through talus fields and head for the south southwest side of the ridge, where you'll find a gulley. A chockstone is overcome by traversing onto the face and up a series of mantle moves onto a broad ridge. The ridge ends in a gendarme, but a broad traverse on the south southwest side leads to a second gulley. This gulley is steeper, and it is in two sections. As you get to the top of the first runnel, you will be forced to make a steep traverse move into the second runnel to exit the gulley. From here you'll have an easy walk to the summit. 

A 40-meter rope is ideal on the descent, though a 30-meter rope works as well if you use the two fixed anchor stations above the second gulley and above the slab section. Both of these sections can be downclimbed, and it's probably faster to do so rather than bother with the hassle of ropes and rappels. But it's helpful if you're taking less experienced people up. 

 

For a more detailed description of this route, consult Scrambles of Southwestern British Columbia by Matt Gunn.

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