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Climbing
Non-technical rock
Alpine climbing NCCS rating
Class I
Elevation Gain
711.00 m (2,332.68 ft)
Distance
16.48 km (10.24 mi)
Please respect the outdoors and leave no trace. One tip how to dispose of waste properly: Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products. For more information, visit https://lnt.org/learn/7-principles

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.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

Private or commercial fee

Open Year-round

No

Open from

Thursday, May 17, 2018 to Thursday, November 1, 2018

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.

Pets allowed

Yes, with restrictions

Trailhead Elevation

2,887.14 ft (880.00 m)

Highest point

6,663.39 ft (2,031.00 m)

Address

BC-99
36800
Squamish, BC V0N 3G0
Canada

Features

Flushing toilets
Glacier
Backcountry camping
Old-growth forest
Waterfalls
Big vistas
Geologically significant
Bird watching

Access

Vehicle

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Primary aspect

West facing

Site characteristics: Drinking water

Unfrozen water

Location

Field Guide

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