Climbing
Top rope, Trad climbing, Sport climbing
Alpine climbing NCCS rating
Grade II
Elevation Gain
194.00 m (636.48 ft)
Distance
3.65 km (2.27 mi)
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Squamish, lovingly called Squampton locally, is on the list of world-class destinations for climbing thanks to its numerous granite walls. While the Chief dominates the skyline, the crag at Smoke Bluffs is far and away the most popular location to find your rock fix. There are over 500 routes on 32 walls spread out over seven areas. The farthest crags are a 30-minute hike, so routes are quite dense. Most people find themselves hopping from wall to wall to snag chosen routes.

The area has a mix of traditional and bolted sport climbs. Fixed anchors are common, and most easy and intermediate routes are easy to set up as top ropes. Generally, the sport routes are harder than 5.9 and tend to be slabby and spaced out. Smoke Bluffs is actually not a great crag for new climbers looking to lead but haven't taken trad climbing courses. Sadly, this leads to a lot of folks buying trad racks and self-teaching. Accidents aren't uncommon, and if you're at Burgers and Fries in particular, expect to see a lot of really bad habits on display. Nearby, Area 51 up the valley is a lot better for new lead climbers. Muirin Park also has a few better options.

Rolling into the parking lot, you can expect to see a veritable car show of dirtbag-mobiles and #vanlife rigs. It's a good chance to take stock and figure out how many people are present. Weekends are extremely busy with Vancouverites pouring in. From here you can pick your crags.

Beginners tend to head to Burgers and Fries. Follow the gravel road underneath the power lines for about 15 minutes. The grades are low, and top ropes are plentiful. Expect to see courses here on weekends. As the routes are mostly positive cracks, you're going to need a trad rack if you want to lead. If you've taken courses and instruction, this is an excellent crag to work those skills. Top-rope approaches follow chains on the left-hand side.

If you don't fancy the hot sun or the massive crowds gathering beneath the power lines, Funarama is a good spot. It's a 20-minute, steep hike along the Loop Trail, but it escapes much of the crowds.

The Parking Lot Area has a lot of great intermediate routes. Because it's so close, it gets a lot of traffic. However, climbers often get bored after a few hours, so it does get easier to find routes in the afternoon.

The Smoke Bluffs area, down the road from the Parking Lot, is where you're find a few easy and intermediate climbs and a few more of the experienced and expert-level climbs. Neat and Cool and Penny Lane are farther along, less crowded, and there are far fewer spectators.

Above Penny Lane and the Loop Trail are great 5.10 to 5.11 routes with a few intermediate routes nearby. This is a good spot more more experienced groups of mixed levels.

Gear

  • Harness, belay device, chalk bag, and helmet (with no overhead hazard, many folks ignore this, but plenty of gear does get dropped onto people)
  • A rope bag, easy to grab and go so you don't have to pack up and down a lot. Ikea rope bags are my favorite. A backpack duffel like the Black Diamond Stone 42 or The North Face Base Camp Duffel or crag bags like the Patagonia Cragsmith 45 or Black Diamond Crag 40 make life a lot easier when you're dashing from crag to crag.
  • Water bottles. There is nowhere to refill, and it can get pretty hot in the summer.
  • Swim trunks. Nearby Alice Lake and Murrin Park are awesome spots for a swim post-climb.
  • There are a few boulders in the area, so some folks bring crash pads to try things out while they wait for a route. Often these end up more as nap spots.

The Squamish Rack

  • 12 draws
  • Full set of nuts
  • 0.6- to 3.5-inch cams (Metolius blue Master Cam to large Supercam, or Black Diamond red C3 to Camalot)
  • Two 160-centimeter sling
  • Two 60-centimeter slings or alpine draws (extenders are rarely needed, but some routes might need them)
  • Four screwgate carabiners
  • One HMS Screwgate

More specifically:

  • Offset nuts like the DMM Offsets are the excellent, and they work great for the peculiarities of granite cracks. It's good to have normal nuts, too.
  • Finger crack cams like low to mid-sizes of Metolius Master Cams are great to double up on.
  • Micro-cams like Aliens, or Black Diamond C3s, which slot into piton scars, can be nice to have but are by no means essential.
  • Almost all routes have anchors, so no need for extra gear and cord to make trad anchors.

It is recommended to buy the Squamish Select Climbing Guide by Quickdraw Publishing. It's one of the best produced guidebooks, and it's going to give you everything you need to know. If you plan on spending more than a weekend at the Bluffs, it's a good investment as it also covers the all the best local climbs. You can buy it online or at Valhalla Pure Outfitters.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Spring
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

Parking

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Short approaches. Incredible crack climbing. Huge variety.

Cons

Busy. Not many easy sport climbs. Mostly trad. Sketchy new climbers.

Pets allowed

Allowed with Restrictions

Trailhead Elevation

32.81 ft (10.00 m)

Highest point

557.74 ft (170.00 m)

Features

Vault toilet
Shelters
Geologically significant
Old-growth forest
Big vistas
Bird watching

Access

Vehicle

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Primary aspect

South facing

Class / Rating

5.3-5.13d

Drinking water

Unfrozen water

Location

Field Guide

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