Heading into Canada to Squamish for some bouldering, eh? Be sure to get the beta before you go.
Welcome to the magical forest. Squamish bouldering is notoriously difficult and requires a fair amount of acclimating to the style of climbing. The granite boulders of Squamish are scattered throughout a densely shaded forest that lies at the base of The Chief: a large granite monolith.
There’s enough bouldering here to keep you endlessly enthralled, so be sure to plan adequate time for your trip. Two weeks will barely be enough! The rock is granite, which tends to yield intricate, subtle movements, especially in bouldering. Problems often seem like they have no holds at all, but delicate and thoughtful micro beta usually unlocks a sequence.
Squamish is a truly magical spot. It is located in a temperate, coastal rainforest, at the meeting place of the mountains and the ocean. For a climber, Squamish offers everything. There is world-class bouldering, incredible trad climbing and multi-pitch climb, and plenty to satisfy the alpine climber or sport climber as well.– Kim McGrenere @kimstagraham.mcg
New visitors may feel that this area is extremely sandbagged. This is particularly true if you are climbing V4 or below and are new to slopers, heel hooks, and shoulder moves. At first, you may feel like there are simply no holds and no feet – but with a little trickery, you’ll be slapping your way to the top in no time.
Landings and Safety for Squamish Bouldering
Please be aware that the landing zones in Squamish are uneven at best and “a chasm of doom” at worst. Those with weak ankles should be extremely cautious when taking the plunge off a boulder. Spotters should stay very vigilant, and pad placement is essential to avoid injury.
We recommend bringing 2-3 tri-fold pads (at the absolute minimum). Having the flexibility of a tri-fold is key in covering the large outcrops of rocks you’ll be trying to avoid landing on, and keeping you safe.
Step into the dark forest, and get ready for problems to be solved and slopers to be slapped. Bouldering in Squamish can feel REALLY hard at first, especially for us women who may prefer to climb “delicate” rather than “thuggy”. Don’t get discouraged because once you get the hang of the style this climbing is thought-provoking, completely unique, and fun as hell. For me, a two-week trip was mostly spent getting shut down and acclimating to the style. By the time I was ready to send we had to return the pads and head home!– Bridget Kilgallon @bkall.day
There are also a large number of very serious highballs here. Be prepared for some “no fall zone” situations if you are looking for a mental challenge.
Trip Beta: International Travel Tips for a Trip to Squamish
If you’re an American it’s time to get your passport out! Squamish is located on the west coast of British Columbia, just under an hour north of the city of Vancouver.
You’ll want to visit Squamish in mid to late summer unless you like climbing in the rain (which you don’t).
If you’re coming from Seattle you can certainly drive over the border, and get to Squamish fairly easily. This can make things significantly easier if you plan on car camping, as you won’t need a rental. The downside is that you may hit delays at the border.
Alternatively, you may be boarding a plane set to arrive at the Vancouver Airport (YVR). From the airport, you’ll need additional transportation to get up to Squamish. Renting a car for the trek is fairly easy and relatively affordable.
Squamish was another one of those areas that shut me down! It’s beautiful and it pushed me in good, humbling, and important ways though. There is SO much to do so close together… in the week we were there, we just barely scratched the surface. I would recommend flying into Vancouver and renting a car to get over there. We flew into Seattle and then drove from there and regretted it… The border crossing takes forever!– Sonia Rackelmann @soniarackelmann
Camping and Amenities in Squamish
Camping is available in Squamish and can become very crowded during peak season. Pad and gear rentals are available at the local gear shop in town: Climb On Squamish.
Just across the highway, you’ll find the pleasant little town of Squamish. We recommend going berry picking on the shoreline, grabbing a beer at the brewery, and stopping by the local Indian shop for affordable and DELICIOUS samosas.
Access: Climbing Etiquette for Squamish Bouldering
Squamish itself is a small town in an ecologically sensitive area, and it does not have unlimited resources. There is a history of friction between residents and climbers, and it is absolutely essential to protect access and relationships. Camp only in designated campgrounds, stay on trails, respect wildlife closures, and be a good steward for climbing at all times.
As always, be sure to educate yourself on the Leave No Trace Principles as those apply to all climbing access areas. Read more about the seven principles of Leave No Trace (LNT) in our article: What is the Leave No Trace Philosophy?
Girl Beta: Videos for Squamish Bouldering
Sometimes it helps to get another woman’s perspective on which boulder problems to get on. Below you’ll find a selection of female favorites, and a great roadmap on which routes to add to your tick list when visiting Squamish.
Warning: If you’re climbing onsight, scroll no further. Spoilers ahead!
Any Rock’ll Do – V1
Crackhead – V3
Trad Killer – V4 *Fun!*
Easy in an Easy Chair – V4 *Classic… ?*
Chances are you will try this problem as soon as you get into the forest. You might enjoy it… or you might not! Either way, warm up your hammies – it won’t go without a fight.
Sloppy Poppy – V4
Black Mark – V4
Superfly – V4 *Ladies Choice!*
If you’re new to climbing in Squamish, Superfly is a great place to start. Don’t get us wrong – it’s not easy. But for many, it’s the “breakthrough” send that will get you in the right headspace for the other tough V4s in the area.
Get Your Dog Off My Leg – V5
Timeless – V5
Prime Time Sit-Down – V5
Tim’s Sloper Problem – V5
Space Monkey – V5
Swank Stretch – V5
Viper – V5 *Classic*
Lol! We promise there are other ways to start this boulder problem… BUT this creative campus start will certainly earn you extra style points.
Humming Bird – V6
Lounge Act – V6 *Crimpy*
Are these the only sharp crimps in the forest? Possibly. Give your fingers a good mashing after all this sloper madness.
Sea of Doubt – V6
Minor Threat – V6 *Great Movement!*
Whether you like crimps, slopers, compression, or foot work it doesn’t really matter because you’re going to experience ALL of that on this climb. Yes, the start looks impossible at first – but with a little trickery you’ll be levitating your way up with ease.
Gull Skull – V6
The Airtight Garage – V7
The Fuzz – V7
Golden Boy – V7
Feed Us A Fetus – V7
Fantastic Mr. Fox – V7
Amazing Direct – V7
Immunity Challenge – V7
Auto Body – V8
Shanksville – V8
Hunt’s Arête – V8
Missing in Action – V8
Gibbs Cave – V8
Tatonka – V9
Worm World Cave – V9
Progression in Backwards Thinking – V10
Big shout out to the climbers who provided these videos! You can follow their sends on the following links: