adventure for the outdoor enthusiast
Squamish - Whistler - Vancouver

rock climbing Stawamus Chief Park

Photo Credit: Bill McComish,

The climbing areas in Stawamus Chief, Shannon Falls and Murrin Provincial Parks are of regional, provincial and international importance.

These areas have been climbed intensively for over 40 years and there have been significant increases in numbers of climbers using the area over the last decade.

There are over 1200 climbing routes in the Squamish area, including areas outside of the parks. About 100 of the climbs are of substantial length for a total of over 2500 pitches. Climbing existing routes and developing new routes often will result in some modification of the park environment. This could include creating access trails, cleaning vegetation off climbing routes and placing fixed protection (e.g. bolts) along routes. With the long history of climbing in these areas much of this modification has already taken place. Due to the wet, relatively mild climate, vegetation growth on the cliffs is relatively vigorous. Wildlife in the climbing areas is limited primarily to bird species including the threatened Peregrine Falcon.

These parks are also intensively used for hiking, viewing, picnicking, swimming and other day use activities. In general, rock climbing takes place in areas that are physically separated from other recreational users. Exceptions to this are certain climbs at Murrin and on the Chief backside trails.

The Stawamus Chief has significant historic and cultural value to the Squamish First Nation. At this time, specific areas of special cultural and spiritual value to the First Nation have not been identified, by the government. As more information becomes available it will be incorporated into an updated rock climbing strategy.



There are two types of trails within these parks. One type is hiking trails, which are used by both hikers and climbers. These trails are heavily used, generally constructed to a higher standard, and publicized through maps, signage and guides. The second type are climber’s access routes or trails. In general these trails have had little or no formal development, will not be constructed to a higher standard, are often very steep, are used primarily by climbers, and are not publicized on park maps or by signage.

As new crags and faces are developed, climbers should access these areas by choosing existing access trails or low impact access routes and must not cut or remove any material. If the climbs prove popular and the need for trail planning and construction arises, climbers and BC Parks will evaluate, plan and implement a new trail as is feasible. In some cases, due to environmental concerns it may not be feasible to construct access trails and it may be necessary to close a climbing face due to a lack of access or unacceptable environmental impacts.

Photo Credit: Bill McComish,


Due to the climate, vegetation growth can be relatively vigorous on the cliffs in the Squamish area. In order to develop new climbs and maintain existing climbs, vegetation and loose rock often is cleaned or removed by climbers. The amount of cliff area impacted by cleaning is difficult to measure but is relatively low, restricted to little more than the width of the climb itself.

  1. Minimize the impact of cleaning at all times.
  2. Remove only the minimum amount of material, to ensure that the climb is safe and offers an appropriate climbing experience.
  3. Remove no trees unless approved by BC Parks.
  4. Think carefully about the importance and quality of the route. Will this route continue to be used and does it justify the amount of cleaning proposed?
  5. How significant will it be to climbers for it’s length and grade of difficulty?
  6. During any cleaning activities the climbers must ensure the safety of any other users in the area. This is especially important when developing longer climbs.


Fixed Protection

Fixed protection has been used in the Squamish climbing areas since the Baldwin-Cooper first ascent of the Grand Wall in 1961. Although a general consensus has evolved over time within the climbing community on the use of bolts, contention over the appropriateness of bolting can arise as new situations develop. In general, the climbing community has been and will continue to be self-regulating in the use of bolts.



Planned bivouacs occasionally occur on the cliff faces on the Stawamus Chief. At this time, planned bivouacs create no issue.



Climbers have generally relied on themselves and other climbers on safety issues. In some situations Squamish Search and Rescue (SAR) has been involved in rescues. It is recognized that relative to the high level of climbing activity, there is a low occurrence of safety related incidents.



CLICK HERE for Garibaldi Provincial Park
Garibaldi Provincial Park is a favorite destination of outdoor enthusiasts: it offers a wide range of hiking opportunities.


rock climbing Stawamus Chief Park Squamish BC -

CLICK HERE for luxury B&B Chalet near Garibaldi Park

Victoria waterfront bed and breakfast accommodations

Copyright 2003 Bill McComish
All images on this website are legally protected from unauthorized use by international copyright law. The images may NOT be used in other websites, published, copied to another computer or used as the basis for other photographs or illustrations.














website design website development