Last Updated: January 26, 2023


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| Featured Trip Report |

Last Updated: June 12, 2020

Squamish - Banana Peel & Smoke Bluffs, Sept. 2003 / July 2004

We were visiting Agata's parents in North Vancouver again. It was to be a sunny weekend, and I lobbied hard to finally spend a day rock climbing in Squamish (we have previously only sport-climbed at the Smoke Bluffs area). I wanted to check out some of the classic (and overcrowded) routes on The Apron, preferably Banana Peel or Diedre. Both routes are rated at 5.8, though Diedre is somewhat more sustained. We decided to climb Banana Peel first (mostly 5.6 and under) to get a feel for the rock, and then, time permitting, climb Diedre.

We needlessly wasted time and energy hiking around the toe of The Apron, trying to find the start of the route. For the most popular routes on The Apron, the trail is certainly far from obvious. We eventually reached the start of both routes (both share the same first belay), only to find a guided party of four just starting up the first pitch (there was apparently also another guided party a pitch or two up on the route). Lame.

After an endless wait, I started up the first "pitch" - a super-short friction slab (5.6) to a tree belay. From the tree belay, Diedre continues up and left, while Banana Peel makes a level, rightward traverse for about a pitch-and-a-half along a horizontal fault (best done as a long simulclimb). We again waited at the next belay ledge for an eternity, while the party ahead of us seemingly climbed in slow motion.

The second pitch is another short, 15 - 20 foot friction slab (5.6) to another fault and tree belay. The following crux pitch (5.8), involves "wavy" friction slab climbing with nice finger pockets (a bolt protects the hardest move) to reach the base of a short vertical step/corner and a crack that offers good protection opportunities. Once above the step, the crack trends back left to a solid tree belay.

Next, climb upwards in a small groove for a short distance to reach another small tree belay (it seems better to combine this and the previous pitch as one). Alternatively, one can continue a short distance farther and set up a belay in a small hollow. Turning right, climb up out of the hollow and make a long and runout, friction-slab traverse (as seen in photo) to reach the bottom of a small dihedral (and your first opportunity for protection). Climb up along the dihedral, turning left at the top (seen here), and climb flakes and slabs (set a cam in hole exposing the "hollow slab") up to the belay at a tree island (5.6).

The final pitch follows a shallow, wavy gully, then small flakes (seen here) to a belay at a large block (5.4). From the block, scramble up easily along more finger cracks to reach Broadway Ledge. Turning right, follow the ledge (some down-climbing) and find the trail descending forested slopes at The Apron's edge.

What should have taken a few hours at most, took us all day, thanks to the frustratingly slow party ahead of us. Diedre, obviously will have to wait for another day. Agata was also less than thrilled...the constant waiting, the cold wind etc. I suppose I'll have to come up with something somewhat more "romantic" the next time her birthday rolls around.

We returned to climb that fine Squamish granite in July of 2004, on what was quite possibly the hottest damn day of the summer! Ugh! This time at Smoke Bluffs, we warmed up on Clean Starts (5.7 -tr) in the Neat & Cool area and continued on up to the top via Neat and Clean (5.7 -gear). From the top of Neat & Clean, we top roped Cat Crack (5.6, but SUPER greasy), Flying Circus (5.10a), Lieback Flake (5.9), and Neat and Cool (5.10a). Here, Agata stops to rest near the top of Lieback Flake (5.9).

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Last Updated: June 13, 2020

Squamish - Diedre, Star Chek & Smoke Bluffs, July 2008

With aspirations for alpine objectives in the area, uncooperative and slow-to-improve weather forced a change in vacation plans for us poor souls stuck in Squamish, BC. Tony and Dave had already high-tailed it back home to salvage what was left of their time off from work while Aaron and I shifted priorities and focused on the obvious. A seasoned Squamish climber; in my eyes anyway, Aaron gave me what amounted to a grand tour of greater Squamish over the course of several days. From dirt bag-style camping on the spit, breakfasts at Whitespot, "reconnaissance" of the Squamish River cable tram (i.e. a doomed attempt on an East Ridge of Alpha) and of course rock climbing, I saw a side of Squamish that I'd otherwise never have had the opportunity to experience.

While most areas were still damp from the previous day's rain, Aaron and I first visited the one crag sure to be already dry and top-roped various crimpy slab climbs on Upper-Malamute. At Smoke Bluffs we climbed The Zip (a beautiful 10a finger and hand crack), Routes at Boulder Gully, Pixie Corner and Penny Lane. I climbed area classic Diedre once and for all and we swung leads on a 4-pitch sport route in Cheakamus Canyon called Star Chek. We basically tried to make the most of the situation, considering the low morale courtesy of weather-induced change of plans. Next time I'll let you talk me into those other crack climbs on the Apron and lower Grand Wall Aaron!

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Last Updated: June 13, 2020

Squamish - Smoke Bluffs, September 2008

The weekend prior to our upcoming Yosemite and Tuolomne Meadows trip, Agata and I found ourselved back up in North Vancouver, this time to drop off Ozzie with her parents. The weather promised to be good, so we decided to squeeze-in another day of cragging with emphasis on crack routes. New to crack climbing, Agata performed admirably taking to hand jams and finger locks much quicker and more naturally than I ever did. It won't be long before she supasses me on all things to do with rock, assuming she hasn't done so already.

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Last Updated: June 13, 2020

Squamish - Raven's Castle, October 2008

Back up in Van. the weekend after returning from California, Agata and I decided to advantage of the unexpectedly dry forecast and sneak a final day of cragging before the rains again claim these northern lands. Up for something a little off the beaten path, we set our sights on the beautiful low-angle apron of friction slabs at the summit of the South Chief, with spectacular views looking west over the Squamish Estuary and the mountains.

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