Stawamus Chief Mountain - Backside Trail, October 2020
The iconic granitic dome overlooking the town of Squamish, BC, Stawamus Chief Mountain is one of the largest granite monoliths in the world. It is featured in countless movies usually set in places other than Squamish and is a magnet for big wall and trad climbers, and increasingly base jumpers. Prior to this trip I had already frequented "The Chief" numerous times, climbing routes on The Apron, a sweep of lower angled rock below the Grand Wall, as well as an afternoon of sport climbing friction slabs just below the summit of the lower of its three peaks (report and photos here). A relatively new addition to the BC provincial park inventory, Stawamus Chief Provincial Park seeks to protect this geologic marvel as well as the creatures that inhabit its forests, nooks, and crannies. The park also maintains a steep hiking trail on the back side of The Chief, appropriately named Backside Trail. This trail serves as both a descent route for climbers as well as a hiking trail to reach each of the three peaks.
On an overcast but dry October day I set out with my JRT in tow up the Backside Trail to once and for all tag the remaining two peaks of The Chief. Having already been up the lower First Peak, I stayed right at the junction and continued up to the Second Peak. The fixed chains and peg ladder near the top made for an enjoyable "via ferrata" vibe, which ended up being the highlight of the day. It was also a bit challenging being that I was clutching a terrified 17-lb dog in one arm! Lotsa folks chillin' up on Second Peak, so I didn't linger and continued along the wide crest down into a forested saddle before scrambling back up along ledges and ramps to the broad dome that is the third and highest peak. Enjoyed unique views looking north over lower Squamish River Valley and town of Squamish as well as Howe Sound to the southwest. On return, we took the trail from the saddle between 2nd and 3rd directly down to the trailhead for a most enjoyable half-day romp. Not sure how I managed to overlook this gem hiding in plain sight for so long. Highly recommended!
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