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Massive Rockfall in Squamish, Search Underway

In Squamish, there has been a huge rockfall on the Chief’s North Walls that occurred at 11:50 a.m. on Sunday.

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The Squamish Rockfall. Photo Clancy Peterson

The rockfall could be heard throughout Downtown. “The damage is monumental,” said local Paul McSorley who was new-routing on the North Walls last week. “There was rockfall while we were up there and we thought someone was throwing rocks.”

As of 2:45 p.m. PST, there were no reports of injuries and most of the ambulances had left the scene.

UPDATE: Sunday at 7:00 p.m., there have been no reports of missing climbers or hikers. The area where the rockfall landed is still too unstable for a thorough search.

UPDATE: Sunday at 8:30 p.m., “All safe. I just spoke to the last party off while we debriefed with SAR,” said Jack Fieldhouse to Gripped. “They got passed by the party who was lowest on Angel’s and that party of three actually were hit by bits of debris. All parties climbed out. All visibly shaken. The area remains closed. Looks like some major scaling may be required. More assessment required.”

Watch a video of the rockfall’s dust cloud 

Photos and stories on Supertopo here

The Dark Side Boulders were reportedly not hit and the base of Angel’s Crest appears to have only been dusted with debris. But, the trees that were once part of a mature coastal rain forest are gone.

Any climbing routes in the path of the rockfall are surely damaged, including The Calling.

The scar from the rockfall in Squamish.  Photo PEP Air Pilot
The scar from the rockfall in Squamish. Photo PEP Air Pilot

The rock appears to be from one of Matt Maddaloni’s routes called Chilkoot Pass, a variation finish to The Calling,  a popular six-pitch 5.12.

A geotechnical engineering assessment of the area is underway. There’s no debris on any road, but there’s a number of parked cars. There were climbers on Angel’s Crest when the rockfall occurred and they’ve continued to climb.

Anyone who’s climbed the North Walls might not be surprised by this event as there’s a lot of expanding rock up there.

“The upper pitches of most routes in the area are reputed to be very loose and flakey,” said local Marc-Andre Leclerc. “Having spent much time climbing on the North Walls I find it unsurprising that a rockfall event like this would occur.”

This is the second time Squamish has been in the news for disastrous events in the last few days. On Thursday night, a fire raged at the water terminal, forcing residents to stay indoors.

More information as it becomes available.

Photos of the Squamish Rockfall

The circled area is what fell. See below photo for reference. Photo Toby Foord Kelsey
The circled area is what fell. See below photo for reference. Photo Toby Foord Kelsey  Source: Supertopo
The pen point to the area that has fallen. The Calling climbs to the left.  Photo Ben Roy
The pen points to the area that has fallen. The Calling climbs to the left and Chilkoot Pass is not noted. Photo of Kevin McLane’s guidebook by Ben Roy.
"All this rock on the last pitch fell off except for the roof. The orange rock is the right edge of the new scar. Just a lot of big plates. You can see it is separated from the wall bottom right." Photo Matt Maddaloni
“All this rock on the last pitch fell off except for the roof. The orange rock is the right edge of the new scar. Just a lot of big plates. You can see it is separated from the wall bottom right.” Photo Matt Maddaloni
Looking up the destruction of the rockfall.  Photo Gord Konkin
Looking up the destruction of the rockfall. Photo Gord Konkin
The base of the rockfall. Photo Brian Gould
The base of the rockfall. Photo Brian Gould
An ariel shot of the rockfall scar and damage.  Photo AEP
An ariel shot of the rockfall scar and damage. Photo PEP Air Pilot

Written by Gripped editor Brandon Pullan. If you have any information on the rockfall or any other breaking news, contact at brandon@gripped.com.