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More Rockfall Reported in Squamish as Temperatures Warm

It occurred near Photophobia, where a significant rockfall took place in 2021

Climbers have reported hearing rockfall in Squamish, as temps are forecasted to hit double digits by next weekend. Last year was one of the worst on record for rockfall and it led to several area closures.

This winter, Squamish experienced extreme weather swings, cold snaps, a lot of snow and a few freeze/thaw cycles. The result could be another spring and summer where we see a number of small to large rockfalls.

The most recent was reported around the Slhanay area, where a large rockfall took place in 2021 to the left of Photophobia Buttress. It comes as the nice weather has allowed people to get out and enjoy mid-winter cragging. A new 5.12 was even climbed in the Smoke Bluffs, read about it here.

In June 2021, a piece of rock fell off from above the classic Genus Loci and impacted Merci Me on the Grand Wall. Then in July, the one on Photophobia Buttress took place, and then a rockfall destroyed a number of pitches of the Black Dyke route, toppling dozens of 30-metre-tall trees. In September, a massive rockfall took place in the North Walls. Squamish-based Scott Milton told us, “I live right below it! Shook the house.” The fifth and final major rockfall of 2021 took place in November from up and right of the Sheriff’s Badge in the area of Caramba Crags.

Steve Quane, head geologist at the Sea to Sky Fire and Ice Aspiring Geopark, said the rockfalls last summer were possibly a result of rainfall coupled with the extreme heat B.C. experienced. The hot temps likely caused the rock to expand during the heat cycles and contract in the cooler conditions. He said that it could create stress fractures, and that it’s happening more often now, most likely as a result of climate change.

All of the recent rockfalls have forever changes a number of classic climbs in Squamish. Here’s hoping that rockfalls are fewer and farther between in 2022. Always wear a helmet when climbing in Squamish, as even smaller rocks might have been loosened over the winter.