Five Sport Climbing Areas Near Squamish That You Won’t Find in Any Guidebook
Three stellar new crags, a five-pitch multi, and an expansion of an already popular wallPhoto by: Jess Kuepfer
Cheakamus Canyon has long been the centre of Squamish’s sport climbing scene. Commonly referred to as Chek Chanyon, or just Chek, the area runs from the Conroy Creek FSR off Highway 99 in the south to Rogues’ Gallery in the north. Although climbing started here in the early 1990s, Squamish’s hardworking new-routers are still discovering and developing new sectors, some with surprisingly short approaches. Here are five new areas in Chek that you currently won’t find in any guidebook.
Although it only officially opened to the public in 2021, Echo Beach has already become very popular, and for good reason. The climbing on the crag’s left is quite unique for Squamish—gently overhanging, pumpy routes on mostly good holds, with grades ranging from 5.10d to 5.12c. As you move right, the crag changes character, shifting to steep slabby terrain with bulges and great friction. Perched high above Chek’s Main Event/Big Show area, Echo Beach features great views of the surrounding mountains, and as an added bonus, several routes are quick to dry after rain. If you visit, be sure to to check out Chicken Joe 5.11a, Wave Machine 5.12b, and Wild Swans 5.12c, but the other lines won’t disappoint either.
Echo Beach was originally discovered by local route developer Toby Foord-Kelcey in 2020. He bolted half of the routes at the crag. To put up the other lines, he mentored a large group of first-time developers including his son Leo Foord-Kelcey, Nic Beaulieu, Ben Webster, Danica Marsden, and Kyle, Luc, and Sean Martin.
Although not far from Echo Beach, the Hermitage offers considerably different climbing. The lines are a little shorter, but the rock is excellent, containing some very interesting water-eroded features. A few lines feature big dynamic moves over smooth sections of rock. Misanthropes 5.10c, The Contrarian 5.12c, and Patience Grasshopper 5.12d are not to be missed.
The Hermitage was originally discovered by Toby Foord-Kelcey and Chris Hecimovic in 2017. The duo bolted most of the lines but a few routes were put up by others, including Tyrone Brett, Colin Moorhead, and Emilisa Frirdich.
With only a five-minute approach and a wide range of grades, The Hideout has become another popular Chek destination. The routes on the left of the crag are mostly slabby with cruxy vert starts. The climbing at the far right offers some of the best 5.12 sport climbing in Squamish. Steep and long, the routes showcase fun boulder problems and pumpy, juggy climbing. The Horticulturist 5.12c is the crag’s standout and future classic, but there are lots of other great 5.12’s to its left. Vespidae Staredown 5.10c and Dream with the Fishes 5.11c are arguably the best 5.10 and 5.11 at the crag.
Tyrone Brett found The Hideout years ago. He bolted some of the most prominent lines on the far right but left them unfinished. Tess Egan, Krissy MacKay, and Jason Robinson rediscovered the crag years later, putting up the routes in the middle and left side. Brett later re-engaged with cliff development and also passed a few of his original routes to Toby Foord-Kelcey to clean up and complete.
Ursa Minor 5.9
A rare Squamish fully-bolted multipitch, Ursa Minor is a standalone six-pitch route, consisting of low-angle, pleasant climbing in a quiet section of Chek. The route has a crux pitch of 5.9, with most other pitches being under 5.7, many of which can be linked together if desired. The approach is an easy 10-minute walk from the lower Chek campground, and the walk-off descent takes around 15 minutes. Enjoy the views of the mountains and The Hideout to the north.
Ursa Minor was scrubbed and bolted by Jason Robinson and Tess Egan. The first ascent of the route is credited to Robinson, Egan, and their young son Kye Egan-Robinson.
Hoods in the Woods Additions
The Hoods in the Woods crag at Rogues’ Gallery has been around since the early 1990s, offering a good selection of 5.10’s and 5.11’s. In 2021, a handful of new 5.10’s were added to the crag, making it one of the largest concentrations of quality 5.10 sport climbing in Cheakamus Canyon. The routes are technical, usually on vert to slightly off-vert stone. They were put up by Nick McNutt, Colin Moorhead, Jamie Selda, and Harry Young.
Topos for these new climbing areas can be found on Sea To Sky Climbing’s Crag Database and/or Quickdraw Publication’s Free Topos page.