Jake Scharfman and Squamish’s Best Boulders
Squamish Climber Jake Scharfman discusses his reasons for loving Squamish and some of its lesser known boulder problems
When summer’s heat hits, Canadian boulderers flock to The Chief’s Grand Wall boulders in Squamish, one of North America’s premier destinations. Though the Grand Wall is the largest of Squamish’s developed bouldering areas, it’s not the only place worth climbing.
To help flush out the hidden gems of Squamish’s most radical areas, we sat down with Jake Scharfman to get all the details about where to climb when you visit Canada’s best bouldering location.
So what makes Squamish so great? Well, Scharfman said, “I value the approaches so much haha. I have been so spoiled. I used to take the multi-hour approaches in Tahoe or Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), and the boulders are sick, but I have definitely gotten spoiled by the approaches around here. I also really like how seasonal it is here. Coming from California where it is kind of the same weather all year, it is kind of nice to separate it into a training winter, with a couple of nice days sprinkled in, and summer where you just have your time to climb.”
The people in Squamish also make it special. According to Scharfman, “This is definitely the tightest knit climbing community I have ever been a part of. I have only been here three years and I feel like I am a part of the community. That is special feeling I wasn’t expecting to happen as quickly as it did. The concentration of boulders here is also incredible. If you are willing to do longer approaches, and drive just a little bit further, there is quite literally endless potential. Within a couple kilometre radius surrounding the chief there are thousands upon thousands of problems and routes. A lifetime of climbing for most any climber. The thing I love the most is definitely the accessibility. I can get off work, drive 10 minutes, be in a world class crag, walk five minutes and be at my project.”
With that said, accessibility is relative. “The longer I climb here, I am finding it more and more fun to go to the farther abroad areas that do take a little more effort to get to. Paradise Valley has some really incredible stuff that is still super accessible, just a tiny bit of a further drive, 15 minutes instead of five. There is a ton of new stuff that has gone up just south of Area 44. There is no guide, but it is a ton of fun. Every weekend I find myself hearing about a new problem that a friend put up. There is literally stuff going up, nearly daily, with no sign of stopping.”
If you are feeling motivated, route development is still very much in the works in Squamish. Scharfman said, “I am just starting to explore the whole route development sort of thing.” During the pandmeic, Scharfman lost his job at the local climbing gym, and all the parks were closed. As such, “I found a new boulder field of 50 problems, untouched, up a dirt road behind my house. That was my COVID project. I’d scrub a bunch of boulders and clean. That is another cool thing, how much development is still happening around here.”
So, what are his favourite problems?
Lost World Overhang (Lost World, North Wall)
Mutiny in the Friendship Brigade (The Clean Boulders, North Wall)
Rainbow Glow in (COHO Park)
Zero to Hero (The Forest, Powerline Boulders)
Zylon (Fridge Boulders, Paradise Valley)
Kung Fu Fighter (The Clean Boulders, North Wall)
Whispering Waters (The River Boulders, North Wall)
The Pit (The Forest, Powerline Boulders)
Fun Factory (Descent Trail, Apron)
Stomach Acid (Scharfman’s Boulders)
Corner Relief (Lost World, North Wall)
Planet of the Apes (Upper Sheriff’s Badge Trail)
Connect Four (The Magic Kingdom, North Wall Boulders)
Tender Foot (Paradise Valley)
Everything Roses Stand (Slhanay Trail, North Wall)
Rock Fu (Calcheak Boulder)
On Again Off Again (Gonzales Creek)
The Crescent (Gibbs’ Cave, Apron)
White Lion Low (Cat Lake)
White Lion V10
Featured photo by and of Jake Scharfman, check out Scharfman’s photography here. For more on Canadian climbers in 2020, visit here.