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The Smoke Bluffs and 10 Classic Routes to 5.10a

Some classics for the tick-list

The many cliffs of the Smoke Bluffs are some of the busiest walls in Canada. Thousands of climbers visit the short granite crags near Squamish every year. They are easy to access and have dozens of world-classs cracks.

There are well over 400 routes more than 25 walls. They range from low angle 5.5 cracks to 5.13 slab test-pieces. There are finger and hand cracks, off-widths, corners, dykes and everything in between.

The park covers nearly 30 hectares and was established in 2003 after climbers and other land users lobbied for the area’s protection. In 1972, the Climbers Access Society of B.C. was established and in 1987 the Federation of Mountain Clubs of B.C. bought some area to keep developers away from zone near the Mamquam Blind Channel.

Then in 2005, Squamish formed the Smoke Bluffs Advisory Group. There are seven maintained trails that weave along the bluffs and access most climbing areas. Before a fire in the 1950s gave the area its name, the bluffs were known as Bughouse Heights. The term “bughouse” was commonly used to describe a mental asylum and the Smoke Bluffs were popular for squatting lumberjacks.

Nowadays, the bluffs are surrounded by neighbourhoods and some houses come within a few metres of the rock. The Squamish Access Society does a great job at keeping the peace, check them out here.

The Smoke Bluffs trailhead on Loggers Lane. Photo Squamish Access Society
The Smoke Bluffs trailhead on Loggers Lane. 

The granite is granular and can provide good friction in the right conditions. There are few big face holds and most of the face climbs are slabs. While there have been many newly bolted routes added over the past few years, the majority of climbing requires a rack of gear to about three inches.

Many of the climbs have bolted anchors that make top-roping easy. The following are 10 classics at the Smoke Bluffs.

1. Burgers and Fries is an ultra-classic 5.7 on a wall with a few fun routes. The big slab is one of the more popular areas at the bluffs.

2. Easter Island is funky looking 5.8 crack close to the Loggers Lane parking area. After a steep move, climb good jams to a fun upper crack.

3. Pixie Corner is short and burly and one of the more popular 5.8s at the bluffs. It climbs two splitter cracks and has a small roof to climb past.

4. Quarryman is a classic 25-metre route at the Penny Lane Wall. It climbs a fun corner and offers good protection. There is a 5.10 direct finish.

5. Mosquito is the first pitch of the Smoke Bluff Connection and a good warm-up to the bluffs at 5.8. A few balancey moves with good jams.

6. Octopus’ Garden in the Shade requires a bit of a walk, but offers some of the most splitter 5.8 climbing in the area. It has one short awkward section.

7. Penny Lane stands out from other routes at the Penny Lane wall as it is an obvious looking classic. There is a low crux and the upper crack is good to learn technique on.

A climber high on Penny Lane Photo Matt Brooks

8. Wonderland is the final pitch of the Smoke Bluff Connection and can be accessed from the Pixie Corner area. The position can’t be beat and the traversing crack is one-of-a-kind for the bluffs.

9. Neat and Cool is a must-climb 5.10a that tackles a steep face and crack. First climbed in 1979, it has been the scene of many accidents.

10. Flying Circus is left of Neat and Cool and climbs a thin splitter up a blank-ish wall. On hot days, the polished holds make it feel harder than 5.10a.