This Image Gallery is of a short, quick dayhike that Jenn and I did on the Stawamus Chief, one of the most impressive granite monoliths in North America. The Chief is just outside of Squamish, BC, and we were here as part of a 3-week trip that included a week-long mountaineering course
, a 3-day climb up Mount Garibaldi
, and a week and a half of visiting friends and family on Vancouver Island.
The Chief is most famous for being a world-class climbing destination. Its Grand Wall is a legend in big wall climbing circles. Our rock climbing skills weren't anywhere near that sort of level - we just wanted to hike to the top via the trails that existed on the Chief's backside.
We needed to catch the ferry to Vancouver Island later in the day, so we aimed to get up fairly early and hike all the summits of the Chief (there are three distinct summits). We'd done the 3-day climb of Garibaldi
with our friend Sara, and she was still with us. However, she chose to take the day off and not join us, so it was just Jenn and I.
The trailhead for the hike up the Chief is in Stawamus Chief Provincial Park. It started right at the campground, and was easy to locate.
After a short flat stretch through the campground, the trail suddenly becomes very steep. The first part of the trail is extensively built-up, with more-or-less continuous boardwalk-type stairs. Eventually the stairs end and a more convential rocky trail takes over. The gradient is quite steep, but the footing is good.
We chose to do the three peaks of the Chief in descending order of altitude. The third peak was the highest, so we aimed for that first. The trail's grade eased as we climbed higher, and by the time we neared the summit, it was fairly gentle. There are a few nice open patches of clean granite right near the top.
The summit is partly in the open and partly covered by short trees. The weather was absolutely beautiful - calm and completely clear. We could very clearly see Mount Garibaldi to the north - the mountain we had just stood atop only two days before!
The traverse over to the second peak was quite easy, with minimal elevation loss. There was an impressive, massive cleft / gorge along the way with an overlook ledge that looked way, way down. Big cliffs around here!
The second summit offered much better views right down into Squamish itself (the first peak had semi-obstructed views down to Squamish). It was neat to look right down into town as if on an airplane. We could see the Inn where we had stayed the night, even the very window of our room. We wondered if Sara was still relaxing in the room...
Looking over, we could see the blocky, open tower of the 1st summit. Although it was the lowest in altitude of the three, it actually looked the most interesting. It was also quite close, horizontally, from where we were on the second summit. We hoped that we wouldn't have to lose too much altitude to get to it.