Best time of year for Squamish


Original Post
everbrad · · Orange County · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 0

Planning my first trip, looking for the best time of year. I'll have a about a week or so I'm thinking mid to late September. If I had less time I'd probably opt for July or August. Thoughts?

Also, is getting a car or taking the bus from Vancouver recommended? Would be kinda nice to get to the high country for a day or out to the lesser known spots on weekends but not having the hassle of a rental is also appealing.

Bill Kirby · · Baltimore Maryland · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 40

July and August are the hottest and driest months. They're also the most crowded. September is awesome but the chance of rain increases especially towards the end of the month. Less crowds in September.

You can take the bus to Squamish. There's more than one week of climbing you can walk to from town. Car is nice but not needed if you find partners. You can trade beers or weed for rides to places like the Malamute or Cal Chek.

Jimmy Downhillinthesnow · · Bozeman, Montana · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 5

Or you can walk across the bridge from the parking lot to the Malamute...

My favorite time for anywhere in the Pacific Northwest is the week or two immediately after labor day. Crowds really thin out but weather is still relatively reliable.

JCM · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 5

Early to mid September is the best. Cooler than high summer, way less crowded, and still dry.

Late September can also be great, but you are getting closer to the rainy season and the risk of rain increases. Late Sept. of 2016 was kinda wet.

If you go toward the end of the season (late Sept.), you should get a rental car so that you can have more mobility to dodge weather. I.e. if you gamble on the last week of September and get a rainy week, you can just drive over to Skaha (4 hours) for a week of sport climbing in a semi-desert climate. Good backup plan if things go sideways.

ChossKing · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 0

Bus from vancouver is a waste of time and money. If you need to you can hitch around town, very common in July/August. I've hitched from Squamish to Vancouver and picked up a ride in under 5 minutes- Just stand by the 99 at the light across from the casino. Hitching from Vancouver to Squamish is a different story. Check out Hitchplanet, BC's version of uber I believe.

You don't need a car, there's a walking path from the chief campground to town.You can even walk to Smoke Bluffs if you wanted. It's kind of inconvenient with a rope and gear but not bad. Walking to the rec center for a shower is fine too.

Savers is best for food, don't forget to get a savers card.

everbrad · · Orange County · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 0

Thanks. Sounds like the first couple weeks after labor day is the sweet spot for less crowds and dry weather. I like the skaha backup option JCM. That area wasn't on my radar. How's the trad there? Also is there any multi pitch? Mp was pretty limited as advertised.

How are the more alpine routes up there? I haven't done too much research but found mount habrich and the north ridge of Mount Tricouni. Worthy or am I wasting my time? Any others I should be looking at? I'd only want to spend a day or two up there to add some different character to the trip.

I probably won't do this but I'd have more backup options if I flew into Seattle and go where the weather is best if I can't be flexible with the dates and go closer to October. How's the drive from Seattle and is this even worth considering? I'll be honest I don't think I'd make it to Squamish if I did this since there is so much to do in Washington and I've never done anything there.

Jimmy Downhillinthesnow · · Bozeman, Montana · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 5

Drive from Seattle is fine as long as you time it to avoid traffic in Seattle and Vancouver. People will argue about how long it takes (and it's very dependent on border wait and traffic) but somewhere in the area of 4 hours is a good estimate. Smith and Trout Creek would be a similar distance from Seattle (a bit further but not much) in the opposite direction and are great bad weather options.

For the rental car, just make sure you're allowed to take it to Canada.

Optimistic · · New Paltz · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 282
Jimmy Sledd wrote:Or you can walk across the bridge from the parking lot to the Malamute... My favorite time for anywhere in the Pacific Northwest is the week or two immediately after labor day. Crowds really thin out but weather is still relatively reliable.
Anecdotal of course, but we had exactly that experience at that time of year at Squamish. 'Course, maybe we were there the same year in which case even more anecdotal :)
Optimistic · · New Paltz · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 282

Can something be MORE anecdotal?

Optimistic · · New Paltz · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 282

Also, more seriously, isn't there some major change in the works with camping at the chief?

Jimmy Downhillinthesnow · · Bozeman, Montana · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 5

Precip (blue bars) and temperature (red line) averages for Squamish. Non-anecdotal! I've heard rumor of camping changes. Not sure how the Chief campground is affected but I believe forest road camping is going away.

JCM · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 5

They're cracking down on the van dwellers, and on some of the unofficial camping along the Mamquam River. Some minor expansions in the Chief campground, but still nowhere near enough to meet demand. So shortage of camping space will be a growing issue for visitors.

This is a good reason to go in Sept. Less people means more camping available. Also, if you have a car you have some more options for slightly further afield alternative camping if the main zones are full.

JCM · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 5

Question for OP:

Are you traveling with a partner or solo? Whether you will be seeking out partners will have an influence on most of these issues- where to camp, when to go, and viable alternative crags.

ChossKing · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 0
Jimmy Sledd wrote:Precip (blue bars) and temperature (red line) averages for Squamish. Non-anecdotal! I've heard rumor of camping changes. Not sure how the Chief campground is affected but I believe forest road camping is going away.
Those aren't rumors. Link to more info here:

https://www.mountainproject.com/v/squamish-access-summer-2017/112498880
ChossKing · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 0
everbrad wrote:Thanks. Sounds like the first couple weeks after labor day is the sweet spot for less crowds and dry weather. I like the skaha backup option JCM. That area wasn't on my radar. How's the trad there? Also is there any multi pitch? Mp was pretty limited as advertised. How are the more alpine routes up there? I haven't done too much research but found mount habrich and the north ridge of Mount Tricouni. Worthy or am I wasting my time? Any others I should be looking at? I'd only want to spend a day or two up there to add some different character to the trip. I probably won't do this but I'd have more backup options if I flew into Seattle and go where the weather is best if I can't be flexible with the dates and go closer to October. How's the drive from Seattle and is this even worth considering? I'll be honest I don't think I'd make it to Squamish if I did this since there is so much to do in Washington and I've never done anything there.
Vancouver is usually cheap to fly into. Skaha is far from Seattle. But I've heard it has got some multi-pitch. Never actually been though come pretty close after spending weeks of rain in Squampton
everbrad · · Orange County · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 0
JCM wrote:Question for OP: Are you traveling with a partner or solo? Whether you will be seeking out partners will have an influence on most of these issues- where to camp, when to go, and viable alternative crags.
I'm trying to bring my crew, read my climbing partner (sometimes partners) who still puts up with me and goes along with my sometimes ill fated adventures.

What's the climber beer of choice in Squamish?
Bill Kirby · · Baltimore Maryland · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 40
everbrad wrote:alpine routes up there? .
I was never strong enough to try it but there's a couple of routes on Blackcomb Mountain in Whistler. A spire that's in Squamish Select. I thought it would be fun to take the lift, skin to the bottom, climb then ski back down to the download. Check out Squamish Select. Great book.

Molson and Victoria Bitter is what everyone drank when I was there.

Jimmy,

I feel dumb, I met the Squaw not the Malamute. I guess you could walk to both though.
Jimmy Downhillinthesnow · · Bozeman, Montana · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 5

Re: beer, buy it in the USA if you drive up from Seattle! Made that mistake once and never again, saves a lot of $$ even with the exchange rate. Kokanee is my Canadian brew of choice.

Bill, I've never climbed on Slhaney, I'd love to.

JCM · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 5
everbrad wrote: I probably won't do this but I'd have more backup options if I flew into Seattle and go where the weather is best if I can't be flexible with the dates and go closer to October. How's the drive from Seattle and is this even worth considering?
This seems like a reasonable plan. From Seattle, you'd be well positioned to choose between various areas based on weather. Go to Squamish if the weather is good. But if it is going to be really wet everywhere in BC and WA, the central Oregon crags (Smith, Trout Creek) will almost certainly still be dry, and are a 5.5 hour drive from Seatac airport.

Seattle may also be cheaper to fly to than Vancouver, assuming you are flying from a US location, since it is a domestic flight. Most rental car companies are totally OK with you going to Canada.

Under good conditions, the drive from Seattle to the Chief campground takes 3:15. Add 30 min if starting from the airport, which is further south. The key is "good conditions"-- which means smart timing. Traffic and border waits are somewhat predictable, and if you get screwed it is usually your fault (bad timing). If you leave in morning or the middle of the day, it will take 5+ hours and it will suck. It is much, much better to do the drive in the evening. If you leave after Seattle evening rush hour traffic dies down, you will avoid traffic and border waits.
JCM · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 5

Re: Squamish alpine. The amazing thing about Squamish is the easy access. No need to ruin that by finding one of the few routes with a 3-hour approach!

Seriously, there's some alpine stuff to be had around Squamish, but it isn't the main event. With a week yopu won't even scratch the surface of the main areas, like the Chief and Slahaney. I'd focus in on that stuff on your first trip. Also, the alpine routes above Squamish tend to have seepage issues and may be wet in Septemeber.

If alpine rock is what you want to do, there are better options in the region. WA Pass would be a good option in September. It is alpine, but the best routes get a lot of sun and are good in late season. The climbing is great and the access is super easy. A week spent mostly at WA Pass, mixed in with a few days cragging at Newhalem or Index, would be an awesome trip and totally worth considering as an alternative to Squamish.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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