Type: Trad, 13 pitches, Grade IV
FA: Les McDonald, Hank Mather, Fred Becky 1962
Page Views: 45,196 total · 292/month
Shared By: Ian Wolfe on Aug 3, 2006
Admins: Nate Ball, Kate Lynn

You & This Route

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This route runs along the edge of the North Gully and frames the top of the Sheriff's Badge. There are lots of ledges and terraces, and moving the belay is quite common.

Begin on a blocky pitch of 5.8 with a pin. Climb up to a large ledge and belay.

Climb the magnificent Angel's Crack, a diagonal hand and finger crack, at 5.10a. Belay on a good ledge at its end.

Next, climb a difficult face, the crux, at 10b past 2 bolts and up into a corner. There is a belay at a large slung boulder on a slab, but I thought it was more comfortable to climb another 15 feet up and belay on the ledge above.

Traverse along the ledge and up some easy slab to the base of the next wall (5.7).

Face climb up to the beginning of a left-facing corner. Step right below this corner and enter a right-facing corner on the other side. This can be tricky to see from below. Climb up the corner (5.10a) and step right again below a roof. Belay on a ledge.

Climb a pitch of 5.7 to a large ledge. This pitch can be successfully linked with the last one to make one long pitch.

Move the belay to the base of the next wall. Climb up a ramp, step right to a second ramp, then step right again into a corner system (5.10a).

Move the belay again. There are two options here. The normal way is to climb up a 5.9 lieback in a corner to another large ledge. The second is a 5.10b 7" offwidth crack. This crack is pretty consistent in size, so you can't get a #5 Camalot in there, even way back (trust me on this one). Bring your Big Bros if you wanna shot at this beast.

Follow the climber's trail up through the trees to the base of the Acrophobe's Traverse. Climb to the top of the first tower (5.7), rap off the back side, then scramble up low 5th class rock to a fixed rope (you can see it from the top of the rappel). Descend the fixed rope to a dirty alcove and climb up to the notch between the highest tower and the ridge (low 5th).

From the notch, climb up to a nice ledge (5.9).

You have a couple options from here. Start at a tree (using the tree to get past the start is permissable) and climb a 5.8+ fist crack up to a blocky corner. Continue up to the Whaleback Arete and belay at the base of the next, steep and somewhat intimidating, wall. Otherwise, traverse right along the ledge and climb a 5.10b/c crack, joining the route at the top of the Whaleback Arete.

Begin this pitch at the large dead tree growing out of the crack. Pull through this opening roof past a pin using the main crack and also a second crack on the left. Continue jamming up steep ground, past several small roofs and a couple trees to the top of the wall (5.10a). This pitch is sustained and somewhat strenuous, so make sure you have some energy left!

Step right into a 5.8 squeeze chimney, which opens up near the top. If you are carrying a pack, bring a double-length sling to drop the pack on, you won't be able to fit in the chimney otherwise.

Congratulations! You are at the top! Enjoy the views from the Chief on the walk back, and then high-tail it down to the Howe Sound Brew Pub to celebrate!


From the Angel's Crest/North Gully Trail, find a dirty 5.7 corner, just past the large roof. The route starts at the top of this corner on a large ledge. This is a fairly popular route, so the best way to find it is to look for signs of wear.


A normal rack up to about 3". Doubles in the 1-1.5" range could be nice. Bring a Big Bro or 2 for the offwidth variation.
Crack Addict
San Diego, CA
Crack Addict   San Diego, CA
Skip straight to Angel's Crack by climbing a tree for 60ft located not far up the gully from the original start. Be prepared for dirtaineering with a couple pitches of quality crack and face climbing in between. Sep 3, 2006
Las Vegas, NV
J W   Las Vegas, NV
Good route with a wild position and decent climbing. If the crux section is wet, expect it to be a letter grade harder as you have to skip a key hold- about .10c or so.

Don't expect to link pitches as rope drag makes it difficult, Although some can be linked. Luckily, all cruxes are very short as are the pitches, making the route go by fast despite its length. Jul 6, 2007
Matt Desenberg
Limerick, ME
Matt Desenberg   Limerick, ME
Great route. Get there early, it's crowded. Rig the pitches so you get to lead the Angel Crack and the last .10 crack. I remember the latter being the best pitch on the route, great finale. .8 chimney to the top is a squeeze. May 10, 2009
Bob Graham
Portland, OR
Bob Graham   Portland, OR
Anyone know if Angels Crest is dry I am planning on this weekend June 13. Thanks
Bob Jun 11, 2009
Sarah Kate
Seattle, WA
Sarah Kate   Seattle, WA
You can link p1 and p2, p3 and p4, p5 and p6, and then the 5.7 and 5.8 pitch after the Acraphobes with a 60m rope(different pitch numbers in different guidebooks). The drag would be pretty severe on p.13 to p.14. :)

Also, there is a short-cut that we missed on the hike to the Acraphobes; look for the lovely totem. Sep 5, 2009
Hans Bauck
Squamish, BC
Hans Bauck   Squamish, BC
Linking P3-4, and P5-6 makes sense, and saves quite a bit of time.

There are a couple of variations that aren't mentioned.

On the whaleback arete pitch (second pitch after acrophobes), you can start with a steep crack to the left (around the corner - 10b or so). IMO this is better than the regular route.

On the last pitch, instead of climbing the chimney you can climb a steep and thin crack on the left past 2 fixed pins to the summit (about 10c). A bit burly, and an awesome pitch. Jan 23, 2010
Andy Laakmann
Bend, OR
Andy Laakmann   Bend, OR  
Fun route. By all means, do the tree start! 60' of cedar climbing is not to be missed. We linked the 10c face pitch into the pitch above with no problems.

For most folks, the crux will be the last 10a/b pitch leading to the chimney. Strenuous and a bit of a sting in the tail after all the climbing/scrambling below.

Easiest decent is to walk dead South and stay on the slabby summit ridge until you pick up the marked trail (reflectors) down from Second Peak.

I had nuts (including some small HB offsets), double cams from blue mastercam to #2 camalot, and a single #3 and #3.5 camalot. The #3.5 is not necessary, but I did place it a few times. Aug 12, 2010
Jason Holliday
Blacksburg, VA
Jason Holliday   Blacksburg, VA
It's funny, that last '10a/b' pitch was 5.9 in every guide until the latest ones. I remember it being a bit of a grunt but not super technical. Have done the route about five times and never thought of that one as the crux. The Angel's Crack was always the hardest in my mind (the so-called 10c after that is definitely easier). Although maybe that's because I took a whipper at the crux of the crack early in my career ('if I can climb 5.10 in the gym, surely I can do Angel's Crest'). Sep 26, 2010
Boulder, CO
claytown   Boulder, CO
Such a fun climb! Where else do you get to do this many quality pitches up a ridge with three hanging forests, multiple raps off of towers and awesome exposure and dramatic position on easy knife edge ridges.

I agree with linking p3/4 and then 5/6. With the tree start it made more sense to pitch out the first two. If you do the tree start GO RIGHT across the ledge when you get off the tree about 50' then go up the dirty ramps to the start of Angel's Crack.

There is a cool Totem Pole in one of the forests. Where the heck did this thing come from? Someone has to know. Did they rap it in or haul it up? Great alternative to a cairn.

Maybe I was off-route on the Whaleback arete? I was right of the arete proper by 15' or so, climbing a hand crack behind a tree to start the pitch. The 5.10 fingers around the left of the arete looked good too. Any idea how to start the 5.8 arete?

I got a little overzealous about doing Chief routes with just flip flops for the approach/descent. Although they work for this route too, I recommend shoes as there is a good bit more walking than routes on the grand wall. Enjoy this ultra classic adventure climb! Aug 14, 2011
harihari   VANCOUVER
The totem pole was made in memory of local climber Ben DeMenech, who died in a fall around 2001. It was made and placed by local climbers.

Regarding linking and variations: P1 and 2 can be linked, so can many above. Just climb with your 60m rope till you run out of rope. i did the route yesterday in 5 hours (7 car to car)in 9 pitches.

The final option 10c corner/crack is excellent. The tree start is the best of the 3 starting options...when was the last time you got to climb a tree for 60 feet to start your day, thereby skipping two crappy starting pitches? Aug 16, 2011
sylvain   Encinitas
Did the route a few days ago. It actually was a bit wet on a few pitch, but manageable with a bit of french free. Agree with previous comments, tree is a great if unusual start and you can just climb until you run out of rope. Jul 10, 2012
Johnny Y
Johnny Y   California
There were at least 6 parties climbing up the tree when we went, not sure how long those branches can take the abuse, and it is awkward to protect (wiggling through branches on slippery bark) and follow (worse if the leader is tiny and manage to squeeze through stuff that you can't). I don't recommend doing the tree start. There is a 5.10c-ish alternate start just to the right of the "Angel's Crest" sign, start off with delicate face moves then a couple of steep bouldery moves to gain the ledge.

Otherwise route is great, be prepared to wait in LONG line on weekends Nov 15, 2012
I definitely recommend starting on the two bolted slab pitches. The climbing is actually really good. If you've climbed in Squamish for any amount of time, climbing a tree is not all that unique or interesting. Jul 15, 2013
Pretty crowded when we did the route on August 23rd. 1st pitch (slab, not tree) gave me quite a hard warmup. Angels cracks crux on the top goes pretty easy when you are tall (just reach up and you get a nice jug). Hardest for me was the last .10 crack but you get good rests and pro there. The last chimmney pitch has a good flake outside, so no need to squeez all the way in (up to the left there is also a fingercrack, should be .10c or so we were told).
All in all a fun route. Aug 30, 2014
Dru B.  
A series of major rockfalls came off the Zodiac Wall on April 19, 2015. The debris decimated an area of around 3 city blocks in extent near the base of North Gully, and this includes the approach to and the base of Angels Crest. Debris from the rockfall hit a party that was on the 3rd pitch of Angels Crest at the time. Given the devastation in the area and the potential for additional rockfall, avoiding the Angels Crest Trail and the boulders at the base is a good idea for now. Apr 20, 2015
Philadelphia, PA
Chai   Philadelphia, PA
Re. the 5.10a/b offwidth variation to p.7: Squamish Select (2012 Ed., 2nd printing) suggests a 7" cam will work. Our #6 C4 Camalot (range: 4.50-7.68 inches) tipped out pretty early on, maybe a third of the way up. Larger gear is required to protect the remainder of this pitch. Jun 22, 2015
Vincent Kneeshaw
  5.10b PG13
Vincent Kneeshaw  
  5.10b PG13
this was my first climb on the Chief! I loved it!
You can read my story on radclimbers.blogspot.ca/201…
I hope this will get you psyched on getting up there to!
Vincent Nov 18, 2015
David Bruneau
St. John
David Bruneau   St. John  
I had the same experience with the #6 C4 on the 10b offwidth variation, it tipped out completely 1/3 of the way up. With a blue big bro after this it was still somewhat run out on 5.9 terrain. I got a mediocre 00 mastercam in a horizontal seam about 2/3 of the way up, and many different small cams would work for the easy top part.

Also on pitch 5 (supposed 10a finger crack corner) I didn't step right due to x-marked blocks but climbed straight up a steep thin crack in a groove. Probably 10a or b with good thin gear and interesting moves. Aug 13, 2016
Las Vegas, NV
J W   Las Vegas, NV
Side note on the descent- from the top of Angel's Crest, if you head back from the top, then drop to the left, you can drop into the North Gully, which has a trail that will take you back to the main Chief Trail. This skips the upper slabs and weird downclimbs up there- and most importantly, if you're doing it on a blazing 90 degree day like we did, in the shade for the entire descent since you're in the trees! Aug 25, 2016
Serge Smirnov
Seattle, WA
Serge Smirnov   Seattle, WA
P1 ("blocky pitch of 5.8 with a pin") - engaging start for a 5.8. A medium-large curve nut useful. Aug 28, 2016
DANGER - Please note that the first piton on the second to last pitch has a crack in the ring where you clip. It's hard to see this crack until you're above the pin.

Jason Jun 5, 2017
Josh Lowy
Sacramento, CA
Josh Lowy   Sacramento, CA
Fantastic climb! The exposure is awesome!

Would not recommend the tree start. You're climbing branch stubs more than anything. The transition from the ledge to Angel Crack was not obvious. Ended up leading up the dirty corner (sorry if there's chalk to entice you that way!) for a roughly 30-35m pitch. It ended right at the anchor below P3 and was 10a/b I think. It did possibly help us 'cut' in line unintentionally, but I still wouldn't recommend the tree start.

Second to last pitch was the crux for us, its splitter but not uniform in any way. Multiple places for a #4, but by no means necessary. Jason's comment about the piton is true for both of the pitons I saw, cracks visible from above. Keep an eye out!

Chimney topout was a rad and funky way to finish off the climb! Jun 25, 2017

really fun rockaneering sort of route that for the most part is well protected and straight forward. the last 5.10 pitch (second to last pitch overall) has some rock that is not great. might want to excercise a bit of caution on this pitch. the final chimney pitch is very fun and very well protected. Sep 12, 2017
Brennan Enright
Seattle, WA
Brennan Enright   Seattle, WA
Just climbed it on 5/5. Seems I made the same mistake Josh made. Climbed the tree and kept going straight up into the dirty and rather wet (at the time) crack pulling moss and holds off the whole way up. It was some great adventure climbing, but was a bummer to miss the angel's crack. The sporty 10b crux pitch was wet, but it didn't seem to affect the grade and it's very well bolted and short.
Also the squeeze is great and not all that tight, but you'll definitely want to take your backpack off. May 7, 2018
Fiona Layton
Bellingham, WA
Fiona Layton   Bellingham, WA
Pitches 2, 10, and 12 have bolted anchors. The books says the pitch 12 anchors are difficult to locate, but it seemed straight forward to me. Jun 2, 2018
Climbed recently on a Wednesday. A few suggestions:
A) The route is very popular, get a very early start or be patient and expect some waiting. We were the first party on the route and quickly four other parties showed as we were up a few pitches.
B) I highly suggest that you are comfortable quickly leading the moderate terrain. Also, the route has six pitches of 5.10 including the newer bolted start, and while the 5.10 pitches are mostly straightforward, this is not a good route to push your limit.
Angel Crack is a bit intimidating but pretty straightforward. The bolted .10b pitch above I felt was the crux - sloping holds with so-so feet - I ran that together with the pitch above with a 70m easily. The next 10a pitch go RIGHT where there are some flakes and around the corner to an out-of-sight corner. Do not go directly up the steep corner visible from the belay (I made this mistake, it is harder then 10a) - this pitch was also linked with the one above but communication with belayer impossible.
The second to last pitch is stellar and easier than it looks. It has good rests, good jams and good gear. The squeeze-move mid-pitch is more awkward than technical and gear is available. Enjoy. Overall this is a great route. Jul 13, 2018
Eugene Kwan 1
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Eugene Kwan 1   Cambridge, Massachusetts
Great route! The approach takes about 15 minutes and there is a clearly marked sign on the rock at the 5.10 slab start. Get there very early! There were three parties by 5:30 am on a weekday. Passing is possible higher on the route by using variations, but passing on the main route would be annoying.

The tree start seems to have worn down over time. I don't think I'd recommend it.

There are three bolts low down on the first pitch slab. Then I pulled a tricky bulge to an two bolt anchor. After that, there's a another slab with more bolts on it. I'm not sure if this was on route, but the two parties behind us did this as well and everything is pretty clean. On the third pitch, one of the bolts has been chopped.

The cruxes seem to be the first pitch and the second-last pitch. The first pitch slab really got my attention (but it's really well-protected, as is the rest of the climb). The second-last pitch is strenuous, but you can find rests. I found the wide section on pitch 11, the Whaleback, to be irritating. Bring crack gloves or tape.

We made two rappels in the Acrophobes. There is a fixed line on the second, but it seemed simpler to rappel.

For a rack, I brought the recommended doubles to #2, and one each of #3 and #4. As an avowed weenie, I found this to be quite adequate.

In early August, the route was in the shade all day. There's a bit of sun crossing over the Acrophobes, but you can hide from it. I recommend bringing a fair bit of water, as it can still be hot.

John Wilder's beta about going down was really excellent. Walk slightly right off the top of the climb and then take the first left. Continue past the highlining area (there are four bolts at the edge in a clearing) across slabs and down a root covered path into the woods. When you meet a wide trail, go left for a minute before heading down. You'll be on the Third Peak trail.

I'm still working my way up the 5.10s, but I would say this climb is considerably harder than Rock On or Squamish Buttress. There's no one killer pitch, but there's a lot of 5.10 climbing to do. It's an awesome route! Aug 8, 2018