Type: Trad, 600 ft, 6 pitches, Grade III
FA: Susan Bolton, David Harris, Eric Hirst (May-Aug '97)
Page Views: 9,098 total · 72/month
Shared By: Andy Laakmann on Aug 17, 2008
Admins: Nate Ball, Kate Lynn

You & This Route

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Access Issue: Illegal Camping Details


Borderline is a quality climb featuring a variety of climbing and excellent protection. You get a little bit of everything on this baby, including a burly – but bolt protected - squeeze chimney. Highly recommended.

The bad news? You might have Madonna's song running through your head like I did...... I was even whistling it without knowing it while climbing. Fortunately nobody was around.....

I read an interesting post on cascadeclimbers.com from the first ascent folks. They debated the bolts on the chimney, since – in theory – it could be protected with big bros, but ultimately decided that if big bros were required, the climb wouldn’t get done, and then would get grown over and forgotten to obscurity. Because of the bolts, the route gets repeated – which keeps it clean. The bolts were placed on lead from, apparently, sketchy big bros.

A great route that I imagine required a mighty cleaning effort to establish.

  • P1 (10b) Start on the far left side of the bushy ledge at the end of the approach/scramble trail. There are anchor bolts to belay here. The first bolt requires a move or two to reach, but there is bomber pro at your feet. Make some technical face moves and trend up left through cracks until you reach the obvious corner. Continue up the corner and pull around a big tree. Your belay bolts are here, but around the corner to the left – not visible unless you look for them. 45m.
  • P2 (5.8) I chose the 5.8 version, but there is also an 11c version. Head up the corner until it is possible to traverse right about 10’ and gain another crack. Up this crack, pull on the tree, and then climb through the dirt a bit. If you continue up, you’ll be on the Terrace below Blazing Saddles. Instead, take the cracks/corner up and left past a single bolt to the anchor. 30m.
  • P3 (10d) Climb up the ramp and traverse left about 40’ to the first bolt (some gear is available midway). The next 4-5 bolts offer sustained mid-10 face climbing with quality, fun movement and plenty of bolts. The bolts end at a splitter finger crack. Charge up the finger crack for quite a ways to the anchor. The books calls the finger crack 10d, but it felt more like 10b/c to me. It is sustained though. A long, varied pitch. 45m.
  • P4 (10a) Easy climbing up the ramp ends at a fun roof. Pull the roof and continue up about 40’ to the anchor. Above you looms the chimney…. (about 25m)
  • P5 (10a) How often do you get to arm bar and clip bolts at the same time?????? Step one, clip the bolt. Step two, figure out how to start the chimney. Step three, arm bar away! Apparently you can layback the chimney, but that wouldn’t be near as much fun. Thanks to the F/A folks for placing the bolts, otherwise this climb would never get done (the squeeze chimney is about 8" wide). Finish the chimney and head around right up a layback crack. We built a belay about 10’ about the snag, way too much rope drag to continue. (about 30m)
  • P6 (10d) Fun, well protected bolt clipping to the top (about 20m).


Start on the far left side of the approach/scramble trail. To find the trail, drive 0.5km on the Mamquam (sp?) forest road. In 2008, the trail was marked by a cairn and after entering the forest a giant BC Climbers Association sign indicates “Sheriff Badge Trail”. The tail to Angel Crest begins nearby, so be sure you are on the right trail.


Nuts, doubles TUCs to #2 camalot. One #3 camalot.


One can continue into Angel's Crest (8-10 more pitches), but we rapped from the top. P3 requires a bit of a traverse/pendulum, but it was doable since there is a small ledge system. We didn't rappel the first two pitches, and instead rapped onto Terrace Ledge and then did the standard rappel from there (can be done with one 60m in two raps). A trail through the bushes (steep at the end) from the Terrace leads to the first set of chains. The next set of chains is about 60' down. The next rap is a full 30m.
Andy Laakmann
Bend, OR
Andy Laakmann   Bend, OR  
Climbed it again. As good as I remember. The 10d pitch is just wonderful. And the offwidth is burly. Expect a struggle getting in. Thank god for the bolts! Jul 30, 2009
I hadn't heard a lot about Borderline prior to getting on it last week. It is now one of my favorite multipitch climbs in Squamish! The face climbing is fun and well protected, and the long finger crack is excellent. The bolts on the OW make it not scary to climb, or french your way through. This should be on your tick list.

We rapped from the top with two 60 meter ropes straight down the face. Anchors were plentiful and we ended up with a final full-length free-hanging rap off the left side of the Badge and into the trees. Somewhat gnarly and from what I read now, not necessary... but I guess it's an option. Aug 3, 2009
Eric Hirst
Eric Hirst  
Thanks, Andy. I agree with your pitch ratings, even though I spent years telling people the OW was 5.9+, then giggling about it afterwards. Rope drag is definitely a concern on p5 -- one less obvious trick is to use a very short QD or even a single locker at the first bolt.

I love pitch 3. The long splitter above the bolted section is sustained, but definitely not 10d. With the p2 bypass variation, I think the hardest single gear-protected move on the entire route is about 10a -- nothing as hard as the Blazing Saddles crux for example.

The direct (11c?) version protects well with a single set of cams, thin to 2", and a few smaller nuts, so you can offload about half of your rack onto your second before starting up. When I first led it, I laybacked the top of the arete (!) because that was the only sequence I'd figured out on TR when we were cleaning it. Fortunately, there are easier and less terrifying options for that bit.

In retrospect, I probably would have put the p1 anchors in a more obvious spot, and the p2 anchors a little further L, just before the start of the p3 difficulties. Lots more vegetation and loose rock to obscure the view at the time. Sep 29, 2009
Mike Teschke
North Vancouver
Mike Teschke   North Vancouver
I climbed this on Saturday, fantastic. We topped out on Angel's Crest it took about 10 hours car to car.
The finger crack is probably easier than 10d, super fun. The offwidth is a beast. The 10a small roof is great fun. May 17, 2010
Scott W
Flagstaff, AZ
Scott W   Flagstaff, AZ
Best when linked up with High Plains Drifter, awesome long day. Possibly soft for 11c/d or whatever the grade is once you've dialed in the beta on top rope...but I think that could be said for 95% of climbing. Felt accurate on onsight. Jun 15, 2011
khoa   Tacomarado
There's a huge deathblock at the top of the last pitch, perched (and maybe held in place) by the dead tree sticking out of the wall. I accidentally kicked it, and it wobbled like crazy. I wouldn't be surprised if it came loose on its own after a few seasons of rain Aug 21, 2012
DannyUncanny   Vancouver
I thought I was a solid 5.10 climber, but I ended up aiding the traverse and the squeeze. May 12, 2014
I think you could call the chimney pitch 11a and have very few people argue with you. Even the moves to get into the actual chimney are 10+ in my mind. But super safe at least. Jun 1, 2014
Eric Hirst
Eric Hirst  
When I originally suggested 5.9+ for pitch 5, I was trying to put in in the context of other Squamish offwidths. My references were March of the Kitchen Utensils (5.9), p2 of Berrycup (10a, next to Crescent Crack), Split Beaver (10b), and Boogie 'til you Puke (then 10c).

The entry moves can be baffling and don't really feel like 5.9 to me either. After that it's pretty much textbook blowfish technique. Savor the moment. Jul 15, 2014
Tim Bonnell
Tim Bonnell  
Great climb. The direct (11c) version of P2 is well worth doing with bolts at the crux. I'd agree that the off-width is burly but not sure you can rate it any harder than the Split Beaver Aug 14, 2015
Eugene Kwan 1
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Eugene Kwan 1   Cambridge, Massachusetts
Great climb! I would recommend bringing a second rope for the descent. The description says you can do it with a single 60 m rope, but I'm not sure it would be a great option. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like there would be a lot of traversing and I'm not sure the rope would reach on all stations. We had the second trail the rope and it was just fine. The rap stations down the face are well placed and we made it down in four 60 m rappels. You will make friends with a tree on the last rappel. Watch out for some loose rocks in that area. There was some minor rockfall when we were coming down.

I really liked the first four pitches. The slab sequence at the start was interesting, the traverse bolts were great, the crack was awesome, and the mini roof was really fun. The fifth pitch was really hard for me. I got into the chimney and got wedged inside after clipping the bolts, but I couldn't quite figure out how to move out. Fortunately, you can place some small gear in the chimney at this point. I also foolishly linked this into the next pitch. I'm not sure I liked this slab pitch. It was quite thin and crumbly with polished feet. I admit I pulled on gear through this section. Maybe if I can arrive not so worked from the chimney and rope-drag-free next time... Aug 26, 2015
Andy Laakmann
Bend, OR
Andy Laakmann   Bend, OR  
Great climb, but the opening pitches were a bit dirty. Everytime I've done it I've done the traversing raps back to the Terrace. Kind of a pain in the ass. Maybe next time I'll do the straight raps. Aug 7, 2016
John Wilder
Las Vegas, NV
John Wilder   Las Vegas, NV
Spectacular route- a few comments for those curious.

1) Getting to the first bolt is spooky- it can be protected with a .4 camalot at your thigh, though, so that's comforting. Definitely clip into the belay bolts at the base!

2) The .10d face pitch is awesome- there's a couple thin moves getting to the crack, but if you look around, the feet work out the solution for you.

3) The squeeze. I've climbed my share, but I can't say i've ever done an overhead armbar swing move on any flavor of 5.10 before. The traverse section is easily the crux of the route- at least .10d, but probably .11a/b, imho. The squeeze above is 5.10 and no big deal if you've climbed any kind of wide before (thanks for the bolts, though- those were greatly appreciated!).

4) Linking the squeeze and the last pitch would be easy if you have 14-16 alpine draws on you- we were unable because i came up short, but I'd probably recommend the link- just make sure you keep your rope on the right side of the stump at the top of the offwidth and sling any placements there long.

5) I'd highly recommend continuing up Angel's Crest- it makes for a spectacular day with the awesome reward of the Chief summit! Aug 25, 2016
Alexander K
The road
Alexander K   The road
Some beta on the approach based on our own failings:

Walk down the Mamquam Road until you see some flagging tape on a tree and a trail going into the woods, this was ~2nd well defined trail on the right when walking from the chief parking lot. You will know you're in the right place when you see a big post with "Sherrif's Badge" written on it once you get into the woods.

Go up the trail heading straight for the wall. Right before reaching the base of the wall there will be a "junction" with a bunch of cairns. Go basically straight up into the boulders that turns into a trail leading to the right that heads up to the edge of the ledge directly above you. Don't go too far right along the well defined trail (which has flagging tape), or too far left along the trail to Angels Crest. It took us ~30 min to find the correct trail. If you can't find it, I would bushwack straight up from the cairns and then head right, the Borderline access trail is easy to find once you are off the main trail.


While I did not try to climb the start as a chimney, I think this is definitely 10a with the right beta: undercling your way out the roof with decent feet and a few good holds near the lip, reach up to a juggy pinch on the right arete above you and then layback on up until you are stemming with good feet just above the roof, from here you can use a sidepull for your right hand to get established in the flare and commence the painfully slow heel toe/squeeze technique. The holds at the start aren't immediately obvious, but they are there. Jun 24, 2017
Michael Dom  
I linked 5+6 without too much rope drag until the second to last bolt. Do the 5.11 variation on the second pitch as it is thought provoking and well protected. Aug 28, 2017
A funny experience we had on this climb: After spending a while bushwacking and trying to find the base, we did and started climbing. Another party approached, following our voices to find the base. As we finished the 11c on pitch 2, that party went through the 5.8 and caught up with us. They were playing loud music on a portable speaker. They asked to pass us as we finshed pitch 3, and I refused, stating that we had been doing all the route finding for them and that if they passed, we would likely just be on their ass the whole way. As we got to the first big treed ledge on Angels Crest, they passed us aggressively and we decided to give them some breathing room by taking a lunch break.

After lunch, we continued to the top of the acrophobes and set up a rappel. At this point, we see them a couple hundred yards behind us. They had gotten heinously off route and were bushwacking through steep trees and moss to the side of the acrophobes, no idea where they were going and making slow progress. We chuckled and continued to the top of High Plains Drifter, which they had intended to climb that day as well. We watched them continue silently up Angel's Crest instead. Jun 6, 2018
Mark Roberts
Vancouver, BC
Mark Roberts   Vancouver, BC
Fun route, lots of neat climbing. The first 10d pitch is spectacular.

I think if we're calling the chimney 5.9 or even 10a we seriously need to examine why we bother grading things at all. I thought it was the hardest pitch on the route (though we skipped the 11c section). Maybe the chimney section is solid 5.10 if you are OK with the style, but getting into the chimney through the roof is *hard*, definitely harder than any move on the 10d pitches.

The linking pitches to Angel's Crest are quite dirty on uninspiring rock. I pull-tested a cam and pulled a chunk of rock off the wall the size of a loaf of bread. It spits you out quite low on Angel's Crest, you still have another 8.5 pitches to climb to top out - make sure to bring lots of water. Jun 18, 2018