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Angel's Crest 

YDS: 5.10b French: 6a+ Ewbanks: 19 UIAA: VII- ZA: 19 British: E2 5b

Type:  Trad, 13 pitches, Grade IV
Original:  YDS: 5.10b French: 6a+ Ewbanks: 19 UIAA: VII- ZA: 19 British: E2 5b [details]
FA: Les McDonald, Hank Mather, Fred Becky 1962
Page Views: 27,859
Submitted By: Ian Wolfe on Aug 3, 2006

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The splitter 5.10b offwidth variation to pitch 7. ...


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 .5 - 1" range could be nice. Bring a Big Bro or 2 for the offwidth variation.

Photos of Angel's Crest Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: After the Acrophobes.
After the Acrophobes.
Rock Climbing Photo: Dan leading the 5.10b offwidth. He used a BD #6 fo...
Dan leading the 5.10b offwidth. He used a BD #6 fo...
Rock Climbing Photo: Conrad Gmoser atop the Acrophobes', at the belay
Conrad Gmoser atop the Acrophobes', at the belay
Rock Climbing Photo: A stitched together panoramic of the north walls o...
A stitched together panoramic of the north walls o...
Rock Climbing Photo: Nearing the end of an awesome pitch
Nearing the end of an awesome pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: Climbing up the last 5.10a pitch.  The Acrophobe's...
Climbing up the last 5.10a pitch. The Acrophobe's...
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down the North Gully of the Chief.  The Ac...
BETA PHOTO: Looking down the North Gully of the Chief. The Ac...
Rock Climbing Photo: Top of the Angel's Crack pitch
Top of the Angel's Crack pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: the tree start is a must do!
the tree start is a must do!
Rock Climbing Photo: Flex finishing off the last few moves of Angel's C...
Flex finishing off the last few moves of Angel's C...
Rock Climbing Photo: Flex belaying on one of the aptly named Acrophobe ...
Flex belaying on one of the aptly named Acrophobe ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Flex starting up the Angel Crack (pitch 2) photo b...
Flex starting up the Angel Crack (pitch 2) photo b...
Rock Climbing Photo: Climbing up the fist crack on pitch 10, and loving...
Climbing up the fist crack on pitch 10, and loving...

Comments on Angel's Crest Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Aug 28, 2016
By Crack Addict
From: San Diego, CA
Sep 3, 2006

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.
By John Wilder
From: Las Vegas, NV
Jul 6, 2007
rating: 5.10b/c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b

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.
By Matt Desenberg
From: North Berwick, ME
May 10, 2009

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.
By Bob Graham
Jun 11, 2009

Anyone know if Angels Crest is dry I am planning on this weekend June 13. Thanks
By Sarah Kate
From: Seattle, WA
Sep 5, 2009

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.
By Hans
From: Squamish, BC
Jan 23, 2010

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.
By Andy Laakmann
Site Landlord
From: Bend, OR
Aug 12, 2010

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.
By Jason Holliday
From: Blacksburg, VA
Sep 26, 2010

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').
By claytown
From: Boulder, CO
Aug 14, 2011

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!
By harihari
Aug 16, 2011

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?
By sylvain
From: Encinitas
Jul 10, 2012

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.
By Johnny Y
From: California
Nov 15, 2012

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
Jul 15, 2013
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

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.
By Stefan D
Aug 30, 2014

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.
By Dru
Apr 20, 2015

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.
By Chai
From: Philadelphia, PA
Jun 22, 2015

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.
By Vincent Kneeshaw
Nov 18, 2015

this was my first climb on the Chief! I loved it!
You can read my story on
I hope this will get you psyched on getting up there to!
By David Bruneau
From: St. John
Aug 13, 2016

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.
By John Wilder
From: Las Vegas, NV
Aug 25, 2016
rating: 5.10b/c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b

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!
By Serge Smirnov
Aug 28, 2016

P1 ("blocky pitch of 5.8 with a pin") - engaging start for a 5.8. A medium-large curve nut useful.

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