Behind the Photo: 50 Classic Squamish Climbs

The 50 Classic Climbs poster is a high-definition reflection of the past, of routes established, well-known features and recognizable names. It’s a full-scale look at the Stawamus Chief and the surrounding crags, some of the most impressive and easily accessed granite features in North America.

 

50Classics

By Will Stanhope

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Rock climbing got kick-started in Squamish in 1959 when Fred Beckey, Hank Mather and Don Claunch established the now-classic multi-pitched Squamish Buttress. More than 50 years later, climbers are still scouring the Chief for new lines. Just last year, Canada’s most prolific rock climber and Squamish local Sonnie Trotter partnered with American photographer Ben Moon to establish a variation to the upper pitches of the Buttress. When guiding, Trotter found that parties perpetually bottlenecked at the tricky 5.10c pitch near the top. So armed with shovels, pruning shears and a haul bag of motivation, he and Moon set out to ‘garden’ a few brand-new pitches to ease traffic on the much loved classic. The result, the cheekily named Squamish Butt Face, is an easily accessible 5.9 route to the top of The Chief.

“I find it delightfully ironic that Canada’s strongest rock climber put in days of sore elbows, soiled socks, and strenuous manual labour so the average weekend warrior could further enjoy the rock. More than that, his accomplishment hints at the potentially limitless possibilities of climbing routes still available on The Chief, from easy to damned near impossible.”

I find it delightfully ironic that Canada’s strongest rock climber put in days of sore elbows, soiled socks, and strenuous manual labour so the average weekend warrior could further enjoy the rock. More than that, his accomplishment hints at the potentially limitless possibilities of climbing routes still available on The Chief, from easy to damned near impossible. Later last summer, Trotter established Intrepid Traverse, a 5.13c test piece just a stones throw away from Butt Face.

Photographer Tim Tallevi shot and composited over 300 images to produce the poster above. He worked closely with ACMG Rock Guide Eric Hughes, who has been climbing since 2000 and guiding in Squamish for the past five years. “After spending so many days climbing on The Chief, you truly feel a special connection with this iconic rock,” says Hughes. “Climbers from all over the world enjoy their elevated position over Howe Sound and the experiences of each day spent on the walls are seldom forgotten. I hope the poster helps bring back those memories.“

“When the afternoon light stretches across the wall, illuminating the dihedrals and fighting back the shade, I like to sit on the bumper of my van and take it all in. It’s a quiet moment, a time to let the imagination wander, and think, ‘what’s next?'”

At around 2 p.m. on a sunny summer afternoon, the sun hits the west-facing Grand Wall and provides me with my favourite time to ruminate on the possibilities. When the afternoon light stretches across the wall, illuminating the dihedrals and fighting back the shade, I like to sit on the bumper of my van and take it all in. It’s a quiet moment, a time to let the imagination wander, and think, “what’s next?”

From the early days of Beckey, Mather and Claunch, to legendary free climber Peter Croft, to local guidebook author Kevin McLane, to Trotter and beyond, one thing is certain; The Chief will keep challenging us for a long time to come.

Buy the poster at any decent outdoors shop or hit up 50classicsquamishclimbs.com

 


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