Words:: Samantha Schonewille
Photos:: Adam Gilbert
If you find yourself anywhere near Squamish this time of year you may have noticed the weather has taken a turn for the worse, the Chief is seeping, the Smoke Bluffs have waterfalls trickling down from the crags and even the overhung Cheakamus Canyon is saturated with water instead of fun.
The parking lots of Squamish are deserted, #vanlife has ended for the season and the people of the Sea to Sky Corridor are frantically Googling where to go. Search no further here is a list of winter crags near Squamish.
Vantage, Washington (AKA Frenchman Coulee)
Located around 6 hours from Squamish you can easily manage a trip out to Vantage as a weekend getaway. The whole area is made of towering basalt columns separated by splitter cracks and dotted with easy to difficult arete sport routes on each one. Camping in the area is free with a valid American Discovery Pass. And as an added bonus there is a lively night climbing scene so be sure to bring a headlamp to maximize your experience.
Trout Creek, Oregon
Trout Creek is essentially the Oregon version of Vantage except the rows upon rows of basalt columns are exclusively trad routes. Top rope access is not possible for most climbs, and as a result, the area sees far less traffic even during long weekends.
Skaha, British Columbia
Most BC climbers have heard of Skaha. What you may not have heard is that Skaha is climbable year round. This face climbing mecca is fast drying, and in the winter months when snowfall occurs, it falls right off the rock dusting the ground but not the routes. Don’t believe it? Just have a look at the Skaha guidebook and feast your eyes at the multitude of winter photos featuring award-winning friction and an astonishing lack of crowds.
Lillooet, British Columbia
This won’t work very often, but if you’re lucky you can catch a span of good weather in Lillooet even when it’s dumping rain in Squamish. The arid landscape keeps the climbs dry longer extending the rock season for a few precious weeks each year. It’s a short window between dry rock and ice but if the stars align, Lillooet could be your offseason solution.
Smith Rock, Oregon
It’s not granite, but volcanic tuff might be the next best thing. And if you can get over the high (and I mean high) first bolt you will be in for a treat. Smith Rock has surged in popularity in the last few years but if you wake up early you can still be almost guaranteed to get on your desired route. There are multi-pitch, trad and sport routes from easy to hard. You may even see some living legends enjoying themselves on the rock.