Smoke Bluffs Introduction
The Smoke Bluffs is likely one of the most popular and frequented climbing locations in all of Canada. This is primarily due to the hundreds of quality single-pitch climbs found scattered across the hillsides, all within walking distance of Squamish. The crags host an abundance of varied crack and slab climbs, and most of the cliff-tops are easy to access for setting up topropes. Rainstorms will prevent climbing on all the cliffs, but the Bluffs dry very quickly afterward due to afternoon sun exposure, minimal tree cover and frequent winds, which also provide welcome relief in the heat of summer.
If you’re new to the area, the Smoke Bluffs is a great place to test Squamish granite, get a quick session in after work, or hone your skills for bigger objectives on the Chief.
From downtown Squamish, the Smoke Bluffs appear as a series of granite outcrops lining the hillsides directly to the east. To reach the parking area, follow Highway 99 toward downtown and turn east onto Logger’s Lane opposite the McDonald’s restaurant. Follow the paved road north past the Squamish Adventure Centre and a sign will direct you into the climbers’ parking area a little farther down the road on the right. All crags are approached from this location. The Smoke Bluffs is a municipal park that borders residential neighbourhoods and is frequented by non-climbing locals. Please be a considerate visitor in order to keep relations with the locals as positive as possible.
The quantity and quality of routes in the Bluffs causes the popular cliffs to get quite congested on most weekends throughout the climbing season. Walking from crag to crag looking for a free climb can be a frustrating experience, but if you consider the following recommendations, a good day with minimal waiting is likely. Try starting early or climbing late if you must join the onslaught of weekend warriors. The bulk of the climbing public will arrive mid-morning and will often quit before dinner, leaving many of the crags deserted in the evening, a wonderful time to get in a few classic pitches.
If you’re having trouble finding open climbs midday, try the out-of-the-way cliffs. As a general rule, the farther you hike the better your odds of finding a quiet spot. Good examples are the crags around Lumberland, High Cliff and Island in the Sky below Burgers and Fries, and the outlying crags on the Loop Trail, such as Funarama, Tunnel Rock, Call it a Day and Skunk Hollow. Finally, don’t write off rain days. Many climbers from Vancouver get spooked if the forecast is threatening, and won’t make the one-hour drive from the city. But if you don’t mind taking a risk, you might luck into a great day in the fast-drying Bluffs. And if it does rain, you can always go hiking, biking or climbing at Chek.