Beginner Rock Climbing in Squamish, B.C. Best Crags for the Novice Climber Near Vancouver, Canada

Squamish, British Columbia (B.C.), dubbed “The Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada”, is a world-class rock climbing destination with the granite monolith, “The Chief”, overlooking Howe Sound. With the wide variety of rock climbing routes and the magnificent view, Squamish attracts climbers from all over the world year round.

The popular climbing documentary, First Ascent by Sender Films, documents the epic struggle of Didier Berthod against the then-unclimbed Cobra Crack located in the deep of the Squamish forest. Even though such an incredibly difficult route does exist, Squamish also offers a wide variety of top rope-able, novice-friendly climbs.

Getting to Squamish

Getting to Squamish from Vancouver, B.C. is quite straightforward. If leaving from Vancouver East, simply get onto Highway 1 West and keep heading north along the Sea to Sky corridor.

If leaving from Downtown Vancouver, heading towards the Lions Gate Bridge via W Georgia St. will get you on the right path. Simply follow the Highway 99 sign and you should be able to make your way onto the highway. Once you are on the highway, there will not be any more detours until the final destination.

Most of the highway construction has been completed and the traffic is quite smooth even on a busy weekend. Expect about an hour for travel time.

The Beginner Crags

Murring Park: Murrin Park is about 9km south of Squamish. When heading north, look for the Murrin Park sign and the entrance on the west side of the highway. It is paid parking if the parking pay station is functioning.

The Sugarloaf: A popular cliff within Murrin Park with easy to set up top-ropes. To get there, find the trail right next to the toilets at the south end of the parking lot. The trail curves uphill for just a few minutes leading to the base of the cliff. Walk up around the right side of the cliff to get to the top.

Easily top-rope-able beginner routes:

  • Flat Battery 5.4
  • Magnet 5.4
  • Little Spark 5.4
  • Jump Start 5.6
  • Lieback Crack 5.7
  • The Mechanic 5.7

The Smoke Bluffs: This area offers close proximity to downtown Squamish with excellent top-rope slab climbing for beginners. When driving on Highway 99 towards Squamish, turn right at the Cleveland Avenue intersection where a brand new Squamish Adventure Center is clearly visible. Follow the paved road past the Adventure Center until reaching a dirt parking lot on the right side with the Smoke Bluff sign.

Burgers and Fries: The most accessible, top-rope friendly crag within the Smoke Bluffs. Follow the main, big trail on the south end of the parking lot. Keep going forward along the main trail while avoiding turning onto any other trails and eventually, you will reach a crag with houses visible on the top of the cliff. Top ropes can be set up by scrambling up the easy class 4 rock on the leftmost side of the cliff.

Recommended beginner routes:

  • Dusty Eyes 5.4
  • Wisecrack 5.7
  • Burgers and Fries 5.7

Recommended Guide Book

For more detailed topos and maps of the wonderful climbs that Squamish has to offer, the climbing guide Squamish Select by Marc Bourdon is highly recommended.

Go Rock Climbing in Squamish

Choose a nice sunny day and go visit one of the beginner crags in Squamish for an experience like no other. Remember, you don’t have to be an extreme athlete to enjoy rock climbing!