Summer has finally arrived in full force, and climbers are making the most of it. It’s been exciting to witness the return of international visitors in far greater numbers than we’ve seen over the last two years during the height of the pandemic.
With the coming long weekend, here is some advice for visitors and newer climbers about local issues and things to watch out for.
•Camping is often a challenge for visitors. If you haven’t been to Squamish in the past couple of years, you may notice things have changed. The District has cracked down on van camping within municipal boundaries, and it is no longer possible to stay overnight on the once-popular Mamquam Forest Service Road.
There are options for paid camping at the Mamquam River Campground, the Stawamus Chief, Alice Lake, and the Klahanie campground. There is also the great option of the free Chek Canyon Climbing Site. It’s 20 minutes north of town and doesn’t have running water but is right at the premier crag for Squamish sport climbing.
The Squamish Access Society has advocated for a free or low-cost, extremely basic campground outside of town that both visiting and local vehicle dwellers could use, in the same style as the Pleasant Valley Pit Campground in Bishop.
•There are a couple of creatures to be wary of at the local crags right now as well. This year has been challenging for black bears, with berries only starting to appear. As a result, they’ve been looking for alternative food sources and actively scavenging around houses and campgrounds. It’s common to see bears in the Smoke Bluffs around this time of year, and they have been known to steal backpacks in search of food. Keep packs as close as possible to you, especially if they have food in them, and make noise as you hike to and from the crag. Vegetation is dense this year. It is easy to get very close to the bears without being able to see them.
•Ticks are the other hazard. They are plentiful right now, and the dense vegetation also means more opportunities for them to cling onto you as you bushwhack past. Get in the habit of doing a quick tick check at the crag and at the car, so you can brush them off before they have a chance to bite, and do a more extensive check at home. The BC Centre of Disease Control highlights Squamish as a high-risk area for Lyme disease, and you can view their full advice On the BC CDC website.
•Finally, we are now entering some prolonged dry periods with the potential for wildfires. Stay up to date on campfire regulations on the BCWildfire website. Note that smoking is banned in many climbing areas, including all BC Parks.
Enjoy it out there, and remember you can direct any questions about your trip or climb in the area by emailing SAS at email@example.com, or you can contact us on our social media channels.
Alex Ryan Tucker is a Squamish resident and Squamish Access Society board member. Go to squamishaccess.ca for more information on SAS.