In the face of mountains, measurement seems contrived, impertinent, dwarfed. But mountains do not dwarf the spirit; they present reaches that convene with the universal. I feel them renew and deepen my first transaction with nature. I have a covenant with mountains.”
-- Andrea Mead Lawrence, A Practice of Mountains"
This is it, the full-meal deal of the mountain pursuits. Mountaineering and alpinism demand a high level of fitness, experience and ability but both deliver corresponding rewards. I'm often asked the difference between "mountaineering" and "alpinism" and there may not be a definitive answer; many people use the terms interchangeably. But in my mind there is a distinction. Mountaineering refers to a low-technical ascent of a peak whereas alpinism combines all aspects of mountaineering and adds a highly-technical climb. Mountaineering might involve glacier-travel, moderately steep slopes and 3rd-Class scrambling whereas alpinism might add steep snow, ice, and/or rock in the 5th-Class realm. Mountaineering might refer to a base-camp method whereas alpinism pursues a fast-and-light tactic.
The Squamish area holds many alpine climbing options, way more than can be listed here. British Columbia is simply stacked with thousands of beautiful mountains, many of which are rarely climbed. In fact, during most of my days in the alpine, I often don’t see any other climbers. If you’re after a real wilderness experience, the mountains of BC have endless supply. Local options for alpine climbs around Squamish include:
Sky Pilot, Co-Pilot & Ledge: Sky Pilot (low 5th-Class, 6-9hrs) is one of the most popular alpine objectives in the area due, in part, to the ease of access via the Sea to Sky gondola which deletes 900m (3000’) of elevation gain from the approach.
Mt. Garibaldi, 2678m (8786’): Our local volcano (dormant) has three summits but the highest is, thankfully, the easiest and most common to climb. Heli access is recommended for single-day ascents, providing access to the Garibaldi Provincial Park boundary. This is a glaciated ascent with snow climbing up to 55-degrees. Other peaks in Garibaldi Provincial Park would Wedge Mountain, Mt. Weart, and Mamquam Mountain to name just a few.
Joffre Provincial Park: Mt. Matier (2783m/9130’) and Joffre Peak (2713m/8900’) are the two “Crown Jewels” in this area. Both have moderate routes to their summits but they each have technical rock-climbing routes as well. Other peaks in the area are Hartzell, Howard and Vantage. It is common to either camp or stay at the Keith Flavelle hut nearby though single-day climbs are an option for very fit climbers.
Tantalus Provincial Park: This heli-accessed alpine dreamland offers glaciated mountaineering routes as well as steep, technical rock climbs. Most people stay at the Jim Haberl Hut for 3-4 nights to maximize the cost of the flight. Common objectives in the area are Mt Alpha (2302m/7550’), Serratus Mountain (2321m/7613’), Mt. Dione (2589m/8492’) and Mt. Tantalus itself (2608m/8555’). Besides these there are a number of other, hard-to-reach summits in the area but most folks find they’re satisfied after tagging four peaks during their trip!
Whistler/Blackcomb: Lift-accessed approaches in the summer make these mountains hugely accessible and yet one rarely sees other climbers on the peaks. “Blackcomb Buttress” is the most popular objective (low-5th up to 5.9 depending on line chosen) but there are dozens of summits doable as a summer-time Spearhead Traverse or as day objectives from a camp (ie Decker Mountain, The Spearhead, or Phalanx). Climbers have only been scratching the surface of the possibilities here!
I have avenues for guiding in North Cascades National Park and on peaks like Mts. Baker and Shuksan. Other common alpine objectives would be anything from Mt. Slesse, to climbs in Bugaboos Provincial Park, to the Canadian Rockies.
Any trip you wish to book with me will require a phone call or email (contact page here). You can check out my availability on the calendar (here). I am often booked by the week though single-day options work great as well. Here's a couple of important things to consider:
The rates above assume you will provide your personal climbing gear (helmet, harness, boots, crampons, etc). Please let me know if you do not have this equipment and I will try to find the best gear at the best rental price for you.
The rates/ratios above may depend upon your skill and experience in combination with the desired objective; if I feel the combination of these requires it, I will recommend adding another guide to our trip.
Alpine-climbing/mountaineering trips are sold by the day. If you wish to climb Bugaboo Spire's "NE Ridge," this would be an example of a minimum two-day objective (approach the mountain on Day 1, climb and descend on Day 2). For this reason, a week-long trip with multiple objectives may make more sense than a single objective. Depending on your fitness and experience, some objectives may require more or less time. The mountains always dictate what we can do, my job is to give you the best experience possible for the given weather/conditions. Sometimes weather forces us to change our objectives but weather cancellations are not possible. However, my focus is to see you both rewarded and satisfied and will do my best to achieve that.