The Chief


July 2008

    Status: Continued Construction; New Access and Parking
    It's been a long spring in our continued efforts to bring a basic level of appropriate signage and communication to the climbing public from the highway improvement contractor around the status of the current Chief parking lot and new access road to the upper parking lots. We did manage to get trailers removed from the lot, but signage remained elusive.

    As a result of the lack of signage (or inappropriate signage, among other things) there was a substantial degree of confusion during the May long week-end as the contractor attempted to get paving done. This has continued until recently (and to a certain extent still exists). The SAS met with parks staff again in June, as well as representatives of the Ministry of Transportation. We at least now have had a sign re-erected (from its ignoble state laying on its side indicating the Chief was somewhere up in the skies) just short of the traditional/current parking lot acknowledging the park is there and an entrance is approaching. The vague status of the new approach road remains; many people are using it to approach the upper parking lots.

    Regarding the fact that the upper lot is now being used by climbers wanting to access the Grand Wall, some preliminary thought has been given and a lot more thought and work will be needed to the concept of enhancing a trail-way past Titanic boulders on toward the Grand Wall area.

    With regards to the Apron parking lot, we have indicated to Parks and the Ministry of Transportion that it ought to be brought up to the original size, as well as a concern that a significant part of it is often used up by vehicles and trailers of trail motorcycle users whose traditional area of parking opposite the Apron lot has been removed for highway construction. Stay tuned.

    As a reminder for those driving the Sea-to-Sky during the current construction, the following link gives a some information regarding closures and other construction related issues:

    Squaw: A New Name: Slhanay
    The Squaw now has a new name, one suggested by the Squamish First Nation: Slhanay. It will be adopted by the various governmental agencies with jurisdiction in the area. Recognizing the undercurrent of implications with the word "Squaw", some climbers have been working toward a long term solution that was acceptable to the Squamish First Nation. Most recently, Kevin McLane on behalf of the SAS, was able to spearhead an initiative to reach that solution. Check out the following article from the Squamish Chief for more information.

March 2008

    Status: Open with heavy construction nearby
    Despite appearances, the Apron parking lot, the Chief parking lot and access to the upper parking lots and campground remain open. We are working with Parks to mitigate the access challenges created by the on-going construction. We have raised several concerns including:

    » the co-opting of part of the chief parking lot with the highway work contractor's trailers and heavy machinery which for all intents and purposes signals a closure;
    » the need for signs indicating the park is still open and visitors are welcome;
    » the fill which has been left in the Apron parking lot.

January 2008

    New Apron Trail
    The new trail at the base of the Apron is now complete. While access through the current Apron parking lot is not optimal due to the storage of highway construction material, one can walk uninterrupted from the lot, along the trail, and exit at the junction with the old highway bed. The trail has made access to some bouldering and routes much easier, and will most likely open up some development. Look for increased traffic this spring as climbers return to the parking lot via this route and other recreationalists take advantage of it to access the Chief front country.

    Thanks are due the Ministry of Transportation, specifically the Sea to Sky Highway Improvement Project, and BC Parks for the establishment of this trail. As per the news of October last, funds remain available with BC Parks for more trail development and improvement, and the SAS will coordinate this work in 2008.


New Apron Trail - December 2007

New Apron Trail at Bottom Line


    Signs for Apron Trails
    As part of the contribution offered by the Sea to Sky Highway Improvement Project to climbing resources within provincial parks used by climbers in the area, the SAS and BC Parks agreed to the merits of some permanent signs at the entrance of the trails which lead to the walls north east of the Apron. These signs would indicate to newcomers and visitors alike that they were on the right trail. Because of the myriad of trails which have developed in this area over the last 8 years, contributed to by the proliferation of bouldering areas, some clarity around the actual trails leading to the Chief routes was seen as useful.

    There will be signage placed just inside the trail heads for:

    » Rock On
    » Sheriff's Badge
    » Angel's Crest
    » North North Arête
    » The Squaw (may use route names to indicate)


    The signs will be on 4" x 4" posts with etched plastic. They will be set back from the road so as to be not obvious to passing-by traffic, but will be recognizable by climbers looking for trails.

    The signs will be posted in the spring of 2008.

    Click on the following image for an indication of the content of the signs.


    Chief Parking Lot Construction
    The current main parking area looks somewhat like a war-zone, however all access is still maintained. The highway-side parking lot is still open, as are the upper lots near the campground. The SAS will work with the contractor to clarify the status of the parking lots in order to ensure the magnitude of work does not create the perception that access to the Chief is limited, especially as the busier spring weather hits.


Chief Parking Lot Entrance - December 2007


October 2007

    New Trail at Base of Apron; funding for others
    A major new trail is being planned which will connect the Apron parking lot with the old highway trail near the end of the Apron descent trail. The trail will be 6 feet wide and bike friendly, and will start behind the current outhouse at the Apron lot, skirt below The Bottom Line area and connect just past the Porn Boulder to the existing Hydro access point. Climbers will now have an alternative to the narrow highway shoulder when returning to the parking lot and it will improve access to some of the boulders and climbs in the area. The trail will additionally provide a pleasant entrance for hikers, climbers, cyclists and other members of the public approaching the Chief front country from the North. Working together with the SAS, local Park staff have been diligent in ensuring the new trail construction does not affect any existing boulder problems.

    The trail is made possible by the generous funding of the Sea-to-Sky Highway Improvement Project (SSHIP), which has budgeted for recreational enhancements as it upgrades Highway 99. In addition to the funding for the Apron trail, the SSHIP has offered to put $15,000 towards other climbers' trails within Stawamus Provincial Park and will make a one time $5,000 contribution to the SAS. Pursuant to the SSHIP initiative, the SAS has agreed to provide input to parks regarding the best use of the additional trail funding. We intend to gather suggestions from the climbing community and collate them for BC Parks to consider.

    Rough work on the new Apron trail has started and the majority will be accomplished in November 2007, with a project completion date set for December 10, 2007.

January 2007

    Present Parking / Entrance:
    The Sea to Sky Improvements website shows the current conceptual plan of how the Chief gateway will look once the highway work being planned is done (along with additional plans for Murrin Provincial Park and Shannon Falls Provincial Park).

    To note are the protected T interchange to get in and out from both directions, increased parking, and the interface with the Malamute side of the highway.

    The SAS met with the highway work contractor on January 10th 2007 for an update on the work scheduled for the general area in front of the Chief. Work will commence in early 2007 near the current entrance to the park in preparation for highway upgrades and the new "gateway" to the Chief. Access to the park will be maintained during the 2007 construction period, with the potential of minor delays or detours depending on the work being undertaken.

    Much of the work at the Chief is dependent upon the falcon nesting period. Expect tree felling as early as the last two weeks of January 2007, additional "non-nesting disruptive" work throughout the spring and summer, and then some blasting and excavating later in the year.

    The SAS appreciates the pro-active approach on behalf of the Ministry of Transportation and Peter Kiewit Sons in keeping user groups informed and working with them to mitigate disruption of use of the area.

    South Gully / Rock On:
    In the fall of 2006, significant rainfall led to the Mamquam FSR being temporarily blocked by debris flows originating from the South Gully area and near the Sheriff's Badge (just north of the Angel's Crest trail). The final section of the approach to the Rock On area which navigates the debris gully has been affected by the South Gully slide. Because of the displacement of debris, caution should be exercised in approaching this area.


September 2006

    As of summer 2006, no access changes have yet occurred at the Chief as a result of the Highway 99 upgrade. However, major changes to the Chief frontcountry are upcoming, starting later this year or in early 2007 when Peter Kiewit & Sons' begins construction in that area. These changes are positive news for climbers, so stay tuned for more information.

    There have been some issues in the recent past around access during times when commercial filming has been allowed in the park, in particular, the bouldering areas. The SAS has offered its input to the ministry in charge of the park regarding appropriate timing and extent of commercial filming. The degree to which these are officially incorporated into guidelines is still pending.

    On a further front, BC Hydro has recently blasted within their right of way under the Hydro lines for the purposes of sinking new poles. The degree of notice afforded the park administrators and affected user groups was completely unacceptable, considering not only park resources but safety of individuals was at risk. The SAS has met with Parks to voice its concerns on this development. During attendant upgrade work, the Apron parking area was closed for three days in the week of September 11th 2006. Park and BC Hydro employees were on sight to direct access options. The SAS, along with the Climbers' Access Society of B.C., voiced its concerns with Park managers regarding the time and extent of this closure. We are unaware of any further work beyond this timeframe.