Punching steps up the NW face of Sky Pilot.

After some misconstrued plans over the weekend of April 1-2nd I decided to take advantage of the good weather on April 3rd and climb Sky Pilot in winter conditions.

I started walking from km 5 on the FSR at 3:30 AM to try and climb with the best snow conditions possible. The road was already melting out which made for easy walking in my approach shoes. On top of that, the trails are groomed by the Sea to Sky Gondola a good portion of the way and I only had to switch to boots once I reached the skin tracks winding up through the woods.

The snow conditions were just solid enough to make booting the approach a semi-enjoyable endeavor, though I was definitely post-holing the majority of the way. Upon reaching the edge of Stadium Glacier I decided to start of the snow fields on the NW face, as it looked like a fun climb and would require a bit more route-finding than the standard west buttress. At the top of the first 50° snow ramp I encountered a fun little WI2 section which led to more steep snow above.

First ice step. I went to the left as the daggers in the center were not confidence-inspiring.

After traversing under a big, looming cornice I found another ice step which led up towards the summit ridge. It was probably a move or two of WI3 and easily above.

Second ice step.

The snow was solid on the summit ridge but I was definitely aware of cornices hanging over the North Face, which looked very snowy and gnarly upon peeking over. I summited around 9:30 AM with amazing views of the coast range.

Summit ridge looking North.


The descent via the west buttress turned out to be the crux of the route. The sun was blasting the south/east side and I had to traverse around the false summit tower, which was starting to shed chunks of rime. Afterwards I realized you could bypass going to the south side by traversing the tower on the other (north-ish) side, above some exposure.

The rimed up tower — Squamish’s own Torre Egger!

It took about four hours to descend, just in time for lunch :). It was nice to finally get out and climb something after a slow winter and stormy start to spring. Psyched to continue exploring the coastal mountains!

My approximate line of ascent.