Located 'across the street' from the town of Squamish, BC, the spectacular monolith known as Stawamus Chief is renowned worldwide as one of the best places in the world for rock climbing, slacklining canyons, and BASE jumping.
This giant granite dome rises over 700 m (2,297 feet) above the waters of Howe Sound. The Squamish language name for the mountain is Siám’ Smánit - 'The Chief'. With its unusually steep, flat face, immense grandeur, and natural beauty, 'The Chief' is truly awe-inspiring. It holds an especially important place in the culture of the local Squamish First Nations people.
Painting of The Chief by Sam Siegel
The Legend of the Stawamus Chief
To the Squamish First Nations people consider 'The Chief' to be a place of great spiritual power. There is a great black cleft on the face of the mountain, known as the 'Black Dyke'. In Squamish lore, the Black Dyke is a mark left by the skin of 'Sínulhka', a giant, two-headed sea serpent. According to the legend, Sínulhka once roamed the Squamish territory, making loud shrieks and frightening the people in the local village. A young warrior named Xwechtáal, was given the insurmountable challenge of killing the serpent. It is said that the serpent left the black streak as it was being pursued up the mountain by Xwechtáal.
A Natural Granite Wonder
Estimated to be 100 million years old, some geologists speculate that The Chief may be the root of an extinct volcano. Before the glaciers of the last Ice Age started to retreat just over 10,000 years ago, this area was covered by an ice sheet that was over a mile thick.
Nowadays, the Stawamus Chief is a popular by hiking spot, and boasts 3 separate summits, First, Second, and Third peaks. Starting at 610 metres, each succeeding peak is 45 metres higher than the one below it.
Here is an excellent guide for hiking the Squamish Chief.
I love exploring and hiking all around the Vancouver region. Much of my work is inspired by the incredible vistas I encounter.