Crag profile by Charlie Long
The Longhouse is a shady rock outcropping visible from the Smoke Bluffs and around Squamish. I first spotted it from the third summit of the Chief: it is the granite dome directly across Oleson Creek from you. From Squamish, most of the climbing is covered by trees and hidden, but underneath the trees are many, many crack systems. The crag is large and has climbing on the north and west aspects. The top can be accessed on foot from the east.
The climbs are predominately single pitch crack climbs that are burly in nature. Expect splitter cracks, steep walls, and adventure. While the style may not be for everyone, those that like vertical to overhanging jamming on pristine high friction granite will surely find a size crack they enjoy. Most of the climbs described below have good, independent anchors to lower off from, those that don’t, don’t.
History: The Longhouse is a relatively recent development in Squamish climbing. It was stumbled upon in May 2012 and slowly developed over the summer of 2012 by Josh Lavigne, Paul McSorely, Colin Moorhead, Lydia Marmot, Mandoline Masse-Clark, Hazel Findlay, and myself. Others were there too and climbing, brushing rock and dirt off of holds. Whenever possible the first ascent was climbed ground-up. Protection bolts were prohibited by our egos, with the exception made for two bolt anchors to lower from. When we did go top down, climbs were cleaned just enough, ensuring each new route still had an adventure to it. By the end of the first season we finished 14 routes.
Over the winter the word about the ‘house trickled out as the rain trickled down the walls up there and more people began hiking up to check out if the rumors were worth the slog up the hill the following season when the snow would melt.
During the spring the gondola construction required the regrading of the Shannon Creek FSR to supply the construction materials to the job site. Although climbers currently have a good relationship with the the gondola construction crews, the road is very busy. Thoughtless actions such as hammering 2wd vehicles up and damaging the road, getting in the way of large descending trucks, double parking and partially blocking the road could all jeopardize our access: don’t be an asshole! Robin Barley cut a trail from the FSR to the Longhouse making it a relatively low commitment cragging area. With the new approach in place, route development picked up pace. At this time there are currently 35 routes that have been lead, of these routes most are at or near completion of cleaning and anchors installed. There are another 7 more projects that should be completed by the end of this season. There is still much more potential in the area and new routing is strongly encouraged.
Access: There are two standard approaches to the Longhouse, the fair means approach and the newly buffed Shannon Creek FSR. The approach from the valley starts on the Squaw trail. From the base of the right side Squaw (aka The Great Game, XTC roof, etc.) continue south and uphill toward the North summit of the Chief on the standard hiking trail. From the vista (Doobie Point), the branch towards the Longhouse will be roughly 30m closer to the Chief and will branch left up the hill towards Oleson Creek and Mount Habrich. Follow this trail across the gravel path and along a well blazed trail until the trail becomes cluster fucked from winter-windfall. At the debris trend down the hill towards the creek and cross a log bridge by the two giant cedars (Cedar Grove). In early season the water moves fast enough that I usually fill my water here. Cross the creek and continue on the blazed trail up the hill. You will come to a roof crack boulder problem described in Marc Bourdon’s Squamish Bouldering book. The crag above the boulder is Little Catalonia and was discovered and climbed on over 10 years ago by Andrew Boyd and Derek Flett. The climbing on this wall is very good and well worth the hike in its own right. Traverse the base of Little Catalonia going south following the blazed trail. About 400m past the roof crack boulder the Bounty Hunter’s visor will appear to your right on the trail. Follow the trail above the Bounty Hunter and continue up the hill taking care to stay to the climbers Left of the talus. Continue up the hill on the trail for 5 minutes and arrive at the Longhouse, the Naughty Nurse crack will be the climb directly in front of you.
Driving Up: High clearance 4wd is pretty much mandatory. Take the Mamquam FSR up towards Mt Habrich. Just past the chlorine pump house take the right branch and the first branch right off of that road. Follow this road across the bridge and take the right branch when the road branches above a gravel hill. Follow this road until just before KM marker 8. There is a pull off by the trail entrance big enough for two trucks. 30m down from there there is room for another 2 or 3 trucks and 150m up there is room for another 2 or 3 trucks. Follow the trail with orange markers for 10 – 15 minutes trending south bound. The first cliffs you’ll arrive at are the Stratosphere. The Casino is 2 minutes away and the naughty nurse and the upper Longhouse 5 – 10 minutes away.
Gear: Bring lots. A full double set to #4 and a #5 and #6 rarely go un-used during the day, the true O.W.’s requiring multiples of the big guys. Go as a posse and pool your gear. When we were doing the first ascents on these last year we pooled all the big gear we could to make these long routes less intimidating. A 60m rope is fine for every climb with the exception of the Bonghouse, a 70m was used for the FA and worked quite well to get comfortably back down to the ground to belay, but a 60 would probably work with a little down scrambling. Taping is very common, the cracks have big sharp crystals that can eat your hands when unfamiliar with this style of crack climbing. Beers either on the trail or in your truck goes a long way for keeping morale high after a session of burly crack climbing.
Hazards: This is a new area and loose rock and other overhead hazards exist. The development of this cliff has been, generally on the side of less is more. We have tried to create routes that are safe enough to lead on-sight but will still require good judgement and proper technique. If a rock seems loose, it might be; trees too. Helmets are not a bad call.
Squirrels: they are unusually large up here and don’t seem to happy about the climbers invading their space, so far there have been no incidents but it may just be a matter of time.
New Routing Etiquette: Respect existing projects and other climbers equipment and goals. If you see fixed lines and gear leave it alone unless you have permission to do otherwise. Manage the overhead hazard you create to others in the area. Equip a good anchor to get back to the ground on. Think before you bolt. The Longhouse doesn’t need extra bolts, what might seem unprotectable could be protected by a top rope until someone is bold enough to lead it without bolts. Be safe.
The Upper Longhouse
The following three topos depict the main Longhouse wall. So far no protection bolts have been placed here. The primary route developers hope that future routes in this area respect this ethic.