Blurr ambassadors, Vikki and Spenser, love to come and visit our local town of Squamish, and we love having them! We caught up with them to ask about their trips here with hopes that their keen insight could help other climbers and adventurers alike.
Vikki and Spenser, you’ve been on the road now since 2012. How many times have you visited Squamish and what keeps you coming back for more?
We’ve spent two summers in Squamish, totaling over 6 months. Let’s just say it’s incredibly difficult to leave once you’ve had a taste of Squamish life.
Primarily, the climbing. There’s a lifetime’s worth of incredible routes and boulders to get to the top of. This can’t separated from the atmosphere in Squamish - a perfect small town with the nicest people, and a magical forest you get to scamper in. Oh, and the Chief. It’s glorious and provides ample photographic and videographic opportunities for professionals and iPhoneographers.
What would be on your list of top 3 routes to climb while visiting Squamish?
Angel’s Crest, for the adventure.
Skywalker, for the rewarding swimming hole at the top.
The Grand Wall, because you have to.
For sport, we recommend going to the Pet Wall and getting on whatever looks cool - because they all look rad.
Squamish has some really great little climbing secrets. Routes are being built and improved upon all the time. Would you be willing to tell us about few lesser known places to climb that visitors may not consider?
Vikki only bouldered at Cat Lake once and had a blast (it may have been the company, but the problems there were really fun!) and there’s a wide range of grades. You can find info on some of the bouldering in the guidebook, and there’s also sport climbs listed on Mountain Project.
The reality is that it’s easy to find rock that’s less traveled. The locals are super friendly, and are developing new stuff all the time. We’ve found that if you’re friendly too, they’ll be happy to show you around. Or better yet, take a rest day hike and see what you find!
Okay, but where do you go if you drop your ATC down the Chief and it’s gone forever? Or you need extra socks? Or you’re craving a freeze-dried dinner?
Climb On and Valhalla Pure are the go-to’s and closest to the main campground under the Chief. Escape Route is a bit further but also offers a wide range of climbing equipment and clothes.
For a quick dinner, Nester’s Market is our go-to, although pre-packaged food there can start to add up. Save-On-Foods is the other major grocery store and can have a better deal on that freeze-dried goodness you crave. If you’re in the mood for something that might provide a bit more nutrition, we love going to the produce stand that is outside of the Save-On, that’s usually the place to get the best deals on fruits and veggies.
What if you kicked the freeze-dried dinner diet and you need real food? What places would you recommend for meals and deals?
Zephyr Cafe opens early and closes late, and has delicious food to fit every nutritional need (Vikki loves that they cater to the gluten-free, and is particularly obsessed with the Rice Bowl.)
Our mouths water when we think about Mag’s 99 (full name: Mag’s 99 Fried Chicken and Mexican Cantina). It looks sketchy (probably because it’s an old KFC building), but it provides the most satisfying post-climbing food. I might hate sharing this secret, but if you order a gluten-free burrito - you get two separate small burritos, and you can get each of those burritos with different ingredients. They also serve chicken and waffles. Did we just blow your mind? ;)
The Howe Sound Inn & Brewing Co. is the classic pub hang-out. There’s good beers, pizza, and burgers. Good luck getting the IPA though, it’s tasty but they’re frequently out.
For something that feels a bit more fancy, Watershed Bar & Grill is a great spot. As the name implies, it’s on the water, and provides a nice ambiance for a relaxing dinner and drink.
Almost forgot to mention Fergie’s Cafe! This place is the best brunch spot that we’ve ever been. Anywhere. They smoke their own meat, and it’s so tasty it makes your head spin, while the veggie hash is equally amazing. And the Bloody Mary’s come with a thick slice of bacon. It’s further than the other restaurants, but so worth it. You’ll have to ignore the smell of rotting salmon if you come in later summer, but it’s remarkably easy once your food arrives. They also cater to the gluten-free.
And, if you don’t eat sushi while you’re in the area, you’ve made a huge mistake. Kozo Cafe is the best bang for your buck (read: it’s a damn good deal), but Sushi Sen is also delicious. Be prepared to walk away with a very full and happy belly.
Lastly, for cheaper food: Tim Horton’s is like the Dunkin Donuts of Canada, Spenser says to try the TimBits at your own risk. Bisla Sweets is a tasty Indian joint that offers giant $1.00 Samosas for the dirtbags.
On your blog, you guys mention that you understand that life on the road isn’t just an extended weekend trip. It’s more about building a lifestyle. What places in Squamish help you to keep your lifestyle healthy and happy?
A healthy and happy lifestyle, to us, means good food, good people, beautiful scenery, and, of course, a bit of editing. Seems like we’ve covered the food pretty well, and we’ve yet to encounter people we wouldn’t consider good. The library is a quiet place to work, and if we get sick of climbing (which hasn’t happened) there are too many rad alternatives to list to keep us in the outdoors.
What about keeping your RV happy? Any recommendations for other Van Life users who need some extra supplies to help build up a Van or to improve it? Where does your RV sleep at night?
We’ve always stayed at the Chief campground. Another good alternative is the campground by the Adventure Centre (AKA Squamish’s visitor center), especially if you need to work frequently as there is WiFi access there. For a free place to park, a lot of our friends camp down at the Spit, which is right next to the kite-boarding pier. We hear of people sleeping on the forest roads, though we’ve also heard of break-ins.
Luckily, nothing major has gone wrong with our trailer, although we did need to get some plywood and silicone for it. Canadian Tire is a bit of a cultural experience for us, and they have all the tools and hardware and various fluids that you’re likely to need. Sort of like a Home Depot for tiny homes. We haven’t had a chance to check it out ourselves, but the word on the street is that the Squamish ReBuild is a great spot to get good quality, affordable building supplies. Essentially, they take landfill ‘waste’ and give it a new home. We recommend checking there first!
We love your “Ode to (your) French Press” on your blog. What places would you recommend for some great coffee and internet browsing time to catch up with friends and family while you are on the road?
Thankfully, internet is common around Squamish, although it seems to be slow everywhere. We like to drink coffee and compute at either Zephyr or the Adventure Centre, but be warned both places can get a bit hectic with a steady stream of climbers coming in and talking projects. While it’s a bit further up the road, Bean Around the World offers coffee and the current front runner for Spenser’s favorite cinnamon roll of all time. Most places close fairly early, though, so we often find ourselves at Starbucks as the sun sets.
OK so you’re happy and your RV is happy. What about the dirt. Any recommendations on where you could go to just wash your feet at the end of the day?
Spenser is a big fan of running up one of the Chief’s three peaks and cooling off in the creek. If it’s time for a real shower, the best option by a million miles is the Brennan Park Rec Center (or Centre? Is that a word?). They have a $2 swim if you get there between 11:45am-12:15pm, and you get to soak in the hot tub as well as jump off a diving board. And yes, you can shower, but you don’t get a free towel. A word of caution for those who necessitate privacy, the showers are communal.
Wrap this up for us: If you visit Squamish, your trip is not complete unless you...
...get a real Canadian person to yell “give ‘er” while you’re climbing. (Or, if you’ve met Hevy Duty.)