Monthly Archives: September 2012

Cypress Creek – Beta

At a Glance

ACA Rating: 3C II
French Rating: v4a3 II *

From Bridge
Time Required: 3.5 hours
Distance: 1.7 km
Rappels: 4 – longest 30m
Total Elevation Loss: 220m

Updated: 18 June, 2015 with new rappel lengths from bolted stations.


Cypress Creek is a short but spectacular canyon on the south slopes of Black Mountain, in West Vancouver.  The highlights include some very nice waterfall rappels, including one of the best in Southwest BC, at Lower Cypress Falls. Between the rappels, the canyon contains some boulder walking in a beautiful and primeval gorge, some downclimbing in nicely carved cascades, slippery and intricate log jams, and a few wades and swims in deep pools.


Standard gear, including wetsuit and rappel equipment.  Adequate rope for a maximum 30m rappel.  This canyon has now been bolted.  Always be prepared, however, for damaged or missing equipment by having a some webbing and rapides along.



To the Trailhead

From Highway 1 Westbound, take Exit 4 (Woodgreen Dr, Caulfeild Dr, Headland Dr). Turn right at the stop sign (Woodgreen Drive).

From Highway 1 Eastbound, take Exit 4 (Caulfeild Dr, Headland Dr, Woodgreen Dr). At the stop sign, turn left on Headland Drive.  Cross over the highway, and at the four-way stop, turn right on Woodgreen Drive. Continue along Woodgreen past the on-ramp to Highway 1 Westbound.

Follow Woodgreen Drive up the hill, curving to the left, and take the third right, on Woodgreen Place (a dead end, signed for Cypress Falls Park.) At the very end of this short street, there is a hidden gravel drive heading up to the left – take this up to a large gravel parking area, with bear-proof garbage receptacles at the far end. Park here. There may be many vehicles – most belonging to dog-owners or professional dog walkers.  The park is a very popular off-leash area for local canines.


From here, it is about a 30 minute walk to the first drop-in point – mostly uphill, though not too steep overall. It’s up to you – you can set out in wetsuit and pack, or light shirt and shorts, suiting up at the drop-in point.

Take the trail at the end of the parking lot, beside the garbage can and signage, across a very short field and into the trees. Immediately turn left and follow the trail up a ways, then along some up and down, parallel to the creek.  After about 5 minutes, the trail drops down to the right a little bit, arriving at a fenced viewpoint overlooking the rooster-tail Lower Cypress Falls.  Enjoy the view, anticipating the rappel into the rooster-tail, then continue up the trail, keeping right to cross a wooden footbridge over the creek in a moment. Continue up and to the right, following the trail, and in a few minutes come to a fork.  Keep right, which will take you further up and up.

After another 5 minutes, the trail passes through a gate, then deposits you on a road, with a quarry across from you.  Turn left up the road. In 5 more minutes, pass a yellow gate, where the road turns to gravel.  Continue past the gate, to the second telephone pole on the right side of the road.  Just prior to the pole, a faint trail leads up the hill on your right.  Follow it up into the trees.  From here, you will be following day-glo green flagging along the trail.

Just after entering the trees, turn left to contour northwards for a very short way.  Then follow the trail up a shallow draw for a minute or two.  The trail comes up to a level spot, then drops down and left, closer to the creek.  Contour along the hillside for a couple of minutes, then steeply up a short embankment.  In another moment, you will join an old logging road through the woods.

Turn left on the logging road, and follow it for about 150m or so.  The road forks, with the right going up into the forest, and becoming more overgrown.  Keep to the left.  In another 50m or so, reach the end of a little promontory over the creek below.  Start down to the right, and follow a very steep trail (there are a couple of knotted, fixed ropes to help with the descent), through a little obstacle course, to the bed of the creek.  Be careful dropping down here, as there is potential for injury if you slip in some spots. Watch, also, that you don’t dislodge rocks or logs on people below.

Route Details

Once you get close to the creek, there are some good flat spots to suit up and prepare for the first rappel.  When you’re all ready, scramble down into the creek, where it swirls down towards the first waterfall.  There is a large boulder right at the top of the cascade.  Above it is a bolted rappel station.  There is also a bolt further back from the drop, which can be used for a safety clip, in case you or a member of your party feel uncomfortable with the exposure at the top of the rappel.

The first rappel is approximately 14 meters (45 feet), and ends in a swimmer pool.  There are numerous ledges all the way down, and two logs angle down into the pool.  You will end up between the logs in high flow, though in  lower flow you can keep left (rappeler’s left) of both logs, along the wall.

Pack up your rope, and continue down canyon.  There is a nice section of narrows along here, then the canyon opens again, and you pass below a bridge high above.  This is the old entrance point (prior to the descent of the upper waterfall in about 2013).  Shortly afterwards, you will arrive at the the second rappel.

This rappel is easily done as a two stage rap with a length of about 22 meters (70 feet). Add about 2 meters in high water, because the exit from the rappel is in a swirling bowl that can be difficult to exit. The anchor is another bolted rappel station, on canyon left.  It is just above the chockstone pinch that was the original anchor prior to bolting. Drop down to the pool on the ledge, wade/swim across to the far side, and drop over the lip for the second stage.  Keep well to your left (as you rappel) in the groove/corner, or you WILL slip!

Pull the rope – it is surprisingly easy, despite going around the corner – and continue down the canyon past a log jam (easily passed on the right, a little less easily on the left) to the next rappel.  This rappel used to be anchored off a huge boulder that was propped into the corner on your left, as you approach the waterfall – a fair distance around the corner.  This huge boulder is now gone – it washed away during the winter of 2014/15.  Just goes to show how massive the water flows through here can be!

The rappel is now anchored off a bolted rappel station on canyon left, just above the drop.  Very carefully move out onto the ledge on the left.  It may seem exposed, but the footing is secure, and handholds are plenty.  The rappel is 18 meters (60 feet) to the water.

After pulling the rope, continue down the canyon from here for another 30-45 minutes or so, and pass below the wooden footbridge from earlier in the day.  Continue to the base of the viewing platform, and prepare for the rooster tail rappel.

There are a pair of bolts just around the corner, equalized with some webbing.  Climb up to the viewing platform, go around it, and drop into the drainage just beyond it, then move back toward the creek itself – you will find the bolts there.  Alternatively, you can go down the main channel with a belay and turn the corner to reach the bolts.  There will very likely soon be another bolt on the cliff below and prior to the viewpoint, to use as a safety clip  for the move around the corner.

Cypress Final Rap

Final rappel station in Cypress Creek. Public viewpoint is just out of view, top left.

This rappel is just under 30 meters (100 feet) to the pool below.  First person down should check the rope’s fall upon reaching the top of the two large logs in the falls, about 20 feet from the top. (Interesting note – there was only one log here until the fall of 2012 – would have been interesting to see that come down!) Step carefully on the logs – they can be slippery.  If using a carabiner block, the last person may wish to remove the block and rap double strand, to avoid the possibility of sticking the rope on the logs.

Pass some logs jams (some slippery scrambling, and possibly a very short “nuisance” rappel), a nice slanted hallway, and some neat pouroffs.  You will come to a wall on the right with a number of climbing bolts on it, and possibly some old rope and/or quickdraws.  Just past this is the first convenient exit – scramble up a dirt ramp under a fallen log to the rim, and turn right.

There is some more jumping, wading and exploring below this level – you can find a couple of more potential exits lower, on the right – take one of them when you see houses up ahead…


Follow the trail up the rim of the canyon for 5 minutes or so. You will see some plastic mesh fencing off to your left just before you reach a well-trod trail. Turn left, and almost immediately rejoin the main trail. Once there, turn left to reach the parking lot in about two minutes.


* Reason for rating:
v4 – “Vertical sections with low to medium water flow, causing balance problems or blocking”
a3 – “Swimming not exceeding 30 m in calm water. Travel in low current.”


Percy Creek – Beta


As of June 30, 2013, Percy Creek is not really recommended as a fun day out!  There seems to have been a major wind and/or rain event that has caused a lot of trees to slide into the canyon.  We descended the upper third of the canyon on June 30, 2013, and found many spots with huge thickets of logs and branches that have fallen and slid down from the walls making passage incredible slow, treacherous, and difficult.  It may be a long while before the canyon is a pleasant trip again.  Shall have to monitor it occasionally over the next couple/few years…

At a Glance

ACA Rating: 3C III
French Rating: v4a2 III*
Time Required: 8-10 hours
Distance: Technical section – 3 km
Rappels: up to 11 – longest 60m
Total Elevation Loss: 700m



Percy Canyon is a long, somewhat physically demanding canyon that makes its way down the slopes of Mount Seymour.  This route begins very close to the Mount Seymour ski area, and works its way down almost to sea level.  There will be some rock and gravel walking and a lot of scrambling through large boulders.  There are lots of downclimbs, some in dry areas, most in water, with tricky footing on slick rock and moss. For much of the trip, you will be walking in a dry canyon, but there will also be swims through a few pools, and rappels through waterfalls.  One of the fascinating things about this canyon is how the water keeps disappearing and reappearing throughout.  In some spots, if you listen carefully, you can hear the water running beneath the gravel and rocks at your feet.


Standard gear, including wetsuit and rappel equipment.  Adequate rope for a maximum 60m rappel.  Webbing/rapides for up to 8 rappels off natural anchors (trees/boulders), mostly fairly close to the drops.



To the Trailhead

The trail is accessed from Mount Seymour Road, near the top of the mountain.  It is best to spot a car lower on the road, to minimize a long, uphill trek at the end of the day.

From Highway 1 westbound, take Exit 22B for Mount Seymour Parkway.  You will end up on Fern Street. In 100m, turn right onto Mount Seymour Parkway.

From Highway 1 Eastbound, take Exit 22, toward Lynn Creek/Capilano University.  From the off-ramp, turn left on Fern Street.  Drive 350m, and turn right onto Mount Seymour Parkway.

On Mount Seymour Parkway, drive east for 4.5 km, and turn left on Mount Seymour Road.  (On your left is Parkgate Village Shopping Centre – the Bean Around the World coffee shop is a great place for a get-up-and-go cup of coffee and final supplies for the day.)

Drive 3 km up Mount Seymour Road, entering Mount Seymour Provincial Park, and stop at a parking area on the right side.  This is the Baden-Powell Trailhead – spot a vehicle here for the exit (N49 20.295 W122 57.411).

As you continue up the road, a kilometer further on is a switch back to the left (N49 20.655 W122 56.752).  On the right side, a trail comes up out of the forest, beside a large tree – this is where you will emerge on the hike out.  Unfortunately, there is no parking along here; you will have to walk fifteen minutes back to the car from here at the end of the day.

Once again, continue up the road, for another 7.5km (11.5km from the turn off of Mt. Seymour Parkway) to another switchback to the left (this is the third, and final, left switchback on the road.) On the left side, at the apex of the turn, is a parking lot (N49 21.579 W122 56.875).  Pull in here.



From the south (downhill) side of the parking lot, cross the road up which you just drove, finding a trail that begins just before the first concrete barricades on the far side of the road (N49 21.537 W122 56.880). Take this trail across Goldie Creek (N49 21.812 W122 56.344), and continue towards Goldie Lake.  After about 1.5km (20-25 minutes) turn right on the signed “Dead End Trail” (N49 22.037 W122 56.115).  Follow this for about 500m to a wooden bridge crossing the upper reaches of Percy Creek (N49 22.215 W122 55.899).  Turn downstream…

Route Details

Start strolling down the canyon.  You begin in a fairly level streambed of gravel, rocks, and boulders. The canyon slowly begins to develop, with occasional grooves, chutes, and cascades appearing. When you start sensing waterfalls ahead (maybe half an hour downstream) think about donning a wetsuit.  You will know you are starting to get into it when you reach a skinny little slot with a stream pouring over a chock stone – down climbable to a pool about 8m (25 feet) below. From here, the down climbs and rappels will come pretty steadily.

Be careful for slippery rock and moss.  Over the next couple of hours, there will be a couple of solid, obvious rappels, of up to almost 30m (100 feet) as well as some down climbs that may make you reach for a handline… Further on is a shorter drop (8m or 25 feet) down an emerald green cascade into a pool, for which a handline probably won’t be quite enough, then a “nuisance rappel” of about 5m (15 feet) over a boulder and down a log .  Shortly thereafter is a series of down climbs, which ends with a 2.5m (8 foot) drop with a little pouroff.  A log beside the pouroff, and a foothold between the two, make the drop a pretty straightforward down climb, but it can also be rappelled off a dodgy pinch in the pool.

After this, drop into a rabbit hole amid a jumble of giant boulders, to a short, straightforward down climb.  Then continue to another steep, slightly unnerving down climb, where you keep left down what is almost a set of steps beside a wall.

Now you’re at the top of a big drop.  This yields to a downclimb of a steep groove on the left side, out of the water flow, until you reach a horn that can be slung to rappel the balance of the drop. The down climb is exposed on the left, when approaching the horn. This rappel is 38m (125 feet) to the ground, but you can get away with 30m (100 feet) by moving further into the channel at the bottom, and down climbing beside slippery logs.

After this, there is a non-technical section.  After about half an hour of scrambling over boulders, down chasms and through gaps, just when you’re thinking that it’s about time for something to happen, it does.

A rap of about 18m (60 feet) leads to a nice sheltered pool below – but don’t be fooled.  This is the top of a three stage rap, totaling about 60m (200 feet) to the bottom.  Sling the boulder at the top of the drop, and rap into the first pool, then turn the corner, down to the second and third pools.  It may be easiest for communication to gather the party at the bottom of the first stage before anyone continues to the bottom. The rope pull from the bottom is surprisingly good, but ensure you keep it in the straightest possible line.

The bottom of the third stage has anchor material available, and one more drop of 25m (80 feet) follows immediately. After this, the canyon consists, once again, primarily of boulders and short down climbs. One spot, dropping over a long, sloping boulder, made us nervous enough to rig a short rappel off of a huge log. The can instead be used as a handline.

About another half hour downcanyon, you will find a trail crossing the canyon – this is your exit point.  As of the fall of 2012, there was a rope across the creek bed here, almost like a barricade.  You can remove wetsuits here (if you haven’t already) and get ready for an intimidating trail out.


Start up and out the right side of the canyon, and follow the trail up and down, traversing across very steep terrain. It should take about half an hour, climbing about 125m (400 feet) over about a kilometer, to reach the crossing of Goldie Creek (N49 21.175 W122 55.206). Take the log bridge across the creek, and continue along the path.  It’s about 45 more minutes to the road.

Follow the trail, crossing a couple of small creeks, and one or two bike trails that cross your path.  Eventually, the trail ends at a T (N49 20.695 W122 56.635); turn left here, and then almost immediately (within about 5m) turn right again, onto a fainter trail.  This will contour around a little knoll, and across a small creek.  In a couple of minutes, you will once again hit a T junction (N49 20.668 W122 56.686). Turn left (downhill) again.

After another 10m, drop to the right, into a larger creek bed (N49 20.648 W122 56.685).  Cross to the other side, and find a trail about 15m in – take this one to the right, and in a moment it will start steeply up the hill.  Follow it all the way up and out of the trees.

You are now at the switchback, near the bottom of the mountain (N49 20.655 W122 56.752).  Turn left on the road, and walk 15 minutes to the Baden-Powell Trailhead (N49 20.295 W122 57.411), and your awaiting chariot.


0:25 TH to Percy Bridge (2925’)
0:55 to Slot Down climb (2700’)
1:30 to Rappel 1 (2670’)
1:40 to Rappel 2 (2605’)
2:15 to Handline Downclimb (2375’)
2:45 to Rappel 3 (2200’)
3:10 to Rappel 4
3:30 to Rappel 5 (1950’)
3:40 to Rappel 6 (1930’)
3:45 to Rappel 7 (1850’)
3:55 to Rabbit Hole (1790’)
4:05 to Stairway Downclimb
4:30 to Exposed Groove Downclimb.
4:40 to Rappel 8 (1620’)
5:30 to Rappel 9 (1280’)
6:00 to Rappel 10 (1170’)
6:45 to Rappel 11
7:15 to Exit Trail (660’)
7:45 to Goldie Creek crossing
8:30 to Mt. Seymour Road
8:50 to Baden-Powell Trailhead

Rappel Summary

Rope lengths refer to the distance from the anchor to the base of the rappel.  They do NOT include the pull side.

Off a boulder. 35’ rope length, 25 foot drop.

Off a tree on canyon left, over a log. 70’ rope.

Off a boulder pinch, two stages. 90’ – leave a longer pull side.

Use a large outcrop on canyon right as a bollard.  About 30 feet.  Pull rope around bollard – more easily done from atop a platform mid canyon.

Off a boulder pinch. 25’ down a mossy vee.

Over a boulder, down a log. 15’.

Optional rap, off a pinch down about 8 feet.  Relatively easy downclimb.

Downclimb to horn on little ledge pool. 125’ down.

Three stage rappel, off a boulder at top of waterfall. 190’ total.

Off a boulder pinch.  About 85’.

Sling a log to get down a boulder with a tricky drop-off lip at the bottom. About 30’. Can be handlined.


* Reason for rating:
v4 – ” Difficult to access rappels, or rappels in excess of 30 m.”
a2 – “Swims not exceeding 10 m in length, in calm water.”