Author Archives: BC Canyoneers

Preparing an anchor at the top of Swan Falls, on Trout Creek near Buntzen Lake

Early Season 2016 Update

Well, it looks like (after a late start) the canyon season is beginning to come into its own. We are finally starting to get some stretches of dry (drier?) weather, and creek levels are starting to subside to reasonable levels.

Just a few updates:

Box has been run a few times so far this year – in fairly high flow, at times. There are some new anchors, specifically on the third and fourth rappels.  Some spots that were jumps and slides are now no longer. All deep pools have filled in with rocks – be very careful out there. The beta page has been updated very recently, but always exercise caution!

Cypress has seen a little bit of change this year as well. The logs that were jammed in the final rappel, below the scenic viewpoint, have been entirely swept away. This greatly simplifies the task of the first person on rappel, in ensuring that the rope follows the best path to the bottom, and also simplifies the rope pull – no chance of the rope hanging up on the way down. This is the first time that I have seen this rappel with no logs at all in the six or seven years I’ve been descending it!

In addition, keep in mind that in high flow, it may be hazardous to access the bolts for the third rappel. We are assessing whether to add a bolt further back to protect the approach, as at the first rappel. The same is true for the final rappel, which would remove the need to climb up and over the viewpoint platform to access that rappel.

Goldie Creek was descended recently by some friends, so anchors in there should be fresh. This creek, a fairly small drainage off of Mount Seymour, may be a good option a couple of days after rains, before some of the larger drainages have settled to reasonable levels.

Britannia continues to remain at fairly high levels, and some of the anchors have received significant damage. We hope to get in there soon, and look at rehabilitating the anchors… Stay tuned for more.

Monmouth should soon be reasonable to descend, especially with a week of two of drier weather approaching. It will be interesting to see how the thunderstorms in the area recently may alter that prognosis…

A couple of us descended Trout Creek / Swan Falls, at the top of Buntzen Lake this past weekend. I hope to have some beta posted on that here soon. The final waterfall sequence is challenging, but beautiful.

If you have any input, thoughts, comments, etc. please leave a comment here, or email!





Jump Safety – Sept 2015

One more safety oriented post for now: A little bit about jumping safely.

For canyoneers who have never descended a particular canyon before, there are definitely practices that will enhance safety.

If it is a canyon with published beta (or if you have received private beta), take certain things into consideration before doing a described jump:

  • Do you trust the source of the beta?
  • Are you certain that you are in the described location? Different jumps can look similar to one another.
  • Is the beta explicit about where in the pool is safe to jump?

Keep in mind that in many canyons, pool depth can change. Logs, rocks, sand, or gravel can make a previously deep pool hazardous. In particular, be very wary about jumping into pools after a storm event, and especially early in the season, after spring runoff.

If you are uncertain at all about the safety of a jump or the size/location of the landing area, then one person should descend to the pool to scope it out. If there is an existing rappel anchor, great – otherwise they can rappel off of a “meat anchor”.

The first person down should move back and forth throughout the landing area, feeling for obstacles, and demonstrating the depth of the water to those above. A good rule of thumb, if you have difficulty communicating verbally, is to only ever point to the area that is safe. If you point to an area and shout, “Don’t jump there!” the words may be missed, and the next person could think that’s where you want them to go. If the person above points to a spot, asking if they can jump there, be very emphatic if it is not safe. Shake your head clearly, make a slashing “death” motion across your throat with you hand, or form a large X with your forearms. Then clearly point to the safe landing area.

If you expect to be scouting some landing areas in a canyon, consider taking along a pair of swim goggles or a mask. When viewing a pool using goggles or mask, the depth can seem very deceiving; try swimming down a bit, or bobbing in the water to see how deep your feet go.

I wish I could give a specific depth that would be required from various heights, but that is something that comes with experience. Never jump into water if you are not comfortable with the depth. If anyone tries to pressure you into it, stand your ground.

A cautionary tale to finish up…

Earlier this summer, after having considered it for some time, I decided to jump one of the rappels in Box Creek (the seventh).  I had not heard of anyone having jumped it at that point, despite some discussion, but the landing area seemed to be an adequate depth for the approximately 5-6 meter jump.

My partner, Jeff, went down first and scouted the deepest part of the pool. It was at the far end, and reached to about the top of his head. I jumped far, and flat, and had no problems.  It was exciting to be able to completely skip a rappel, as the lower portion works well as a jump or a slide.

Fast forward a couple of weeks or so, and we were again in Box Creek. There had been very significant rain a few days before, but despite the high flow that we were descending in, we had not seen any drastic changes in the canyon as yet.

We reached the seventh rappel, and I decided to jump it again. The black rocks in the pool are difficult to see, but the water appeared, from above, to be as deep as ever. I jumped to the same spot in the pool, and landed very flat on my back to minimize sinking.  I was shocked to basically come to a halt on a bed of gravel right away. While surprised, I was completely uninjured. When I stood up, the water came to about my mid-thigh. Quite a change. I was very fortunate that the pool had filled with a very forgiving layer of gravel, and that I had jumped in such a way that I didn’t go deeper. Upon walking around the pool, there was a deep area off to the side, and that is where Jeff safely jumped.

Definitely a learning experience, and a reminder that pools can change incredibly quickly.


Sticks And Stones

Word has just filtered in of another broken ankle in a local canyon – Britannia Creek. While I don’t know the details yet on this incident, and certainly don’t wish to point fingers, shame anyone, or assign blame, it does give us another good opportunity to talk a bit about safety.

In the last three seasons, I am aware of at least three fractured ankles (including distal tibia and/or fibula fractures) and a couple of serious soft tissue injuries (sprains) in some of the local favourites (Cypress, Britannia, Box).

Ankle x-ray - broken fibula from Box Creek

Ankle x-ray – broken fibula from Box Creek

I just want to go over a couple of the causes of these incidents, and discuss some food for thought on staying safe.

In one of the incidents, a short jump just after the third rappel in Cypress, I was the first person in the group, and I jumped into deep water.  I knew not to jump or slide close to the pouroff, as there is a rocky outcrop in the way there. Rather than discuss the jump with the next person following, I just jumped, and planned to turn around and point where she needed to go. Unfortunately, she slid down the groove of the watercourse before I could do so, and hit her foot sharply on the rocks below. She sprained her ankle moderately badly, and needed to escape the canyon at her next opportunity.

Two lessons to take from this incident: if leading a group, and familiar with the hazards, discuss them prior to making the leap. Tell those following what they can and can not do, if they are not familiar, before rushing ahead. And, if you are unfamiliar, never assume that doing something other than what the leader has done will be safe. The person familiar with the hazards may have chosen that path for a very specific reason. In fact, if leading a group that is unfamiliar, make that part of your briefing beforehand – and never assume a jump or a slide is safe unless specifically told so.

Another recent injury resulting in ligament damage occurred in Britannia recently. The canyoneer had been through the canyon a number of times, and was very familiar with its intricacies. He was using a brand new rope that was quite slippery, so on the first rappel, down the old dam, he had added extra friction on his rappel device (a Petzl Pirana).

The pool at the bottom of the rap is quite deep in the middle, a couple of meters out from the base of the dam. Normally, when approaching the pool, from say 3 meters up or so, he would spring back from the wall, and drop into that deep part of the pool, letting the rope slide freely through his Pirana. However, with the extra friction setting, the rope did not run freely. Even as he jumped off, he realized his error… He tried to jam the rope through the device as he fell, but not enough slipped through, and rather than dropping into the middle of the pool, the rope caught him partway down, and he swung back in to the base of the dam, and the shallow rock there. He ended up bashing his foot badly, and had to be evacuated from the canyon. X-rays showed nothing, but there was definite ligament damage, and he spent a few weeks on crutches with an air-cast boot.

A good lesson from this: Be aware of how minor changes in equipment, conditions, or abilities can change your standard procedures. Just because you have “always” done something, doesn’t mean that you “always” can.

One other good lesson from all jumping injuries: If you are not completely sure that you can safely complete a jump, then don’t do it! Much better to rappel or walk around, than to risk serious, even catastrophic, injury or death.

I’m sure that as time goes by, and as this sport becomes more popular, there will be more unfortunate accidents and incidents. Let’s try to minimize them, and when they do occur, to learn from them.

Be safe out there!


Large groups in a canyon can present their own challenges - and opportunities.

Team Dynamics and Group Think

Safety is a constant concern in a sport such as this one. Recent events have been bringing this to mind.

While last week’s tragedy in Zion National Park doesn’t really bear very strongly on the type of canyons in this area, as far as flash flood danger goes, it is worth thinking about. We will likely never know the decision making process that this group used in electing to descend a slot canyon with a danger of flash flooding, but it may be a good opportunity to think about the perils of “group think”.

It is very likely that at least one of the seven people who perished in Keyhole Canyon had some misgivings about entering the canyon that afternoon. Surely they were aware that, in poor weather, flash flooding was a very real danger – there are signs and warnings in the visitor center, and printed on the permit, which they had acquired earlier in the day. The weather was unsettled that day, and rain was a very real possibility.

If one person had expressed misgivings about entering the slot canyon, might that have gained some traction with the group, and prevented them from dropping in? We will likely never know. Perhaps they did discuss those very qualms and, tragically, elected to disregard them. But there is also a chance that no one said anything about their concerns, because everyone else was putting on a brave, carefree front.  Therein lies the danger of “group think”.

This is a good opportunity to consider this kind of risk. Anyone participating in a potentially hazardous sport like canyoning/canyoneering needs to utilize all the clues around them. This includes getting input from everyone involved.

I work in the aviation industry, and there is a great emphasis in aircraft crews on “Crew Resource Management”. This means taking input from everyone involved into account when it comes to making decisions.  In the old days, the culture gave the pilot-in-command dictatorial powers in the cockpit in all matters of flight safety. The new paradigm encourages the first officer, and indeed the cabin crew, to offer any input they feel is pertinent, and requires the pilot-in-command to take this under advisement. While the pilot-in-command still has the power to make the final decision, there is much more emphasis on utilizing all resources available.

All of which is to say: If you feel worried about a safety decision, even with more experience people on the trip, please voice those concerns. If the flow in a canyon seems too high for your abilities, say something. If an anchor seems suspect, mention it to someone. If you think light is fading too quickly to escape the canyon before nightfall, mention something while there are still options.

Take responsibility for your own safety. Ask questions. Utilize your resources.


Rain Is Here!

Well, it’s been a long time coming, but we are finally getting some serious rainfall this weekend!  Creeks have been dropping to barely a trickle (Monmouth? Seriously, you couldn’t manage just a little more water??) but they should be recharged soon…

As of Friday morning, there is a special weather statement in effect for the Howe Sound area:

Special weather statement in effect for:

  • Howe Sound

Heavy rain over the South Coast this weekend.

A major change in the weather pattern is in the works. The high pressure system that has trapped wildfire smoke over Southern B.C. will finally shift east thanks to a pair of incoming storms. The storms will merge two jet streams into a single river of sub-tropical moisture that will bathe the South Coast with the first significant rainfall in months.

Weather models are indicating 80 to 120 mm of rain over the South Coast between today and Monday morning. 20 to 30 mm of rain is expected to carry over into the mountainous regions of the interior during the same period.

Due to the drought conditions over these regions, the soil has a reduced capacity to absorb water. Heavy rainfall thus increases the risk of flash flooding. Additionally, given the recent prolonged dry period, road surfaces may become slippery resulting in poor driving conditions.

How this will effect the local canyons over the next few days is hard to guess. We’ll just have to keep an eye on the water levels to determine how safe they will be in the short term. There are plans for a fairly large group to descend Box Creek on Sunday, but that may have to change, depending on the rain’s impact.  Another possibility is Britannia, which is generally more open, with avoidable flows.

At least one more group, that I know of, is coming from out of town next weekend.  It will be interesting to see how the creek flows stabilize in the meantime.

Britannia - first rappel

Britannia Creek – Beta

At a Glance

ACA Rating: 3C II
French Rating: v3a3 or higher, depending on flow and route chosen
Time Required: 2-4 hours
Distance: Technical section – 1300m
Elevation Loss: 220m
Rappels: 4-7, maximum length 20m (65 feet)

Updated September 2015 to provide additional information on technical jumps.

Warning: This canyon can be jumped in a number of spots. It is up to you to determine whether the jumps are safe or not. The ability to jump into a pool without sinking too deeply is a technique that can be practiced and improved. Depth of pools can change at any time. The first person in a party can rappel into a pool and use goggles or a mask to determine the depth of the water.


An easily accessible canyon along the Sea to Sky Highway, just a few minutes south of Squamish. With two vehicles, hiking is minimal, and makes the canyon an incredibly worthwhile half-day out.


Standard gear, including wetsuit and rappel equipment.  Adequate rope for a maximum 20m rappel.  Webbing/rapides for up to 7 rappels – almost all bolted.


To the Trailhead

From Highway 99, drive to Britannia Beach, and exit the highway east onto Copper Drive.  This is the only set of traffic lights in Britannia Beach.  Drive about 500m along the road, and pull off at a small parking area just before a bridge crossing.  This is the exit point from the creek.  If you only have one vehicle, park here, and walk up the road to the entry point.  With another vehicle, drive up Copper Drive another 3.2 km (2 miles) to the entry point.  This is where the pavement ends, and the road changes to gravel.  There is a small parking area on the north side of the road, and more parking available on the roadside. The hike ahead is very short, so if you’ve driven here, you might as well suit up now, and leave anything you won’t need in the vehicle.


From the parking area, cross a small (usually dry) streambed into the trees, following orange flagging tape.  You will contour around to your right, ascending slightly, until you reach an old dam on the river.  This is your first rappel.

Route Details

Rappel 1

Your first obstacle is pretty obvious: the dam that blocks the creek.  Find a pair of bolts on boulders near the far side of the creek bed.  Webbing leads to the lip. You may find the rappel awkward to start; sitting on one hip, holding the knot in the webbing, then sliding over the edge will help. You can rappel in the thick of the watercourse, directly down to the pool, or avoid much of the water by keeping to canyon right.  If descending directly into the pool, watch for the footing to get very uneven as you transition from concrete to bedrock.  20m (65 feet) to the pool below.

Five to ten minutes down the canyon, find:


Rappel 2

Off a pair of bolts on the bed of the creek, close to the pouroff. This rappel can be optional – it is possible to do as a rather technical jump, with a very small landing area.  Rappel length is 10 m (33 feet) from the bolts to the water.

Five minutes or less of walking leads to:


Britannia Rappel 3

Britannia Rappel 3

Rappel 3

Lots of water cascades down a narrow channel.  Bolts are on the right wall.  17 m (55 feet). After getting off rappel, wade (or swim!) under the suspended boulder in the watercourse

Round the corner ahead to find:



Britannia - Jump after Rappel 4

Britannia – Jump after Rappel 4

Rappel 4

Two bolts on the ground, approaching a drop-off.  Rap down a short wall – can exit on ledge, using about 10 m (33 feet) of rope, or continue another 6 m (20 feet) to a pool. This rap is followed quickly by an optional jump of 4 m into a shallow pool (about 2 m or less in depth). The height of the jump (if any) can be altered by walking further down a ramp.

A couple of minutes later, downclimb to a pool, with a huge boulder on the left side. Just beyond is a cliff band of about 3-4 m in height. This is the location for:


Rappel 5

There are a number of ways to pass this obstacle. It is possible to downclimb the dry portion on the right (fairly reachy). It can also be downclimbed through the watercourse on the left – this is quite difficult but there are lots of features, hidden by the water flow.  May not be passable in high flow. Perhaps the best way to sequence the drop is for the best climber to meat anchor the others down, then drop the rope and downclimb with a good spot.

If no one is particularly keen to downclimb, pass the rope around the top of the large boulder and have two team members at a time simul-rap the drop. With an odd number of people, have one member stay on one side of the rope while the final person raps – a meat anchor from the bottom. Then pull the rope gently from below – the rock is fairly jagged.

After this, there is a walk down the river of around 20 minutes or so, until you arrive at the:


Britannia - Lower version of the bridge jump

Britannia – Lower version of the bridge jump

Bridge Jump

This jump can range from 6 to 10m high, depending upon where you choose to jump from. The pool is very deep, but you must jump beyond the waterfall in order to avoid a rock outcrop/ramp at the base of the cascade.

When tossing packs and ropes down to this pool, watch for them floating out the far end, and down the next drop!

This jump can be avoided by exiting to the road, and scrambling down to the canyon again on the right side.

Exit the pool from this jump, and you are at:


Rappel 6

Anchored off a pair of bolts on canyon right, a fairly long way back from edge. About 15 m (50 feet) from bolts to water.

This rappel is technically optional – it can be jumped, but be very, very careful of boulders on all sides – one member should rap first and scout with a mask or goggles if not familiar.

Just ahead, around a curve to the left, you will find:


Britannia - Rappel 7 and its approach

Britannia – Rappel 7 and its approach

Rappel 7

Follow a narrow chute to a suspended pool.  This chute has great footing, but flow can be very high in the constricted space. There is one bolt above, on left wall, to protect this chute.  In the pool, find a pair of bolts on the left wall. The drop is 18 m (60 feet) to either the ground or the pool below – can be rapped in or out of the water.


This rappel is followed quickly by a couple of jumps.  Downclimb a little ridge to a good ledge on canyon right, about 3 m above a pool. The pool is quite shallow – under 2 m – so use careful technique not to go too deep. Be aware that there are also obstacles in the water – there is at least one log close to the landing area, a couple of meters to the right of the pouroff as you look down at it (visible as a dark spot in the water). You can downclimb enough so that the depth is not a big issue.

This jump is immediately followed by another into a much deeper pool. It can be jumped from various stances ranging from 3 to 5 m high.

From here, it’s about a 5-10 minute walk to the lower bridge.


Pretty darn easy: Exit the canyon to the left, and you are back at your vehicle!

GPS Waypoints

GPS waypoint list to follow

Rating Info

v3a3 II (in low flow season) – could become significantly higher in high flow conditions.

v3 – Vertical sections with low water flow. Rappel ends in pool with swimming in calm water. Easily accessed and performed rappels, of no more than 30m.

a2 – Travel in low current. Easy jumps of 3 to 5 m.


Deeks Creek Rappel 2

Deeks Creek – Beta

At a Glance

ACA Rating: 3C II
French Rating: v3a2
Time Required: 4-5 hours
Distance: Technical section – 700m
Elevation Loss: 200m
Rappels: 4-6, maximum length 25m (80 feet)

Updated: 12 July 2015


An easily accessible canyon along the Sea to Sky Highway, just north of Lions Bay. The canyon itself, while not spectacular, is a worthwhile day out. There are no particular difficulties, but the rappels do descend right through the watercourse; prepare to be doused! This creek can be a raging torrent outside of summertime, but flow is easily assessed from the highway prior to hiking in.


Standard gear, including wetsuit and rappel equipment.  Adequate rope for a maximum 25m rappel.  Webbing/rapides for up to 6 rappels – two bolted, the balance off of webbing.


To the Trailhead

Park in a wide area just south of the Logger’s Creek bridge along Highway 99.  This is about 5km past the Lions Bay Avenue exit, when traveling northbound.  It is about 6km past the Porteau Road exit, traveling southbound. There is also a wide area on the north side of the bridge, but it is more rough and difficult to enter from the highway.



From the parking area, walk (carefully) up the busy highway, northbound about 600 m – across the bridge at Logger’s Creek, to the next bridge, which is Deeks Creek.  Take a look here at how much flow there is coming down the short section of falls just above the bridge. Walk to the far side of the bridge, and find a trail starting up the hillside near the creek.

Ascend the trail for about 20 minutes, to just above 300 m elevation – about 1.1 km of hiking.  Just before some rocky bluffs, break off to the right and contour along toward the creek.  Pick your way down to the creek and suit up! Your elevation here should be about 270 m.


Route Details

About 10 or 15 minutes from the entrance, reach a boulder that blocks the watercourse, which falls into a pool below.  This can be avoided by scrambling down some slopes on canyon left. You can also rappel it off of a log that sticks out from the boulder, over the pool.

Rappel 1

About five minutes after the avoidable rap, reach another that is anchored off of a large tree on canyon left, avoiding the watercourse, or off of a tiny (!) tree on the right wall of the canyon.

Rappel 2

Another ten minutes brings you to the next rappel.  A large log is suspended above a boulder in the watercourse, providing a convenient spot for some webbing.

Deeks Creek Rappel 3

Deeks Creek Rappel 3

Rappel 3

This is the first bolted rappel in the canyon.  Find a pair of bolts on the left wall of the canyon, above a waterfall.





Rappel 4

This rap is anchored off of another pair of bolts, on a large boulder near the left wall of the canyon.  When we were there, there was no water flowing on this side, but it looked like there was a rock dam that could easily be dismantled and change that up!

Deeks Creek Rappel 5

Deeks Creek Rappel 5

Rappel 5

Anchored off of a slung rock pinned under a larger boulder, just behind a waterfall. A bit of an awkward start, and very very slippery. It is difficult to keep one’s feet on this rappel; the rock is quite blocky and it is very difficult to see what is coming next!



Rappel 6

Right near the exit from the canyon. Anchor off of a tree beside the watercourse.  May be descended in or out of the waterfall.



You’re now back at the highway!  Exit easily to the right, and walk back to the parking area.

Continuing down canyon from this point to the ocean, according to what I’ve heard, does not allow for retracing your steps, or for climbing back up to the roadway outside the canyon.  Sounds like you’d have to swim along the coastline to easier terrain…

GPS Waypoints

GPS waypoint list to follow

Rating Info

v3a2 II (in low flow season) – could become significantly higher in high flow conditions.

v3 – Vertical sections with low water flow. Rappel ends in pool with swimming in calm water. Easily accessed and performed rappels, of no more than 30m.

a2 – Swims not exceeding 10 m in length, in calm water. Easy jumps of less than 3 m. Short or low angled slides.



Cypress Creek – Updated Beta – Bolts

The beta post for Cypress Creek, in West Vancouver, has been updated.  The new beta includes the approach to the upper section, which adds one more (worthwhile!) rappel to the start of the canyon.  Many people have already done this rappel, but the approach used to involve travel through a private work yard, past a gated fence.  While we don’t know of anyone having problems with this approach, there is now a new approach which avoids this area.  All FOUR rappels in the canyon have also now been bolted.

Cypress Final Rap


See the beta post for details!

Chris Bolting Rappel Seven

Bolting Box Canyon

The Rationale

Box Canyon is just a beautiful little classic, and really deserves to be considered a trade route in the area.  The only thing really stopping it from seeing many more descents is the difficulty of access – getting across the Squamish River.  Aside from that, with reasonable, summertime flows, the canyon presents no formidable obstacles to descent by canyoneers who aren’t grizzled veterans.

Because we expect that the canyon will see (relatively) frequent descents, we felt that it would be best to equip the canyon with bolted anchors for the rappels, and in discussions with others, that seemed to be the consensus.  A few days ago, June 10, three of us descended the canyon with a power drill, and installed 12 new bolts on the way.

The Expedition

Jeff, Chris and I arrived at the put-in point under cloudy skies – which was an improvement over the pouring rain that we left behind in Vancouver!  We canoed across the Squamish in moderately high conditions, and started hiking in.  We could hear Monmouth roaring from quite a distance, and were wondering just how much would be coming out of Box.

When we reached the confluence, we felt that the flow was higher than we’d ever descended the canyon in previously (highest was in September 2013 – with a group of about 17 people!) but we felt that it was not unreasonable, so we continued.

The water was flowing pretty hard, making things exhilarating – and rather loud!

When we reached the third rappel (which already consisted of one hand-drilled bolt from the first descent) we found a rope tied on to the bolt, and draped around to the other side of the large boulder in the middle of the canyon.  It then dropped down into the flow below from that side. The rope was pretty tattered in the stream.  We cut it away from the anchor, and dropped it down into the canyon, intending to remove it as we went by.  We also discussed adding a new rappel anchor at the top of the final cascade on this (long, winding) rap, which would improve the rope pull.

When we got down into the rappel itself, we found that the flow was too high to either clean the abandoned rope, or to drill the new anchor’s bolts.  A project for lower flow…

The remainder of the canyon went well, and we finished the canyon 5 hours after dropping in at the top.  The canyon would normally take us around three hours, so hauling the drill in and out of doubled dry bags, drilling the holes, installing bolts, rapides, and webbing, at seven locations took about two extra hours.  I think that went quite well, and we really had some good teamwork going.

We returned to the canoe, and headed back up the minor channel to the top of the island (against some pretty solid current!) and crossed the significantly higher river back to our morning’s launch spot.  After packing everything up again, we were off to the Howe Sound Inn for deep fried pickles, pints, and some well-deserved dinner!

The Anchors

The anchors that were in the canyon previously were primarily slung logs, in a variety of locations. The webbing and solidity of the anchor had to be checked each time.  Naturally, with bolts, they still do – but they are in a more convenient location to do so. A major problem with the old anchors is that many of them were down in the watercourse, or were otherwise difficult to rig a contingency anchor, and some of them made for an awkward start to the rap. The new bolted anchors make rigging a contingency easy and accessible, and improve the rappel entry.

This is looking down at the anchor at the top of rappel five, before it was replaced by a bolted anchor. The low anchor (at one’s feet) made it difficult to rig a contingency anchor, and awkward to enter the rappel.

Obviously, the new bolted anchors also provide redundancy, and are also located in spots that will likely be protected from damage by the highest flows the canyon sees.  They also simplify anchor evaluation by less experienced canyoneers.

We decided to leave one rappel unbolted – rappel number two. This is anchored off of a slung log right in the middle of the canyon, with a relatively easy start, and convenient position for rigging.

The Video

Monmouth Canyon – Beta

At a Glance

ACA Rating: 3C III
French Rating: v5a4 III-IV *
Time Required: 8-10 hours
Distance: Technical section – 900m
Elevation change: 425m
Rappels: 16, maximum length 45m (150 feet)

Warning: This canyon can be jumped in a number of spots. It is up to you to determine whether the jumps are safe or not. The ability to jump into a pool without sinking too deeply is a technique that can be practiced and improved. Depth of pools can change at any time. The first person in a party can rappel into a pool and use goggles or a mask to determine the depth of the water.


The famous tunnel rappel in Monmouth Creek

The famous tunnel rappel in Monmouth Creek

Updated: 5 July, 2015


A long sculpted, flowing canyon west of Squamish, BC. The canyon is somewhat difficult to get to, requiring a crossing of the Squamish River for access. There are numerous rappels in the 35-45 meter range, some involving two stages. One of the notable features of this canyon is that a number of the rappels end in pools that are enclosed, and escape through narrow gaps into big open rappels A lot of the waterfalls are quite airy, and escapes from the canyon are plenty. The canyon is a fairly serious undertaking, requiring a fairly long day, often battling some pretty big flow!

Note: It has come to our attention that Box Creek and Monmouth Creek, as well as the approaches to both, are in an area that is a designated cultural site of Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish First Nation).

This definitely does NOT preclude use of the area, but we wish to emphasize the importance of respectful use of the area. Please, in particular, attempt to minimize impact by using the old adage: Take nothing but photographs; Leave nothing but footprints.



Standard gear, including wetsuit and rappel equipment. Adequate rope for a maximum 45m rappel. Almost all rappels in the canyon are bolted.  In a canyon like this, always consider bringing a wrench and one or two extra hangers, nuts, and washers, as well as covering eventualities with some webbing, etc.


To the Trailhead

From Highway 99, approaching Squamish from the south or north, turn west at the lights at Cleveland Avenue.  After 400m, turn right on Bailey Street.  The road quickly becomes gravel and comes to a fork.  Keep to the right – this is Government Road. Continue north on Government road for 1.6km, crossing two sets of railroad tracks and getting back onto pavement.  Turn left towards Squamish River Dyke Road (signed for Estuary Access and Squamish Spit) and return to a gravel road.  After 350m, turn left onto the dyke road.  Right here, beside the yellow gate blocking access to the north (right) you will find a short trail leaving the road, down to the river.  This is the best put-in spot when the Squamish River is flowing particularly hard.  Unload canoe/kayaks/gear here. You can park in the wide area on the other side of the road.

In lower flow, the river can be crossed further down.

Shuttle Vehicle

An optional shuttle vehicle can be placed 1.4 km further down the road.  This makes the river crossing to and from the trail much easier. There is a wide area along the roadway, on your left as you drive.  It ends, and the road narrows, just where the trail comes out of the woods.  Ideally, place things like dry clothing into the vehicle that carries the canoe, and leave it at the take-out spot.  If no shuttle vehicle is available, plan on about 15 minutes of walking to return to the vehicle at the put-in spot.


NOTE:  Crossing a fast-moving river like the Squamish is potentially very dangerous! Depending upon the discharge rate of the river and the dynamic hazards therein, there may be standing waves, snags, partially submerged logs, etc. You can check on the current, recent and historical data here:

Put in to the river here, and strike out across the river.   Work your way across the river, as you head downstream.  You will find that the trees you see directly across from you are actually on a long narrow island.  You want to round the lower end of the island, and head upstream into a much narrower, slower moving channel on the other side. During high tides, you can head along the shoreline of the island, and through a gap between the island and a large gravel bar. (In very high tides, you may not even see the gravel bar – just a large tree stranded on it further downstream.)  If the tide is lower you may need to continue around the gravel bar, past the large tree lying on it, and then back up the other side.

As you head up this channel on the other side of the island, you will soon come to a small cluster of old pilings on your left, close to the tree-covered shoreline.  There are a couple of tiny coves here (N49.71469 W123.17253) where you can pull in and tie your boat to the trees.  Note: the river here is still tidal and can go up and down a few feet while you are in the canyon – make sure you tie up the boat so it doesn’t float away while you’re gone, or else carry it up out of the river and into a clearing in the trees!

Once you’re ashore, you’ll find yourself in a small clearing with a few narrow trails spreading out into the trees. Go to the north (upstream) end of the clearing and follow the trail there away from the river. After a couple of minutes, it will angle to the left, and in a few more minutes you will hear the chatter of Monmouth Creek.

Continue following the trail steeply up the hill. (For Box Creek, the route exits the trail shortly before the steep section begins.) You will reach a couple of viewpoints that give an exciting preview of the waterfalls to come. Stay on the main trail – it will take you away from the creek for a while, then return to it as the grade eases off.  Note: There are ground wasps in the area.  One nest is located in the middle of the trail, about 45 minutes up from the riverside.  People who are sensitive to wasp stings must be vigilant on the hike in.)

Photo: Approach hike to Monmouth Creek

Approach hike to Monmouth Creek

At about 425m elevation, you will come to a spot where the trail reaches the creek again, and turns upstream,  This is the normal entry point (N49.71533 W123.18801).  You can enter here, or continue up the trail for five or ten minutes to the upper entry point (N49.71511 W123.19111). The upper spot gives you a little bit of pretty canyon, downclimbing, and a short jump.

Entry jump into Monmouth Canyon

Entry jump into Monmouth Canyon

Jumping in

From the normal entry point, an optional 6m slide/jump in a narrow chasm leads directly to the first of the rappels. This jump can be avoided by scrambling down the left bank of the creek, looking down canyon.


Route Details

Rappel 1

Photo: First rappel in Monmouth

First rappel in Monmouth

A pair of bolts on the right side take you down a waterfall about 9m (30 feet) to a pool below. May be difficult in high flow.  If necessary due to flow, instead go canyon left, and down a short downclimb to sling a bollard above the pool.




Rappel 2

At the far end of the pool, rappel 23m (75 feet) off two bolts on the left wall. Takes you down a beautiful, wide waterfall. At the bottom of the rappel, there is an awesome little alcove behind a rock, with water curtains on each side.


Photo: Infinity pool rappel

Infinity pool rappel

Rappel 3

This is the “infinity pool” rappel. Anchored off of two bolts on the right wall. In and out of the cascade, but ends in the full flow. 42m (135 feet)




Rappel 4

Scramble down and right below a couple of big boulders, and find a pair of bolts on the lower face of a boulder looking down the channel. Follow the wide channel, and over the lip.  Much of the flow can be avoided by keeping to rappeler’s right near the bottom. 30m (100 feet)


Rappel 5

This is a short rappel down a slab to an alcove below a boulder.  Anchored off a single bolt on your left as you approach.  Allows you to avoid a diversion into the trees and scramble down mossy logs. 14m (45 feet)


Photo: Rappel number six, Monmouth Canyon

Rappel number six, Monmouth Canyon

Rappel 6

Emerge from the alcove under the big boulder, and find a pair of bolts on your left side.  Down the waterfall to a pool below.  In very high flow, could be rapped off a slung boulder in the right side watercourse – less flow here. 24m (80 feet)



Photo: Rappel seven, Monmouth Canyon

Rappel seven, Monmouth Canyon

Rappel 7

At the end of the pool, find a pair of bolts on the far side of a large boulder in the watercourse,.  Drop down into a pool, over a lip to a ledge, the off to rappeler’s right (canyon left) into an alcove. 14m (45 feet)



Rappel 8

Off a single bolt under a huge boulder, through a dark tunnel into a deep pool. This rappel is very cool, but can be avoided by an even more amazing jump (about 9 m or 30 feet to the pool) on the right. 12m (40 feet).


Rappel 9

Immediately after rappel 8 (or the jump), round the corner and exit the pool (carefully) at the top of the Monmouth Tube rappel. There are a couple of options here.

  • Rap only option: As you exit the pool, there is a single bolt on the left side wall.  Rap off of this anchor into the pool below.  21m (70 feet)
  • Rap and slide option: Exit the pool, and using the bolt on the left as a safety anchor, find the bolt on the right side of the exit, on top of the ridge of rock on that side.  Rig a rope to this anchor, paying out approximately 9m (30 feet).  This length is approximate – rig a contingency anchor for the first rappeler, and prepare to let out more rope if required.  Rappel down the wall to an alcove and drop/slide packs into the pool below. While still on rappel, sit down on the edge of the alcove, facing out, and slide down off the end of the rope, about 8m or so to the pool below.

After the rappel/slide, climb up canyon left to a horn sticking out over the water, and jump in (about 9m – 30 feet).


Rappel 10

View from the jump spot on rappel 10 in Monmouth Canyon

View from the jump spot on rappel 10 in Monmouth Canyon

Immediately after the tube rappel, there is a jump of about 3m into a narrow, deep pool. This is quickly followed by your choice of either a long shallow slide down a slab into a pool, or a drop into a small but very deep washing-machine-type pool on the right.

Continue down to where a fin divides the water course into two, and find a pair of bolts on the left side of the left channel.  Again, you have a choice here:  Set the rope length for 15m (50 feet) and rap down to a series of pink ledges, where you can jump into the deep pool below, or else set out 19m (65 feet) and rap all the way into the pool. From there, partner assist through a narrow gap into the “diving board” room.  This can be difficult in high water.

If there is too much flow to safely descend this waterfall, then instead move canyon left, and find a pool with a pinch where you can anchor to descend a groove along the left wall.  With high flow, you will want to make this two stages, all the way into the diving board room. Approximately 27m (90 feet).

Whichever way you descend, make sure to explore both rooms above the diving board section.

Jumping off the Diving Board in Monmouth Canyon

Jumping off the Diving Board in Monmouth Canyon

The pool can be jumped from the diving board log, but is not very deep. During a recent particularly low flow period, the water was only about 1.5 meters deep! Ensure a flatter or scooped landing (or cannonball) to avoid going too deeply into the water. Keep knees bent! Those not comfortable with shallow water jumping should either climb down off the log onto the rock below before jumping, or rappel off of a meat anchor behind the log.  Please do not leave a webbing anchor behind on the log.



Looking down rappel 11

Looking down rappel 11

Rappel 11

Follow down a nicely carved section of rock to a rappel on the right side.  The route follows a channel on the right past a small pool, and pours down into a narrow section at a 90 degree angle to the main canyon.  There is a single bolt above the pool on the right side to simplify descending to this next rappel stance in higher water.

Drop into the channel that crosses the canyon, and pours off to the left.  Find a pair of bolts on the right wall, and rap down to the pool below. 14m (45 feet)

Rappel 12, Monmouth Canyon

Rappel 12, Monmouth Canyon

Rappel 12

Follow the pool to a large boulder in the watercourse, and keep left. Rappel off of bolts through a waterfall into a pothole, cross it, and continue down into another pool. 14m (45 feet)




Top of rappel 13 in Monmouth Canyon

Top of rappel 13 in Monmouth Canyon

Rappel 13

After rappel 12, a downclimb through a groove leads to a very nice alcove.  Follow around behind a huge boulder, in a very showery room.  Swim below a wedged boulder to a landing with a large pouroff ledge.  You will find a pair of bolts on the right where the water wells up and over a lip.  Big water, and lands in a large pool, occasionally with fish in it! 39m (130 feet)


Monmouth Canyon rappel 14

Monmouth Canyon rappel 14

Rappel 14

Move to the channel on the left, and find a single bolt on the left wall. Descend a groove to a stance below a big boulder. 14m (45 feet)





Rappel 15

From here, move to canyon right, and find a large boulder with webbing slung around it. Rappel from here to the rocks and shallow pool below. (Length uncertain – approximately 20-25 meters?)

Rappel 16

Some more downclimbing leads to a view down into the bottom of Box Creek, and the lower reaches of Monmouth. Undulating slabs of granite, with varied angles, scoops, pools and streams stretch down to the bottom. Some of the creek splits off to the right, joining Box Creek above the actual confluence. The downclimbing is initially easier here on canyon right, and may in fact continue all the way down to Box without requiring a rappel (though it’s unlikely).

The final rappel of the main canyon is on the left, past a series of scoops and cascades, anchored off webbing in a pinch on the left side of a chockstone. The rappel goes down a narrow corridor, but it’s easy to stay out of the full flow. 12m (40 feet) to slabs which can be followed to the right, all the way to the confluence with Box, and an exit to the trail.



From the base of the final waterfalls, and the confluence of Box Creek, head downstream for about three minutes, and exit the creek easily on the left to rejoin the trail. Hike back to the clearing, hop in the canoe, and recross the river.

Again, head downstream, working your way across.  You will see quite a number of logs stranded close to the far bank. Looking downstream, the trees along the Squamish Spit road start to thin out, and cars (if there are any driving along the road) become visible.  You want to find a little cove roughly even to where the last logs are stranded on the sand/gravel on the east side of the river, and just before the road becomes completely visible.  As you row into the little cove, you will see that it is actually a small side stream that leads through a culvert under the road to the estuary on the other side.  There are a number of vertical posts set into the stream, blocking access. Take the canoe out on the left (upstream) side, before reaching the posts.  You will find a trail here that leads up to the roadway and your parked vehicle – if you have done a shuttle. Otherwise, walk back up the road (900m to lower put-in, or 1.4 km to upper) to retrieve your vehicle.

GPS Waypoints

[table width=”500″ colwidth=”20|100|50″ colalign=”left|left|center|left|right”]
Upper canoe put-in,49.719579 -123.167867
Lower canoe put-in,49.715572 -123.167973
Take-out canoe,49.707469 -123.170288
Trailhead landing,49.713905 -123.173527
Trail turns uphill,49.713249 -123.181175
Keep right,49.713478 -123.184620
Normal entry,49.715020 -123.187978
Upper entry,49.715059 -123.191296
Monmouth-Box confluence,49.712734 -123.181779


Monmouth Topo

Monmouth Topo


v5a4 II (in low flow season) up to v4a4 II (in higher conditions)

* Reasons for rating:
v5 – Vertical sections in medium to strong water flow. Crossing pools during the descent. Slippery or obstructed rappel location.
a4 – Prolonged immersion causing some heat loss. Moderate current. Easy jumps of 5 to 8 m.