The Stawamus Chief Hike

Two years ago, I visited the Sea to Sky Gondola, rode the gondola comfortably, saw the breathtaking views from the top and enjoyed the ride down as I saw many hikers making their way down the mountain. I thought to myself: when will this be me?

Today, I went to the Sea to Sky gondola location. Not to take the gondola up, but rather to walk to the Chief trailhead which is about 10 minutes. I met some other hikers and off we went up the trail.

The beginning was a short flat hike where you get to gather your strength. LOL. Last chance to back out. I kept going. Then the endless stairs started. Natural, wooden, all sorts. My quads were killing me. What really eased the beginning was actually a beautiful waterfall that ran along side that first stretch of the hike. It was a pleasant surprise to see that waterfall. The sound of the water, the gorgeous view took my mind off the grind and I was pleasantly engaged. As I walked up more and more stairs, I reached the junction that separates the first peak from the second. I thought I has enough energy to keep going.

I took what kind of looked like switchbacks up to the second peak. There was also a good chunk of scrambling to be done. It was all great until I reached the chains and I’m like: well, here we go. The first set of chains is easy to do. As advised by another hiker, I used the chain for a bit of leverage but did not really need it. I hugged many trees to get to the top there. Then came a narrow ridge. I walked along the narrow ridge for a short bit and then came another set of chains. That looked much more sketchy. I started going up again, got a helping hand from another hiker then reached a big rock. I discovered I am two inches too short to make it up that rock. I have always known myself to be short, but I didn’t think it would be hinder me here. I also have a problematic shoulder so I decided not to risk using my upper body strength to pull myself up that rock. I don’t think I was ready for that yet. I gave it a couple of tries then gave up. I was cheered on by many of the hikers behind me for getting this far. I was about 55 meters from the top. Everyone was super supportive and encouraging. As I head back down, I realize: How did I even get here? It is rocky and steep and high. I am proud of myself I made this far. I slowed down and took my time with the way back down. I reach the junction to peak one. Some new adventures are about to begin.

I don’t think I have gone up a ladder in 10 years. Believe it or not, it was daunting. Did I mention I am afraid of heights too? I went up both ladders then I came to more chains. This time, I thought to myself grinning: this looks easy. Then I reach the end of the chains and I’m like: aren’t there more? Unfortunately, about 50 meters from the top, the chains end. All you get is a big piece of slab. Long trains of hikers head up in front of me. I turn around and see the most beautiful view. It reminded me of that same view I got to see two years prior, from the gondola and the mountain top. The only difference is that, this time, I made it there via hiking. I felt emotional. So much has happened in two years. Getting to this point was not easy. I am grateful I am though. I did not think I would be one of those who got to the top hiking. I stopped there and enjoyed that same breathtaking view. I was happy with my progress. I was okay with stopping 50 meters from the top of peak 1. After the ice break, it was time to do everything again, but in reverse. Sigh!!!

This hike reminds me of the Grouse Grind with all its stairs. It was a similar grind in that matter. There are many differences though. The chains, ladders, ring ladders, scrambling and big slabs of rock that require crawling, walking, whatever it takes. I have seen people jog on rock, crawl on all 4, hug trees, whatever worked for them. Is this difficult? It all depends on how comfortable you are with rocks and new elements. For me, I felt my balance and not so great upper body strength stopped me from getting to the top. I do not recommend this hike to a beginner in hiking or someone who is not used to intermediate hikes in general.

Here is what I see resting from the hike. Can you guess what’s next? 😏


Go on a dry day to minimize slipping risk. Go on a sunny day to get the best view. Use gloves as you will be scrambling on all 4 in some parts. Wear hiking boots with a good grip. If you are a new to hiking or fitness allocate at least 4 hours. Use knee support for the way down. Remember that the hike starts at an elevation, so nausea may happen to some.

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