Scramble Sky Pilot

Rate this Adventure 10 miles 3800 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Rachel Davidson

Thrilling class 4 scramble up an iconic British Columbia peak with easy access from Squamish.

Sky Pilot Mountain is the highest peak past Stawamus Chief, Squamish's famous vertical rock face. Luckily, the rock just beyond the Chief is just as beautiful and reliable for climbers, hikers, and scramblers looking to stretch their legs and challenge their vertigo limits on an exposed, thrilling summit push.

Begin by taking the Sea-to-Sky gondola from Shannon Falls area. Unfortunately, the first rides begin at 9:30am, so you need to decide whether you want to spend $35 to save 3,000 feet, or begin earlier and add the extra elevation and mileage. 

From the top of the gondola, you will have a perfectly clear view of Sky Pilot Mountain and its neighboring Co-Pilot to its right. This area is littered with trails, signs, and people happy to point you in the right direction. Follow the signs towards "Sky Pilot Trail" or "Sky Pilot Valley," in the same direction as "All Backcountry Trails." You will follow a Jeep road for a few miles before it narrows into a single-track, then into a creek bed, then into a 4-way intersection with the cutoff to Habrich Mountain. Continue straight and the trail will narrow further, rising steeply through the forest, and dropping you out at a wide meadow in between Sky Pilot and Co-Pilot.

This area is well marked with cairns, and there are plenty of boot paths and faint climber's trails that will guide you up to the saddle between the two peaks. Depending on the season, you may need to pull your ice axe out or strap crampons on as low as 4,000 feet. 

Once you reach the top of the saddle, follow the west ridgeline until you reach the first crux of the day - the "pink ledges." My party guessed that these would be rated a low 5th class, and there were easy accessible rappel rings available, but we felt comfortable on the solid rock especially because it ended on soft dirt with little chance for a long fall. We would not feel this same way higher up.

After the pink ledges, the route should continue to feel straightforward, and you should be following cairns the entire way. However, even on the easier sections you'll want to be very vigilant and aware of your footwork - there are several "no fall" areas on your way to the summit. Particularly after you wind around a tree and veer up to the left for the final summit scramble. You will encounter a section of sustained class 4 (maybe low 5th) with long drop offs below. Do not go further if weather looks dicey, this is not an area you want to be with slick rocks.

Enjoy the views from the summit, you will be the highest person for kilometers around! Take your time on the way down, especially in exposed areas. If you're planning to take the gondola back, a safe turnaround time is 3pm or so.

Because of the recent gondola opening, Sky Pilot has seen plenty of injuries and some fatalities from inexperienced hikers drawn to its easy access. Be aware of your personal limits and judge the weather and your own ability before embarking on this adventure.

Here's our GPX track:

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