The Camel

September 22, 2017


North Shore Mountains, BC

“The Camel” is a mere rocky block attached to the Vancouver’s icon Crown Mountain with hardly any topographical prominence (25 meters) but itself is also very recognizable from various vantage points including the roof of my house.. For just this reason I knew I had to bag it at some point. The approach involves a fairly long trek up and over Crown Mountain via Grouse Grind but the access is very easy. There’s no logging road whatsoever and there’s no need to worry about the status of this access. It’s there and will always be there no matter what happens. There are numerous trad climbing routes on The Camel with some in the high 5th class range, but the only one I’m interested in is the standard route, which itself is a single pitch of 5.2 that goes up the “SE Corner”.

For the sake of reason this is a technical, and yet very eye-catching objective from Metro Vancouver it’s not hard to find partners. This had caught a lot of interest among Jeff Han’s friends circle as well as a few other friends of mine. When it eventually came to this trip, a total of 5 of us had gone up and over Crown Mountain and now the focus was turned onto The Camel, but the first business was getting off Crown Mountain to Crown/Camel col.

Ascents of Crown Mtn. The Camel and Spindle Peak. GPX DL

There are two ways to get down into a col. Somewhere on the east side of Crown Mountain’s summit we found a two-bolt anchor such that with a 60-meter rope one can rappel directly down to the col. The second option is by traversing a narrow ledge around the north side of Crown’s summit block and then down-climb a 4th class chimney into the col. This chimney is assisted with two fat batman ropes. It’s tempting to just rap off the anchor but we knew we had to climb back up the chimney anyway so might as well do it both ways. Traversing the narrow ledge into the chimney was easy but the down-climb was a solid “BC 4th class” even when grabbing the ropes. There’s one or two very awkward and strenuous moves although nothing’s super exposed.

At the end of that narrow ledge traverse.

The Camel looks super formidable

Down-climbing into the chimney. Photo by laowei

Another shot looking at the wall of Camel. This is from the chimney

The other guys down-climbing the lower chimney.

Zooming-in at Lily down-climbing the crux moves

Another review shot of the descent off Crown Mountain

While Jeff was assisting laowei and Kitty on the down-climb, Lily and I traversed over to the base of Camel’s SE Corner to set up a belay station. There’s one tree at a convenient spot offering an easy “sling-around”. The corner doesn’t look hard at all but since we brought a full rack of gears it made sense to pitch out properly. I even donned rock shoes for simple reason of why-not.. The pitch turned out to be a little bit harder than appeared but there’s really just one 5th class (friction) move about 3/4 of the way up, with some pretty good exposure. Below the crux I managed to put 3 pieces of cams in, although the rope drag from my zig-zagging path was pretty severe. The top anchor was an old sling around a boulder that I backed it up with a new quadruple-length sling.

Traversing to the base of SE Corner

Me leading up the pitch.

Kitty coming up the crux pitch

Laowei on the crux move. Looks pretty challenging from this angle…

Laowei finishing the pitch

This is the top station. Rope drag was a real problem here…

Once everyone’s ferried up to the top station the rest was just a simple scramble to the summit. The summit doesn’t have lots of room but we did find a way to sit comfortably. Jeff and I went further to check out “Camel’s Head”. Getting down into the notch would definitely require a rappel that we figured it’s too much of a complication for a large group. We were satisfied with just the true summit and sat there for at least an hour soaking in the views.

Jeff and I coming up towards the summit

And there we go this is the summit…

Crown Mountain from The Camel

The north side is a shear drop… Don’t look down if you have vertigo

Spindle Peak will be our next objective

Jeff didn’t even need a rope to climb this peak.

The typical north shore scenery.

The bunch of northern peaks of Crown Mtn.

Shadow of The Camel…

Cathedral Mountain has been calling my name for a while..

This is a bolted anchor to get into Camel’s Head notch. We didn’t go down that way.

Me exploring the summit ridge. It’s very narrow and exposed…

And now it’s the time for rappelling. I led a line directly down from the top (sling-on-boulder) station which eventually became a big overhang. This was pretty fun for an experienced mountaineer but quite an exhilarating experience for someone doing his/her first ever rappel. But after a long while all five of us got down safely and then it’s time to disassemble the tree anchor and move on. Climbing back up the 4th class chimney took a lot of energy out of us. I honestly thought a couple strenuous moves were easier to down-climb than to climb up but that’s probably because I don’t have a lot of experience on granite nor much of arm strength.

Lily on the overhanging rappel.

laowei did pretty well on his first rappel ever.

Jeff on his rappel.

Me climbing back up the lower chimney.

Lily squeezing in the chimney. Lots of arm strength to pull yourself up

Another shot from the upper portion of this chimney climb

Almost back onto Crown Mtn. Looking back at The Camel.

The day was still young so let’s face it. Spindle Peak sits right there so why not go explore it out