Mount Chek (Frontside 180)

September 30, 2020


Squamish, BC

“Mt. Chek” is rather just a lowly and forested bump in the Cheakamus Canyon climbing area 20 minutes drive north of Squamish. The name is unofficial and only known to rock climbers. If not because of the popular multi-pitch climb “Frontside 180” that goes up the west ridge of this peak I wouldn’t even notice this bump having a name. From peak-bagging perspective this completely falls into the category of “dumpster-diving”, if one hikes up the climber’s descent trail… For Winnie and myself the objective was definitely to climb the multi-pitch sport route “Frontside 180” and tagging the dumpster summit of “Mt. Chek” was rather just a bonus point. The route was bolted in recent years and had since become a local classic as the grade (5.8, soft) and the abundance of bolts (almost too many) means it’s a good introductory objective for multi-pitch climbing.

Frontside 180 up West Ridge of Mt. Chek. GPX DL

Winnie and I had spent a few days in Squamish practicing rock climbing and we both started to feel comfortable climbing at the grade of this route. We picked the morning of a Wednesday hoping to avoid traffic jam on this popular route but the reality still shocked us. With my trusty Tacoma we managed to shave off the approach by driving right into the Cheakamus Canyon climbing area. The base of the climb was reached in just a few minutes from my truck, but two other parties had already arrived. We ended up waiting for over 40 minutes at the base of the climb but we weren’t in a rush so there’s no complaint.

Winnie always feels happy when climbing!

The climb is divided into three stages. The first stage had three pitches rated between 5.6 and 5.7. I felt the first two pitches being the hardest of the whole route as both pitches had a couple tricky slabby moves somewhere in the middle. There were bolts for every 2 meters ish so the exposure wasn’t really a factor in this route. Winnie led the first pitch and I took over the lead on the second pitch. The pitch turned out to be a fairly short one so I linked the 2nd and 3rd pitches together to save transition time.

Winnie leading the first pitch (5.7)

Sunrise from above the first pitch.

Winnie at the belay station.

WInnie coming up Pitch 2+3 combined.

From the top of the first stage we had to hike down following a trail for a short while to the base of the second stage. The previous parties had done their excellent job showing us where to go, so there was literally no thinking for us. We waited for another 20 minutes or so before starting the climb. I ended up leading the 5th pitch (rated 5.8) that had a few crack features in the middle. Somewhere on the 6th pitch had one or two blank slab moves (rated 5.7) that I felt definitely harder than the pitch I led. Once above the middle stage we also had a short walk to the upper stage. Winnie led the 5.6 pitch 7 which was a really short one. I then combined the next two pitches into one longer lead. The 10th pitch was really easy that Winnie just soloed up without clipping into any bolt. We took a long break swapping footwear back to the trail shoes once the climb was over, and easily hiked to the viewless summit.

The other party starting the 4th pitch

Winnie leading Pitch 4 (5.7)

At the belay station above the 4th pitch

Looking down from partway up Pitch 5

Bolts on sexy slabs

More about the 5th pitch

Winnie starting Pitch 6 (5.7)

Me finishing Pitch 6. Photo by Winnie M.

Winnie climbing Pitches 8+9 combined

Taking a break swapping footwear after finishing the climb

Looking north towards Tricouni Peak and Mt. Brew

Mt. Tantalus across the valley

Me on the summit of Mt. Chek

Another photo of me on the summit.

Dumpster diving and rock climbing at the same time.. Two birds in one shot…

We weren’t quite sure where to aim for on the descent but there’s a path heading down north so we went that way. After a short while we picked up the climber’s descent trail and had no problem following it down to the parking lot. Overall I felt the grade of this route being a bit too soft. The few tricky spots probably felt more 5.6 than 5.8 and the bolts were certainly overkill in most pitches. I agree 100% that this is a good introductory climb but I probably wouldn’t do it again due to the number of people and the lack of technical challenge.

Finding the descent trail

Winnie somewhere on the climber’s descent route.

Back to my truck at Chek Canyon climbing area