Sunset Climb up West Vancouver's Lighthouse Park Cliff Satisfies Adrenaline Junkies at All Levels
It was a late Saturday afternoon. The sun was setting, a vibrant orange, and I could hear the waves starting to crash a little harder than an hour earlier. Hanging off a brutal over-hang on the side of Juniper point, a west-facing cliff in Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver, the mosquitoes began their attack. This climb happened a few weeks ago, yet I can still count eight bites on my legs; unimpressive ‘battle’ wounds.
Mum was at the top of the cliff, a popular lookout point at along the Juniper Loop Trail, and my two brothers and sister were out for a climb as well. An unobstructed view of a Vancouver fall sunset and climbing with your family seemed an almost unrealistic Thanksgiving weekend.
Still en route, I tried to “muscle” my way over an incredulous over-hang (a part of the cliff that juts out providing a formidable obstacle). I use the phrase “muscle” lightly here because I’m not sure I even have enough to qualify for such a feat. I hung like a limp fish, conserving any energy, letting the blood rush back to my fingers, and consider the best method of attack. Cross right hand over left, right ankle up to shoulder-height crack, lean left and giv’er? Being stuck in the middle of a climb is often congruous with running into an invisible cement wall over and over.
I shout down to my belayer, my brother, and let him know of my defeat, “ready to lower.” My boyfriend to his right shouts back, almost sarcastically, “Are you sure?” I give it one more go without thinking it through and manage to boost myself over the over-hang and up to the top. That often happens; if you’re too tired to even think about the cement wall then you suddenly you just walk right through.
The belay station at the bottom of the cliff is a bit sketchy to get to. The Juniper Loop Trail will take you to the top of the cliff, where climbers can set up an anchor and repel down. Otherwise, if climbers want to go to the belay station first (bottom of the cliff) then it’s a narrow trail along the edge of a drop followed by some free climbing down to the boulders below. It’s not extremely safe, yet not dangerous enough to turn anyone away.
This last part is evident as Lighthouse Park climbing routes are packed every time I’ve gone. There are only ten routes, none of which extremely challenging. All routes are top rope; the anchor needs to be set at the top before beginning a climb. There are four routes along the wall we were climbing and another three just around the corner. Although all routes were taken, being fellow climbers, everyone was courteous about organizing themselves to make sure everyone had a route to climb.
We noticed a couple loose bolts and an odd looking hangar (the part to which anchors are attached) which we chose not to use. As we were leaving we noticed other climbers hadn’t hesitated, so using those routes may just be a matter of comfort level with the equipment.
I would highly recommend Lighthouse Park to all Vancouver climbers, especially newbies. All routes are top rope accessible with a range of levels and numerous variations on each. It is important to bring proper footwear for the journey down to the bottom, as well as mosquito repellant. Also, come early to beat the rush or show up fashionably late to time your last ascent with the sun’s descent.