The Malamute is the lower and smaller granite monolith to the west of the Stawamus Chief and on the other side of Highway 99. It was acquired in July 2010 from Malamute Holdings through the efforts of climbers Access Society, the Land Conservancy, Mountain Equipment Cooperative and our municipal government from 2005 to 2010.
It was added to the Stawamus Chief Provincial Park, and this completed the initial intent from 1997 that the Malamute be part of this provincial park.
Lobbying gained a huge impetus when the owners logged 1,500 trees in April 2007. This “clearing and grubbing to minimize fire hazard” was done illegally and left the area badly scarred and closed for a year. The strong reaction from locals and climbers made it very clear that the profit motive should not be paramount.
The 10 hectares offers 32 climbing routes, great viewpoints and one seldom-used trail. Kevin McLane, author of The Shining Valley and an accomplished climber, calls this his “hidden gem.” The completion of the pedestrian overpass in 2010 has opened up the gem.
The trail starts after crossing the blue bridge. At the northwest corner off the bridge, the trail leads into pine forest before reaching the open ledges over Howe Sound. Here you get a wide and wonderful view where everything is revealed, even the cool ocean breeze.
Trail continues to the north to overlook the log sort and then reverses to return to the bridge. The upper part of the Malamute has open public access, but the lower part encroaches on CN Railroad right-of-way. This right-of-way extends eight metres from the railbed centre and is closed to all because of danger from heavy trains. Railroad crews have helped to evacuate injured climbers, and on such occasions trains have been delayed. CN will prosecute trespassers and the fines start at $115.
Access is all about the public being able to get on cliffs, mountains and trails. The paramount need is to conserve these areas for recreation today and in the future. Integral to this goal is the basic requirement for all participants to engage as responsible stewards. We all should defend these areas and contribute by adhering to proper etiquette. Please assist in whatever small way you can with trail and site maintenance; even carrying out what you carry in leaves a lasting impression on the environment and other people.
Some feedback on Jack’s Trail published June 30: I received good information from Thor Halvorsen and others about a second man named Jack who did much to improve this trail. Jack Grundle (1922-2004), a retired Woodfibre employee, diligently worked to clear logging debris and vegetation during his retirement years in the 1980s. He was a true steward of the trails and mainly responsible for the revitalization of this important link in our network of trails. “Together on trails” is the motto of the Squamish Trails Society.
Malamute: A smooth granite face on the edge of Howe Sound.
Origin of name: This area was owned by Malamute Holdings, and it may be a good guess that one of the owners had a malamute dog.
Trailhead: West end of blue pedestrian overpass at Chief apron.
Use: single track climbers, hikers, bikers.
Difficulty: Easy blue.
Elevation: 10 metres to 105 metres.
Etiquette: Stay five metres away from railroad. Might is right!