A night on the Stawamus Chief

On the weekend we made a last minute decision to load up some gear and hike up to the 3rd peak of the chief to camp for the night. The weather was clear after several straight weekends of clouds and rain that foiled my plans to shoot night sky images.

Photos below….

We could probably have skipped taking the tent but Tara wanted to have it so we threw it in with our other camping things. We took just enough food and water for us and Lukla, with the intention of arriving at the peak somewhere near sunset and then heading back down after breakfast the next morning.


If the weather conditions cooperated I may have been able to capture a nice sunset on the mountains, some images of the Milky Way galaxy and then some golden light over Squamish at sunrise the next morning. I new things weren’t perfect shooting from this location for a number of reasons, but was so keen to play around that I didn’t care. Factors I was working against included;

  • There is a surprising amount of light pollution from little old Squamish.
  • The galactic centre rises from the South/South-Eastern sky after the moon was due to rise
  • Being so close to Solstice, it gets dark extremely late, with Nautical Twilight arriving after 11pm and returning at around 3am.
  • Lastly, the bulk of the Galactic centre of the Milky Way would be obscured by ridges at higher elevations than where I would be.


Hardly slept a wink, and neither did Lukla. She groaned most of the night as I moved around disturbing her slumber. I went to bed at around 11 for an hour or so and the got up again and managed to capture some fun night sky images. Back to bed at around 1:30 then tossed and turned for a few hours until jumping out again at 4:30 for sunrise. Managed to capture some nice images as the sun rose over the mountains to the North-East and sent golden rays of light across the valley below us.


Lukla loved the hike up. I hadn’t done the 3rd peak since I first came to Canada in 2009, so I had forgotten how steep the gully was for the 2nd half of the hike. Had to be careful with all the weight on your back in some places that were really steep to avoid tipping over backwards if balance was lost. It was about 2 hrs up, we hardly saw a soul once past the 2nd peak junction and there was no one on the peak with us the entire evening. The way down was as expected for a Sunday morning; a relentless train of people. A real assault on the senses, with eye-blinding tight and bright fluro clothing, loudspeakers pounding obnoxious music, and over-powering perfumes as if the ladies were heading to a red-carpet event. We powered down through it as fast as we could only to hit a wall of traffic on the hway. Lots of sirens had been wailing as we approached the car from the trial head, and it turned out that a base-jumper had a chute mishap, passing away from his injuries as hell fell after jumping from the 1st peak at over 500 metres. The parachute was visible in the trees right beside the hway as we crawled past, a white sheet was strung up to hide the victims body. It was a sad way to end such a pleasant experience. Poor guy….


Chief Peak 3 -0621
The final light on Garibaldi Mountain – semi hidden by clouds. As soon as the sun actually set, the clouds disappeared very quickly.
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Waiting for darkness. Garibaldi and Mamquam Mountains in the distance.
Chief Peak 3 -
This was about the best I could squeeze out of the Milky Way Galaxy. The moon was rising by this point so it began to fade both to the eye and the cameras sensor.
Chief Peak 3 -0661
The orange glow from the town lights of Squamish lights up the uppermost cliff walls of the chief at 700 metres above the town. Our tent was perched on a nice flat spot of granite, just metres from a creepy cliff edge.
Chief Peak 3 -0680
Over the edge at sunrise. It was a long way down.
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The town of Squamish with our neighbourhood of Valleycliffe in the foreground. It was a little odd to be up so high, and to feel quite removed, and yet still be able to see our house.
Chief Peak 3 -0690
Another cliffs edge shot looking over into the Northernmost gully.


Chief Peak 3 -0716
Tara and Lukla taking one last look at the sites after breakfast before heading down.




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