The Grouse Grind is a 2.9km (1.6 mile) trail that goes straight up Grouse Mountain, climbing 853m (2,800 ft) from the parking lot at the end of Capilano Road and the gondola base to the Theatre in the Sky some 1127m (3,700 ft) up. Like being ‘screeched in’ in Newfoundland which officially makes you a real Newfie, to call yourself a Vancouverite, officially, you have to make this trek and earn the respect of the mountain and prove you are in fact, a westener and real Vancouverite.
Now G and I are reasonably fit, we’re both Ironman triathletes having completed Ironman USA, we run regularly and are currently training for the XXXXXXX half-marathon in the Fall, we dragonboat and adventure race, and kayak, and hike, and cycle. Often when we research a hike/climb and read that the route is ‘challenging’ we nod and smile with bravado and secretly think, sure, sure, whatever. That said, the reviews of the Grind are very accurate and I can’t imagine a layperson managing the trek up. It is – pardon the pun – grinding to say the least and the only thing that maybe close to it is the CN Tower Stair Climb – all up; all stairs, all the time. But, the CN Tower climb takes me 17-odd minutes. The Grouse Grind took an hour and thirty minutes. On the other hand, unlike the CN Tower Climb, the Grind is oh-so-beautiful.
It is also interesting that out east, people will say when peeved with you – ‘go take a hik’e or ‘go climb a mountain’. It is said derogatorily and meant to be a slight. Here in the west, when you say this to folks, it’s meant literally and with no derogatory tone. It is a good thing …. as it should be.
Thousands and thousands of people do the grind each weekend and unconfirmed urban legends have it that there are diehards who do it every day! You can even purchase a “Grind Timer” – a little chip that you wear on a lanyard that you use to check yourself in at the base and out at the top which automatically records your time. The best time up currently is a truly unbelievable 25:01. Get to the base early – certainly before 8AM if you want to have a decent climb with less traffic.
2) you have to read the waiver but not sign it; 3) G starts up
4 & 5) the views amid the old growth forest are stunning
6) half way up … yay!; 7) the Grind teases you at this point as it actually gets VERY steep
8) high enough now that we get some sunlight; 9) G pauses to enjoy the view
10) single file needed at the three quarters mark; 11) other parts have sheer drops protected by cargo netting
12) like ants on an ant hill; 13) G nears the top
14) looking back way down the steep hill; 15) right at the top it becomes a wall with switchback trails to use
16) here’s the end where you pop out in front of Theatre in the Sky; 17) sign noting the Grind’s short season
18) the view is beautiful even on a hazy morning – that’s Stanley Park and Lion’s Gate Bridge and downtown Vanouver to its left; 19) you cannot hike down the Grind but must take the gondola
20) here’s our ride
21) the Grind Timer station at the top; 22) moi at the top – worth the hike for sure!