This Month: October 2009 
October 2009: Grouse Grind, North Vancouver, BC, Canada 
North of the border on the northern edge of North Vancouver, BC, is a monster stairway trail that has been aptly nicknamed “Nature’s Stairmaster”.  Officially named the Grouse Grind, this 2830-stair climb (yes, you read that correctly) literally and figuratively towers over every other outdoor stairway in the Pacific Northwest.  It climbs 2800 feet from the Grouse Mountain gondola parking lot to the lodge on the summit of Grouse Mountain.  These are serious stairs! 
Brian Taylor has lots of information about the Grouse Grind on his web site:  Brian is a regular on the Grind.  He went up it 74 times in 2005, 57 times in 2006, and 70 times in 2007. According to Brian, the single day record is 13 times, set by Sebastian Albrecht on June 22, 2009.  The fastest time up the Grouse Grind is 24 minutes, 22 seconds, by Jonathan Wyatt of New Zealand, who also happens to be the three-time World Mountain Running champion. 
For those with a competitive nature there are two races held on the Grouse Grind every year. Perhaps the best known is the BMO Grouse Grind Mountain Run.  This race is held in September each year.  It starts farther down the mountain with a series of wave starts to spread out the participants before they reach the Grind. The course record is held by Sebastian Salas in 25:24 (2009 race).   
If that race doesn’t sound brutal enough, there is also the Seek the Peak Relay.  This race, done as either a four-person relay or solo, starts at Ambleside Beach in West Vancouver. The 16-kilometer course climbs to the start of the Grind and then continues relentlessly up the Grind to the Grouse Mountain Lodge.  One might be content to call it good at that point, but this race doesn’t.  The runners continue upwards to the summit of Grouse Mountain (elevation 4,100 feet) and then back down to the finish at the Peak Chalet.  Since you start at sea level (elevation 0 feet) the total elevation gain is also 4,100 feet.  The race is held in July each year and is a fundraiser for Rethink Breast Cancer. 
The Grind is only open in the summer months; dates and hours open are available at  Information about the races is on the Grouse Mountain web site (  
Photo courtesy of Brian Taylor
Photo courtesy of Brian Taylor