|McLaughlin Canyon (Tonasket)
McLaughlin Canyon is the jewel of the Okanogan. It has wonderful opportunities for hiking and climbing, but unfortunately much of it is private land, and the boundaries on the ground are mostly unmarked. (Consult the drawn map in the photo gallery here, and also it is recommended to look at the aerial photo of property boundaries on the Okanogan County Assessors map, especially when heading for the Northern Crag.)
The canyon cliffs are gneiss, and up to 500' tall in areas. Most of the rock on the north and east sides of the county road is private, although there are small sections of cliff around the trailhead, as well as an extensive section of cliffs to the north which are public. There are also several good bouldering sites on both public and private lands.
All the rock south of the road is public (BLM), and there are many cracks and corners and a few faces that can be led with gear (and if local legends are to be believed, most have been). Currently there are no fixed top anchors, or bolts on the big Main Canyon walls, and so the climbing is strictly old school trad and a true adventure on them. It is best to preinspect and clean routes on rappel as the rock tends to be brittle with plenty of loose debris laying around.
So be careful, especially if you plan to climb ground-up, bring a full rack of cams and nuts, some long slings, a scrub brush, helmet, and trusted partner! Also, be aware that the few remaining snags along the valley floor sometimes fall over, and no matter where you hike or climb here be alert for rattle snakes (especially from early April to late October).
The various areas covered here include (from north to south);
Northern Crag - SE Face - The northernmost SSE facing cliff, which is quite impressive, being the tallest and cleanest at McLaughlin. This area is best approached from the west via the dirt track across private property along the open western flats.
Northern Crag - SW Buttress - The west end of the northern crag. This area is best approached from the west via the dirt track across private property along the open western flats.
Parking Lot Rock - The small cliff to the north of the main BLM parking lot on the north side of the county road. The left and right ends of the cliff are on private lands, but there is plenty of potential for hard climbing in between.
West Wall - The east side of the county road directly across from the south parking area. Only the first couple of faces and corners of this cliff are on BLM land.
Main Canyon - The deep east facing canyon south of the county road. Includes three subsections; Near Wall (first series of walls on the right as you enter the Main Canyon south of the small parking turnout to the huge Dihedral corner), Main Wall (the huge wall on the right beginning at the Dihedral and continuing to the first large gully), and Far Wall (the large face at the south end of the Main Canyon to the SE Buttress).
Little West Canyon - The very small canyon on the slope west of the Main Canyon, has some short climbable east and west facing rock.
Main Canyon - SE Buttress - The huge S and SE facing wall where the Main Canyon opens up.
South Canyon - The long east facing cliff at the south, shorter and more open, end of the Main Canyon. Not as intimidatingly high as the Main Canyon, and more removed from the county road, includes three subsections as well; Upper West Side, Mid West and Lower West Side.
From "The Junction" in Tonasket travel south on Hwy 97 for 4 miles and turn left just before the Janus Bridge. Follow Janus Rd for 0.3 miles, and turn left up McLaughlin Canyon Rd. Park on the right after 1.6 miles (elevation 1450'), and enjoy the gentle mile long trail down the main South Canyon, which was devastated by fire in 2007, but still makes for a beautiful hike.
19 Total Routes
['4 Stars',0],['3 Stars',6],['2 Stars',11],['1 Star',3],['Bomb',0]
Featured Route For McLaughlin Canyon (Tonasket)
First Light 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- E2 5b WA
: ... : Upper West Side
First Light - 5.10b ** 170' F(16b)Begin at the left side of the face (below the pine on top), and climb the vertical wall just left of the overhanging section at the bottom of the middle part of the face. A hard section leads to an easy middle part and a slightly more challenging top. Belay on the ledge on top by the large boulders (2 bolt anchor). This a fun and fairly sustained route on excellent rock....[more] Browse More Classics in WA
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|Photos of McLaughlin Canyon (Tonasket) Slideshow
BETA PHOTO: McLaughlin Canyon overview map.
BETA PHOTO: "The Dihedral", THE classic 5.7 corner crack.
Parking Lot Rock
Northern Crag (SW Buttress in the center, SE Face ...
View of the South Canyon from the north (Okanokan ...
Parking Lot Rock (north of the road, but on BLM la...
BETA PHOTO: South Canyon East Face in mid January 2014.
McLaughlin Ice in mid January 2013.
View of the south end of the SE Buttress from the ...
View to the SW from the canyon rim.
The gorgeous cliffs to the north - currently priva...
BETA PHOTO: County road with a vehicle at the south parking pu...
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