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Greetings Washington climbers!
Washington's climbing has come a long way from the first alpine explorations in the Cascades by the predecessors of Fred Beckey. Nowadays, you can find most types of climbing in WA, from quality sport cragging to classic long trad lines to beautiful alpine expeditions to glacier treks on volcanoes to winter ice and mixed climbing, all more or less within the vicinity of Seattle.
Head to Exit 32 / Little Si or Deception Crags for the nearest sport crags to the main population centers. These groupings of crags are hidden in the hills all around North Bend and offer decent rock, a plethora of routes and some of Washington's hardest climbing at Little Si's World Walls.
For those who are versed in glacier travel, it's hard to find a more scenic trip than climbing a volcano; they range in difficulty from Mount St. Helens (a long, dusty hike in summer and an easy snow wander in spring) to Mount Rainier, the third-highest mountain in the contiguous US whose bulk is such that she creates her own unpredictable weather.
Leavenworth, situated in three river valleys (Tumwater Canyon, Icicle Creek and Snow Creek) surrounding the tourist town of Leavenworth, has the most quality granite climbing, from roadside bouldering to six-pitch outings, within a small area and remains the most popular climbing destination in Washington. Good granite, wide cracks and plenty of sun are the hallmarks of Leavenworth climbing.
The entire Cascade range (which bisects the state vertically) is full of alpine adventure, but the most alpine rock and ice is in the North Cascades, generally a region considered north of Stevens Pass. Be ready for plenty of choss, but be prepared to be pleasantly surprised by beautiful granite and gneiss depending on where you go: Washington Pass, with dozens of pink-granite surrounding towers, is the premier alpine rock climbing experience in WA with an unbeatable approach and excellent rock.
Stuart-Enchantments, famous to hikers for the stunning lakes, mountain backgrounds and stands of golden larches, is home to tons of climbable spires and peaks in a uniquely beautiful location. Stuart itself is notable for being one of the largest granitic mountains in the US; while the whole area is protected by a lottery permit system for access, it's definitely worth a visit.
Washington is known for rain, especially in the dreary winter and fall. During those months, many climbers head for Frenchman Coulee, AKA Vantage, a grouping of basalt crags smack dab in the middle of the state surrounding the Columbia River; it may be cold but it's almost always dry. As is appropriate for basalt cliffs, there's plenty of sport routes on the columns and trad routes in between.
Farther away from Seattle but consisting of similar (variable quality) rock to North Bend's crags is Mazama, a small town north of Winthrop and just east of Highway 20. It's home to Goat Wall, which boasts several long, moderate sport routes such as the popular 18-pitch Flyboys.
Index, a former granite-mining town on Highway 2 with a large granite wall as the backdrop, has a reputation as the place to be for hard, thin cracks on the best rock in the state; while this is true, there's plenty of easier and sportier climbs as well - and don't forget the impressive Mount Index towering over the highway, home to some difficult, committing alpine ascents and what Fred Beckey calls 'one of the most difficult summits to attain in the Cascades' - the Middle Peak.
Darrington, a small town nestled in the west drainages of the North Cascades, has several peaks with many long granite slab climbs reminiscent of Yosemite's Tuolumne Meadows. Most approaches here are 30 minutes or more. Closer to Seattle, but having very similar granite slab routes is Static Point.
The Tieton River area lies northwest of Yakima along the Tieton River - cragging split between sport and trad on a long, long andesite flow.
Spokane Area has many varied crags and popular bouldering around and within the city itself.
Around the Bellingham area on the northwest coast, there are many small crags, some worth visiting, some definitely not. A standout is Mount Erie, not much of a mountain, but with plenty of diorite cliffs offering one-pitch sport routes.
A final and frequently underrated area worth mentioning is Beacon Rock, a huge piece of basalt on the Columbia River and southern border of Washington. While bird-nesting closes some of its areas temporarily and one whole face permanently, the fact remains that it's a 850-foot piece of (mostly) quality (but always adventurously traddy) rock.
Remember: Before you consider adding an area or route, please read below, and don't add an area on this page.
Sections of Washington: ----------------------- OLY/PAC = OLYMPIC/PACIFIC NW = NORTH-WESTERN CWC = CENTRAL-WESTERN CASCADES SWC = SOUTH-WESTERN CASCADES SEC = SOUTH-EASTERN CASCADES CEC = CENTRAL-EASTERN CASCADES OK = OKANOGAN C = CENTRAL SE = SOUTH-EASTERN NE = NORTH-EASTERN
To find climbing areas, check the map above and find the corresponding link on the right, or search the area's name in the search bar. To add an area, make sure you're not adding an area on this page. Check the overall areas on the right to see if it's already listed; if it's not, fire away.
Classic Climbing Routes at Washington
Days w Precip