|GPS:||47.825, -121.562 Google Map · Climbing Area Map|
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|Shared By:||Lizzy Trower on Jan 26, 2006 · Updates|
|Admins:||Jon Nelson, Micah Klesick, Z Winters|
Roughly midway between Seattle and Leavenworth lies the fine-grained granite of Index.
The climbing happens on a collection of walls and crags rising out of the forested hillside around the small town of Index. Various granite boulders also lie clustered here and there in the forest and along the Skykomish river.
The granite provides a wide variety of routes, many of them within 15-min of parking. Other than its craggy mountain and river scenery, Index is also known for the heavy sounds of the trains that pass through as well as the small town setting with its old mining and quarrying history.
Originally, a place mainly for crack aid-climbing, Index now has more free lines than aid. Through the 80s, most of the free lines were trad, but sport climbing accelerated in the 90s, and now Index has nearly as much sport as trad. In addition to cracks, there are lots of face climbs and a few friction slabs.
The routes range from shorter single-pitch routes to long 500'-high walls. Index is known for its hard climbing, but still has many climbs of 5.9 and lower. And a lot of the harder climbs have more moderate first pitches (see below for a partial list).
Weatherwise, summer conditions can be nearly ideal, with cool shady spots for midday climbing, though some walls will bake in the midday. Winters are generally wet, the area being much wetter on average than regions east of the Cascades as well as the lowland regions to the west. But, as most cliffs are largely south-facing and the elevation relatively low, winter can have some very nice, though somewhat short, climbing days. A good day in winter may just be the best possible Index experience.
As the rock angle tends to be slightly less than vertical, and many cliffs top-off onto a sloping hillside, most routes get wet in a rain, with many continuing to seep for a few days after a heavy period of rain. However, a few steep routes stay dry in the rain. Most of these are on or near the Cheeks at the Upper Town Wall. Some slabby areas, particularly at Lookout Point, can dry very quickly after a rain.
Index town, just below the cliffs on the Skykomish River, is a picturesque place to relax, hanging out near the river, park, or general store. When open, check out the displays in the historical society, just across from the general store.
Derek on the final moves of the slab on And Say (Lookout Point area)
From the east, drive over Steven's Pass, about 13 miles past Skykomish. Turn right on Index-Galena Road.
After about a mile and a sharp S-curve that goes under the railroad, turn left on the arch-style bridge over the North Fork of the Skykomish. Go straight past the general store and town park to the T intersection at the second stop sign. For the Lookout Point and Diamond Area you'll want to park somewhere around here. More details of parking below.
For the other walls, go left past the Bush House, over the tracks straight through town, taking a sharp left toward the river, then a right where the road hits a T-intersection and stop sign. Continue along the shaded road, which parallels the river. About a hundred yards or so past the camping spot is the Lower Town Wall parking lot on the right. In another hundred yards or so is a pull-off on the left for the Lower Lump.
For some of the bouldering, you may need to drive further west after going by the Lower Town Wall, or continue driving further east along the Index Galena Road.
Parking and Camping
For the Lower Town Wall, Inner Walls, Side Walls, Mid Walls, and Upper Town Wall, park in the large lot south of town, just below the LTW. You might also be able to find a place to park at the camping location, which is a few hundred yards closer to town. Do not leave valuables in the car as this lot has an extensive history of breakins.
For the Lower Lump, park at a pull-out along the road, just across from the Wart area of the Lower Lump, about a hundred yards south of the LTW lot.
For the Diamond and Lookout Point areas, you can often find parking in town near the park. But please be very respectful of the residents! Drive slowly. Obey stop signs and parking signs. Do not block private or public facilities. In particular, do not park near the railroad tracks, at the Bush House, or at the school.
If the available spots near the park are filled, try the lot at the Heybrook-Ridge trailhead, just over the bridge and off the Index-Galena Rd. Parking here adds only about 1-2 minutes of walking as compared to parking near the school.
Also, please do not be loud, especially at early or late hours. Consider the folks who live there--they have already voiced concerns about excessive parking and speeding traffic.
Free camping exists just 100 yards or so towards town from the Lower Wall parking area. One can camp near the river or near their car. This area has become known as the Wagonwheel.
Index has a reputation for hard routes. But it also has plenty of moderates routes under 5.10. Even better: it has potential for many more -- just find a possible line and start cleaning off your own> (If new to cleaning-developing, you might ask an experienced person for suggestions.) If you use the "Best climbs for YOU in this area" tool below (blue box called "You & This Area"), you can find at least 140 full-length routes of 5.9 and below. About half are 5.8 or below. More exist in published guidebooks.
But in addition, quite a few of the harder multi-pitch routes have fun moderate first pitches. Some of these include
Japanese Gardens (to 1st anchor) 5.9+.
Tatoosh (original finish) 5.9.
Lookout Point Area:
House of the Seventh Bobcat 5.9.
Bowling to Biscuits 5.9.
And Say (left variation) 5.8+
Upper Town Wall:
Even Steven 5.8.
If you'd like to set up some topropes without having to lead an adjacent route, Starting up Hag Crag Crack (5.6). consider these areas:
1) Private Idaho.
2) Planet Index.
3) Hag Crag.
4) Upper Wall Lower Cliffs (various spots).
5) Upper Wall, Lower Cheeks.
The first three above are in the Lookout Point area. Nearer to parking, you can also consider Grandeur Buttress at the Inner Walls, The Wart at the Lower Lump, and Garden Rock at the Side Walls for a few more possibilities. To find all labeled topropes, use the tool at left, and instead of "Show all route types", select "Toprope". You'll probably find other unlabeled topropes as well.
Route Development and Maintenance
Due to the very moist and moderate weather conditions for much of the year, routes that have not been sufficiently cleaned or rarely get climbed tend to re-foliate over a period of 1-2 years. Thus, some routes get recleaned every year or two with a dirt-scraping tool and brush. If you see a route in need of recleaning, please take the initiative and reclean it. If you decide to clean an entirely new line, consider that the extra effort to make it completely foliage-free may pay off in the long run. An excellent article about the methods used and general ideas behind cleaning areas like Index is here:
However, as the crags here are often visited by hikers as well as often viewed by folks in town, please take a few extra steps to keep the area looking natural:
- Do not leave cleaning tools in easily spotted areas.
- If you must leave a fixed line, use a dull-colored rope and return to the project as soon as possible to finish and remove the line before setting up any other lines.
- Clean up at the base of the route, again, to keep the area appearing as natural as possible.
- If you need to trundle large blocks that may be heard from town, other than taking all possible precautions about posting warnings and yelling "rock", aim to do the work at night.
One or two out of maybe three small tools can be helpful for bringing a climb back: brush, broom, & scraper. Some places at Lookout Point have such tools, tucked away inconspicuously. Look for the "brush stations" mentioned at the areas.
Classic Climbing Routes at Index
Days w Precip