Elevation: 1,281 ft
GPS: 47.825, -121.562 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 2,461,217 total · 12,748/month
Shared By: Lizzy Trower on Jan 26, 2006 · Updates
Admins: Jon Nelson, Micah Klesick, Z Winters

Description

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.

What a view. (Endless Skies, Duck Wall) Photo: Ryan Hoover/Stamati Anagnostou

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).

Jack Andrew on the alternate pitch 3 of DGS (5.9) at the Upper Town Wall. Photo credit Daniel Jeffery.

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.

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.

Angela Wang moving to the anchor, end of p3 on Walking Legend (Lower Lump Area)

Getting There

From the west, drive east on Highway 2. Several miles past Goldbar, soon after crossing the bridge over the Skykomish, turn left onto Index-Galena Road.
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

Parking

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.

Closing in on the anchors on Plum Pudding (5.9).

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. But please be very respectful of the residents! Drive slowly. Obey stop signs and parking signs. Do not block private or public facilities. Do not be loud, especially at early or late hours. The residents have already voiced concerns about excessive parking and traffic.

If the available spots in town 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. 

Camping

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.

Moderate Routes

Jeff Matsushita leading Senior Citizens in Space (5.8).
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 over 60 full-length moderate routes. 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
The crux of Freight Night (5.8+).
Lower Wall:
Sagittarius 5.9+.
Japanese Gardens (to 1st anchor) 5.9+.
Tatoosh (original finish) 5.9.

Lookout Point Area:
Rattletale 5.9.
House of the Seventh Bobcat 5.9.
Bowling to Biscuits 5.9.
And Say (left variation) 5.8+

Upper Town Wall:
Davis-Holland 5.9.

Inner Walls:
Even Steven 5.8.

Toproping

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) Hag Crag.

3) Upper Wall Lower Cliffs (various spots).

4) Upper Wall, Lower Cheeks.

Grandeur Buttress at the Inner Walls, The Wart at the Lower Lump, and Garden Rock at the Side Walls also have a few 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:

https://gripped.com/articles/the-first-rule-of-dig-club/

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. 

796 Total Climbs

Route Finder - Best Climbs for YOU!

Location: Index Change
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Classic Climbing Routes at Index

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
 416
Senior Citizens in Space
Trad, TR
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 468
Princely Ambitions
Trad 2 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 547
Godzilla
Trad
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 455
Toxic Shock
Trad
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
 321
Rattletale
Trad 3 pitches
5.10b/c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b A0
 164
Lovin' Arms
Trad, Aid 3 pitches
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
 251
Davis-Holland Route
Trad 3 pitches
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
 193
Slow Children
Trad
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
 96
An Act of Strange Boar
Trad
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
 273
Thin Fingers
Trad
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
 93
Heaven's Gate
Trad, Sport 4 pitches
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
 191
Even Steven
Trad
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a
 82
Wham
Sport
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a
 186
Japanese Gardens
Trad 4 pitches
5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a
 103
Iron Horse
Trad
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Senior Citizens in Space Lookout Point Area > Private Idaho
 416
5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad, TR
Princely Ambitions Lower Town Wall > (C) Main Wall, left side
 468
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad 2 pitches
Godzilla Lower Town Wall > (C) Main Wall, left side
 547
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad
Toxic Shock Inner Walls > Toxic - Tang Area
 455
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad
Rattletale Lookout Point Area > Rattletale Wall
 321
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad 3 pitches
Lovin' Arms Upper Town Wall > (f) Central Wall Area
 164
5.10b/c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b A0 Trad, Aid 3 pitches
Davis-Holland Route Upper Town Wall > (f) Central Wall Area
 251
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Trad 3 pitches
Slow Children Lower Town Wall > (C) Main Wall, left side
 193
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b Trad
An Act of Strange Boar Lookout Point Area > Lookout Point
 96
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b Trad
Thin Fingers Lower Town Wall > (D) Narrow Arrow & fu…
 273
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Trad
Heaven's Gate Upper Town Wall > (d) Dana's Arch Area
 93
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Trad, Sport 4 pitches
Even Steven Inner Walls > Toxic - Tang Area
 191
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c Trad
Wham Country Area > Country
 82
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a Sport
Japanese Gardens Lower Town Wall > (C) Main Wall, left side
 186
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a Trad 4 pitches
Iron Horse Lower Town Wall > (C) Main Wall, left side
 103
5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a Trad
More Classic Climbs in Index »

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