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Elevation: 1,281 ft
GPS: 47.82481, -121.56191
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Shared By: Lizzy Trower on Jan 26, 2006 · Updates
Admins: Jon Nelson, Micah Klesick, Zachary Winters

Description Suggest change

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.

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

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.

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

Getting There Suggest change

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

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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 tent camp near the river or vehicle camp in the gravel parking lot. This area has become known locally as the "Wagonwheel" (or Sportsman's) and is managed by the US Forest Service. This lot can fill quickly, especially on weekends, so please park efficiently to give others room to fit in.

Do check the USFS notice board for current camping limits and burn bans.  As of June 2023, the USFS is enforcing a limit of no more than 14 consecutive days (with a limit of 28 days total per year).  You can also check with the Skykomish Ranger District office (360)677-2414 for updated info prior to your arrival.  

From May to October, port-a-potties are provided at the camping lot so please don't poop in the woods.  These port-a-potties are provided courtesy of the Index Climbers Collective.

GARBAGE: take it home with you.  No garbage receptacles are provided.

Moderate Routes

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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 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

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.


Suggest change

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

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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.  

A brief primer on use of such brush stations: 

1,024 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
Senior Citizens in Space
Trad, TR
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Princely Ambitions
Trad 2 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Toxic Shock
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Battered Sandwich
Trad, TR
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Breakfast of Champions
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
Trad 3 pitches
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
Davis-Holland Route
Trad 3 pitches
5.10c/d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
Cunning Stunt
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
Slow Children
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Thin Fingers
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
Even Steven
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a
Japanese Gardens
Trad 4 pitches
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Senior Citizens in Space Lookout Point Area > Private Idaho
5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad, TR
Princely Ambitions Lower Town Wall > (C) Main Wall, left side
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad 2 pitches
Godzilla Lower Town Wall > (C) Main Wall, left side
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad
Toxic Shock Inner Walls > Toxic - Tang Area
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad
Battered Sandwich Lookout Point Area > Private Idaho
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad, TR
Breakfast of Champions Lower Town Wall > (C) Main Wall, left side
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad
Sagittarius Lower Town Wall > (C) Main Wall, left side
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad
Tatoosh Lower Town Wall > (D) Narrow Arrow & fu…
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad
Rattletale Lookout Point Area > Rattletale Wall
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad 3 pitches
Davis-Holland Route Upper Town Wall > (f) Central Wall Area
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Trad 3 pitches
Cunning Stunt Country Area > (c) The Country
5.10c/d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b Sport
Slow Children Lower Town Wall > (C) Main Wall, left side
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b Trad
Thin Fingers Lower Town Wall > (D) Narrow Arrow & fu…
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Trad
Even Steven Inner Walls > Toxic - Tang Area
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c Trad
Japanese Gardens Lower Town Wall > (C) Main Wall, left side
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a Trad 4 pitches
More Classic Climbs in Index »

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