Elevation: 1,309 ft
GPS: 47.825, -121.562 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
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Shared By: Lizzy Trower on Jan 26, 2006
Admins: Scott Coldiron, Jon Nelson, Micah Klesick
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Memorial Day
75°F - 54°F 24°C - 12°C
Access Issue: Seasonal Raptor Closure: Upper Cheeks Details


Roughly midway between Seattle and Leavenworth lurks the sweeping, fine-grained granite of Index.

The climbing consists of 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 rugged mountain and river scenery, Index is also known for the heavy sounds of the trains that pass through as well as the quaint little town setting with its old mining and quarrying history.

Historically 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 are often ideal, with cool shady spots for midday climbing, though some walls will bake in the midday. Winters are generally wet, the area being wetter on average than regions east of the Cascades. But, as most cliffs are largely south-facing and the elevation relatively low, winter can have some very nice, though somewhat short, climbing days.

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.

The small mountain town of Index, 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.

For the latest conditions and happenings at Index, check out the "Climb Index!" Facebook group.

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 the road that leads to Index. The Mt. Index Brewery & Distillery is on the left where you turn.
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 at the road to Index, just before the Mt. Index Brewery & Distillery.

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.
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, consider parking at the parking lot for the Heybrook-Ridge trailhead, just over the bridge and off the Index-Galena Rd. Parking here adds only about 3 minutes of walking as compared to parking near the school. (The gate may be closed early in the morning, but if you came that early, you'd find spots in town.)

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.


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) Upper Wall Lower Cliffs.

3) 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:

545 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
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
5.10a 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
Trad 3 pitches
5.10b/c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b A0
Lovin' Arms
Trad, Aid 3 pitches
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
Davis-Holland Route
Trad 3 pitches
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
Slow Children
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
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
5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a
Iron Horse
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
Princely Ambitions Lower Town Wall > Main Wall, left side
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad 2 pitches
Godzilla Lower Town Wall > 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
Breakfast of Champions Lower Town Wall > Great Northern Slab
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad
Sagittarius Lower Town Wall > Main Wall, left side
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
Lovin' Arms Upper Town Wall > Central Wall Area
5.10b/c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b A0 Trad, Aid 3 pitches
Davis-Holland Route Upper Town Wall > Central Wall Area
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Trad 3 pitches
Slow Children Lower Town Wall > Main Wall, left side
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b Trad
Zoom Country Area > Country
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b Trad
Thin Fingers Lower Town Wall > Narrow Arrow & furthe…
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 > Main Wall, left side
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a Trad
Iron Horse Lower Town Wall > Main Wall, left side
5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a Trad
More Classic Climbs in Index »

Weather Averages

Days w Precip
Prime Climbing Season


This is probably one of the most underrated climbing areas around; I hope it stays that way. I learned to climb there; I hope the climbing and the town never change. Mar 21, 2006
The FA dates for routes in the 1980s in both the Smoot and Cummins guides are for the most part very inaccurate. For example, the FFA of Clay was after 1984 and Sonic Reducer was climbed well before 1984. Dec 30, 2008
Edit: I took the FA dates out of most of the routes I've added because I have no independent knowledge of when they were climbed. I'll stick to giving first hand info about routes I've done or have had experience with. Dec 31, 2008
Paul Shultz
Hudson, Ma
Paul Shultz   Hudson, Ma
I climbed here on the way back to Bellingham from the Bugaboos. I didn't do to many routes but its a gorgeous setting and I'd love to go back! Mar 15, 2009
Mike Rowley
Boise, Idaho
Mike Rowley   Boise, Idaho
Anyone have any information on EARLY spring climbing at Index? A buddy and I were thinking of heading up either late Jan or early Feb... What is weather typically like this time of year? Climbable? I appreciate any info! Jan 21, 2011
Mike - I've climbed in a T-shirt and fully bundled up for winter conditions at Index this time of year. Usually it's pretty wet and not too cold. If the weather hasn't been clear for a week I would say it would not be worth the trip up from Smith unless you wanted to aid climb. You can free climb pretty quickly after the rains stop, it's just that your choice of routes is pretty limited. Jan 21, 2011
Looking to do a mid summer trip (middle of July) and this looks to be a good cool option which isn't baking. Thoughts? Jun 30, 2011
geoff georges
Seattle, Wa.
geoff georges   Seattle, Wa.
in the suggestions for 1st pitch moderates Davis Holland being a 5.8 is off. Even if you are a solid 5.9 leader this is pretty challenging.
But some other moderates that are worth visiting:

Timberjack 5.8. *** I replaced the anchor here. Winky Dinky cliff
K dihedral 5.8 *** K Cliff
Plum Pudding 5.9 **** Middle wall ( recently cleaned 2012)
Hips and Valleys 5.8 *** Middle wall ( recently cleaned 2013)
Toxic Shock 5.9 **** Inner Wall
Lizard/ Taurus 5.8 *** Great northern slab
Rogers Corner 5.9 **** Lower wall
Princely Ambitions 5.9 **** 2P, Lower wall ( Skyvalley calls it 5.8)
Godzilla 5.9+ **** Lower wall
Quarry Crack 5.9 ** Lower wall
Morning Star 5.8 *** The Country wall
GM 5.9 **** 3P, The Country
Peanuts to serve you 5.9 **** Lookout Point
Battered Sandwich 5.9 *** Private Idaho
Wet Dream 5.9 *** Private Idaho
Magic Fern 5.9 ** Private Idaho Jun 25, 2013
A little while ago, I posted my intent to publish a new edition of sky valley rock (New Edition of Sky Valley Rock is the forum title). I had been trying to get in touch with Darryl for most of the summer, and it was fortuitous that I was able to through that post.

After receiving his go-ahead to publish a new guide, I recontacted Wolverine - who was originally interested in the guide - only to find that they had committed to other books, and now no longer had the financial resources to publish this year. But as a happy medium, they directed me to rakkup.com/, a Seattle based company putting out the only climbing guidebooks in the world currently downloadable as a smartphone app.

I've decided to team with them to work on getting the download released by next summer. For those not familiar with the product, I'd encourage contacting Rob or Todd (from the website above), or possibly downloading Exit 38, or 32, etc. But in brief, you download the app for a fixed amount of time: (2 months, one year subscription, etc), for a pretty nominal amount of money. In return, you have gps guided navigation (does not require cell signal to function) to anywhere at Index you want to go (Ever wonder where wall of 10,000 insects is? How to get to the Diamond? where an Act of Strange Boar is located? Etc). Once there, you can click on a variety of classic, distinguishing lines for the area, and get beta on them, as well as Rakkup's new "Belay View" which shows a detailed photo of the first 20 feet or so of the climb. This is one of the major advantages of the app, as you can have really as many beta photos as you would like, whereas a print book is limited in that regard.

My main interest is still to release an updated print guide that focuses on aesthetics, first ascentionists profiles, interesting blurbs about history, full-page spreads on some special routes, and basically doubles as a coffee table book. A big advantage of starting with Rakkup is that for many people, they won't have to wait as long as they would have to for the print guide to come out to get good beta on Index routes. The other advantage is that all the work done for Rakkup will be directly exportable from their software into the Adobe publishing suite used to create modern style guides.

I encourage anybody with good beta, or questions, to message me on this website. I can definitely use all the help I can get! Just today, I found my trusty and well-loved copy of Sky valley rock insufficient to find many routes at Lookout Point's walls, and the Diamond Wall area; as well as discrepancies between route and wall names between SVR and mountainproject.com. So I really have my work cut out for me!

Thanks ahead of time for the support! While I cannot give definite ETA's of the new books, Rakkup and I hope to start releasing the Index download around May - and I hope to be printing and publishing about this time next year. Wish me luck!

-Chris Sep 26, 2013
Sean C
Sean C   SLC
Coming from Arizona I had heard great things about the climbing at Index so we decided to go check it out. The climbing was awesome, and having camping right there made it even better. The over all experience here was nothing I've ever run into though, and not in a good way. I will say the majority of the people we talked to here were friendly, but we had multiple instances of people being complete jerks to us or witnessing arguments between other climbers for what seemed to be little to no reasons at all. A little disconcerting but nothing to keep us from coming back. However, after having a couple brand new cams stolen out of my backpack at the base of a climb I will say I'm probably not going to return to the area. I had heard Index was a little rough around the edges but this is just wrong. Unfortunate because this area has some great climbing. Just wanted to give a heads up to others that these are some of the things you may encounter at Index... even after only being there for a couple days.

Sean Jun 25, 2014
Jon Nelson
Redmond, WA
Jon Nelson   Redmond, WA  
Oh geez Sean, that sounds really bad. Sorry to hear it. And I wish there was some way you could get the cams back.

I haven't heard about Index being 'rough around the edges', just a little different. There were the squatters camped out indefinitely across from the parking lot for awhile, and Andy DeKlerk mentioned some strange things in the woods awhile back, but I haven't experienced anything rough or impolite about the climbers.

But it certainly wouldn't hurt for all of us to be extra-welcoming to visitors from afar.

Jun 25, 2014
I went to Index on 07/18/14 and was very impressed with the climbing, friendly locals and amazing beauty that surrounds the area but.... For those who do not know there has been a lot of break ins into peoples vehicles lately. I happened to witness a rock being thrown at a local climbers rear window while he was around the vehicle. The strange thing is that it was dark and they were in the woods without any light chunking rocks. If you go to the lower wall there is a railroad you have to pass to get to the wall. The locals say that when the train passes it is the best time for the crooks to break into your vehicle because it may take the train 5 minutes for the train to pass. Stuff like this happens all over crags all over the world but this is just a WARNING for travelers like myself who drive over 2000 miles to find some of the best climbing around. Jul 23, 2014
My car and several others were broken in to today at the parking lot along the train tracks. Don't have anything in your car to be stolen or park over by the campsite maybe. Also, if you have deer cameras or others of the like, it would be great to put these up (concealed of course) so the thieves are caught. Apparently, there have been many break-ins here this summer. Help stop this! Sep 7, 2014
Guy H.
Fort Collins CO
Guy H.   Fort Collins CO
We stopped here for a short afternoon on a road trip. We came back to our truck, as it was being scoped out. There was a lookout on the trail with a cell phone texting the person in the parking lot. I would think twice before leaving any gear in your car in this area. Jun 18, 2015
We spent a few days here. First day on the walk in a forest ranger warned us not to leave any valuables in the car, apparently break ins are an ongoing problem in 2016. Must be clever thieves to have this going on for 3+ years without getting caught.

Aside from that, we had no problems. All the climbers we met were friendly, and the crag seems to be in ongoing development with new routes, anchors, etc all going up even in the three days we were there. Sep 17, 2016
Matty Van   WA
The above comments would have one believe that getting your gear stolen is an epidemic. I've climbed at Index for a decade and have hundreds of days logged and have not once had my personal belongings stolen or messed with in the parking lot, at the crag, or anywhere else. Yes, there are thieves that roam the backwoods, though break ins tend to happen twice a year on average it seems, this hardly seems abnormal for trailheads or remote parking situations. In short, go climbing and let the universe sort it out. May 2, 2017
Regarding car break-ins: I've never heard of one happening to cars left in either the parking lots in town, or the parking lot where the camping is. Either one is - at most - about a 10-15 minute flat walk to the nearest crags; and less than 1 hr hike from even the least accessible crags at Index. The lot where cars seem to get broken into on occasion only saves you about 10 minutes walking time. So, if you're worried about break-ins, just consider making the extra walk. Jun 3, 2017
I was a bit hesitant to come and stay here based on some of the remarks about break ins. I have sensed no threats so far. The town folk are super friendly, wave to everyone. All the parking seems rather conspicuous. No reason to avoid this beautiful place. I suspect the only people around here who would value the climbing gear in your car is climbers... Jul 7, 2017
CLOSURE WARNING. 5/7/2019 We are going up this afternoon/evening to check out and potentially do some trundling around DHLA. There has been a lot of rock fall this week. I’ll post notes on trail and flagging, but if you see this or have friends going to upper town wall, let them know to stay off DHLA and anything next to it/ around the base this evening. Thanks everyone! May 7, 2019 · Temporary Report