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Darrington

Washington > Northwest Region

Description

The climbing area traditionally called "Darrington" is a collection of granite domes in the Clear Creek and Squire Creek drainages south of the town of Darrington. Other climbing opportunities in the area include the "D-Ton Boulders," in the White Chuck River drainage about twelve miles southeast of town, and a crag and some boulders on the south slope of Spring Mountain, about eighteen miles southeast of town. Whitehorse Mountain, immediately southwest of town, makes an excellent ski outing in early season during years of high snow cover. The mountains in the area near Darrington include Glacier Peak, Sloan Peak, Whitechuck, and Three Fingers. There is plenty to do around here.

The mountain valleys around Darrington have a remote feel and, except along highway 530, cell phones generally do not work. The scenery is fantastic, and the climbing is varied. The area has seen steady climbing activity for nearly fifty years but rarely do any of these destinations become crowded. The granite in Clear Creek and Squire Creek features multiple pitch routes on generally clean granite with many leading to a summit. Bolt protection is common but traditional gear is generally required. The bouldering at D-Ton offers a variety of problems, mostly in shade, with a very short approach. Spring Mountain has climbs from one to seven pitches on heavily featured rock, with boulders in deep woods below the cliff. Just a few of the routes and boulders in the area are featured here.

The town of Darrington is changing. Formerly centered around mining and logging, the town now caters more toward tourism and a recreation economy and, in recent years, locals have opened a coffee shop, a brewery, a pizza place, etc. Snohomish County, the Forest Service, and the town have worked with the Washington Climbers Coalition and other recreation and access oriented groups to preserve access and promote recreational use in the area for hikers, climbers, boaters, and horse people.

On the west slope of Cascades, Darrington receives two or three times the annual rainfall of Seattle. The area is heavily vegetated and trees grow even on top of boulders or granite domes. Many climbs may remain wet for a day or two after a prolonged wet period.

Information on D-Ton Boulders and Spring Mountain is available here on Mountain Project. Information about the climbing in Clear Creek (Green Giant Buttress, Three O'Clock Rock, Exfoliation Dome, and Squire Creek Wall) is here as well. A PDF guide is downloadable atmattsea.com/Darr .

Getting There

Darrington is on highway 530, about 30 miles east of I-5 at the Arlington, Washington exit. All of the climbs discussed here are approached on Forest Service roads, which are generally well maintained but may sometimes be unsuitable for low clearance cars or even blocked altogether by fallen trees or landslides.

The Squire Creek Road (Forest Service 2040) heads out of the old downtown at the west end of the old main street. The Clear Creek Road (Forest Service 2060) departs the Mountain Loop Highway just under three miles from the main intersection with a gas station and mini mart in the center of town. The White Chuck Road (Forest Service 23) departs the Mountain Loop Highway about nine miles from town, just after the turn off at the new White Chuck bridge. Spring Mountain is on the North Fork road, Forest Service 49, which departs the Mountain Loop Highway just before the bridge over the North Fork of the Sauk River.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Green Giant Buttress
[Hide Photo] Green Giant Buttress
Close up of Exfoliation Dome from Three O'Clock Buttress.
[Hide Photo] Close up of Exfoliation Dome from Three O'Clock Buttress.
Green Giant Buttress.
[Hide Photo] Green Giant Buttress.
Great views east down Clear Creek from the summit of Exfo. Dome.
[Hide Photo] Great views east down Clear Creek from the summit of Exfo. Dome.
Looking up the North Buttress of Three O'Clock Rock (climbers on Silent Running)
[Hide Photo] Looking up the North Buttress of Three O'Clock Rock (climbers on Silent Running)
Comb Buttress from Three O'Clock Rock.
[Hide Photo] Comb Buttress from Three O'Clock Rock.
Voodoo Peak and Exfoliation Dome.
[Hide Photo] Voodoo Peak and Exfoliation Dome.
Under the Great Arch on Three O'Clock Rock.
[Hide Photo] Under the Great Arch on Three O'Clock Rock.
Espinosa nearing the two bolts on the route,  and the crux.  West Buttress 5.8
[Hide Photo] Espinosa nearing the two bolts on the route, and the crux. West Buttress 5.8
The West Buttress of Exfoliation Dome
[Hide Photo] The West Buttress of Exfoliation Dome
Darrington sunset, Three Fingers peak on the left
[Hide Photo] Darrington sunset, Three Fingers peak on the left
Comb Buttress (on left) and Three O'Clock Rock (on right)
[Hide Photo] Comb Buttress (on left) and Three O'Clock Rock (on right)

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Matt Perkins
Seattle, Washington
[Hide Comment] As of 7/2010 the updated website address for my partial on-line guide ismattsea.com/Darr Jul 12, 2010
[Hide Comment] Glacier Point Apron, Tuolumne slabs, and the Squamish Apron are mostly glass. Sandstone friction has loose sand grains. But Three O'Clock Rock has outstanding friction properties (haven't been to the other crags yet but I imagine it's the same story there). There is little or no shoe creep on the granite and diorite knobs of Three O'Clock Rock. Jul 10, 2013
[Hide Comment] Hey all!

Is anyone heading up to Slab Daddy any time soon? I was up there Saturday, and when we rapped down, I forgot my shoes at the base of the first pitch. They're a pair of green La Sportiva Tarantulaces.

Please shoot me a message if so!

Thanks,

Pat Aug 10, 2015
Curt Veldhuisen
Bellingham, WA
[Hide Comment] Heads up that the Clear Creek forest road (#2060) that accesses 3 O'Clock Rock, Exfo and Green Giant is getting some road repairs done this summer, which will require short-term closures. The work is scheduled to start in July and should be limited to weekdays. Great news for long-term access, though! May 25, 2018
Adam McFadden
Portland, OR
[Hide Comment] Had my car window smashed and food/some clothing stolen out of my car here last weekend. Make sure to leave your car as empty as possible. This happened at the eight mile trailhead for three o'clock rock.

I talked to the sheriff and break-ins in this area are not infrequent and there's little to no chance of getting your stuff back when they happen.

Another party saw a silver pontiac (likely sunfire or grand prix) driving out as they were coming in. The driver had a large glove on one hand and was driving a bit erratically. Definitely didn't fit the picture of a typical visitor to the area. Be wary if you see anyone coming in with this description. Sep 4, 2018
T Grump
Skagit Valley, WA
[Hide Comment] Beware!
After spending a day at 3 O'clock rock we found a large tree blocking the road. Someone had intentionally dropped it across the road with a chainsaw about a mile from the highway.
It might be a good idea to carry tools for self extraction. Caught unprepared, we had to wait for a friend as darkness fell and banjos twanged...
A ranger told me it was most likely the work of timber thieves. Still a bit freaky. May 12, 2019