Fossil Rock Rock Climbing
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Crowds are generally low, since this area gets a bad rap for stories of bolted on river rocks, manufactured routes and "souvenir hand holds" but its really only found on a handful of routes, which all appear to be long forgotten 5.12 or harder routes and it less trafficked areas of Clearcut wall.
There is very little published beta on this area, as copies of the 1 and 2nd editions of the original guide to Fossil Rock are out of print and scarce to come by (originally published by our favorite FA team, Ford and Yoder :)
A few of most popular routes and good approach info can also be found in the guidebook " Rock Climbing Washington" by Jeff Smoot.
There are two ways to get here. From Seattle/Puyallup, go from HWY 512 through the towns of Spanaway, Roy and East Yelm. From the south (Olympia), take I-5 and go through the Nisqually Area. Either way, find East Yelm/Bald Hill Road on a map, and get there. It's very straightforward.
Once you reach Bald Hill Road, leading out of Yelm, continue south on this road, go LEFT at the next split and continue on B.H. Rd. (Bald Hill Rd).
Continue on BH Rd past the Clear Lake community. When the houses end, you will see an obvious parking area on either side of the road, where the Weyerhouser truck road crosses over BH Rd. There are gates on both sides, park on either side and be careful not to block the gates. Follow the gravel road on the north side of the road, skirting along the backyards of the lake community houses. From the gate, you will go 1.8 miles to the next intersection (this meets up with the other approach). Here, you will go right (uphill) past another yellow gate and up into the forest.
There is no legal access from Peissner Road, please respect private property.
Once you get into the forest, it's ALL uphill or at least flat. There are several branches to the trail, but you will stay on the main trail (if it looks well-traveled, you are on the right trail). Don't be fooled by the two right branches, just keep going up! You will get to a ridge on the right side with a clearing and a nice northern view.
From here, there are yet two MORE approaches! The Jungle Trail, and the Savannah Trail. They are both good but if you follow the Jungle Trail it will get you closer to the main walls faster (BOTB and BB walls). Just after the view, look to the right and see a dramatically steeper trail. This is the Savannah Trail. This will take you to the "backside" of the crag to "The Boulders," "The Hideout" and the "Madrona Gully" (to reach the crag summit without actual climbing).
To locate the Jungle Trail, simply follow along the main road. It winds up a bit further to a dead-end grassy clearing. This is called the "parking lot" in the Smoot book... don't you wish we could still drive up here?! Are you tired yet?
To this point, the approach has been 2.95 miles. From here, you can see "Tomahawk Tower" on the left side of the hill. Bike riders dismount and lock up here. Take the obvious but much smaller Jungle Trail into the forest upwards toward the crag for the final grunt up some slippery slopes. This trail dumps you at the base of "Cave Wall" (a crappy trail goes right up an even worse slip fest to "Hot Dog Tower") where there are about four un-named routes in the 5.11-12 range. This is where you can find some routes with bolted on holds, if you wish to see them.
If you go left at the Cave, the Jungle Trail takes you north around cave wall, under Tomahawks impressive looking 11b arete and up to the main climbing area, where you will find 3 main walls. Closest to farthest- Battle of the Bulge Right, Battle of the Bulge left, and the largest wall, Boyle bobbins Wall. Continue on up the steeper trail, passing Boyle bobbins wall to get to "Magics mikes Wall" and then the trail evens out and heads south around the crag base to end up in "The Boulders" area, where you can find the Madrona Gully trail to the summit, The Hideout wall, and the clearing that is the end of the Savannah Trail. ( this creates one big loop ) The only area that isn't well trafficked is the trail/ hillside that links the the Hideout wall to the Hot Dog tower. There is a fixed rope to aid in this endeavor.
A note on the trail that loops around the south walls that connects the Main Walls to the Boulders:
1) There is a LOT of Poison Oak. Do your research and know what it looks like. Poison Oak sucks.
2) Keep an eye peeled for stray bolted routes. There is currently no posted beta for anything NOT in the Smoot book. ( although we wish there was! ) If you're brave, Send it! and report back here with beta. There are plenty of unnamed/ ungraded bolted routes.
3) Same goes with the Boulders -- Lots of possible problems to be "re-unlocked" Take pictures and report back here!
Finally, I would just note that all though this area got a bad rep in the past, there could be a lot of potential for retro-bolting, re-grading, and adding beta to existing climbs, as well as cleaning and getting good traffic on these old forgotten routes, OR if you have an out of print guide, help fill in the blanks! The south Sound needs a good crag! I apologize if I'm stepping on anyone's toes here. Flames/ Beta/ corrections.. let me know!
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