Olympic Peninsula

Original Post
Zach Parsons · · Tacoma, WA · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 100

I'm hoping to get some beta on the Olympic Peninsula climbing scene. I live in Kitsap and it would be nice not to have to always go around the sound to climb.

From the Mtn Prj page I've gathered that there isn't much in the way of technical climbing and cragging. This was a bit disheartening.

I picked up the Mountaineers guide book and was glad to see there was an entire section on technical cragging, with some areas that look like they'd be well worth a visit. For example, the Elwha area caught my eye, but I can tell the book is out of date (published 2006) - the listed approach to the routes uses a dam that has since been removed.

None of the areas listed in the technical cragging section are posted up. I feel like there's got to be more out there. I'm mainly interested in trad/sport beta, I know that there is plenty to do alpine-wise.

Would appreciate any info, and if any local climbers are looking for a partner (trad/sport/alpine/whatever), hit me up!

Dobson · · Butte, MT · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 215

It's been a while, but I don't remember there being much in the way of enjoyable cragging on the Peninsula. The rock in the Washington/Ellinor region was okay. I haven't been climbing around the Cushman area, but it sounds better.

Honestly, the best cragging I remember was at Lake Angeles. Great lines of WI3 up to 90m.

Jon Nelson · · Bellingham, WA · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 4,695

Hi Zach,

The region could probably use some more people posting areas and routes -- such a large area with lots of mountains must have a lot to offer.

I rarely visit the peninsula, so can't help out. But after checking out some of the areas from the book, feel free to add them to the Mt. Project page.

Good luck with the exploring -

Benjamin Pontecorvo · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 140

Go to Cascade Climbers!

Pete Spri · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2009 · Points: 170

I think the biggest issue with the olympics is that the rock has a very "shale" quality and feel to it. Not a lot of great solid options for bolts or gear.

As you said, there is some good alpine stuff out there that is quite remote and hard to access. Long approaches and lots of weather keep the masses away.

Check out cascade climbers, lots more PNW on that forum than this one.

Ben Stabley · · Portland, OR · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 171

I was reading about that dam accessed crag too, and I recall reading about an alternative means to access it. As the other said, check out cascade climbers.

Andy Shoemaker · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 65

Zach- I've been exploring the Olympics for the last 5 years. Well more accurately would be, I explored the Olympics for a couple years and soon realized there is VERY little worthwhile climbing in the Olympics. There is a ton of fun scrambling and just amazing backpacking overall. But as far as quality technical climbing is concerned its pretty scarce.

The Elwha is the "dam" area mentioned above, access is fairly easy and totally legal. However the climbing is limited to about 40 routes, either way its worth a visit.

Mt Tyler also has some new sport routes being developed, you would want to talk to the guys developing though because access is quite tricky.

Other than that... there is quite a bit of bouldering being developed. But most of the "technical" areas mentioned in the Climbers Guide are full of very poor quality basalt and shale and are not worth climbing when there is a class 3/4 scramble that is MUCH safer and more fun compared to the awful quality rock.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Zach Parsons · · Tacoma, WA · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 100

Thanks to all for the replies.

I did some more digging and here's what I found:

There's a page on the most recent edition of the guidebook here. It has a nice map and good teasers - there is stuff out there(!), the Elwha Wall, Hamma Hamma Rocks, and Ellinor Towers stand out in particular.

Cascade Climbers has good info on the Elwha here. And a good thread on the access situation now that the dam is gone.

A general thread on routes in the area.

Couldn't find anything on the Ellinor Towers, but Mt. Cruiser looks cool, though I would't call it cragging, more of an adventure climb.

In short, I'll definitely be visiting the Elwha area in a dry spell, probably others, and will post up if I can find some locals/developers and they're on board.

Nat D · · Seattle, WA · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 765

I'll concur, cragging is not a strong point of the olympics. General mountaineering is great, if you just want to bag peaks, early season when the snow still provides good ramps up over talus fields, there is a lot of fun to be had. But the base rock is not great aside from a few hunks of solid stuff that were mixed in with the crumbly many eons ago. Overall though, the Leavenworth area is my favorite for day cragging, and even then there can be some long approaches. Nevertheless, just get out and have fun, anything beats a day on the couch!!

Zach Parsons · · Tacoma, WA · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 100

Went and scoped the Elwha wall out when I was last in the area. Access is easy (1 mile) and it looked good!

One 5.8, two 5.9s, a good assortment of 5.10-5.11, and a few 5.12s. All bolted sandstone. Worth a trip if you're in the area for sure (in the dry season).

Elwha 1

Elwha 2

Elwha 3

Drederek · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2004 · Points: 315

Living in Olympia I've checked a few of these places out, the Elwha Wall being far and away the best. Its felt somewhat similar to Fossil rock in eastern Thurston county, steep and just a bit funky. If I only lived an hour away I'm sure I would climb there a lot. For three hours of driving I'd rather go to Leavenworth.
Ellinor towers were a disappointment to climb, but fun to search out. There were still bits of flagging up along the "trail" 5-6 years ago when I checked them out.
The stuff up the Hamma Hamma looks interesting but I've never tried them, theres just not much there.
There is some fairly decent rock along Lake Cushman, as good as it gets in the Olympics, in the 8-10 range, mostly short and not steep.
Good Luck!

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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