Best town/climbing community in PNW


Original Post
Pam D · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 0

I'll be moving to the Pacific Northwest to be closer to my kids...but I want to live somewhere the climbing and climbing community is great. So please help me out! Where is the best climbing (all kinds of climbing) and climbing community in the PNW?

Jon Nelson · · Bellingham, WA · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 4,500

Hi Pam,
For Washington, it seems like the Seattle and Seattle-area (Eastside) climbers are pretty satisfied with the community and various nearby climbing options, except perhaps with dry rock in winter. Getting out of traffic can sometimes be an issue though.

Bellingham, Leavenworth-Wenatchee, and Spokane have smaller communities, though still plenty of climbers.

Going really small and rural, Index and Mazama probably have a high fraction of climbers as residents.

Tobin Story · · Woodinville, WA · Joined Feb 2010 · Points: 0

I live in the eastside Seattle burbs (Woodinville), and am generally satisfied with overall life balance between work availability/cost of living/access to climbing and climber community. We have great access to weekend rock, good gyms for bad weather/after work climbing, and good access for other recreation like skiing, backpacking, etc. Like Jon mentioned, traffic can be a bit of a bear - I spent about an extra hour in traffic coming back from Leavenworth on Sunday night, and forget about trying to get anywhere during normal weekday rush hour. I'm pretty content with where I live, but if I could live anywhere in the state and wasn't concerned about work, I'd aim for Wenatchee or Leavenworth - generally drier, shorter access to climbing, cool smaller communities - seems like a nice balance to me.

Pam D · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 0

Thanks for the info! I am moving from a small town and I miss the energy of a city...as long as I can get to the mountains to decompress. Will definitely look in the Leavenworth-Wenatchee area.

Alexander Stathis · · Athens, GA · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 0

I haven't lived there specifically, but you could look into Portland or Bend, OR. Smith Rock is close (3 hrs and <1 hr, respectively). My experiences there were all positive, and the people were very friendly.

Elinor · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 0

Bend, OR is great for climbing as well as pretty much all other outdoor activities!

Pam D · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 0

Thanks for the replies. I will look into Bend and Portland. Those areas are still close enough to my kids in Seattle to consider. Tony: how long did you live in Durango? I've been here for 14 years, been climbing the same routes at the same areas for 14 years. It's time for a change! And good timing to sell my house.

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 120

Bend isn't tiny anymore, but it isn't exactly a big city. It is also the biggest town for quite a long way. 3 hours out from Portland, more or less, lots more in a bad snow.

If you do go for the Portland area, and are looking to buy a house, shop around on both sides of the river. Washington might be a better deal, especially for property taxes.

Pete Spri · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2009 · Points: 115

Leavenworth, WA or Bend/Redmond, OR

Jplotz · · Wenatchee, WA · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 490

Wenatchee really isn't that special. Seattle is a much better choice. Anywhere West of the Cascade Crest. We're a red state devoid of all culture East of the crest, especially of you're looking for the vibrance of metropolitan area. A bonus of living in Seattle: you get to write Seattle-informed Yelp reviews of all the shitty East side restaurants.

Pam D · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 0

So is the Seattle Freeze a real thing? Or just something my kid made up...there's no telling with him.

mediocre · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 0

The Seattle freeze is real, but everyone's experience varies. I hate to break it to you, but you shouldprobably just go take an extended trip an bounce around for a little while. It'll be culture shock from Durango, but in my opinion, it has a lot more to offer.

Healyje · · PDX · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 100

Bend

ryanb · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2008 · Points: 0

The freeze is a real part of Seattle culture but no one in Seattle is from Seattle anymore so it's not that big a deal. And climbing is a great way to get around it...most of my closest seattle friends were climbing partners at one point. (I was born in the area and lived there until a few years ago).

If you like granite I'd look north of Seattle though. Everette, Lynwood, Anacortes, Bellingham etc depending on how big of a town you want and how much money you have. There are a few really nice sounding climbing gyms being built up that way and you're close to Index, Washington Pass, Squamish, Mount Erie, Gold Bar, Leavenworth, Mazama and a bunch of smaller crags and boulders. And you won't have to deal with Seattle traffic for after work cragging.

The Bend area is great too but very discovered. Spokane is somewhat of a mountain town with some cool stuff going on ... I'm impressed every time a road trip through there. Western Montana (where i am now) is also great but a bit far.

Pam D · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 0

Thanks for all the info...guess I've got my work cut out for me! Culture shock?? Lots of experience with that. Culture shock was moving from SoCal to Durango and learning that it doesn't violate any Stepford Wives covenants to wear hiking boots in the grocery store.

Mike Brady · · Van Diesel, OR · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 551

Portland is an awesome city with a solid, positive and active climbing community. That being said we have had a boat load of growth in the city which has led to some major difficulties and expenses regarding renting or buying a house, that and the local crags are pretty weak.

My experiences with the Bend climbing community have been very positive and the access to climbing out there is pretty damn good. Bend is not a small town as someone has already pointed out and there may be housing issues out there as well.

You will get much higher quality rock if you move a bit further north than the Portland area.

tsherry · · Portland, OR · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 298

I would vote Bend / Redmond / Terrebonne, OR area first. If you want to be in a bigger city Seattle or Portland.

lou · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 10

Hey Pam.... I know some climbers who live in Bend and absolutely adore it!! I hear a great outdoor vibe, lots of cool cafes and pubs. More sunshine than the west side of the Cascades. Weather somewhat similar to Durango. Lots of hiking, mt. biking, climbin, skiing. Im thinkin a lot of transplants... so maybe a frost but no freeze...lol.. And you wont feel like you are violating ur morals to wear your hiking boots in the store!!

cheers lou

JCM · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 5

The best climbing town in the PNW, by a huge margin, is Squamish. The climbing access is world-caliber, the town is about the same size (and similar vibe too) as Durango, and the community is very welcoming. It is reasonably close to the kids in Seattle (3.5 hours), and they will want to visit regularly since Squamish is so nice. The main downside is that is in Canada. If you need to find work this could be a significant issue, but if you are not looking for work this would be an inconvenience worth dealing with.

In the US, Bend and Leavenworth would be the top choices, as many have already pointed out.

With regard to the big cities (Portland vs. Seattle), you could debate all day which one is a better place to be as a climber (the correct answer is neither). I think Seattle has better climbing access, but some may prefer the culture of Portland. It really depends on your preferences. With the choice between the two being a toss-up, the location of you kids in Seattle, and how close you want to be to them, may tip the balance.

Bellingham, Anacortes, Everett, etc would also be a good choice for good climbing access and a more manageably sized town. The cost of living and the traffic in Seattle are becoming a significant deterrent.

tsherry · · Portland, OR · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 298
JCM wrote:The best climbing town in the PNW, by a huge margin, is Squamish. The climbing access is world-caliber, the town is about the same size (and similar vibe too) as Durango, and the community is very welcoming. It is reasonably close to the kids in Seattle (3.5 hours), and they will want to visit regularly since Squamish is so nice. The main downside is that is in Canada. If you need to find work this could be a significant issue, but if you are not looking for work this would be an inconvenience worth dealing with. In the US, Bend and Leavenworth would be the top choices, as many have already pointed out. With regard to the big cities (Portland vs. Seattle), you could debate all day which one is a better place to be as a climber (the correct answer is neither). I think Seattle has better climbing access, whereas Portland a more manageable city- less expensive and less traffic. It really depends on your preferences. With the choice between the two being a toss-up, the location of you kids in Seattle, and how close you want to be to them, may tip the balance.
Good call out on Squamish! We should throw Vancouver, BC into the ring too.
JCM · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 5
tsherry wrote: We should throw Vancouver, BC into the ring too.
Only if you have $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. Third least affordable housing market in the world, after Hong Kong and Sydney.

http://fortune.com/2016/01/25/least-affordable-housing/
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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