Best PNW/Seattle area climbing in late November?

Original Post
erin demarco · Sep 22, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 5
I'm flying to Seattle for Thanksgiving – Wed. Nov. 30. Looking for recommendations on areas, and routes. I will not be flying out with any trad gear, but would very happy to partner up with someone who does have it and is psyched. Also happy to clip bolts.

I'm looking for a great all-day route in a nice setting, or an area with good, long single-pitch options.... I'll have access to a vehicle.

I'm a beginner trad leader traveling from Boulder, CO. Lead sport up to about mid 5.11. Er, at least, I can get to the top if the crux(es) aren't too bouldery/powerful.

My initial thought is Index, but hope people will chime in with more specifics. Stoked to visit your area!


Dan Cooksey · Sep 22, 2016 · Colorado Springs · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 15
Check out Vantage (Frenchman's Coulee) 2 hours east of Seattle on 90. In November it is very probable that it will be wet.

But Vantage is usually dry and climbable all winter.

Hundreds of single pitch sport and some mixed in single pitch trad.

Dan Cooksey · Sep 22, 2016 · Colorado Springs · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 15
Oh and sometimes Leavenworth is really nice in November.

More multi-pitch trad and bouldering though.

Ashort · Sep 22, 2016 · Tacoma, WA · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 25
Best is setac airport, board flight to vegas or moab.

John Wilder · Sep 22, 2016 · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,495
I wouldn't count on being able to climb outside that time of year near Seattle- I usually just pack some shoes and head to SBP if I'm solo or a harness and shoes if I can talk a friend into going to Vertical World for some rope climbing.

If you can drive, Vantage or Smith may be fine. Index is highly unlikely, and I'm thinking Exits 38/32 will also likely be too wet except for the steepest stuff, which may seep.

erin demarco · Sep 22, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 5
@ashort HA. Wellll...

JCM · Sep 22, 2016 · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 5
Your options will be very limited.

The stuff of near Seattle, on the west side of the Cascades, is likely to be wet. You could get lucky and hit a November dry spell, which would allow you to climb at Index. Index is spectacular in cold winter temps, and get sun until 2 pm in the winter. Get there early to take full advantage of the sun. Be warned that much of Index is trad, the climbing is very demanding, and the grades are stiff. The climbing is not beginner friendly. Short answer: it is unlikely you will end up climbing anything at Index.

Exits 32/38 are usually a seepy mess that time of year, even if the sun is out.

Leavenworth can be OK in late November, or it could be wet/frigid/snowy/etc. Watch the forecast. More extensive moderate trad options there. Very limited sport climbing. Quality is so-so. The bouldering there is excellent, though, and may be worth considering.

Mt. Erie would work out well for you. It is about an hour and half from Seattle. Lots of moderate sport climbing, and although it is on the west side it is drier than Seattle, and much drier than Index, due to positioning within the Olympic rain shadow. Climbing is so-so, but the scenery is excellent. This is a good option, but still highly weather dependent.

Vantage will likely be dry and climbable, and offers extensive easy sport climbing of mediocre quality. Think North Table Mountain...same idea. A bit of a drive from Seattle. Might be chilly, especially at night.

Basically, climbing around Seattle in November blows, except for the rare sunny day at Index. These are great, but don't count of one happening according to your schedule. Expect to climb in the gym. Or chase early season skiing.

J. Manning · Sep 22, 2016 · Seattle, WA · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 210
Smith Rock is five to six hours by car, and if you take the east route, its very scenic (maybe looks like CO a little bit). Other places to check include Banks Lake (three to four hour drive), and Tieton (two to three hour drive). All of these areas (and Vantage) are in the desert, and can be nice, or really cold.

Ashort is right though, the best place for rock climbing in Seattle in late November starts with a trip to Seatac airport.

A better idea is to bring goretex and go hiking in a mossy forest or along any of the many bodies of water in the greater Puget Sound region or out on the Olympic Peninsula, experience some settings you don't find away from the coast.

Jimmy Sledd · Sep 22, 2016 · Bozeman, Montana · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 5
Another option that hasn't been discussed is Tieton, near Yakima. It's about a 2.5 hour drive, and the Royal Columns have some great routes that get sun and I've climbed there comfortably in the dead of winter...but the best routes there are trad. The sport climbing at the Sunshine Wall at Vantage is mediocre, but some of the trad lines are quite good, and I've climbed there in a T shirt in January.

I'm not quite so pessimistic about your chances of climbing at Index. The Lower Town Wall dries out very fast (generally a half day of sunshine is enough for many routes) and the best days I've had there have been in November or February. If you're in Seattle from Wednesday the 30th through that Sunday, I'd give you somewhere between a 30 and 50% chance of having a climbable day at Index. The best part is that if you do get a clear day, find a way to get there and people will generally be willing to swap belays or give you a TR ride. The winter community at Index is awesome.

You will definitely be able to climb at World Wall at Exit 32. However, you will be very cold, as it never gets sun, ever, and the climbing that stays dry starts at funky, slippery 11b.

shotgunnelson · Sep 22, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2009 · Points: 0
November is mostly a throw away month here. Even in the dry places everyone else mentions if you look at their yearly rainfall you will see that most of it shows up in November. It is lucky however that you are coming at the end of the month. Last year right after thanksgiving was some of the best conditions we had at gold bar and index but that was pretty rare. Icicle in leavenworth loses most of it's sunshine at that point so while it may be dry expect it to be pretty cold. Bring your stuff but don't be too disappointed if you are with all of us in the gym complaining about the lack of a fall season in Washington. If it is nice out hit me up and I would be down to get out for a day clipping bolts, plugging gear or wrestling pebbles.

shotgunnelson · Sep 22, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2009 · Points: 0
and if all else fails we have a lot of good beer that can help you forget the rain

erin demarco · Sep 23, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 5
This is awesome feedback, thanks so much everyone. Perhaps I won't be climbing after all, that's fine, plenty of other things to do. I guess I'll just see how lucky I am with weather.

erin demarco · Sep 23, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 5
@shotgunnelson I will hit you up if anything seems possible!

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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