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Moving from Philadelphia to Seattle


Original Post
Genevieve Lampinen · · philadelphia · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 15

Hello!  

I am considering relocating from Philadelphia to Seattle for a new job.  Looking for insight on the climbing scene in Seattle, versus the East Coast.  I currently climb mostly at the Gunks in upstate new york.  I'm into trad & sport.  I know things in Seattle are pretty wet most of the time.   How is the climbing season there?  Is it easy enough to find climbing partners?

Thanks!

Genevieve

Alex Kowalcyk · · La Conner, WA · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 65

I also relocated from eastern PA to here in the PNW. When I lived in PA I also only climbed in the Gunks because I didn't feel anything else within that vicinity was worthwhile. It can rain a lot in western WA, but usually from some point in May to October the weather is stellar, perfect, dry, and not too hot, while the Northeast is like a hot humid jungle in the summer. Often when it's raining on the west side, if you drive a bit further, Leavenworth may be dry, and if it's not too hot, the desert has climbing in Vantage (columnar basalt, can be good on sunny winter days). You'll be in vicinity to Squamish, which is world class. When that's out of season, usually Smith Rock is in, also world class, a bit further drive, doable for road trips. If you like granite crack climbing, Index will rock your world, local crag of choice for Seattle tradsters. There's not much notable sport climbing in WA. If you like any type of alpine climbing the PNW has a ton to offer, compared to the northeast which has almost none (except New England). I would say if you are serious about climbing, it is much easier to find similar partners here than in Philadelphia.

mediocre · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 0
Alex Kowalcyk wrote:

I also relocated from eastern PA to here in the PNW. When I lived in PA I also only climbed in the Gunks because I didn't feel anything else within that vicinity was worthwhile. It can rain a lot in western WA, but usually from some point in May to October the weather is stellar, perfect, dry, and not too hot, while the Northeast is like a hot humid jungle in the summer. Often when it's raining on the west side, if you drive a bit further, Leavenworth may be dry, and if it's not too hot, the desert has climbing in Vantage (columnar basalt, can be good on sunny winter days). You'll be in vicinity to Squamish, which is world class. When that's out of season, usually Smith Rock is in, also world class, a bit further drive, doable for road trips. If you like granite crack climbing, Index will rock your world, local crag of choice for Seattle tradsters. There's not much notable sport climbing in WA. If you like any type of alpine climbing the PNW has a ton to offer, compared to the northeast which has almost none (except New England). I would say if you are serious about climbing, it is much easier to find similar partners here than in Philadelphia.

That's the first time I've ever heard anyone use the word "perfect" in describing the weather here. 

calebmmallory · · Seattle, N.Carolina, &Hong… · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 410
mediocre wrote:

That's the first time I've ever heard anyone use the word "perfect" in describing the weather here. 

Same haha. Even the recent weather has been a little too warm... 

Genevieve Lampinen · · philadelphia · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 15

Thanks.  I'm mostly into trad and I have a tight community for that here that I'm hesitant to leave but it mostly centers around the Gunks.  I was in Seattle two weekends out of the past month and the weather was absolutely amazing.  On the other hand, was climbing in the New River Gorge this weekend and it was exactly what you described - a wet, rainy, jungle.

Dan Cooksey · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 365

From Pittsburgh.  You can't beat Squamish in the summer, Leavenworth is great and if you are into alpine, Leavenworth and the north cascades are baller.  You can climb a lot out in vantage in the winter.  It smells like piss and is Chossy, but takes care of the winter outdoor itch.  Plus it's not like you have a football or hockey team worth watching anyway, make the move!

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 483

32 sport is pretty good, a nice way to get in mileage after work on weekdays. If you're on the north end of town Index is totally reasonable after work too. That's a big advantage over the east coast. 

Darrington is amazing if you like friction slab.

Tieton is another option for trad, in the 5.10 range it has some stellar finger cracks. Aside from a column recently falling over (known movement for years) the rock quality there is much more confidence inspiring than vantage choss. I'll take lead falls on gear at Tieton, I won't at Vantage. 

Aaron Nash · · North Bend, WA · Joined Apr 2011 · Points: 216

I grew up in Allentown, spent some time in upstate/central NY, and then moved to the Seattle area 10 years ago. You won't miss the gunks.

The climbing here is way better than back east. 

The skiing here is way better than back east.

There are actual mountains here. Lots of potential.

About the only thing that the northeast has that is better is ice. WA ice is a labor of love; broken dreams, hopes and prayers and tired legs. Good thing Canada is close by...

The weather does suck pretty hard at times though if you're not in the rain shadow. Small price to pay I think.

PS: cheesesteaks, chicken wings, and pizza here suck worse than the weather does. PA does those things right at least.

Alex Kowalcyk · · La Conner, WA · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 65
Aaron Nash wrote:

PS: cheesesteaks, chicken wings, and pizza here suck worse than the weather does. PA does those things right at least.

+1

you forgot bagels, bagels suck here also compared to NY vicinity

SkyB · · PDX, OR · Joined May 2012 · Points: 0

And there aren't any good hard rolls either

slim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2004 · Points: 1,045

scrapple aint shit neither.

Chris Reyes · · Montclair, NJ · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 40
Aaron Nash wrote:

I grew up in Allentown, spent some time in upstate/central NY, and then moved to the Seattle area 10 years ago. You won't miss the gunks.

The climbing here is way better than back east. 

The skiing here is way better than back east.

There are actual mountains here. Lots of potential.

About the only thing that the northeast has that is better is ice. WA ice is a labor of love; broken dreams, hopes and prayers and tired legs. Good thing Canada is close by...

The weather does suck pretty hard at times though if you're not in the rain shadow. Small price to pay I think.

PS: cheesesteaks, chicken wings, and pizza here suck worse than the weather does. PA does those things right at least.

Rain is always the thing that scares me off of the PNW - seemingly biting into an otherwise amazing season. Being in a similar spot as OP (although in North Jersey and not PA), I make the case for the NE/New England as:

We can start fairly early here with trips to the New/Red (7.5/11 hour respectively) and local bouldering. That gets us going in Feb/March and come April/May we can get on rope in the Gunks (1 hr). Around June we start to get more sunny days and Rumney(5.5 hr)/Dacks(4.5 hr) become reasonable destinations. As it gets warmer in the south we can head north further into the Whites or chase shade/avoid the black flys in the 'Dacks while doing day trips to the Gunks. Best case scenario I'd put that at 8-ish months of outdoor climbing (and a lot of gas and time in the car, lol). Some years we seem to get into November and even December in the Gunks, other years we lose March, April and May to rain. 

From what I seem to see, you guys get a solid 6 months of climbing and then you're done for the other half of the year, right? But I guess that doesn't account for the quality of the rock, which while I think it's pretty great here - I'll leave to the more experienced folk to comment on.

Jason L. · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 40

From Seattle, a drive to Smith Rock is very doable and excellent climbing.  Eastern WA is pretty good too. If willing to add 6.5 hour drive to Smith, and 2 hour drive to vantage, goes from 6 months great weather, 2 months of iffy, to 12 months.

Genevieve Lampinen · · philadelphia · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 15

Another selling point for PNW - cheap, short flights to red rock, colorado, california, etc.  Seems like a weekend trips in the winter to good climbing locations will be much more doable from the PNW than traveling from/along the east coast

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 483
Chris Reyes wrote:

From what I seem to see, you guys get a solid 6 months of climbing and then you're done for the other half of the year, right? But I guess that doesn't account for the quality of the rock, which while I think it's pretty great - I'll leave to the more experienced guys to comment on.

Eastern WA is like another planet, being in the rain shadow it's much drier. While it's not the greatest rock quality in the world, you can get time in outside on basalt at Vantage. Both sport and trad. Sunshine wall has longer vertical routes to keep your endurance up and is true to it's name. I've climbed in a t shirt with snow on the ground in January. Lower town wall gets sun in winter and high pressure periods in January are the ideal time to climb your harder routes there.

Spring can be great, while it's hit or miss out west you can be assured to get mileage in at Tieton or Leavenworth. When the rain is holding off temps on the west side are perfect later in September and October. By November you'll get some good days and some that are too cold. 

DougEvolves · · orting,wa · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 20

i will happily belay  you on the condition that you bring me a burger from jacks firehouse, a cheesesteak from ginos (wiz wit), a pizza from any hole in the wall named ninos, two everything bagels (hold the creamcheese the stuff we have out here is legit) and a six pack of Yuengling.

seriously

Genevieve Lampinen · · philadelphia · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 15
DougEvolves wrote:

i will happily belay  you on the condition that you bring me a burger from jacks firehouse, a cheesesteak from ginos (wiz wit), a pizza from any hole in the wall named ninos, two everything bagels (hold the creamcheese the stuff we have out here is legit) and a six pack of Yuengling.

seriously

I will happily belay you on the account that you eat all of that after it comes out of my suitcase

shotgunnelson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2009 · Points: 5

You crazy. I get an eight month season here usually. Even this winter which was the worst on record I got out on dry days to Goldbar in January and February. Smith is easy to get to. The sport here is also more notable than anyone has said. Washington has a large collection of quality "small" crags and then Skaha is about the same drive as Smith from Seattle. Overhung soft well bolted routes or spaced bolts on slabs to vertical. We may not have the red here but it is pretty dang good. On second thought. Everything sucks here.

Genevieve Lampinen · · philadelphia · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 15
shotgunnelson wrote:

You crazy. I get an eight month season here usually. Even this winter which was the worst on record I got out on dry days to Goldbar in January and February. Smith is easy to get to. The sport here is also more notable than anyone has said. Washington has a large collection of quality "small" crags and then Skaha is about the same drive as Smith from Seattle. Overhung soft well bolted routes or spaced bolts on slabs to vertical. We may not have the red here but it is pretty dang good. On second thought. Everything sucks here.

It's all about being flexible!  

Jimmy Downhillinthesnow · · Bozeman, Montana · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 10

Don't move to Seattle, it's being overrun.

In all seriousness, I live in New England now and literally everything about the Northwest is better, including the weather (I don't ice climb). You won't regret it. 

JCM · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 95

I've lived in both the Northeast (MD and VT) and the PNW (Seattle), and can say with confidence that the climbing season in Seattle is longer and more reliable than in the Northeast. WA just has a lot more options to pick-and choose microclimates by going up or down in elevation and by going east or west of the mountains. Although it is generally wet on the west side from fall through spring, driving a few hours east gives you access to a much much drier climate. Vantage, WA gets less annual rainfall than Tucson, AZ. And during the occaissional week in the summer that it does get too hot around Seattle to climb comfortably, you can climb alpine rock.  

With some flexibility, a good understanding of the weather models, and a willingness to drive a few hours, you can generally find a good place to climb on dry rock just about every weekend from April through October. Add in some luck and a willingness to drive 6 hours to Smith, and you can stretch that to include March and November. Last year I climbed outside basically every weekend from mid-March through mid-November. You can also poach some nice dry winter days at Index most years. This year has started off the same way, and I expect it to continue.

You just don't have these sorts of options in the Northeast. The weather is usually pretty similar throughout the region, and you don't have the same opprotunities to play the microclimates game.

That said, this is a comparison of wet vs. wetter. if you want reliably dry climbing weather, move to CO, UT, CA, or AZ.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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