Mountain Project Logo

Climbing in western Washington?


Original Post
Jude Coleman · · Moab, UT · Joined Feb 2018 · Points: 0

Moving back to Bellingham in a few months and wanted to get an idea of the climbing scene in western Washington.  Any tips for the area/suggestions on good sport/trad spots would be so appreciated..also wondering realistically how late into the year it’s possible to climb. I grew up in Seattle so I’m familiar with the weather, but have never climbed in the area. 

Kyle Elliott · · Everett, WA · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 565

Bellingham has a few smaller crags plus Mount Erie reasonably close where it's possible to climb on any given day of the year. Your best bet in northwestern washington for dry weather.

Most people will say just make the drive to squamish. Index and squamish are the exact same distance from Bham. About 2 hours. 95 miles.

Darrington and Newhalem aren't far. Both have a shorter season, particularly darrington. 

Most of the more popular washington crags are quite a drive from bellingham. 

Conor Pesci · · everett, wa · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 0
Kyle Elliott wrote: Bellingham has a few smaller crags plus Mount Erie reasonably close where it's possible to climb on any given day of the year. Your best bet in northwestern washington for dry weather.

Most people will say just make the drive to squamish. Index and squamish are the exact same distance from Bham. About 2 hours. 95 miles.

Darrington and Newhalem aren't far. Both have a shorter season, particularly darrington.

Most of the more popular washington crags are quite a drive from bellingham 
+1 on this comment.  Unfortunately, Bham is a strange spot for access to the mountains. Erie is your best bet for consistent close climbing. Squamish and Index are 100% worth the drive.  If you want to go 3+ hours you can get out to Leavenworth and/or Washington Pass/Mazama/Winthrop (when the gate is open).  Bham is a great town but you have to be willing to drive for climbing.  
Curt Veldhuisen · · Bellingham, WA · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 601

Posts above have nailed the main options, but I'll add this: The abundance and variety of climbing here is AMAZING, the climbable weather is what's limited. But there are all sorts of weather windows if you are flexible (time and location), know your crags and make good use of the wealth of forecast info. Welcome back and good luck

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

It's hard to give recommendations without knowing more about your preferences for types of rock. If you're like me and enjoy long granite crack climbs, you may think Mt. Erie rather sucks. (I live 15 minutes from it, and I think it's rarely worth my time. And I would definitely disagree that it is climbable any day of the year. While it is drier than everywhere else, not by much.) Depending on your style of climbing, proximity to Squamish alone could make Bellingham the best place to live in WA. Essentially, Squamish will be your local crag for day-trips. Simply. World. Class. Depending on the year, I'd say there are plenty of opportunities for climbable days from April-October, with July-September being incredible. The rest of the year, climb inside or you can make trips to Smith Rock for dry weather (maybe excluding Dec-Feb), or 2-day trips to Vantage. WA has tons of good trad and alpine. Sport not so much..

Chris C. · · Seattle, WA · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 337

Bellingham is pretty much the heart of alpine climbing in WA. Buy some crampons and go wild!

Kyle Elliott · · Everett, WA · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 565
Alex Kowalcyk wrote: It's hard to give recommendations without knowing more about your preferences for types of rock. If you're like me and enjoy long granite crack climbs, you may think Mt. Erie rather sucks. (I live 15 minutes from it, and I think it's rarely worth my time. And I would definitely disagree that it is climbable any day of the year. While it is drier than everywhere else, not by much.) Depending on your style of climbing, proximity to Squamish alone could make Bellingham the best place to live in WA. Essentially, Squamish will be your local crag for day-trips. Simply. World. Class. Depending on the year, I'd say there are plenty of opportunities for climbable days from April-October, with July-September being incredible. The rest of the year, climb inside or you can make trips to Smith Rock for dry weather (maybe excluding Dec-Feb), or 2-day trips to Vantage. WA has tons of good trad and alpine. Sport not so much..

Any day its not raining, there's dozens of pitches that dry in minutes at Erie. Obviously you can't really climb during a downpour, but I climb there pretty much all winter long. 

Jude Coleman · · Moab, UT · Joined Feb 2018 · Points: 0
Alex Kowalcyk wrote: It's hard to give recommendations without knowing more about your preferences for types of rock. If you're like me and enjoy long granite crack climbs, you may think Mt. Erie rather sucks. (I live 15 minutes from it, and I think it's rarely worth my time. And I would definitely disagree that it is climbable any day of the year. While it is drier than everywhere else, not by much.) Depending on your style of climbing, proximity to Squamish alone could make Bellingham the best place to live in WA. Essentially, Squamish will be your local crag for day-trips. Simply. World. Class. Depending on the year, I'd say there are plenty of opportunities for climbable days from April-October, with July-September being incredible. The rest of the year, climb inside or you can make trips to Smith Rock for dry weather (maybe excluding Dec-Feb), or 2-day trips to Vantage. WA has tons of good trad and alpine. Sport not so much..

Currently my preference is I’m stoked on everything. I was worried about not being able to get in consistent climbing but between VITAL and all those good weather windows it sounds like I’ll be okay. 


Thanks for all the input y’all!!
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Post a Reply to "Climbing in western Washington?"
in the Pacific Northwest

Log In to Reply