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Living in Seattle vs Portland

Original Post
Nick Hester · · Guntersville, AL · Joined Mar 2019 · Points: 51

I am graduating college in May and weighing moving and am between Seattle or Portland. I have job opportunities in both locations.

21 years old. Love trad climbing and some sport. Hope to get into mountaineering.

Can anyone provide insight from an outdoors prospective between the two cities and their access from downtown?

Gwillim · · Milwaukie, Or · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 48

Seattle is FAR superior from an alpine rock and mountaineering perspective (North Cascades, which is endless vs Hood).  Portland has a lot of nearby cragging  (100s of routes within 30 min), and Smith and Trout are both 2.5hrs away.  I'm not sure of the cragging opportunities in Seattle since I only go that way for the mountains.

That's my experience anyway, I'm sure someone has a different opinion...

F Loyd · · Kennewick, WA · Joined Mar 2018 · Points: 537

Seattle has access to plenty of good crags : The Exits, Frenchman, Tieton, Index, Leavenworth. The multipitch opportunities are endless. The rent is high and the weather on that side is dreary (they haven't had a sunny day since November 30th...). There's a lot to do, not just in Seattle but within a few hours drive too.
Portland, to me obviously,  has much less to offer outside of being slightly weirder than Seattle. 

bryans · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2006 · Points: 13

If you want to do longer trips and climbs - like classic multis, alpine snow/ice, granite splitters - move to Seattle for sure. But you'll need full days or multiple days to do do those things. They are all generally at least 1.5-2 hours away, at best, and without traffic. From what I can tell, there isn't a ton of climbing in Seattle you can do in just a 3-7 hour day trip, or after work.

By contrast, Portland is pretty weak for any of the above - and I say this as someone who has climbed in Portland for 20 years and has made many long drives up to Leavenworth, WA Pass, Goat Wall, etc. to do those kinds of climbs.  However, Portland does have a ton of single pitch crags with excellent sport and trad climbs within 30-45 minutes, and even more up to 1.5 hours (aside from Smith and Trout).

So if you want 4 star epic climbing on the weekends and are prepared to not climb real rock much during the week,  go to Seattle. Especially if you really want to get into mountaineering and not single pitch gymnastics.

But If you want lots of accessible cragging you can do all week long and don't mind driving an extra 3-5 hours for the epic stuff, Portland will do just fine. Plus Smith is truly amazing, enough so that lots of Seattle folks drive 6 hours to get there because it's evidently much better than Vantage or Tieton or the other east side WA crags.

PS  - Seattle has all the "we're a real city" attitude, Portland is still somewhat nice. The comments here might reveal this generalization, though. :)

Trevor Taylor · · Seattle · Joined Jun 2018 · Points: 120

I would say Seattle has quite a bit of after work cragging. I climbed after work probably 60+ days getting 6-8 pitches most days at the exits (however you probably need to leave work at 3 most days for after work cragging). I have done plenty of one day drives to Tieton, Vantage, and Index. The only issue is if you like to onsight and you are a solid 5.12 climber you will run out of after work stuff. I ticked a lot of my climbing on my profile, so if you wanna see what you can climb after work download the CSV.

rockhard · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 65

I think if trad is your focus vs sport, the obvious answer is Seattle cause of proximity to index. Nothing near Portland comes close

Daniel Bookless · · Portland, OR · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 550
bryans wrote: If you want to do longer trips and climbs - like classic multis, alpine snow/ice, granite splitters - move to Seattle for sure. But you'll need full days or multiple days to do do those things. They are all generally at least 1.5-2 hours away, at best, and without traffic. From what I can tell, there isn't a ton of climbing in Seattle you can do in just a 3-7 hour day trip, or after work.

By contrast, Portland is pretty weak for any of the above - and I say this as someone who has climbed in Portland for 20 years and has made many long drives up to Leavenworth, WA Pass, Goat Wall, etc. to do those kinds of climbs.  However, Portland does have a ton of single pitch crags with excellent sport and trad climbs within 30-45 minutes, and even more up to 1.5 hours (aside from Smith and Trout).

So if you want 4 star epic climbing on the weekends and are prepared to not climb real rock much during the week,  go to Seattle. Especially if you really want to get into mountaineering and not single pitch gymnastics.

But If you want lots of accessible cragging you can do all week long and don't mind driving an extra 3-5 hours for the epic stuff, Portland will do just fine. Plus Smith is truly amazing, enough so that lots of Seattle folks drive 6 hours to get there because it's evidently much better than Vantage or Tieton or the other east side WA crags.

PS  - Seattle has all the "we're a real city" attitude, Portland is still somewhat nice. The comments here might reveal this generalization, though. :)

nailed it

Daniel Bookless · · Portland, OR · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 550

As to your question regarding access from Downtown PDX and Downtown Seattle, per Google Maps at 3pm on a Thursday, it's 35 minutes from Downtown Portland to Broughton Bluff;  And surprisingly 38 minutes from Downtown Seattle to Little Si

Paul Morrison · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 10

Portland's almost twice as far from Squamish.

Nick Hester · · Guntersville, AL · Joined Mar 2019 · Points: 51

Thank you all

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

I’d honestly be happy living in either, so I’d go with where the career growth seems better. Also, be sure to visit the cities, they have similar but totally different personalities. 

Access wise, Seattle does have better access to the North Cascades if you want to get on a bunch of varied awesome alpine climbs. I did find myself going south a bit more frequently than north in 2019 though, so I don’t think you’d find yourself lacking routes.

Artem Vasilyev · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2014 · Points: 105

I haven't lived in Seattle but I dig Portland's laid back mid-sized city vibe. Things are cheap and the people are nice. I like that.

I don't think it's been a hindrance from a climbing perspective, as I have been getting out a ton, including night climbing on weekdays at local crags. It's generally uncrowded, which is also nice.

A negative is that the homeless people here seem to have a very special brand of crazy... this may be anecdotal, but holy moly.

Carolina · · Front Range NC · Joined Nov 2010 · Points: 60
Artem Vasilyev wrote: I haven't lived in Seattle but I dig Portland's laid back mid-sized city vibe. Things are cheap and the people are nice. I like that.

I don't think it's been a hindrance from a climbing perspective, as I have been getting out a ton, including night climbing on weekdays at local crags. It's generally uncrowded, which is also nice.

A negative is that the homeless people here seem to have a very special brand of crazy... this may be anecdotal, but holy moly.

Portlands cheap and homeless people are crazy.  Thanks for the update Artem!

Artem Vasilyev · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2014 · Points: 105
Carolina wrote:

Portlands cheap and homeless people are crazy.  Thanks for the update Artem!

If you have bone to pick and are dying to write something mean on the internet, at least make it clever lol. 

Evan LovleyMeyers · · Fremont, Seattle · Joined Mar 2019 · Points: 25
Gwillim wrote: Seattle is FAR superior from an alpine rock and mountaineering perspective (North Cascades, which is endless vs Hood).  Portland has a lot of nearby cragging  (100s of routes within 30 min), and Smith and Trout are both 2.5hrs away.  I'm not sure of the cragging opportunities in Seattle since I only go that way for the mountains.

That's my experience anyway, I'm sure someone has a different opinion...

I am from Portland but live in Seattle.  Cragging is better in Portland. small ones like carver and madrone are very close and great "after work crags. Than Ozone Smith and Trout Creek are amazing full day/ weekend. And there are many more.  

Seattle has the Exits on route 90. Nice cragging 1hr away. Leavenworth is 2ish hrs better all year. Goldbar is great bouldering just over an hr away. And index is beautiful granite trad my favorite. And LOTS of alpine rock scattered around. Plus the bonus of squamish only 3 hrs away.  

A sport climber might like Portland better and as a traditional guy I like it here in seattle
Evan LovleyMeyers · · Fremont, Seattle · Joined Mar 2019 · Points: 25
Gwillim wrote: Seattle is FAR superior from an alpine rock and mountaineering perspective (North Cascades, which is endless vs Hood).  Portland has a lot of nearby cragging  (100s of routes within 30 min), and Smith and Trout are both 2.5hrs away.  I'm not sure of the cragging opportunities in Seattle since I only go that way for the mountains.

That's my experience anyway, I'm sure someone has a different opinion...


Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Pacific Northwest
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