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5.6, Trad, 280 ft, 2 pitches, Grade II,  Avg: 2.4 from 105 votes
FA: Pete Schoening
Washington > Central-E Casca… > Tumwater Canyon > Castle Rock > Upper Castle


First climbed in 1950, Saber begins from the far right side of Loggers ledge and reaches the top of Castle rock in 2 pitches. Look for a left angling ramp just to the right of a large, low roof. This is the start of Saber.

P1. Climb the left angling ramp to the base of a left facing dihedral. The rock in the dihedral has been polished to a slippery, disconcerting, mirror-like sheen. When you hit a diaganol crack heading up to the left follow it to Saber ledge. Belay from bolts. (~90 feet)

P2. A few easy moves (~5.5) on the left side of a wide chimney take you up onto emminently forgettable and blocky terrain. The climbing gets easier as you ascend, and I found myself on 4th or 3rd class terrain long before reaching the top of Castle rock (~190 feet).

I've stuck with the historical rating for this climb, which may be a bit of a sandbag-- a more realistic rating for the first pitch may be 5.6. Combined with the polished rock, this route is probably not the best choice for a fledgling trad leader. One star for history and for being an accesible moderate as well as a good place to booty gear, but I can't imagine wanting to do this twice.


Wires to 4"

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

First pitch variation.
[Hide Photo] First pitch variation.
Pitch 1, direct start and right side crack
[Hide Photo] Pitch 1, direct start and right side crack
Dan leading on the lower half of pitch 2
[Hide Photo] Dan leading on the lower half of pitch 2
Leading up the first pitch of Saber.
[Hide Photo] Leading up the first pitch of Saber.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

[Hide Comment] I agree that it's a bit of a sandbag. We started just to the right of the ramp and made a little traverse to get onto the ramp itself. The route moves left after the crack/ramp and traverses a bit until you get to a huge homemade anchor below the second pitch. We broke the second pitch into two pitches just to give others a chance to lead. You can walk off to the right and get back to your stuff. Apr 27, 2006
[Hide Comment] A fun easy route. Sep 13, 2006
chris t
cle elum,wa
[Hide Comment] Gotta appreciate those old petons for history sake! Worth the trip! Nov 6, 2007
[Hide Comment] As of July 23, 2012 beware of poison ivy on the second pitch deep in the large offwidth. It is easy to avoid and route your rope around it to the right. An enjoyable first trad multipich and one to take beginners on. Jul 24, 2012
C Hopwood
Salt Lake City, UT
[Hide Comment] The direct start, up the crack, is way harder than 5.6. I didn't realize people traverse in from the right. Sep 3, 2012
Matias Francis
Bozeman, Montana
[Hide Comment] I did this route on aug25 2013.... just wanted to let you know about 3/4ths the way up the crack on the first pitch there is ahornets nest... which i encountered with a hornet sting.... Aug 26, 2013
geoff georges
Seattle, Wa.
[Hide Comment] In keeping with history this route was rated 5.3 originally. The direct start 20' down and left of original start was A2, then freed by Beckey/Tarver at 5.9. The upper pitch one variation that many people do by mistake was also originally considered 5.3, but is more likely 5.6 or even 5.7. It is the finger layback up the white calcite corner. Standard route veers left up face with zigzag and horizontal cracks that are not obvious from base of white inside corner. May 8, 2014
  5.6 PG13
[Hide Comment] This was my first trad lead and I thought it was pretty fun. Definitely stiff for the grade the way I did it, but it was a blast with some very committing moves. The start was an awesome boulder problem, maybe V1 or V2. You'll notice that in the picture that after the boulder problem I started going right and then back left into the crack system. I'm not sure if that's the exact location in the picture but as you're making your way up after the boulder problem, you'll get to a point where it starts becoming an overhang, sorta. I didn't feel comfortable going up that overhang (also unable to place pro at this point) and saw some good holds to the right. At the time, I felt like that was the best approach to the problem.

After talking to a friend who did the climb a year ago, he mentioned an easier way: starting right and traversing left to the zig zag crack line and then working your way up the horizontal cracks (pictured below). I haven't tried this way.

My partners and I turned the second pitch into 2 pitches. The 2nd part of the second pitch is definitely a scramble, but you'll want to place some gear nonetheless.

I hope the pictures help. Jun 3, 2014
Jon Nelson
Redmond, WA
[Hide Comment] Nice photos Quy!

This was also one of my first trad climbs. Back then it was rated 5.4. I took a fall traversing in on a more difficult variation, and landed on the ramp that one was supposed to take... Jun 3, 2014
Las Vegas, NV
[Hide Comment] Enjoyable route! I went straight up the corner, which is certainly harder than 5.5 but really fun and well protected.

If anyone finds a black master cam on the second pitch get it back to me and I'll buy you some beers! Jul 9, 2014
[Hide Comment] There is a two volt belay station about 40 feet above saber ledge on the leftish side of the blocky corner. Using this station makes the last two pitches quite short. There are many boulders to sling at the top for making anchors. Jun 27, 2016
Vikram Sahney
Seattle, WA
[Hide Comment] Here is a video of climbing Saber and Midway Direct Aug 29, 2016
Michael T
[Hide Comment] Has anyone tried to pull the big, seemingly totally detatched flake off the first pitch? I've stepped on it, seen people place behind it, yet it's still there so it must be solid enough. But the more I climb that pitch the more that thing worries me. Mar 22, 2018
Wenatchee, WA
[Hide Comment] The green line (photo above, borrowed from Quy) is a very fun variation to the first pitch of Saber. Do the boulder move into the alcove then pull out left on face holds to fun, highly featured slab. A tiny bit licheny but overall clean. Jul 12, 2018