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Routes in Green Giant Buttress

Dreamer T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Dreamer Direct T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b PG13
Urban Bypass S 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
Type: Trad, 1000 ft, 10 pitches, Grade III
FA: Chris Greyell, Duane Constantino (1979)
Page Views: 22,412 total, 178/month
Shared By: Matt Perkins on Aug 12, 2007
Admins: Scott Coldiron, Nate Ball, Jon Nelson, Micah Klesick

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Description

Dreamer is the most famous route in Darrington, and with varied climbing at a moderate grade it is deservedly so. The route is located on a remote crag reached via a poorly maintained access route, it is ten pitches long, and the descent via rappel provides plenty of opportunities to get a rope stuck. It includes some interesting and challenging crack climbing in addition to several spectacular pitches of knobby face climbing, in a pristine mountain setting with magnificant views.

Description and Topo:
mattsea.com/Darr/green.htm

Location

To reach Green Giant Buttress, drive five or six miles up the Clear Creek logging road from the Mountain Loop Highway southeast of Darrington, and take the right (main) fork. In less than another mile, pass the parking area for the Eightmile Creek trail, and continue on as the road deteriorates (the rocky roadbed is passable by normal cars, but some drivers will be squeamish about their paint job as the alders constantly sweep the side of your car). In another mile and a half or so, there is barely room to turn around and the road takes a distinct turn for the worse. The road ends entirely a few hundred yards beyond this point.

The route to Green Giant Buttress starts out on an old extension of this logging road, but after a half mile drops to an older mining road. After this ends, continue on to cross a side fork of Copper Creek, bear slightly leftward and follow the main fork to a series of three waterfalls. A tiny gully heads up and right into the maples and opens up to a larger gully that is followed all the way to the base of the rock. Scramble up and right to the traditional staging area, which is a few hundred feet below steeper rock above. There is no real landmark here, but there are a few small cedars standing straight up whereas above this point everything is more bushy looking.

Protection

The route requires gear to three inches. On one pitch, the "blue crack" pitch, one can save (hoard) their 1" piece lower down, but an extra piece in the 2 1/2 " - 3" range is helpful.
Steph Abegg
Bellingham, WA
Steph Abegg   Bellingham, WA
Some approach beta photos....

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Jul 16, 2016
oretro  
FYI - the pink flags diverge into two different routes at the base of the waterfall. Do NOT follow the pink flags going up the waterfall. These were likely placed there by a man we met on our descent who likes to explore the Bornite Mine: ghosttownsofwashington.com/…

Turn off where at the base of the waterfall with the red rope and the cairns. The pink flags you want to follow will be inside of the tunnel, which you will find at the base of the waterfall.
May 7, 2016
So we got suckered in to the waterfall tour on our way to climb Dreamer yesterday. We crossed the creek and headed across the boulder field and followed orange flagging tape to a "kind of tunnel" and proceeded to bash our way up the climbers left side of the of the rock,following the tape as we went until we ran out of tape. We finally admitted that we "are off route" and went back to the base of the waterfall. What we saw was that you can follow the tape for about 20 minutes from the creek. Then at the base of the waterfall , someone has placed a long length of dark red tubular webbing on a tree AT the entrance to the tunnel along with a cairn. Yes, we walked on by it. Don't, just don't do that. Unless you want to see what a 7/10 cascade bushwhack feels ,tastes and sounds like do not walk past the red webbing and do not,for the love of god, follow the orange flagging tape beyond. Any way after we got to the start of the climb, which is different than the base of the rock, we did 2 pitches and got rained off. The tunnel approach felt like a highway after the 'schwack, but beware the wet slabs on the approach can be slippery and a fall not inconsequential. The snow field is down to about 50 feet long but getting on and off from the top required braveing a bit of a moat. Apr 28, 2016
Jon Nelson
Bellingham, WA
Jon Nelson   Bellingham, WA  
Hi Andrew,

Yes, serious. Sure, some guy will probably take the stuff down eventually, but in the meantime, it would help many people -- and perhaps help to form a more well-trodden trail after which bright tape is no longer needed. Apr 27, 2016
Andrew Jylkka
Vancouver, WA
Andrew Jylkka   Vancouver, WA
Jon Nelson, is that a serious request? I'm heading up tomorrow and could do that. I'll update this comment with our take on the approach and climb.

Update update: Forgot to mention, we got about a half-mile past the 8 mile creek trailhead, only to find the road blocked by 5 or 6 fallen birch trees. They're all 12"-18" in diameter. I'd suggest the next person bring a saw, you could easily drive in another mile.

Update. Attempted the climb on 4/28. Like the person below me says, the tunnel is marked by the red webbing. I also added some pink tape up into the tunnel itself.

As for the climb, we never really made it onto it. The whole feature was covered in fog even after we crossed the snowfield, so we kept looking for the "highest cedars". We made our way too far to the right, convinced ourselves that it must be the route, and started up in search of some bolts. Right when I realized that it couldn't be the route, the fog lifted and revealed the line was way to our left, separated by a gully that I couldn't get across.

If you see a cam, don't go towards it, you're way too far right. The line looks beautiful, and I'll be heading back for it hopefully later this year. Apr 27, 2016
Jon Nelson
Bellingham, WA
Jon Nelson   Bellingham, WA  
Would the next guy please PLEASE take a roll of bright pink trail-marking tape and mark it enough that we can all find our way there in the dark?

It's getting exhausting just reading these comments...
(Thanks for helping though.) Apr 12, 2016
Becca! You're commentary is fantastic. My partner and I got completely f#%^ by the approach twice last June. We thought we'd spend a casual Saturday climbing Dreamer and then head to WA Pass for a casual Sunday climb as well.

That did not happen, however. Saturday we spent the ENTIRE day chasing waterfalls and six hours straight bushwhacking through the gates of Mordor (aka Maple, Devils Club, etc etc etc). Worst bushwhack I've ever done and I've had my share (I actually think I may be a bit sadistic because I slightly enjoy a hearty 'schwack).
We didn't see the gully on the right, so we climbed up the granite waterfall slabs for ever-DO NOT DO THIS...once we ascended high on the waterfall slabs, we could see the gully across the dense forest but could not traverse over to it because it was trending diagonally away from us; not feasible. So the next best option (seemingly at the time) was to bushwhack to the base of the granite directly from the top of the waterfall/gully-SERIOUSLY DO NOT DO THIS. There's nothing but dense forest and it will take you forever and you will become cliffed out. There's not really a safe way to scramble the cliff band over back to where Dreamer is. You essentially have to go up the gully or you're not getting there.
So after hours of climbing (literally) up and down alder, maple, and other pokey forest shrubs we got back to the top of the granite the waterfall runs down-down climbing that is more adventuresome (read: spicey) than the ascent is. Side note, anyone else feel the Vibram rubber on their La Sportiva shoes aren't the same confidence inspiring compound as it has been in years past???

We managed to find the gully once we got back to the base of the waterfall. No obvious cairns. The one cairn we found was up the maple/alder tunnel approximately 25-30 feet into the gully. Jeezus. What use is a cairn that's already up the trail it's marking?!

So, since we didn't climb Saturday and figured out the approach (well, at least entrance to the gully), we decided to stick around and attempt the climb Sunday.
Sunday morning we got a decent start from my van thinking the approach would be fast since we "knew where we were going". Well-the gully is easy enough (Becca eluded to some of the extent of it), but figuring out where the start of the climb is is another ball of wax. We finally figured it out (3rd class adventure scrambling and deciphering...all the cedar stands looked the same to us) and climbed the first three pitches before we decided to call it a day.

I'm stoked to go up again this year and finish the climb...hopefully.

Moral of the story: read the other comments (Serge even hooking it up with GPS coordinates!). Leave early-this is essentially an alpine climb or should be treated as such.

Gully is found to the right of the base of the waterfall, maybe biased a bit before if I recall correctly. There's a maple tunnel that guards the first bit of the gully. Once in the tunnel it's an uphill slog via white granite slabs of various degrees of pitch. One weird, steep spot that is not granite slabs and is eroded; we went to the right of the erosion via root climbing, skirting the erosion until we could meet back with the obvious gully again in approx 100 yards.

The pools at the base of the waterfall are perfect for stashing cans of beer, cider, food as well as post schwack and/or climbing soak. :) Apr 12, 2016
The route (Dreamer Direct) starts near 48.1473, -121.6613. Low-angle unprotected scramble to a belay anchor at 48.1473, -121.6618, which is where pitch 1 starts.

Park at 48.1428,-121.6290 (if your have a truck/suv and are willing to get its sides scratched a little) Oct 10, 2015
J. Manning
Seattle, WA
  5.9
J. Manning   Seattle, WA
  5.9
Do this climb! Still the best 5.9 multipitch I've been on, anywhere. Don't miss the view from the 'top.' Probably best when temps are reasonable due to the cliff's aspect and the significant amount of friction climbing. I think the trail could use some additional traffic to remain obvious, but for whatever reason coming down did not look at all like it did coming up. Make sure you turn around on the approach and take note of key changes, seems possible to get disoriented out there. Aug 15, 2015
Jon Nelson
Bellingham, WA
Jon Nelson   Bellingham, WA  
Thanks Becca!

I particularly like that 'awesome like me' part. Don't we all tend to chase the waterfalls? Jul 9, 2015
BeccaS
Seattle, WA
BeccaS   Seattle, WA
2 things:

1) In the summer, this crag gets direct sun basically all day. So climbing on a particularly hot and sunny day with no cloud cover is kind of the worst--ok, like actually the worst. I have burn blisters on my hands and feet that will testify to that.
2) The approach is no joke. Depending on how far your car can get, plan on 2 hours car-to-crag if you are a cruiser, a good route finder and a hotshot. If you are awesome like me and get lost and distracted by waterfalls, plan on closer to 3. To get to there, drive as far past the 8-Mile Creek trailhead as you can get. Then start hoofing it. Eventually, the road continues on into the forest. After about 40 or so minutes of leaving your car, you'll drop down into a dry creek bed and hear water. You'll then cross a shallow creek aided by a pointless rope. Just a few minutes later, passing old pipes and continuing on the well-trodden path, you'll get your first glimpse of the Buttress through the trees and your first thought will be "Holy crap! It is still so far." At this point, you'll be out of the trees. A couple minutes later, you'll hop across some boulders for a couple minutes before you get to a series of small waterfalls and pools that feel amazing to soak in after coming off the rock. What you DON'T want to do here is run up the slab of the waterfall only to realize you can't reach the route from the top and then have the horrifying experience of downclimbing back to the bottom. What you DO want to do here is look for the cairn to the right of the waterfall that points you to a small brush tunnel. You'll be hacking your way through brush for a just a couple minutes, but it will be enough to make you momentarily question the life you have chosen. Stand up and you will get whacked in the face. Bend down and your pack will get stuck. If you are worried that there aren't any thorny bushes to stick you as you squeeze through the brush, don't be. Plenty of roses and blackberries will gladly grab you as you pass by. Once you're done running the brushy gauntlet, the path will open up and you'll be scrambling over some boulders. Right in the middle, there is a SUPER sketchy deteriorating rope that you can decide to trust (or not) to aid you over a biggun. You'll then come to a little sandy bowl with 3 distinct and equally intimidating ways to get up and over it. Door #1 to the left has a 4mm cord hanging from a rock that supposedly helped someone out at some point. Door #2 let's you play Indiana Jones as you carefully try out each rock to see which ones will bear your weight and which ones will drop you into the pit. Door #3 to the right is all sand and madness up to the top. Pick your poison and just trust that other humans have done it before...probably. Once you get out of the bowl, it's basically anyone's guess as to where to go as there is no distinct trail and the cairns are scarce. What you DON'T want to do is head left and out of the trees and up the slab as that will take you off route and you will have the horrifying experience of downclimbing until you're back on track. What you DO want to do is basically make as straight a line to the base of the rock as possible staying close to the trees on the right-ish. Once you get to the tallest cedars (compare to the topo), head up just slightly to the left and gear up. You can start the climb from just above the cedars. This will add an extra part-pitch. Or you can just scramble up the slab 100 or so feet (I'm bad at judging distance) to an anchor with a rappel loop where I believe is actually supposed to be where the first pitch starts. Have fun. Jul 7, 2015
Johan
San Francisco, CA
Johan   San Francisco, CA
We approached yesterday April 26 2015 and found the valley covered with patches of recent snow and much of the rock soaked from a wet week. There were waterfalls across the Green Giant Buttress, and slab-climbing was clearly a non-starter. We had sort of anticipated this (there were snow patched alongside the road in), but we were hoping to give the first few pitches a try. We had not accounted for how treacherous the final bit of the approach ("3rd class" slab) would be with all the wet rock. You definitely want to climb this in dry conditions. The approach to reach the toe of the Green Giant Buttress itself is manageable. Apr 27, 2015
John Van Sickle
Seattle, WA
 
John Van Sickle   Seattle, WA
 
In the blue crack I could have used a second #2 (gold) camalot.
South-ish facing. Sunny, 80° and an occasional breeze for our climb. Would not want to do it on an 85° day with still air. Aug 24, 2014
Annaconda
Seattle, WA
Annaconda   Seattle, WA
Did this recently as my first climb in WA state. A few notes:
1. Park at 6.2 miles on the road at a clearing - it gets bad quick after that.
2. On the approach, look very carefully for the gully up to the climb - if you find yourself bushwhacking steeply through maple and devil's club, you're off track. It's a rocky tunnel through the greenery, after the first stand of evergreens on the right of the stream.
3. Definitely print the topo if you don't want to get off route. Or accept that you'll have an adventure :).

Worth the trek!!! Jun 21, 2014
Alex Mitchell
Cincinnati, OH
Alex Mitchell   Cincinnati, OH
Don't get sandbagged by the approach! We were not moving super fast but even so it took us almost 2 hours! We did the first 6 pitches. Lots of great slightly runout slab climbing on chicken heads. More of a head game than actually hard climbing. For what we did of it was super sweet! Jul 5, 2013
Jeff Hebert
Seattle, WA
Jeff Hebert   Seattle, WA
If you find yourself off-route or confused near the start, consult this:
mattsea.com/Darr/pdf/dreame… May 12, 2013