Type: TR, 75 ft
FA: Alex Martinez 6/8/09
Page Views: 8,065 total · 68/month
Shared By: Eliza Penick on Aug 13, 2009
Admins: Scott Coldiron, Jon Nelson, Micah Klesick

You & This Route

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Three fun expanses of brick wall, separated by cement ledges. Brick is uneven with lots of little holds and pockets. Route will depend on which side of the tower you choose to climb. Watch out for the cement ledges, from underneath they look positive, but they are slopers!
You can also spend an enjoyable afternoon traversing around the base of the tower.


The tower was built as a water reservoir in 1906, but is now empty. It is located in the middle of Volunteer Park in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood. Address: 1247 15th Ave. E
From the inside of the tower, choose your window & anchor spot & that will decide which side of the tower you'll climb.
We climbed the east facing side, just to the right of a tall, very leafy tree.


Climb the inside of the tower and rig an anchor to one of the fixed metal banisters. Feed the rope through the window grating onto the ledge & then use a stick to drop the rope over the edge. Belay from the top, inside the tower. Once the climber reaches the top they will need to be lowered down, as all the windows have grating.
chrishar Hargarten
Bishop, CA
chrishar Hargarten   Bishop, CA
Nice FA! Apr 15, 2011
Really fun climb. For location alone its a classic. Many variations ranging from 5.8 to 5.10+ (imo).

An alternative to belaying from the top is setting up a traditional TR. Most carabiners will fit through the grating at the top, the only concern being rope drag which can be easily nullified with slings. Oct 10, 2012
Hellow every one.

My question is about if it is illegal to boulder the water tower's base, only a few inch from the floor. Thank you! Mar 4, 2014
Jon Nelson
Redmond, WA
Jon Nelson   Redmond, WA  
About kike's question, I am assuming it is about the outside, above the ground.

People have been doing the traverse for decades. In the late 70s, my climbing class instructor took us there to traverse. So, technically legal or not, traversing it is probably not going to be noticed. Mar 5, 2014
Eliza Penick
Seattle, WA
Eliza Penick   Seattle, WA
Sorry for the very delayed response, Kike.
It seems to be completely legal & fine to traverse around the bottom of the tower. While no one noticed on the day three of us actually did the ascent, I would imagine it is discouraged at the least (if caught) or involves a fine at worst. Happy buildering! Jul 16, 2014
As of about 1/1/2015, there is now a sign stating that it's illegal to climb on the historic structure. I guess it's time to put the Access Fund to work. Feb 28, 2015
Spent a few hours working the traverse on a bizzy Easter Sunday without incident. There are two spots you can traverse where the signs are not even visible. Really fun traverse for what it is. Apr 5, 2015
I was booted off the water tower during lunch today. I've traversed on the tower for over 40 years, never thought it was worth top roping, and have to think top roping, which is/was a relatively new practice at the tower, ruined a good thing. Jul 16, 2015
why are they "suddenly" noticing climbers? did anyone get hurt? I think the access fund would be a great option. Climbs like these are a real treat. As I assume its that no one wants to take responsibility for an incident, it could be backed up by solid bolts, or taken off private land? ...or we could have someone dance in a tu-tu to create a diversion. Aug 27, 2015