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Zig Zag

5.7, Trad, 200 ft (61 m), 2 pitches,  Avg: 2.6 from 176 votes
FA: M. Killien, D. Kloke (1963)
Washington > Northwest Region > San Juan, Fidal… > Mt Erie > (g) Main Wall > (b) Main Wall West


Zig Zag is one of the area classics, and one of the longest climbs on Mt. Erie. As described here, pitch 2 and 3 can easily be linked. From the top of Zig Zag there are several options. One can scramble gullies to the top of Mt. Erie, climb Springboard, or rappel the route.
Pitch 1
Climb the right facing corner onto a wide ledge at its top. From this ledge, hand traverse up a flake, eventually mantling onto its top. From here gain the slab and climb directly to the visible chains above.
Pitch 2
This pitch offers several options. The original route heads up discontinuous cracks and ramps on the slab to the right, ending at a belay on top of the snag buttress. Another option (better in my opinion) is to climb Undercover to the Springboard ledge on top of Zig Zag.
Pitch 3
Head directly up from the Snag Buttress to a ledge below a roof. From this ledge, undercling and lieback around the right side of the roof. The pitch tops out on another large ledge with a horizontal tree and a bolted anchor.


This route starts to the left of the Snag Buttress in a prominent right facing corner.
This is approximately where the trail meets the cliff.


Pro to 2", 2 or 3 chain anchors depending on how you pitch it out.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Pitch two of Zigzag
[Hide Photo] Pitch two of Zigzag
Maureen working her way up the fun corner at the top of pitch two
[Hide Photo] Maureen working her way up the fun corner at the top of pitch two
Sunset at the Main Wall
[Hide Photo] Sunset at the Main Wall
Crux of Zig Zag and classic Erie scenery. PC: Greg Smith
[Hide Photo] Crux of Zig Zag and classic Erie scenery. PC: Greg Smith
The start of zig zag, and several other routes.
[Hide Photo] The start of zig zag, and several other routes.
First half (or 3/4th) of first pitch of Zig Zag
[Hide Photo] First half (or 3/4th) of first pitch of Zig Zag
Maureen coming up the upper section of the first pitch
[Hide Photo] Maureen coming up the upper section of the first pitch
open book on the first pitch
[Hide Photo] open book on the first pitch
Looking south over Lake Campbell into Skagit Bay from the 3rd belay on Zig Zag.
[Hide Photo] Looking south over Lake Campbell into Skagit Bay from the 3rd belay on Zig Zag.
Looking down pitch two just before the fun corner
[Hide Photo] Looking down pitch two just before the fun corner
Looking up at Zig Zag Pitch 2.
[Hide Photo] Looking up at Zig Zag Pitch 2.
Looking up at the 2nd pitch. Follow the flakes up and right, and then up a right facing corner under a tree on a ledge.
[Hide Photo] Looking up at the 2nd pitch. Follow the flakes up and right, and then up a right facing corner under a tree on a ledge.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Curt Veldhuisen
Bellingham, WA
  5.7 PG13
[Hide Comment] THE moderate classic on Erie! First and third pitches are some of the best easy trad pitches around. Middle slabby pitch is not hard but has limited pro. Agree that Undercover corner to left is better climbing and gets you to the same spot. Feb 14, 2014
J Sundstrom
San Diego, CA
[Hide Comment] Rapped from the P3 anchors to the anchors for Frogs in Space or Pinhead. With a 60, you will BARELY... actually, you won't make it without some sketchy down climbing. Unless you're heavy. With a 70 it wouldn't be a problem. FYI. Jul 18, 2015
Kemper Brightman
The Old Pueblo, AZ
[Hide Comment] A good route with a great view and enjoyable climbing. Not to be missed. IMO the best way to do this route is in two pitches. First pitch heads up a corner then a hand traverse along a rail deposits you at a set of chains on the slab. There should be a set of chains to your right. From the left hand set of chains follow a couple bolts up to the crack feature, then head right and follow the feature all the way around to pull onto the ledge above. Two raps with a 70m from this ledge (with the fallen tree) gets you to the ground.

If you choose to do it the way its originally described, I found a couple #1 and #2 c3's were helpful to adequately protect the slab on the 2nd pitch.
Jul 18, 2016
Scott Brown
[Hide Comment] Climbed this route two weeks ago and the flake(the "hand traverse" leading to the slab) at the top of the first pitch actually moved a bit. there looked to be a thin crack at the bottom.. it would be a fairly hefty rock to drop onto your belayer... although there is a bit of a variation just to the right that was much more solid. Aug 11, 2016
Kyle Elliott
Granite falls
[Hide Comment] There's a fixed cam about 8' up, that appeared some time in the last few months. Jan 3, 2017
[Hide Comment] how did that cam even get there? the direction of force is up. Also, there is a nut on pitch 2 that looks easy enough to get out. Jun 29, 2017
[Hide Comment] Someone is messing with gravity and taking upward whippers. Oct 4, 2017
[Hide Comment] To access this trail, park at the penultimate kiosk on the way to the summit. The trailhead is to the right of that info board and switchbacks down the little cliff band. If you try to leave from the summit of mt. Erie, you’ll end up bushwhacking through rose bushes. Apr 28, 2018
Kyle Elliott
Granite falls
[Hide Comment] The better approach would be to park at the bottom of the mountain near a large white gate, and hike up. Stop at the bulletin board and check the map. After a few minutes, the trail comes to a T. you Head right, then take the first left uphill, OR you can turn left at the T, then uphill at the first right. this trail skirts right under the "adventure crags" before cutting left and up towards the main wall. it's about 10 minutes on a well-established trail. The guidebook available at the store can help with the maze of interconnecting trails. Apr 30, 2018
Jeffrey K
Seattle, WA
[Hide Comment] That flake is going to come off at some point, very loose. Probably wouldn't drop on a ZigZag belayer but LGK and Crackn the Code belayers could be in the line of fire. Place pro as if the flake will fall off with you on it. May 22, 2019
[Hide Comment] I felt like that loose flake at the end of the first pitch makes the move off the ledge on to the slab a little difficult to protect. Jun 10, 2019
Joshua Thompson
Seattle, WA
[Hide Comment] I've done this twice now and both times did it in two pitches, once with a 60m rope, second time with a 70m. I didn't even realize it was a 3 pitch route until I read it hear. However you do it, it's super fun! May 11, 2020
Ronald Malavotte
Wittmann, AZ
[Hide Comment] Pitch One corner facing right for around 40’ then runout over slabs to a place to setup a belay anchor.
Pitch Two. Ascend slabs then rightward crack system to a lie back ( a small bulge / roof ) this ends at a large tree that can be used for belay anchors.
Pitch Three. we went onto the limb of the tree to obtain a crack system and found an old piton to clip into. I think Fred Beckey put it there years ago. this is exposed 5.3 We rappelled the route. Jun 8, 2020
Michael Weiss
Oakland, CA
[Hide Comment] Loose flake towards the top of pitch 1 is still there. It was more in place than I thought it would be but it still obviously moved. It will "protect" with a 0.5 camalot or yellow BD stopper but I wouldnt recommend putting any gear in there. The move to get over it has bad feet so move slow and be careful. Undercover corner was awesome and the two bolts protecting the 5.9 slab to get to it are new-ish and not run out at all. Aug 1, 2020
Perry Gowdy
Phoenix, AZ
[Hide Comment] I hate to be so critical, but I'd barely give this route 2 stars.

P1: I'd give this pitch 1.5 stars. It protects well for the majority of the climb and has some reasonably fun stemming/jamming you can do but then leads to an awkward ledge with questionable rock. The flake Michael is referring to is definitely loose and would be of questionable strength to use for pro. As a result, I wasn't able to confidently protect this ledge pull. I placed a yellow, #2 Metolius in a shallow crack, and that was my last piece before the remaining 15-20 feet to the anchor. After gaining the ledge onto the slab, there are two sets of chain anchors. Use the pair on the left side (without hooks) to belay from for the 2nd pitch.

P2: I'd give this pitch 2 stars. Follow a long, runout, ramp like feature up a slab. I found this section exceedingly hard to protect. Be comfortable with 15-20 foot runouts on slab. To compound the problem, part of the slab was still wet from the day previous and it made the easy climbing a little more heady. Infinite holds and features on the slab, though, easy 5.5-5.6 climbing. After finishing the ramp/slab, you'll go left to a wide crack in a more vertical standing wall and the climbing gets a tad spicier but is much easier to protect. You then climb up a steep corner on your left with a small bulge at the top. This is the crux of the route. There are plenty of options for pro, but the corner requires a clear head. Probably 5.7, maybe 5.8, climbing as the holds are JUGS and all there, but you have to do a slightly awkward transfer from a layback into a wide slot to get your body into the top of the corner. More mental than anything. The anchors

First time out climbing at Erie. I was slightly disappointed, but I think I'd contribute some of my consternation to the route being slightly wet from the day before. I'll definitely be giving the area a few more chances! Jan 11, 2021
aaron fairbanks
Reno, NV
[Hide Comment] new fixed nut on p2. homie jammed in there pretty good. lemme know if someone manages to finagle that bad boy out i wana make sure my baby is in good hands. shes a red BD #13 Apr 3, 2022
Gosh Glance
Seattle, WA
[Hide Comment] Clarifying some confusing/misleading comments, since there's always a Mt. Everest-esque conga line to climb this.

P2 of Zig Zig is not runout- that is laughable- there are plenty of options for pro and it's entirely 5.5 or less except the extremely protectable last move or two to gain the Springboard ledge's chains, which are 5.7...

"P3 of Zig Zag" doesn't exist. Ronald's P3 description is actually it's own route, Springboard (heady 5.8, 3.5 stars; def do it!). Similarly, "P3" in the main route description also its own route, Constant Velocity (5.8), which has two versions; see topo on pg. 138 & route description on pg. 141. One version (i.e. that joins Springboard crack) requires more gear than the other (that joins Redemption, 5.9). Nov 18, 2022
Eric Onnen
Kenmore, WA
[Hide Comment] Pitch 2 is currently messy to protect with all the cracks completely filled with dirt and grass. Climbing Undercover is a much better option for pitch 2. A quick mid-week cleaning would bring this back to its classic status. Mar 27, 2023
Adam Starecheski
Huntington, VT
  5.7+ PG13
[Hide Comment] Classic! Crux protects very well, and feels exposed for the grade. Unfortunately the flake on the top of pitch 1 is scary loose and does not take gear which makes it a committing lead with potential for a nasty fall. Unpopular opinion: original pitch 2 is awesome and is a good exercise in finding sneaky gear. May 19, 2023
Kyle Elliott
Granite falls
[Hide Comment] There's a good hold just above and right of the flake. Gather your feet up as high as you can and reach up for it, and the flake can be (mostly) bypassed. Ideally the flake should be crowbarred off but it's been loose for over 10 years. May 20, 2023
Tyler Leedom
Bellingham, WA
  5.7 PG13
[Hide Comment] That loose flake on the top of zigzag should be pried off and a singular bolt placed to protect that move as there’s no way to protect that move there. Whoever is the unfortunate person to be pulling that move when the flake goes, will probably die…. May 5, 2024
a w e
[Hide Comment] Bro that block is going any where any time soon, I assume you're talking about the first pitch. Also, let's keep this climb free of the plague that is retro bolting. I know you're not saying bolt the whole thing but I feel quite strongly that this route especially should be left as is. Not to mention the fact that there is gear close to the block its just difficult to place. The person to potentially pull the flake off will get hurt, it is their belayer at risk of death. May 5, 2024
Tyler Leedom
Bellingham, WA
  5.7 PG13
[Hide Comment] Idk man, that flake is loose and will come off. When is anyone’s guess but when it does it’s likely going to kill the person on it. I am all for keeping the climb traditional. The only reason to place a singular bold would be to protect the move depending on what the route looks like sans the flake. May 6, 2024
a w e
[Hide Comment] Hey, maybe that block has gotten more wiggly since the last time I climbed it which was in late September. Eventually someone should pry it off so it doesn't hurt anyone, I am in support of that. It definitely spooked me the first time I climbed it. I just had to voice my opinion (again) about adding bolts to trad routes. There are a lot of development decisions made at Erie that I disagree with and I genuinely get worried that trad routes (even the classics) will continue to be bolted over. May 6, 2024
Tyler Leedom
Bellingham, WA
  5.7 PG13
[Hide Comment] I agree and think it should be removed……I am also not a fan of adding bolts to trad routes. Only if after the removal there was no place to protect…….we don’t have enough good trad in the area and need to preserve what we have May 6, 2024