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Routes in Blueberry Hill & Proxima Wall

Ancient Melodies T 5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c
Blueberry Buttress T 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Dark Rhythm T 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
Jacobs Ladder, 5.10b A-1 or 5.11b T 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
Westward Ho T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Type: Trad, 1000 ft, 7 pitches, Grade III
FA: Clark Gerhardt, Bill Sumner 1972
Page Views: 4,507 total, 99/month
Shared By: Curt Veldhuisen on Mar 1, 2014
Admins: Scott Coldiron, Nate Ball, Jon Nelson, Micah Klesick

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Description

The Blueberry route is a popular Darrington classic that has more feel of an alpine rock route than a crag climb. It is the easiest route up spectacular Exfolation Dome, the west face of which has been nicknamed “Blueberry Hill” for the wild blueberry bushes on many ledges. The alpine character applies to the climbing, which has sections of clean crack and corners interspersed with blocky scrambling and occasional bush pulling (thankfully scrappy cedars, not blueberries).

Blueberry Buttress is a compelling feature splitting the West Face of Exfolation Dome. Although not especially technical, this route is physically demanding with the Granite Sidewalk approach and deproach providing an added challenge physically, and for many, mentally. Do your homework, pack lots of food/water and headlamps....and your camera of course.

The well-traveled 7-pitch version attains Blueberry Terrace, a broad ledge around 2/3 of the way to the summit. From there, you can continue to the summit via scruffier climbing, or get started on the tricky rappel descent. The route-finding is fairly straight-forward and adds to the adventure, so is not described here in detail. The basics:

The Start: Above a large white snag find the obvious fist crack leading to a cedar bush (see photo). Continue toward a prominent right-facing corner on the buttress crest.

The Right-leaning Corner: Cimb the corner (slabby to right, overhanging on left), passing semi-wedged flakes and two bolts (5.8+). Make an airy step leftward (5.8+) out of the corner back onto the buttress.

To Terrace: Several more pitches of scenic crack and block climbing on the broad crest to Blueberry Terrace.

Terrace to Summit (optional, but definitely worth a visit!) : Walk left to the far end of the Terrace (~100 yds beyond turnoff shown in Smoot's Falcon guide). From there, scramble up and leftward until you see a bolt. Two short pitches (5.8 max) lead up and left until you can drop slightly left to unrope and walk to the summit.

For a more detailed pitch-by-pitch description, consult Weekend Rock: Washington by Whitelaw.

Descent is by double-rope rappels, and DOES NOT follow the climbing route. From Blueberry Terrace, either: 1. Rappel (skier's) left off slinged trees to the West Slabs and bolt anchors of the Westward Ho route, or 2. Find the top of the Dark Rhythm route which is several hundred feet (skier's) right of where Blueberry Buttress reaches the Terrace. Although Dark Rhythm has all bolted anchors, the line wanders a bit and finding anchors while descending may be tricky. Westward Ho is a more straightforward line and clearly visible from the Buttress route on the way up.

Location

The approach follows the Granite Sidewalk, a broad slabby ramp described well in the writeup for neighboring route Dark Rhythm. The Granite Sidewalk is fairly steep and long and you would not want to tumble or even contemplate such a grisly fate. Many visitors will appreciate sticky approach shoes or even comfy rock shoes for this approach. It is both direct and memorable, though!

Protection

Standard trad rack. Bring long slings (24-48"”) for tying off trees and reducing road drag. Approach shoes or loose climbing shoes desirable for the approach
Curt Veldhuisen
Bellingham, WA
 
Curt Veldhuisen   Bellingham, WA
 
Interesting Dougie, folks have been climbing around those flakes for years because they looked pretty well wedged in. But a long-time local just reported that the flakes in the corner - and some others higher up - are now a LOT more loose than they've been in the past.

So best for everyone to AVOID this route for now and hope that Ma Nature does some housekeeping up there this winter! Oct 6, 2017
Dougie DougDoug  
5.8+ X
Crux dihedral is sustained but fair for the grade, exiting the dihedral is a blast, a few modest run outs but nothing too terrible or unexpected, fun mix of slab and crack moves.
HOWEVER:
The crux dihedral contains many loose, hollow sounding blocks with the potential to significantly alter your belayer's body, and the following pitch mainly climbs the fractures separating detached, hollow sounding sections of slab (might a fall on a cam send the entire pitch tumbling down?!?). Sep 27, 2017
Diana Y
  5.8+
Diana Y  
  5.8+
To rap off the summit, look for two bolts on the south-facing side (rap #1). A double rope rap on 60m's will get you to chains that are difficult to see (rap #2). The next station is fairly straight down (rap #3). The chains after this are climber's right -- do not go left and get stuck in the trees (rap #4). It's clean slab raps from there on out. Jul 16, 2017
RitwikB  
Not far from Seattle, but feels really remote. The birch forest cathedral you drive through to get there is special - in the meanwhile the car sides and undersides are being buffed by green grass, green leaves and (mostly) green branches.

You could park immediately *before* the first wash or immediately after the second. Hike up the second wash, the buttress and approach will become obvious within 5 to 10 minutes. The buttress is *not* visible initially. This is emphatically the right way to go (insert description of a couple of hours spent scouting various gullies following the "start up the gully at the end of the road" approach)

When you get cliffed out, look for a small bent pine on climbers left that allows you to bypass the cliffage and get on to the Granite Sidewalk proper. The Granite Sidewalk is an amazing feature - a long tongue of low angle slab. Sticky rubber is nice.

P3 ("Right Leaning Corner") is an awesome pitch. It is the clean corner on the climbers left, not the mungy corner right above the belay (insert near epic off route adventure here). Early in the day (before the sun hits the buttress), it is hard to see the second bolt and the off route bolts from the belay. Also, the "airy traverse left" is quite a bit further up the corner.

We broke up the last pitch in two (1) trend up and somewhat right into a left facing corner with old tree (and tat?) and (2) more or less straight up to run out but low angle slabs. This brought it up to a total of seven pitches.

In general, the pitches are long and would be difficult to combine.

Rapped off at the (climbers) right edge of Blueberry terrace towards the Westward Ho route. One rap off a tree+fixed-tat and rest of bolts/rap-ring on clean slabs. Last rap to base of route off tree+fixed-tat. All two rope (with 60m ropes) raps except the last one.

At least in a few places you are climbing a slab next to an offwidth - would be somewhat runout without a big (#5 or #6) cam. But manageable - it is quite a ways to hike those big boys up there. We did it with doubles to #3 and found it to be ok. Jul 15, 2015