Trad, 1000 ft, 7 pitches, Grade III,
Avg: 2.7 from 22
FA: Clark Gerhardt, Bill Sumner 1972
> Northwest Region
> Exfoliation Dome
> Blueberry Hill & Prox…
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.
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!
Standard trad rack. Bring long slings (24-48") for tying off trees and reducing rope drag. Approach shoes or loose climbing shoes desirable for the approach
Blueberry Butt starts at fist crack right of center then angles up and left
Overview of Blueberry Buttress route - optional summit finish dashed. Rappel symbols show approximate Westward Ho descent route
Espinosa nearing the two bolts on the route, and the crux. West Buttress 5.8
The granite sidewalk is really quite steep in some places. We measured 35º around this location.
From the bottom of Blueberry Buttress looking climber's right to Westward Ho!
From the bottom of Blueberry Buttress looking climber's left to Dark Rhythm.
From the start of Blueberry Buttress looking up the route.
Blueberry Buttress, pitch 7, looking down at the granite sidewalk.
Clean and airy climbing on pitch 6
Right-facing corner of pitch 4
Blueberry Butt seen from the Granite Sidewalk approach. The buttress follows the sunlit rib to the skyline.