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** Bouldering at Index 
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Index  Rock Climbing 


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Location: 47.8202, -121.556 View Map  Incorrect?
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You & This Area
Best climbs for YOU in this area
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [3 people like this page.]

2017 Seasonal Raptor Closure: UTW from waterfall to Golden Arch MORE INFO >>>

Description  

Roughly midway between Seattle and Leavenworth lurks the sweeping, fine-grained granite of Index.
Rock Climbing Photo: Above the Beach: Chris Kalman on Dead Reckoning at...

Above the Beach: Chris Kalman on Dead Reckoning at the Upper Town Wall. Photo: Thomas Ramier.


For a fairly compact area, Index has a wide variety of routes, many of them within 15-min of parking. Index is distinctive in other ways, from its rugged mountain and river scenery, to the heavy sounds of the trains that pass through, to the quaint little town setting with its old mining and quarrying history.

Historically a place mainly for crack aid-climbing, Index now has more free lines than aid. Through the 80s, most of the free lines were trad, but sport climbing accelerated in the 90s, and now Index has nearly as much sport as trad. In addition to cracks, there are lots of face climbs and a few friction slabs. Boulderers also rave about the quality of the bouldering here.

The routes range from shorter single-pitch routes to long 500'-high walls. Index is known for its hard climbing, but still has many climbs of 5.9 and lower. And a lot of the harder climbs have more moderate first pitches (see below for a partial list).

Summer conditions are often ideal, with cool shady spots for midday climbing, though some walls will bake. Winters are generally wet, the area being wetter on average than regions east of the Cascades. But, as most cliffs are partly south-facing and the elevation relatively low, winter can have some nice climbing days.

As the rock angle tends to be slightly less than vertical, and many cliffs top-off onto a sloping hillside, most routes get wet in a rain, with many continuing to seep for a few days after a heavy period of rain. However, a few steep routes stay dry in the rain. Most of these are on or near the Cheeks at the Upper Town Wall.

The small mountain town of Index, just below the cliffs on the Skykomish River, is a picturesque place to relax, hanging out near the river, park, or general store. When open, check out the displays in the historical society, just across from the general store.

For the latest conditions and happenings at Index, check out the "Climb Index!" Facebook group.

Getting There 

Drive east on Highway 2. Several miles past Goldbar, soon after crossing the bridge over the Skykomish, turn left onto the road that leads to Index. After going under the railroad, turn left on the arch-style bridge over the North Fork of the Skykomish. Go straight past the general store and town park to the T intersection at the second stop sign. For the Lookout Point Area, park somewhere around here in town.

For the other walls, go left past the Bush House, over the tracks straight through town, taking a sharp left toward the river, then a right where the road hits a T-intersection and stop sign. Continue along the shaded road, which parallels the river. About a hundred yards or so past the camping spot is the Lower Town Wall parking lot on the right. In another hundred yards or so is a pull-off on the left for the Lower Lump.

Camping 

Free camping exists just 100 yards or so towards town from the Lower
Rock Climbing Photo: Closing in on the anchors on Plum Pudding (5.9).

Closing in on the anchors on Plum Pudding (5.9).
Wall parking area. One can camp near the river or near their car. This area has become known as the Wagonwheel.

Moderate Routes 

Though having a reputation for hard routes, Index has plenty of moderates routes under 5.10. If you use the "Best climbs for YOU in this area" tool directly above (blue box called "You & This Area"), you can find over 60 full-length moderate routes. More exist in published guidebooks.
Rock Climbing Photo: Jeff Matsushita leading Senior Citizens in Space (...

Jeff Matsushita leading Senior Citizens in Space (5.8).


But in addition, quite a few of the harder multi-pitch routes have fun moderate first pitches. Some of these include

Lower Wall:
Sagittarius 5.9+.
Japanese Gardens (to 1st anchor) 5.9+.
Tatoosh (original finish) 5.9.

Lookout Point Area:
Rattletale 5.9.
House of the Seventh Bobcat 5.9.
Bowling to Biscuits 5.9.
And Say (left variation) 5.8+

Upper Town Wall:
Davis-Holland 5.9.

Inner Walls:
Even Steven 5.8.
Rock Climbing Photo: The crux of Freight Night (5.8+).

The crux of Freight Night (5.8+).

Toproping 

If you'd like to set up some topropes without having to lead an adjacent route,
Rock Climbing Photo: Starting up Hag Crag Crack (5.6).

Starting up Hag Crag Crack (5.6).
consider these areas:

1) Private Idaho.

2) Upper Wall Lower Cliffs.

3) Upper Wall, Lower Cheeks.

Grandeur Buttress at the Inner Walls, The Wart at the Lower Lump, and Garden Rock at the Side Walls also have a few possibilities. To find all labeled topropes, use the tool at left, and instead of "Show all route types", select "Toprope". You'll probably find other unlabeled topropes as well.

Climbing Season



Weather station 0.4 miles from here

417 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',90],['3 Stars',212],['2 Stars',85],['1 Star',26],['Bomb',0]
['<=5.6',2],['5.7',16],['5.8',17],['5.9',40],['5.10',111],['5.11',136],['5.12',59],['5.13',7],['>=5.14',0],['',0],['<=V1',4],['V2-3',4],['V4-5',1],['V6-7',3],['V8-9',4],['V10-11',2],['V12-13',1],['>=V14',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Index

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Index :
Pisces   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, 1 pitch, 65'   Lower Town Wall : Great Northern Slab
Senior Citizens in Space   5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 1 pitch, 100'   Lookout Point Area : Private Idaho
Aries (aka The Lizard)   5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 5 pitches, 250'   Lower Town Wall : Great Northern Slab
Godzilla   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch   Lower Town Wall : Main Wall, left side
Princely Ambitions   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 2 pitches   Lower Town Wall : Main Wall, left side
Toxic Shock   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch   Inner Walls : Notch, cave side (SW)
Breakfast of Champions   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 40'   Lower Town Wall : Great Northern Slab
Sagittarius   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 90'   Lower Town Wall : Main Wall, left side
Rattletale   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 3 pitches   Lookout Point Area : Rattletale Wall
Tatoosh   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 110'   Lower Town Wall : Narrow Arrow and further ri...
Lovin' Arms   5.10b/c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b A0     Trad, Aid, 3 pitches   Upper Town Wall : Central Wall Area
Davis-Holland Route   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Trad, 3 pitches, 400'   Upper Town Wall : Central Wall Area
Cunning Stunt   5.10c/d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   The Country Area : The Country
Zoom   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   The Country Area : The Country
Slow Children   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 100'   Lower Town Wall : Main Wall, left side
Heaven's Gate   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, Sport, 4 pitches   Upper Town Wall : Dana's Arch Area
Thin Fingers   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, 1 pitch, 120'   Lower Town Wall : Narrow Arrow and further ri...
Even Steven   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Trad, 1 pitch   Inner Walls : Notch, cave side (SW)
Japanese Gardens   5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a     Trad, 1 pitch, 200'   Lower Town Wall : Main Wall, left side
Iron Horse   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a     Trad, 1 pitch, 120'   Lower Town Wall : Main Wall, left side
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Index

Featured Route For Index
Rock Climbing Photo: topo

Scientific Americans 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a  Washington : Index : ... : The Country
Another rad pitch that sees almost no traffic. It was given .12a in the original Clint Cumins guide, which I think it definitely earns in relation to other lowertownwall classics. Begin on tenuous knob climbing via Little Jupiter (short version) or Big Science - Both of which end on a ledge 50' up. These are rated .11d or .12b respectively to the 50' ledge/anchors. From the ledge, clip a bolt and climb up and right into a fun and juggy flake (.10) which takes great finger-sized gear. After the f...[more]   Browse More Classics in Washington

Photos of Index Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: This is Index!
This is Index!
Rock Climbing Photo: Derek Pearson, pitch 4 of Little Fire on Duck Wall...
Derek Pearson, pitch 4 of Little Fire on Duck Wall...
Rock Climbing Photo: Base Jumper over Index Taken by S. Gellespie
Base Jumper over Index Taken by S. Gellespie
Rock Climbing Photo: Mt. Index. Photo by Blitzo.
Mt. Index. Photo by Blitzo.
Rock Climbing Photo: Above the Beach: Chris Kalman on Dead Reckoning at...
Above the Beach: Chris Kalman on Dead Reckoning at...
Rock Climbing Photo: Pulling the steep roof on P3 of The Brett Thompson...
Pulling the steep roof on P3 of The Brett Thompson...
Rock Climbing Photo: Mt. Index. Photo by Blitzo.
Mt. Index. Photo by Blitzo.
Rock Climbing Photo: Scenic and fun climbing at Lookout Point (start of...
Scenic and fun climbing at Lookout Point (start of...
Rock Climbing Photo: Old guidebook
Old guidebook
Rock Climbing Photo: January 2013 sunshine finally
January 2013 sunshine finally
Rock Climbing Photo: The start of He is Truly a Great Airplane (HITAGA)...
The start of He is Truly a Great Airplane (HITAGA)...
Rock Climbing Photo: On a beautiful clear day in February, 2016.
On a beautiful clear day in February, 2016.
Rock Climbing Photo: rainy day at index
rainy day at index
Rock Climbing Photo: Scrubbing routes at Index
Scrubbing routes at Index
Rock Climbing Photo: Abraxas
Abraxas
Rock Climbing Photo: Upper Town wall
Upper Town wall
Rock Climbing Photo: Index!
Index!
Rock Climbing Photo: The Golden Arch
The Golden Arch
Rock Climbing Photo: Guidebook to the Skykomish Valley, which includes ...
BETA PHOTO: Guidebook to the Skykomish Valley, which includes ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Walking the railroad tracks
Walking the railroad tracks
Rock Climbing Photo: View to Gunsight and Baring from the Lookout Point...
View to Gunsight and Baring from the Lookout Point...
Rock Climbing Photo: Upper town wall just before the sport wall from th...
Upper town wall just before the sport wall from th...
Rock Climbing Photo: Godzilla. Photo by Blitzo.
Godzilla. Photo by Blitzo.
Rock Climbing Photo: The top of upper town wall looking across  to Mt.I...
The top of upper town wall looking across to Mt.I...

Show All 24 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on Index Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jul 7, 2017
By jonah
Feb 9, 2006
Everybody should get Darryl Cramer's excellent guide to the area, Sky Valley Rock. But for a temporary guide if you can't find his, try: stanford.edu/~clint/index/
Not as user friendly, but gives you an idea of the area.
By Spanish John
Mar 21, 2006
This is probably one of the most underrated climbing areas around; I hope it stays that way. I learned to climb there; I hope the climbing and the town never change.
By Eric8
From: Maynard, MA
Apr 15, 2008
Most locals think the town walls are better than the cookie.
By dscramer
Dec 30, 2008
The FA dates for routes in the 1980s in both the Smoot and Cummins guides are for the most part very inaccurate. For example, the FFA of Clay was after 1984 and Sonic Reducer was climbed well before 1984.
By Drewsky
Dec 31, 2008
Edit: I took the FA dates out of most of the routes I've added because I have no independent knowledge of when they were climbed. I'll stick to giving first hand info about routes I've done or have had experience with.
By Paul Shultz
From: Hudson, Ma
Mar 15, 2009
I climbed here on the way back to Bellingham from the Bugaboos. I didn't do to many routes but its a gorgeous setting and I'd love to go back!
By Mike Rowley
From: Boise, Idaho
Jan 21, 2011
Anyone have any information on EARLY spring climbing at Index? A buddy and I were thinking of heading up either late Jan or early Feb... What is weather typically like this time of year? Climbable? I appreciate any info!
By dscramer
Jan 21, 2011
Mike - I've climbed in a T-shirt and fully bundled up for winter conditions at Index this time of year. Usually it's pretty wet and not too cold. If the weather hasn't been clear for a week I would say it would not be worth the trip up from Smith unless you wanted to aid climb. You can free climb pretty quickly after the rains stop, it's just that your choice of routes is pretty limited.
By Kevin Volkening
Jun 30, 2011
Looking to do a mid summer trip (middle of July) and this looks to be a good cool option which isn't baking. Thoughts?
By geoff georges
From: Seattle, Wa.
Jun 25, 2013
in the suggestions for 1st pitch moderates Davis Holland being a 5.8 is off. Even if you are a solid 5.9 leader this is pretty challenging.
But some other moderates that are worth visiting:

Timberjack 5.8. *** I replaced the anchor here. Winky Dinky cliff
K dihedral 5.8 *** K Cliff
Plum Pudding 5.9 **** Middle wall ( recently cleaned 2012)
Hips and Valleys 5.8 *** Middle wall ( recently cleaned 2013)
Toxic Shock 5.9 **** Inner Wall
Lizard/ Taurus 5.8 *** Great northern slab
Rogers Corner 5.9 **** Lower wall
Princely Ambitions 5.9 **** 2P, Lower wall ( Skyvalley calls it 5.8)
Godzilla 5.9+ **** Lower wall
Quarry Crack 5.9 ** Lower wall
Morning Star 5.8 *** The Country wall
GM 5.9 **** 3P, The Country
Peanuts to serve you 5.9 **** Lookout Point
Battered Sandwich 5.9 *** Private Idaho
Wet Dream 5.9 *** Private Idaho
Magic Fern 5.9 ** Private Idaho
By Jon Nelson
Administrator
From: Bellingham, WA
Jun 25, 2013
Nice list!

And you're right about DH pitch 1. Also Sag. is probably a 5.9+, so I updated the list.
By Chris Kalman
Sep 26, 2013
A little while ago, I posted my intent to publish a new edition of sky valley rock (New Edition of Sky Valley Rock is the forum title). I had been trying to get in touch with Darryl for most of the summer, and it was fortuitous that I was able to through that post.

After receiving his go-ahead to publish a new guide, I recontacted Wolverine - who was originally interested in the guide - only to find that they had committed to other books, and now no longer had the financial resources to publish this year. But as a happy medium, they directed me to rakkup.com/, a Seattle based company putting out the only climbing guidebooks in the world currently downloadable as a smartphone app.

I've decided to team with them to work on getting the download released by next summer. For those not familiar with the product, I'd encourage contacting Rob or Todd (from the website above), or possibly downloading Exit 38, or 32, etc. But in brief, you download the app for a fixed amount of time: (2 months, one year subscription, etc), for a pretty nominal amount of money. In return, you have gps guided navigation (does not require cell signal to function) to anywhere at Index you want to go (Ever wonder where wall of 10,000 insects is? How to get to the Diamond? where an Act of Strange Boar is located? Etc). Once there, you can click on a variety of classic, distinguishing lines for the area, and get beta on them, as well as Rakkup's new "Belay View" which shows a detailed photo of the first 20 feet or so of the climb. This is one of the major advantages of the app, as you can have really as many beta photos as you would like, whereas a print book is limited in that regard.

My main interest is still to release an updated print guide that focuses on aesthetics, first ascentionists profiles, interesting blurbs about history, full-page spreads on some special routes, and basically doubles as a coffee table book. A big advantage of starting with Rakkup is that for many people, they won't have to wait as long as they would have to for the print guide to come out to get good beta on Index routes. The other advantage is that all the work done for Rakkup will be directly exportable from their software into the Adobe publishing suite used to create modern style guides.

I encourage anybody with good beta, or questions, to message me on this website. I can definitely use all the help I can get! Just today, I found my trusty and well-loved copy of Sky valley rock insufficient to find many routes at Lookout Point's walls, and the Diamond Wall area; as well as discrepancies between route and wall names between SVR and mountainproject.com. So I really have my work cut out for me!

Thanks ahead of time for the support! While I cannot give definite ETA's of the new books, Rakkup and I hope to start releasing the Index download around May - and I hope to be printing and publishing about this time next year. Wish me luck!

-Chris
By Sean C
From: SLC
Jun 25, 2014
Coming from Arizona I had heard great things about the climbing at Index so we decided to go check it out. The climbing was awesome, and having camping right there made it even better. The over all experience here was nothing I've ever run into though, and not in a good way. I will say the majority of the people we talked to here were friendly, but we had multiple instances of people being complete jerks to us or witnessing arguments between other climbers for what seemed to be little to no reasons at all. A little disconcerting but nothing to keep us from coming back. However, after having a couple brand new cams stolen out of my backpack at the base of a climb I will say I'm probably not going to return to the area. I had heard Index was a little rough around the edges but this is just wrong. Unfortunate because this area has some great climbing. Just wanted to give a heads up to others that these are some of the things you may encounter at Index... even after only being there for a couple days.

Sean
By Jon Nelson
Administrator
From: Bellingham, WA
Jun 25, 2014
Oh geez Sean, that sounds really bad. Sorry to hear it. And I wish there was some way you could get the cams back.

I haven't heard about Index being 'rough around the edges', just a little different. There were the squatters camped out indefinitely across from the parking lot for awhile, and Andy DeKlerk mentioned some strange things in the woods awhile back, but I haven't experienced anything rough or impolite about the climbers.

But it certainly wouldn't hurt for all of us to be extra-welcoming to visitors from afar.

By Alan Moles
Jul 23, 2014
I went to Index on 07/18/14 and was very impressed with the climbing, friendly locals and amazing beauty that surrounds the area but.... For those who do not know there has been a lot of break ins into peoples vehicles lately. I happened to witness a rock being thrown at a local climbers rear window while he was around the vehicle. The strange thing is that it was dark and they were in the woods without any light chunking rocks. If you go to the lower wall there is a railroad you have to pass to get to the wall. The locals say that when the train passes it is the best time for the crooks to break into your vehicle because it may take the train 5 minutes for the train to pass. Stuff like this happens all over crags all over the world but this is just a WARNING for travelers like myself who drive over 2000 miles to find some of the best climbing around.
By beuermant
Sep 7, 2014
---WARNING---
My car and several others were broken in to today at the parking lot along the train tracks. Don't have anything in your car to be stolen or park over by the campsite maybe. Also, if you have deer cameras or others of the like, it would be great to put these up (concealed of course) so the thieves are caught. Apparently, there have been many break-ins here this summer. Help stop this!
By Guy H.
From: Fort Collins CO
Jun 18, 2015
We stopped here for a short afternoon on a road trip. We came back to our truck, as it was being scoped out. There was a lookout on the trail with a cell phone texting the person in the parking lot. I would think twice before leaving any gear in your car in this area.
By kendallt
Sep 17, 2016
We spent a few days here. First day on the walk in a forest ranger warned us not to leave any valuables in the car, apparently break ins are an ongoing problem in 2016. Must be clever thieves to have this going on for 3+ years without getting caught.

Aside from that, we had no problems. All the climbers we met were friendly, and the crag seems to be in ongoing development with new routes, anchors, etc all going up even in the three days we were there.
By Matty Van
From: WA
May 2, 2017
The above comments would have one believe that getting your gear stolen is an epidemic. I've climbed at Index for a decade and have hundreds of days logged and have not once had my personal belongings stolen or messed with in the parking lot, at the crag, or anywhere else. Yes, there are thieves that roam the backwoods, though break ins tend to happen twice a year on average it seems, this hardly seems abnormal for trailheads or remote parking situations. In short, go climbing and let the universe sort it out.
By Chris Kalman
Jun 3, 2017
Regarding car break-ins: I've never heard of one happening to cars left in either the parking lots in town, or the parking lot where the camping is. Either one is - at most - about a 10-15 minute flat walk to the nearest crags; and less than 1 hr hike from even the least accessible crags at Index. The lot where cars seem to get broken into on occasion only saves you about 10 minutes walking time. So, if you're worried about break-ins, just consider making the extra walk.
By Boots McGoots
Jul 7, 2017
I was a bit hesitant to come and stay here based on some of the remarks about break ins. I have sensed no threats so far. The town folk are super friendly, wave to everyone. All the parking seems rather conspicuous. No reason to avoid this beautiful place. I suspect the only people around here who would value the climbing gear in your car is climbers...

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