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Sep 28, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: guide book
Hey everybody,

I'm from New England and have been looking at some cool jobs in the Seattle/Puget Sound area and was trying to get some more information on the climbing. Some questions that spring to mind are:

-How rainy is it? Does it really effect how much time you can climb outdoors are is it over exaggerated/ not that noticeable?

-Are there good local spots around Seattle/ Kent WA (<45 mins) meaning you can knock some routes out after work or is everything more of a weekend trip.

-How's the skiing and snowboarding ? And same deal as before is it local or are we talking 3-4 hours to get to the good stuff

I realize some of these things are probably googleable but I'd rather get opinions/ knowledge from a climber perspective. Also didn't mention it before now but mostly would be climbing sport and trad and bouldering in the winter.

Thanks
-Brian
thebmags
Joined Jun 5, 2013
156 points
Sep 28, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: It's Gore-Tex. You know about Gore-Tex?
-How rainy is it?
The general consensus is that it is over exaggerated. However, there is always a period somewhere in winter or spring where it will rain pretty much a month straight. For climbing, eastern WA is often very dry.

-How's the skiing and snowboarding?
It's pretty good! Obviously not the best in the country, but there are two resorts in the vicinity of the Seattle area. Snoqualmie is about 40 minutes away, and Steven's Pass is about 90 minutes away. Snoqualmie has night skiing available as well, so it's nice to bust out a few runs after work. For backcountry it is about the same distance away, but the possibilities are endless.
chrisccc
From Seattle, WA
Joined Mar 7, 2016
96 points
Sep 28, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Clipping the last bolt before the roof. Fun climb,...
The rain is not that bad! I grew up in Pittsburgh and found the weather less rainy and more pleasant. No snow or bitter cold.

I climbed a few times a week in the summer at exit 32 (little Si) and exit 38. Totally doable with the long summer days. There is plenty of daylight in the summer until about 930pm.

Skiing and snowboarding is up and down. This winter it dumped, the year before there was almost no snow.

Just do it. I live in Colorado but am going back asap. I miss it.
Dan Cooksey
From Colorado Springs
Joined Jan 7, 2014
255 points
Sep 28, 2016
Rain?

Yes it does, and it can shut your down for months if you are not able to take advantage of the good weather days that come by every once in a while. That being said we usually get a few good weeks in Jan or Feb when the weather is very dry and very cold and you have perfect conditions. If you are cool with weekend trips you can always find the goods.

Evening sends?

In winter daylight and traffic will shut you down more than crag accessibility. In Summer sun sets later than 8pm so you'll be good.

As much as I LOVE the PNW and don't ever want to leave, I must admit its not the best place to be a climber in the country. Colorado, Utah, or Wyoming may be a better choice for the hardened crag rat. But WA backcountry, Alpine, progressive culture, IPA diversity, make the style of life here more enjoyable than pretty much anywhere else I have lived. That being said I just move to the Eastside and I'm seeing a lot Trump signs and less IPA.

Eric
Eric K
From Washington
Joined Aug 15, 2010
54 points
Sep 28, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Clipping the last bolt before the roof. Fun climb,...
Hahaha Eric I lived in the east side, its so funny how different it is from the downtown area!

If we move back definitely living closer to town. Although I didn't have the traffic making it a bit easier to jet to 32 or 38.

I failed to mention to the OP that nothing beats Squamish in the summer!!!!!
Dan Cooksey
From Colorado Springs
Joined Jan 7, 2014
255 points
Sep 28, 2016
Dan I'm pretty sure he means the eastside of the state, not Bellevue/Kirkland. Ashort
From Tacoma, WA
Joined Apr 3, 2014
55 points
Sep 28, 2016
Ashort wrote:
Dan I'm pretty sure he means the eastside of the state, not Bellevue/Kirkland.

You are correct!
Eric K
From Washington
Joined Aug 15, 2010
54 points
Sep 28, 2016
Dan Cooksey wrote:
I failed to mention to the OP that nothing beats Squamish in the summer!!!!!

What about Index?
RandyR
Joined Dec 17, 2009
45 points
Sep 28, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Wolf's Head in the Cirque
The worst part about the Seattle area that you might miss coming from New England is the ice season. I.e. there might not be one. Maybe that isn't an issue for you, though; and it's only 5 hours to Lillooet....

Eric K wrote:
IPA diversity


If you call a million copies of the same Northwest-style IPA "diversity", then yeah. Vermont has better IPAs/APAs at and above 7%/70 IBU, but the sessionable IPAs out here are good.
Todd Anderson
From Seattle, WA
Joined Jun 6, 2011
119 points
Sep 28, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Slashface goodness taken by RTM
Todd Anderson wrote:
If you call a million copies of the same Northwest-style IPA "diversity", then yeah. Vermont has better IPAs/APAs at and above 7%/70 IBU, but the sessionable IPAs out here are good.

First statement is uninformed
Second statement is most likely false
Mike Brady
From Van Diesel, OR
Joined Jul 14, 2014
692 points
Sep 28, 2016
I'm from PNW but live in New England now. Outdoor sports including rock climbing in PNW crush New England, not really that close...unless you only like ice climbing Eric8
From Maynard, MA
Joined Nov 2, 2007
298 points
Sep 28, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Clipping the last bolt before the roof. Fun climb,...
Ashort wrote:
Dan I'm pretty sure he means the eastside of the state, not Bellevue/Kirkland.


Hahahahaha whoops. Still bellevue and east things get weird.
Dan Cooksey
From Colorado Springs
Joined Jan 7, 2014
255 points
Sep 28, 2016
I came here from flagstaff were I could climb in near perfect conditions something stupid like 280 days a year. While I for sure miss it there the pnw is awesome. In two hours I can surf, ski, do every manner of quality climbing from big wall to pebble wrestling, fish, and be on a glacier. I have never lived anywhere with those kinds of possibilities so that has been cool. It rains a bunch in the winter but that is when I surf and ski so it is not too big of a deal. The quality of climbing here is exceptional, and our summers are pretty hard to beat. Biggest downside I have is the lack of a real fall. Sometime in October it starts to rain and then rains pretty steady through november. That being said last year I rock climbed outside at least once every month of the year so if you are flexible you can still get out. I can't imagine it being worse than new england. In fact I would be real surprised if it is not better as far as conditions go. shotgunnelson
Joined May 30, 2009
8 points
Sep 28, 2016
Leavenworth could be good in the winter depending on your willingness to drive two hours the night before and sweep off everything you want to boulder. Gold bar usually gets pretty good winter days in jan-feb shotgunnelson
Joined May 30, 2009
8 points
Sep 28, 2016
Vantage is a winter option, in the desert rainshadow. I've been on sunshine wall when there was fresh snow on the ground in the morning and it was damn near 70 by the afternoon in January. It's quite a haul over the mountains though.
Don't expect to climb outside as often from mid October through April close to Seattle. There is usually a high pressure window in January that can make for great days at Index.

If you like to ski steeps our maritime snowpack is great, none of that pesky depth hoar you deal with in the rockies. Of course that also means you'll frequently ski some heavier snow (but hey heavy pow beats ice).
Great opportunities for touring, amazing places if you have a sled and can tour.
Nick Drake
From Newcastle, WA
Joined Jan 20, 2015
393 points
Sep 28, 2016
I moved here after years living in Reno (and points international)--Reno's light traffic, unlimited sunny days, easy access to crags and skiing, and small population meant it was easy to find uncrowded crags...so take that for what it it...

Seattle-wise, depends on your flavor...you're from New England, so the darkness shouldn't bother you, but it gets me--not the rain, but the lack of sunshine...ugh.

Alpine climbing--I don't think you'll find better in the US, with the combination of glacier approaches, the smell of firs, and the big rocks of the Stuart Range...but be prepared for long approaches (however, glaciers collapsing on both sides of Stuart's North Ridge make for an awesome soundtrack). Plus, you'll find that gradually you'll get sucked into alpine climbing, cuz the majority of folks here do (said without bias!)

Cragging--hit or miss...I find that the traffic does me in more than anything else (but that depends on your level of comfort in stop-and-go). Exit 32 is awesome, and may stay dry on some routes in the rain; 38 is ok, with some really fun stuff if you search for it (but you get limited on time as winter approaches)...Sometimes its climber central, and I've had days where we saw nobody. If you are into traddy cragging, Index isn't super far either, but the weekends at Lower Town are a scene. But sometimes the granite faces are just that good.
Winter cragging can be done at Vantage or L-worth--I prefer Vantage cuz I'm a wuss about the cold! Mt Erie on occasion, too...

Bouldering--I don't do it, but I know some good CO climbers who come out to L-worth for it, so that should be a point in favor.

Skiing--Go on a weekday, have the resort to yourself. Go backcountry on weekends...don't even think about skiing on weekends at some spots, though it depends on the dump and the fix you need...

All that being said, WA has some cool climbing that runs the gamut: Toulumne-esque slab at Darrington; HARD sport at 32; basalt columns and fun at Vantage; awesome trade routes and fun faces at Index; soft sandstone at Peshastin; incredible long routes in the North Cascades and Stuart Range...there's limestone out in Spokane region, Smith is 6 hours away, and Squamish, 2-3ish...And there are tons of little pocket crags that are worth a stop (Elwhall, the stuff in Concrete; bolted long routes in the edges of the Cascades; oh, did I forget WA pass? Don't forget about that! Not a small crag, but alpine cragging)

Great beer, terrible traffic, cool music scene, stratospheric rent, waking up to the sun on the Cascades and Rainier and watching the sun set on the Olympics, the endless darkness by February--ups and downs...I won't miss it when we leave, but I'm glad I am here!
TravisJBurke
From Seattle, WA
Joined Mar 31, 2015
8 points
Sep 28, 2016
chrisccc wrote:
there are two resorts in the vicinity of the Seattle area. Snoqualmie is about 40 minutes away, and Steven's Pass is about 90 minutes away.


You're forgetting the best one! Crystal has some phenomenal skiing, and it's only about 10-15 minutes further than Stevens, usually with less of a traffic disaster. And the backcountry skiing is some of the best in the country. Since you can start skinning up basically from the highway rather than up some closed forest road, I was often skiing the good stuff more quickly in Seattle than Bozeman.

I live in Boston now. I am literally counting down the days until I can move back to the Pacific Northwest for multiple reasons, with outdoor recreation at the top of my list. I might not choose Seattle. If I had to go to a major city, I'd look closely at Portland. Smaller cities on my list would be Wenatchee, Bellingham, Ellensburg, Hood River, and of course Bend if you can make that work.

For what it's worth, with a 2-3 hour drive I think you have significantly more climbable days per year in Seattle than in New England (not counting ice). It simply doesn't rain at all from mid-June through early September. In 2012, we went 110 days without precipitation. In the winter, you can drive to desert crags, and if it's raining out there, the skiing is pretty much guaranteed to be good--and not New England good, actually good.

Best of luck with the move. Get the hell out of New England, you won't regret it.

Edit: not to mention, you can drive to the REAL desert in a long day (~14 hours to bishop, ~18 to J tree). Yeah, it's a long drive, but I did it 3 winters in a row and it was without a doubt worth it.
Jimmy Sledd
From Bozeman, Montana
Joined Mar 7, 2013
17 points
Sep 28, 2016
Dan Cooksey wrote:
Skiing and snowboarding is up and down. This winter it dumped, the year before there was almost no snow.


Two winters ago was rough, but that was the lowest snowpack in a century. 20 years of skiing/riding in the Northwest and I've never experienced anything remotely close to the winter of 2014-15. Last winter was more like average.
Jimmy Sledd
From Bozeman, Montana
Joined Mar 7, 2013
17 points
Sep 28, 2016
not to mention when the skiing is terrible like that the climbing is great. I was climbing in a t-shirt in February in leavenworth with no snow on the ground. shotgunnelson
Joined May 30, 2009
8 points
Sep 29, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: guide book
Thanks for all the great info. Look like I'll have to re-read through all the responses but the general gist I'm getting is that the rain isn't any worse than New England but the backcountry skiing(most years) and alpine climbing is fantastic. And if the rain gets too much just head east for the weekend. Plus on top of it Whistler(also a big biker) and Squamish is right there.

Sounds like a preeeety good gig.


Also for the curious and colorful map aficionados I found this while digging around the internet.

water.weather.gov/precip/
thebmags
Joined Jun 5, 2013
156 points
Sep 29, 2016
the bouldering is fantastic too. some of the best i have done in the country. New guidebook just came out for the west side so it is now easier to find all those hidden granite eggs in the forest shotgunnelson
Joined May 30, 2009
8 points


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