Imagine the exhilaration you feel once you’ve climbed and bouldered your way to the top of a majestic rock. If you’re an avid rock climber, you’ve most likely heard of the classic rock climbing locations in Washington State.
Not many places around the world come closer to Washington State when it comes to rock climbing and bouldering. It is dubbed as “The Evergreen State” — and for all the right reasons.
Surrounded by pristine landscapes, mountains, and rocky valleys, this Northwestern region of the United States is a paradise for rock climbers and outdoor lovers.
Rock climbers in Washington State can set off on the bolted routes in the morning and stand on top of the North Cascade rocks by the afternoon. This State truly is the home to some of the most classic climbing locations in the country.
Most climbers only consider Index or the Cascades, when we talk about Washington State. But, it has plenty of other multi-pitch routes that can undoubtedly challenge any climbers.
Here are 10 rock climbing locations in Washington State that will offer you the best of Pacific Northwest.
The Index is hands down, the best rock climbing location in the Pacific Northwest. When the locals first discovered this climbing paradise, they decided to conceal it from the general public. For years, this magnificent climbing spot was Washington’s best-kept secret.
Located about 55 miles from the city of Seattle, towards the east of Gold Bar, Index is no longer a hidden gem. It has become one of the most popular climbing locations across the globe.
Index integrates a beautiful granite rock that would make any passionate climber strive for more. It covers a substantial area homing 576 climbs in total. The stones, in the Index, range from classic climbs to technical bouldering, which makes it an ideal spot for all kinds of climbers, from beginners to professionals.
Although the routes are relatively challenging, it is much rewarding compared to other walls of the region.
The Index is home to some of the most famous climbs in the country, including Senior Citizens in Space, Slow Children, Godzilla, and Sagittarius.
Graded at 5.7+, ‘Senior Citizens in Space’ is a moderate crack climb, which is approximately 100 feet to the top. Meanwhile, ‘Slow Children’ is a traditional climb which is graded 5.10d.
‘Godzilla’ is ranked 5.9 and comprises a much lengthier route with three pitches. ‘Sagittarius’ is a technical route that features technical cracks and roof-traversing. It is graded 5.10b and is about 90 feet to the top.
2. Icicle Creek Canyon
The Icicle Creek Canyon is another fascinating climbing location that lies only 5.1 miles from Leavenworth. Easily accessible by road, it takes only a few miles of walking from the parking lot to reach the crags.
The Icicle Creek Canyon lies amid the remote wilderness. You must acquire a Northwest Forest Pass to get access to climb these granite walls. The natural walls of this region range from 1 to 6 pitches, offering a variety of gradings and difficulties.
Some cliffs in the Icicle Creek Canyon are part of private property. Therefore, to avoid any inconvenience, the Washington Climbers Coalition suggests avoiding these crags. However, if any climbers want to scale it anyway, it is essential to get permission from the landowner beforehand.
With hundreds of routes within the Icicle Creek Canyon, there is no shortage of climbing routes in this region. Having such diversity, the rocks in this canyon are excellent for all kinds of climbers.
Some of the most climbed routes of this region are Outer Space, Orbit, RPM, and Cloud Nine. Outer Space is a massive 700-foot rock on the Snow Creek Wall and is graded 5.9. Orbit is a classic alpine climb that goes much higher to about 800 feet.
RPM is another classic climb that ranges up to 700 feet to the top with six pitches. With only two pitches, Cloud Nine is much shorter compared to other rocks of the region. It is 5.9 on Pearly Gates and ranges up to 180 feet to the top.
Leavenworth is located amid densely-populated rocks and boulders across the Washington States. It has more than 3,000 climbing routes within the distance of a couple-hour drive from the village.
From trad routes to alpine climbing, Leavenworth offers some of the most extreme and groundbreaking granites for climbing. Although the Bavarian-styled village has plenty of excellent courses, the local tends to keep them under the radar.
In Leavenworth, there are two different climbing locations — Icicle Creek and Tumwater Canyon. Both of these climbing spots consist of some of the most famous alpine rocks and bouldering in the State.
Some local favorites multi-pitch classics include Sabre and Jello Tower. From Spring through to Fall, it is the best time to climb in this part of Washington. During the winter season, Leavenworth also offers the best ice climbing route in the entire State of Washington.
4. Exit 32 & 38
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Exit 32 & 38 are two different climbing areas that are located just outside downtown Seattle. Seattle is also home to a wide variety of boulder routes graded from 5.6 to 5.14.
Exit 32 incorporates overhanging sports to a few traditional routes. While it homes plenty of routes, the major highlight of this area is the massive World Wall I. Due to its substantial size and angle; this route perfectly blends the sun and the shades throughout the day. Also, a few sections in this route tends to remain dry, even on rainy days.
Here, the climb is merely aesthetic and pure athletic. It combines a lot of variations and sequences, including laybacks, side-pulls, and crimps.
Exit 38 is a wonderful location that offers excellent opportunities for climbers. The area includes five different places for climbing — Write Off Wall, Nevermind, Substation. Deception Wall and We Did Wall. With more than 139 different routes, Exit 38 is a suitable destination for every level of climbers.
Although most of the routes in this area are not as challenging as Exit 32, they are much steeper and are much lengthier.
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Mazama lies in a remote wilderness, 13.7 miles away from Winthrop Town. In terms of climbing routes, Mazuma offers fantastic rocks and has plenty of variations.
Most rocks of this region consist of prolonged volcanic debris or meta-pyroclastics, which was later carved by glaciers. Hence, this 1500+ foot rock offers mixed compositions and substantial variations.
Since the 1980s, climbers from all around the world have traveled to scale the challenging course of Mazuma. Mazama offers some of the best foundations for ice climbing in the wintertime.
In the Mazuma region, there are approximately 150 climbs that offer excellent grade variation. Some of the regional favorites are — Prime Rib, Invasive Species, Guide’s Day Off, and Ingenue.
Prime Rib is a massive 1300-foot rock on the Goat Wall with 11 pitches. Invasive Species is a relatively shorter climb on the main wall of The Fun Rock. Guide’s Day Off also lies on the main wall of The Fun Rock and is a 40 feet sport climb. Ingenue is another sport climbing on the Recess Wall, which is about 80 feet tall.
So far, the Forest Service has been supportive of the local climbing community. They have provided a parking area close to The Fun Rock to encourage this sport.
6. The Enchantments
Located southeast of Leavenworth, The Enchantments offers off the grind climbs. Unlike other climbing locations in Washington State, you need to hike a relatively long distance to reach the cliff.
However, this stunning rock is worth the hike and is ideal for multi-day backpackers. There are multiple routes to reach the Enchantments. The shortest way to get is from Stuart Lake, which takes about 6 miles of hiking in the wilderness.
Experienced climbers mostly use the Ingalls Creek trailhead. Other options include the 8 Miles trailhead, which is about 13 miles away, and the Snow Creek route, which is 10 miles away.
The rocks in The Enchantment comprises off-the-grind granite. This location has a total of 55 different climbs, most of which involve multi-pitches and are quite strenuous. The regional highlights include Der Sportsman, Ingalls Peak, Dragons of Eden, The Tipping Point, and Solid Gold.
Der Sportsman is a 6-pitch climb and is 600 feet long rock on Prusik Peak. Since the 1990s, this climb has served climbers and earned its stature as the Enchantments classic.
Ingalls Peak is a moderate grade climb ideal for intermediate climbers. It is often used as a warm-up wall by experienced climbers. With 300 feet long alpine climb, the Southern Face of Ingalls Peak is considered as the best route.
Dragons of Eden is a massive 2250-foot climb on Dragontail Peak. This 5.12a 7-pitch rock is the most prolonged and most strenuous climb in the Mt. Stuart area. Tipping Point goes up to 1000 feet in the Colchuck Balanced Rock and has eight pitches.
Solid Gold is another stunning climb in the Prusik Peak. The first section of this 450-foot alpine is relatively strenuous. However, the rest of the climb is simple and straightforward.
7. Deep Creek
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Home to some of the best climbing crags in Eastern Washington, Deep Creek is located 9.5 miles away from the city of Spokane. It lies precisely at the confluence of Deep Creek and Big Soddy Creek.
This canyon, deep in the wilderness, was kept under the radar by local climbers for years. However, with 150 fantastic routes, the Deep Creek has become one of the best climbing destinations in Tennessee.
This beautiful crag, made out of a jagged basalt, is not quite for the novice climbers. The most straightforward climb in this region is 5.11. Some of the major highlights of the Deep Creek are Naked Man, The Masochist, Quiver, and Dump Truck.
Located on the Main Wall, the Naked Man was the first-ever route discovered in the Deep Creek. It goes up to 60 feet and is graded 5.12a. The Masochist is located in The Pit and is graded 5.13b.
Quiver also lies on the Main Wall. This wall is rated 5.13 and is only accessible in the dry season. Another fantastic climb on the Main Wall is Dump Truck. It is 50 feet high climb, which is graded 5.12b.
Situated in the Columbia River Gorge, the Ozone is one of the most popular climbing walls in the State of Washington. Only 23.8 miles away from Vancouver and 10.2 miles from Camas, this rock is easily accessible from the road.
Since the area is relatively busier, the primary issue in this climbing spot is the parking facility. The climbers who come around to scale this rock have no option but to park their vehicles beside the main highway.
The rock in the Ozone combines igneous rock, compacted basalt, and typical bedrock. The deposits of volcanoes and glaciers form the majority of rocks around Columbia River Gorge and Eastern Washington.
With 106 routes across the region, Ozone not only offers splendid climbing experience but also allows the climbers to explore the ancient formations. Some local favorites around this region are High Plains Drifter, Chainmail, Dark Lord, and Rauch Factor.
High Plains Drifter is a 75-foot sport climb with 5.10+ grading. Relatively smaller, Chainmail is only 40 feet long sport climb with the rating of 5.11b. Dark Lord is another sport climb in this region. It is a 65 feet long climb at 5.12c. Raunch Factor, however, is a traditional climb that goes up to 90 feet to the summit and is 5.10b/c graded.
9. Gold Bar
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Gold Bar is by far Washington’s best bouldering destination. Located in the heart of the Cascades, this region not only offers the best boulder rocks but also incorporates marvelous views.
The only way to get to the Gold Bar is by hiking in the remote terrains. Here, the boulders are made of rough and jagged granite, offering significant variations. However, climbers have been facing issues with mosses due to excessive moisture in the western face of the route.
At Gold Bar, around 300 routes offer different variations and gradings. Here, the courses range from V0 to V11, which makes this place an ideal bouldering destination for all kinds of climbers. The most preferred routes in this region are Aries: God of War, Five Star Arete, Kombucha, and Equinox.
Aries: God of War is by far the most admired route in the Aries Wall with the grading of V8. Located in the Five Star Boulder, the Five Star Arete goes up to 20 feet to the summit and is rated V6. Located next to the Five Star Arete in the Five Star Boulder, Kombucha is a V7 graded bouldering wall. With the grading of solid V10, Equinox is the most challenging route in the entire Gold Bar.
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Located amid the Spokane Proper and the Valley, Minnehaha is one of the favorite climbing spots among the locals. It takes only 13 minutes to drive to the crag of Minnehaha, which makes this one of the most accessible climbing locations in Washington State.
The route of Minnehaha is simply revolutionary. The area opened in around the 1950s, homes 67 different courses for climbing. The rock in Minnehaha is made of granite with a few excellent cracks along the route.
For the Spokane region, granite routes are thin on the ground. The regional favorites in the Minnehaha include The Dihedral, Smokey on Fire, Don Quixote, and The Prow.
The Dihedral is a marvelous 80-foot trad route that is graded at 5.9+. However, the locals claim that this route is much harder to climb, considering its grade. Smokey On Fire is a fairly strenuous 15-foot long boulder climb, rated at V8.
Don Quixote involves a traditional crack climb that is 45 feet long. Graded at 5.10, the first section of Don Quixote is a difficult pull. But once you get past this section, this route is simple and straightforward. The Prow is a 30-foot sport climb. It is rated 5.10 in terms of difficulty and is extremely steep.
It’s no surprise, the State of Washington has some of the best climbing and bouldering locations across the globe. With plenty of variations of the cliffs and crags, this region comprises the climbing routes for all kinds of climbers.
Whether you’re a beginner or an adventurous climber, the remote rocks and canyons of this Northeastern town will offer you the best climbs in the United States