Get ready to take your pad and chalk bag into unexplored territory.
Wherever you find yourself on the continuum of rock-scrambling experience, Seattle NorthCountry has something to offer anyone curious about or addicted to the gritty sport of climbing.
If you’ve never dipped your fingers in chalk and don’t know the difference between the Yosemite Decimal System or the Hueco Grading Scale, then an indoor climbing gym is the best place to start. Summit Everett, a few blocks east of the Everett Shipyard, offers classes to beginners from age five to infinity. You can rent any equipment you need there and women and students get discounted day rates on special nights every week.
When you’re ready to get some gear of your own, Dick’s Sporting Goods in Marysville can cover the basics, with a wider range of accessories and options to be found at the REI in Lynnwood.
Ready to head into the wild? Snohomish County has some of the best boulders, cliffs, and peaks for every kind of enthusiast, from the most advanced athletes to rock jocks-in-training.
Located 55 miles northeast of Seattle, some of Index’s most famous peaks were first routed by well-known mountaineers including REI co-founder Lloyd Anderson and Fred Beckley who would later publish the first climber’s guide to the Cascade and Olympic Mountains.
The Lower Town Wall Cliffs and Boulders, Mine Boulders, Zelda Boulders, and others, continue to draw climbers from all over Washington who want to send some of the most striking rock faces in the Pacific Northwest.
credit: Aaron Matheson
Northwest of Index by about 15 minutes and just under an hour’s drive from Seattle, Gold Bar has a glut of bouldering sites with routes ready for you to take them on.
Sites dot the northern and southern sides of Steven’s Pass Highway east of the town center. Reiter Foothills Boulders, Zeke’s Boulders, Beach Boulders, and Skykomish River Boulders are just a few of many favorites.
Climbing off the beaten path
The Mountain Loop Highway has some climbing hot spots of its own outside the old logging towns of Darrington and Bedal. Darrington boulders like Three O’Clock Rock, Exfoliation Dome, and Green Giant Buttress range in difficulty on a YDS scale from 5.7 to 5.11.
Bedal is the easternmost town on the Mountain Loop Highway and attracts hikers and mountaineers to its namesake peak year round. Summiting Bedal Peak is an intermediate challenge with rewarding results, frequently overlooked but offering unrivaled views of more than two dozen regional mountains and peaks on the clearest days.