The West Face of Sloan Peak lies in designated wilderness. The Ptarmigan Traverse and other peaks along the cascade crest are inside wilderness boundaries. Most other Darrington climbing areas lie outside of designated wilderness. In the historic Darrington area only Three O'Clock Rock is served by a maintained
trail. Other approaches can be adventurous.
WCC installation crew in front of the kiosk.
In Clear Creek and Squire Creek, the exfoliating granite domes tend toward lower angle climbing, with
slabs and knobby faces predominanting. Most climbs are in the three-to-eight
pitch range, with descents by rappel. Route grades generally range from 5.7
to 5.11. Many of the climbs reach a "summit" that is high above the
surrounding valleys, thus giving them a sub-alpine feel. The season usually
runs from April to October.
Climbers have generally enjoyed good relations with the Forest Service and other area users in Darrington and we hope to keep it that way. The Forest Service has expressed concern with user-built trails and climbers have been asked not to construct new access routes. In addition, power drills are forbidden on crags that lie within the Boulder River Wilderness. Using power drills at these crags could net you a fine and create an access issue. Finally, keeping our visual impact low is important in a wilderness setting; we hope climbers won't leave behind brightly colored rappel slings.
Climbers have been active stewards of the area. In 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2005, the Access Fund, The North Face, the Mountaineers, the Washington Trails Association (WTA), and the Washington Climbers Coalition have sponsored various work parties on the Eightmile Creek trail (which leads to Three O'Clock Rock). The WCC, the AF, and the Mountaineers did work here in 2014. The trail is vastly improved as a result, although it is still slightly rough and can be muddy in the first quarter mile or so. Most routes have had the old bolts upgraded and unsightly sling anchors replaced with chains.
More recently climbers have been helping take care of the road, and a local group dedicated to keeping forest roads open, the Darrington Friends for Public Use has also targetted this road. Climbers cleared a large culvert that was almost completely blocked just before the start of the winter storm season in 2011, and this almost certainly avoided what would have been catestrotic damage. A local climber has adopted this road and watches for drainage issues or other threats. We continue to cut brush along the roadside and remove blowdowns from the roads in this drainage.
A partial guide to the area can be viewed here: Darrington Web Page
Elsewhere in the Darrington district there are bouldering opportunities at diverse locations and there are wilderness rock climbs in exciting locations such as the West Face of Sloan Peak. An amazing climb on conglomerate cobbles can be found on one of the towers on the north face of Big Four Mountain. The Ptarmigan Traverse is a nationally famous mountaineering trek from a trailhead in the Cascade River Valley, east of Marblemount, to the Suiattle River valley, north of Darrington. Glacier Peak lords over the wilderness to the east.