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Darrington Climbing
Darrington has diverse climging opportunities
Mountaineering Rock Climbing Bouldering

Greg Wall on Blueberry Hill.


United States Forest Service, Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest.

Land Manager:
Peter Forbes, Darrington District Ranger
Darrington Ranger District
1405 Emmens St.
Darrington, WA 98241
(360) 436-1155

Current road status:
The Suiattle River Road reopened in October 2014. The road in Clear Creek is open to Eightmile Creek (Three O'Clock Rock trailhead), and beyond, as of April 2016. The road up Squire Creek remains blocked by a huge slide which came down in 2002.

Access considerations:
Three O'Clock Rock, The Comb, Green Giant Buttress, and Squire Creek Wall all lie within the Boulder River Wilderness. Power drills are prohibited in designated wilderness areas.

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.

The road in Clear Creek remains open only because we have lobbied for it in the past. Climbers should regularly thank the rangers for helping us keep this road open and we will need to continue to make it clear that this road serves an important clmbing destination. Most recently, climbers and local road activiists with Darrington Friends for Public Use did some repair work on a concrete ford in 2015. Efforts continue.

Other resources:
Weather forecast
Darrington Rock Climbing web page

WCC Area Contact:
Matt Perkins.

In addition to climbing, the area contains a popular hiking trail over Squire Creek Pass (well worth it for the views at the top!), old mines and mining relics for the curious, and a variety of scenic waterfalls.

Camping is found in the Clear Creek valley as well as at the Clear Creek Campground on the Mountain Loop Highway roughly two miles southeast of Darrington, Washington

WCC installation crew in front of the kiosk.

The climbing area traditionally known as Darrington lies in the Clear Creek and Copper Creek drainages, south of Darrington, Washington. There are even larger walls and some relatively new climbs in the Squire Creek drainage as well. The area is both rugged and remote, and approaches can involve moderate bushwacking or scrambling.

The Darrington area is also home to glaciated peaks in wilderness settings and there is a diverse collection of boldering sites. Most of the published information pertains to the traditional rock climbing in Clear Creek, near Darrington, but climbers visit this area for a wide variety of climbing opportunities in addition to the rock climbing in Clear Creek.

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.

Not long ago, the Forest Service proposed to gate the roads to Exfoliation Dome and Green Giant Buttress (Dreamer) in the Clear Creek drainage. In addition, the trail to Three O'Clock Rock had all but disappeared where it approaches the crag. However, in about 1998 or 1999, climbers wrote letters objecting to the road closures and voicing an active interest in working with the Forest Service to keep the area open. The Forest Service never did gate the roads. In the Spring of 2005, the Forest Service said it lacked funds to reopen the Clear Creek road after heavy damage by winter slides. The Washington Climbers Coalition and the Access Fund organized a letter writing campaign and the road was reopened. You can read more about the effort here.

Despite this success, the maintenance of the Clear Creek Road is a continuing issue. Forest Service budets are severely strained and climbers must compete with other user groups in making the case that ours is an important recreational interest that deserves maintenance support. Fortunately, the Clear Creek road does not run near the actual Creek itself or traverse steep slopes, and the climbing area is is relatively close to town. Consequently, the cost and environmental concerns are not as great for Clear Creek as they are for many other roads in the region.

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.



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