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Fall Rock Climbing in Leavenworth

Ear­ly Octo­ber often pro­vides good weath­er in the North­west. MM Guide Ian Nichol­son and climber Reid Walk­er found a win­dow of good weath­er in Leav­en­worth long enough to get in a great cus­tom one to one rock trip to intro­duce Reid into the world of out­door climb­ing. Cus­tom trips are not only great for cater­ing to your own per­son­al objec­tives, but the one on one train­ing you can receive from your guide will push you far­ther than you expect­ed to go! Ian writes about Rei­d’s awe­some suc­cess­es on his first climbs on Leav­en­worth rock.

Plac­ing gear. Ian Nichol­son photo

Reid Walk­er picked me up at my house in Seat­tle at 7 am under cloudy skies and light rain. We drove over Stevens Pass where we were greet­ed by far nice weath­er in the quaint Bavar­i­an town of Leav­en­worth. The town was packed with hun­dreds of peo­ple dressed in tra­di­tion­al leder­ho­sen for Oktoberfest.

We grabbed one of the last avail­able camp­sites at 8 Mile Camp­ground, then drove over to Bar­ney’s Rub­ble, and under a small over­hang we spent the morn­ing learn­ing knots and about our equip­ment. Lat­er in the morn­ing the clouds broke and the sun poked out, so we hopped back in the car and drove to the Moun­taineer’s Dome, where we went over belay­ing, rap­pelling, equip­ment, plac­ing nat­ur­al pro­tec­tion and equal­iz­ing anchors, among oth­er things. We also rock climbed; this was Rei­d’s first time ever climb­ing out­side and he did great! So great, in fact, that our next stop of the day was the famous 500-foot tall Ici­cle But­tress, where we climbed one of the old­est tech­ni­cal rock routes in the state, the 5‑pitch R & D.

Equal­ized anchor set-up. Ian Nichol­son photo

The brief chim­ney sec­tion on R&D. Ian Nichol­son photo

After R & D, we went back to our camp and enjoyed a fab­u­lous bur­ri­to din­ner and some well-earned sleep. In the morn­ing, I made eggs, bacon and hash­browns. After break­fast we walked across the street and climbed the Tree Route, a pop­u­lar 4‑pitch 5.6 that fin­ish­es on a noto­ri­ous off-width crack on the third pitch.

On top of Ici­cle But­tress. Ian Nichol­son photo

Reid tweaked his right arm on the approach while step­ping over a tree on the way to the climb, so we took it easy for a while in camp after the Tree Route. But Rei­d’s excite­ment began to grow, so we head­ed to the Feb­ru­ary But­tress and climbed Ground Hog Day: II, 5.7, 3 pitch­es. His arm was real­ly both­er­ing him so we went back to camp and not 20 min­utes lat­er, it began to rain.… HARD.

Some wide crack climb­ing. Ian Nichol­son photo

Despite the heavy rain, I made a spec­tac­u­lar din­ner. Pan­cakes from scratch in the back­coun­try. I let the dough rise in my pock­et and cooked it over the stove. It rained all night and in the morn­ing we had a won­der­ful pan­cake break­fast and cov­ered some new skills, in addi­tion to review­ing oth­ers we had gone over the pre­vi­ous day. What a great intro­duc­tion to rock for Reid, I hope to see him out on the gran­ite again soon!”

Look­ing down on the Wenatchee Riv­er from Ground­hog Day. Ian Nichol­son photo