OverviewCastle Rock, famous for having the first ever multipitch technical rock climb in the state of Washington, is a large 400 foot high monolith of granite towering above the Wenatchee River. Castle's excellent rock, short approach, and variety of routes have attracted trad climbers for over half a century. Castle is also Leavenworth's most popular crag climbing destination, expect to find plenty of company during a warm summer weekend on the popular routes. Some of Washington State's best known climbs are located here including the original Midway, and the exposed Canary.
The history of climbing at Castle can be traced back to the first ascent of Midway by Fred Beckey, Wesley Grande, and Jack Schwabland in 1948. The first ascent of Saber followed shortly after in 1950. More climbs were added in the next decade such as the popular Damnation Crack, Angel Crack, and the South Face of Jello Tower. The crag has been fully developed since the mid eighties, when the last routes were developed.
Castle Rock is a traditional climbing area. You will notice some old bolts here and there as well some fixed pitons. Hardware is slowly being upgraded, but don't expect nice new 3/8" 5 piece bolts everywhere. Generally, most of the routes on Castle Rock are well protected, especially the popular ones.
Getting ThereTake highway 2 to Leavenworth, Washington. From the center of town drive west on highway 2 for 2.7 miles past the intersection with Icicle Creek Road. Look for a good sized pullout for cars. Now look up, if you see a large mass of granite towering above, then you are in Castle's parking lot.
Upper Wall Approach: At the north end of the parking lot find a trail and follow it up to Loggers Ledge. This hike takes about 10 minutes. Loggers Ledge has the start to popular routes such as Midway and Saber.
Lower Wall Approach: At the south end of the parking lot find a trail heading uphill along the southern end of Castle Rock. A 5 minute hike will bring you to the base of a chimney called The Fault, a popular start for routes on lower Castle Rock.
Recommended RoutesMidway - 5.6 - The original route on Castle Rock. Features 2 to 3 pitches of chimney, slab, face, and crack climbing with 2 popular variations.
Saber - 5.5 - Castle's second route. Not as popular or as classic as Midway, but offers excellent climbing for the beginning trad leader.
Canary - 5.8/5.9 - A classic route on Castle Rock featuring plenty of exposure as well as good crack and face climbing.
Damnation Crack - 5.9 - Considered a classic wide crack. This route ascends the separation between Jello Tower and Castle Rock on the north side. Sustained.
Angel Crack - 5.10 - This striking finger crack has grown slick over the years. After the first 20 feet, it eases to 5.7 until the top.
MF Direct - 5.11 - A steep, challenging climb on the north side of Jello Tower with a very strenuous roof pull half way up.
Brass Balls - 5.10B - A 2 pitch strenuous and exposed route on lower Castle, powering directly over 2 large roofs.
The Bone - 5.9 - The best route on lower Castle featuring a clean fist crack and a large horizontal protruding spike that can be grabbed. Sustained climbing with good protection.
Red TapeNo permits or parking passes are required at this time.
When To ClimbWhile Castle Rock can be ascended any time of the year, the most popular time is March through October. Winter ascents are done, but are not that common. The Leavenworth area receives a fair amount of snow in the winter, so expect wet, cold, and possibly snow covered rock if you're climbing in the winter.
CampingThere are many campsites along Icicle Creek Road just outside Leavenworth. Many climbers camp at popular campsites such as Eightmile when spending a weekend in Leavenworth.
Mountain ConditionsThis website has phone numbers to call for local conditions. It also has good camping areas nearby as well as a good summary of other activities in the area.
Tumwater MountainInformation courtesy of Paul Klenke:
Tumwater Mountain is the alpine culmination of Castle Rock. If, upon topping out on Castle Rock, you were to continue climbing up the open forest and rocky slopes above, you would eventually reach the summit of Tumwater Mountain (4,480+). The mountain is merely a long ridge with forested crest. The highest point is an interesting combination of boulders some thirty feet high that require exposed Class-3 climbing on the northeast side to gain the top of. Climbing down is probably harder than getting up. A summit boulder scramble such as this is common in the Cascades. But in this case it seemed out of place in such a forested setting.
The easiest way to climb Tumwater Mountain is via the road (Ranger Road) extending up its northeast side from the town of Leavenworth. The road is steep but drivable at least for three miles to a meadowy area at c. 3,400 ft about 0.8 miles north of the summit. From here the road gets considerably more steep and rutted. A cross-country uphill bushwhack to the crest from wherever you stop on the road is not too bad (BW2 at most). One hour up and half-an-hour down from the meadowy area. The boulder scramble at the top takes less than a minute (no technical gear necessary).
Of further note: a fantastic view of Drury Falls can be had from near the summit of Tumwater Mountain. You have to walk a couple of hundred yards southeast along the ridge from the summit boulder in order to get the view as trees obscure it from the boulder itself.