Darrington is a small town on the western edge of the Cascades, about 1.5 hours northeast of Seattle. The town is the gateway into a steep mountainous area known for large granite buttresses with long and sometimes run-out technical climbing routes. The area is also known for being wet, very very wet. Most of the routes in the area are long and committing and should only be attempted during periods of stable weather. The climbing style is predominately traditional with a small amount of retro bolting happening on some of the more popular routes. Most belays and routes contain bolts, but this area should not be considered a sport climbing area. Climbers should be comfortable at the grade before attempting routes in this area, due to the committing nature of the run-outs on most routes.
Take I-5 north from Seattle to exit 208. From there travel 30 miles east on hwy 530 to the town of Darrington. From the 4-way stop turn right onto Mountain Loop Hwy and head south for 3 miles to a few yards before Clear Creek Camp ground. Turn right up forest road 2060 (dirt) and head up this road for 8 miles, or as close to that distance as you are willing to drive. At mile 6 the dirt road becomes narrow and over grown, have faith and keep driving. At mile 7.3 the road forks, take the right fork (road 2065) if heading for Green Giant Buttress. The left fork heads to other climbable rock formations. After this fork the road becomes very overgrown, with brush rubbing both sides of the car, have more faith, and try not to worry about your paint job. At mile 7.6 there is a small pullout, large enough for one, maybe two cars, this is a good place to park if you are worried about your car. If you have a truck or don’t care about you paint, continue through a large puddle (small lake), over some rough rocks, under low hanging trees and park at the very end of the road, mile 8. From here, start hiking up the trail/old road bed. See the route approach section for the rest of the approach.
Currently there are no issues with regards to access, only the quality of the access road
When To Climb
The area is known for being wet, and as most of the climbs are friction type climbs on granite slabs, and a lot of the approaches involve hiking up granite slabs, this area should be avoided during any rainy or possible rainy weather. The best times to climb are usually from early Aug to Late September, or whenever there is a period of dry weather. Snow should not create any access issues, but whenever there is melting snow in the higher country, the approach and the climb will usually be too wet to safely climb. This area is a borderline rain forest, due to the lack of any substantial land mass between Darrington and any weather fronts rolling in up the Straight of Juan De Fuca. Now that wet and rainy has been covered, also watch out for sun/heat. The Green Giant Buttress receives full sun all day, and due to the bowl-like reflector shape of the buttress and the surrounding hills, the area acts like a giant oven, so when air temps are in the high eighties, the granite on the route can become too hot to even touch. The area does not receive any shade till after 4:00pm in late August.
Several options exist for camping, ranging from free bivies at the trail heads to established forest service campsites. The closest forest service site is Clear Creek Campground, located on Mountain Loop Hwy, right at the start of the dirt road (2060), see How to get there. There are several small pullouts on the dirt road up to the trail head, that can be used for bivies, but these areas are small, and mostly rocky. Camping at the very end of road 2065 makes for a good option for those wanting an early start for the hike into Green Giant Buttress, but is far less comfortable than a site at Clear Creek Campground. Clear Creek contains about 18 sites and charges $11.00 per night with $5.00 for an extra vehicle.
See section on Weather. The Darrington Ranger District Office is 1-360-436-1155.