OverviewThe Flame is a high quality 4 pitch crack climb on Midnight Rock located 1,000 feet uphill from Castle Rock in Tumwater Canyon. This climb features a nice variety of styles varying from handcracks and fingercracks to laybacks and traverses all on beautiful high friction granite.
This climb was originally rated 5.8+ when the first ascent was done in the 1960s. That was probably accurate for the time, but this route is solid 5.9 on a modern scale, even if it was at Index.
Getting TherePark in the parking lot for Castle Rock and hike up to Logger's Ledge. Continue up around to the descent trail for Castle. Near the top, take the obvious path heading off to your right. Follow this uphill for 1 hour to reach the crag. Despite guidebook descriptions talking about routefinding issues and bushwacking, we found a great trail that was easy to follow. When you reach the ravine directly below Midnight, keep hiking up following the trail until you see a path heading accross the grass to the ledge about 1/3rd the way up the formation. Scramble up to the clump of trees on the ledge and gear up here.
Traverse to the end of Dead End Ledge and establish a belay directly below the thin steep dihedral fingcrack Stevens Pass Motel overhead. The ledge includes one very exposed class 3/4 section. Be careful here.
Pitch #1 - 5.7 - Climb up 10 feet on face holds then start traversing to the right under the overhang. Low 5th but balancy here. The guidebook says there is no protection for this pitch but we found plenty of it. Traverse across until at the base of the rightmost handcrack directly below the flame shaped lichen patch overhead. Establish a belay here. 60 feet
Pitch #2 - 5.9 - Jamb the nice handcrack for 40 feet then undercling finger traverse to the right to reach the wide handcrack. Jamb this for 50 feet then climb easier cracks up to the flat spot near the base of the steep flared chimney above. Belay by slinging the blocks here. 140 feet
Pitch #3 - 5.9 - Traverse to the right then jamb and undercling the thin dihedral crack which separates the slab from the steep wall to your left. Climb the nice sustained crack for 70 feet then do a couple of exposed traverse moves on face holds to reach a stance at the base of the obvious fingercrack above. Belay here. 120 feet
Pitch #4 - 5.7+ - Jamb the short but stellar splitter fingercrack on the slab for 30 feet then up some slab protected by ancient bolts from the 60s. At the top, jamb the flared handcrack / layback on the slab to reach easier terrain above. Belay at the top of the formation or when rope drag gets bad. 170 feet
Now scramble up to the top of the wall.
Down - Downclimb the gulley on the left side of the formation (decender's right) with 1 possible single rope rappel near the bottom to get back to your packs on Dead End Ledge.
Essential Gear2 sets of cams to 1"
1 set of cams from 1" to 1.75"
3 each #2 and #3 camalots (for pitch #2)
1 each nuts
60 meter rope