OverviewVantage, along with the Leavenworth area, is the most popular rock climbing destination in the state of Washington. With over 700 routes, and new ones being put up every month, this area has plenty of challenges for the eager climber. Vantage has a good combination of sport and trad routes, and over 200 routes in the popular 5.10 range. Traditional climbing has come back into popularity recently, with many of the new routes at Green Wall and Middle East Wall being bolt free.
The spectacular basalt pillars that make Vantage such a wonderful place to climb were formed by erosion caused during the last ice age. The carving out of many of the walls was finished during the floods that followed the retreat of the ice some 12,000 years ago.
The history of rock climbing in Vantage dates back to the early fifties. The first climbs were done in the Feathers area and at Zig Zag Wall. Traditional climbing was readily developed in the fifties, sixties, seventies, and eighties. In the late eighties and especially the nineties, the vast majority of new routes here were bolted sport climbs. Many unprotectable face climbs, to fill in the huge gaps between the good crack routes, were added at popular areas such as Sunshine Wall.
On a map you will notice the area referred to by its proper name, Frenchman Coulee. However, every climber I've met refers to this place at Vantage, due to its proximity to the town of the same name.
When you visit Vantage, you will notice trail signs posted by the Frenchman Coulee Climber's Association or the FCCC. This group has been maintaining climber's trails built in 1998, erasing (and possibly revegetating) old social trails, & gathering litter.
Getting ThereVantage is located in central Washington only 2 miles from Interstate 90. When driving from the east or west, get off on exit #143 with signs for the Gorge Amphitheater. Turn north unto Silica Road and go approximately 3/4 of a mile until Vantage Road. Turn left here and go just over a mile to the main parking area. This place is where the vast majority of climbers set up camp for a weekend or extended stay.
Red TapeDue to the huge surge in climbing popularity, a parking permit is now required here. The permit costs $12.00 and is valid for one year. The closest place to obtain it is at Wallmart in Ephrata, 35 miles away. There are now 2 outhouses provided at the parking area to help keep the area clean. Please use them.
When To ClimbThe most popular time to climb here is from September through November and March to early June. Part of the explosion in popularity of climbing here is due to the dry desert-like conditions. When it is raining or snowing in Leavenworth, it may be perfect climbing conditions at Vantage. For those that like the desert heat, a climb here during the summer rairly involves significant precipitation or crowds.
Climbing Area Overview
|Climbing Area||Number of Routes||Trad Percentage||Min. Difficulty||Max. Difficulty|
|Zig Zag Wall||16||56%||5.6||5.10D|
|Middle East Wall||80||85%||5.6||5.11D|
|Kotick Memorial Wall||20||65%||5.6||5.10C|
|Sunshine Wall - Near End||36||75%||5.5||5.11B|
|Sunshine Wall - Coyote Wall||14||86%||5.6||5.11B|
|Sunshine Wall - King Pins||50||64%||5.6||5.12A|
|Sunshine Wall - Tilted Pillars||13||77%||5.6||5.11B|
|Sunshine Wall - Far End||47||70%||5.6||5.11A|
|Fat Man Wall||22||9%||5.5||5.12A|
|The Hen House||11||9%||5.5||5.11D|
|Running Gear Death Wall||6||100%||5.7||5.9|
CampingCamping is allowed on the south side of the Feathers climbing area. There is currently no charge to camp, if you have your parking pass.
Ethics1. Do not chop any routes for any reason without first consulting with the FCCC.
2. Clean all new routes of loose rock before placing the anchor chains. When climbers see shiny new chains, it means the route is now open to climbing.
WarningThere is one significant downisde to climbing at Vantage, loose rock. Be aware that some routes have not been cleaned and rockfall can happen anytime. I would suggest wearing a helmet in locations such as M&M wall, where you stand right under the climbers.
Goran KroppThe famous climber and adventurer Goran Kropp died while climbing the crack climb Air Guitar on Sunshine Wall. See this article for more information.
- Columnar Jointing
A good description of the geologic processes that formed the columns of the climbing area.
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