The Index “Town Walls” comprise some of the steepest, highest quality, most concentrated granite cragging in the Pacific Northwest, and the highest concentration of steep, high quality climbs can be found in the Lower Town Wall proper, that is, everything between the Free Area (now more often referred to as the Great Northern Slab area) ending at Roger’s Corner, and the somewhat suspect cliffs of the Quarry Wall. With an approach time of minutes, a southern exposure, and a wide range of crack climbing challenges from 5.9 to 5.13c, many of which are considered classics, the Lower Town Wall is quite justly the most popular of the Index crags.
Although almost all of these routes feature additional pitches, these are nearly always harder and/or dirtier. User discretion advised.
Turn off of Hwy 2 onto Index-Galena Rd and then turn left over a bridge to the town of Index itself. At the second stop sign turn left, and then at the next stop sign turn right. After the camping area by the river a gravel parking lot will be visible on the right.
From the parking lot walk over the railroad tracks toward the cliff and turn right at the base, the first few climbs listed will be just before the trail cuts down past a massive stump.
These are by no means all of the routes in this area. The idea here is to document most of the popular 5.9 - 5.11- routes and leave the innumerable variation to the guidebooks. The star ratings are purely my own opinion, and are relative only to the other routes on this page - all are high quality climbs.
(5.9 ****) - technically a two pitch route but no one ever does the second pitch, good to combine with Tuna Boaters if you are up for the grade.
Tuna Boaters (5.10d **) - steep finger crack leads to a flaring chimney that leaders tend to squeeze through and followers lie-back.
Iron Horse (5.12 or C2 **) - a lower-angle City Park, pin scars make for secure nut placements but the transition off the mid-route slab gets interesting.
Sagittarius (5.10b, full route 5.11 ***) - burly; don’t let the traverse scare you, its the easiest part of the entire pitch, best to run-out the middle section, nasty things can happen to ropes and cams behind the massive flake.
Sagittarius follows the prominent flake system, photo inset shows the base more clearly; Iron Horse is the barely visible crack just to its left.
Stern Farmer and the lower section of Japanese Garden
Japanese Garden pitch 1 continues above chains, 5.11+, but is still a worthwhile 5.10a if stopping there.
Japanese Garden (5.10a to first set of chains, full route 5.11+ **) - balancey moves on the first half, burly wide crack on the second, you choose when the start lie-backing.
The Stern Farmer (5.12+ or C2 ***) - after the initial 5.9 section of Japanese Garden cut right to a small arching crack, the crux, either aid or free, is getting established in the crack above, a couple skyhook moves are probably the simplest way to do this. Even if intending to aid Stern Farmer it is best to free climb the lower part of JG, the aid is funky and will eat gear you will want farther up.
P1 (C1 or 5.13+ ***) - many, many Washington climbers’ first clean aid lead, can be done entirely with nuts, as a free climb the pitch is the hardest at Index, Mikey Schafer recently accomplished the first true redpoint send.
P2 (5.10c *) - a good way to get from Godzilla to Sloe Children
(5.9 ****) - runout at the bottom, but good gear where it counts, this is probably the quintessential Index single-pitch climb, definitely an old school 5.9.
Slow Children (5.10d ****) - the best finger crack around, crux is right at the top.
Godzilla, w/ City Park to the left and Slow Children above
Climbers on (L to R) 24 Hour Buccaneer, Thin Fingers, Tatoosh
24 Hour Buccaneer (5.11b R **) - tips jams, crimps, bad protection, ends at a chain anchor
Thin Fingers (5.11a ***) - thin fingers, then a slab move or two, and then over-hanging hands
Tatoosh (5.10a ***) - used to be considered a dangerous 10b, got cleaned a couple years ago and now its like an easier version of Sloe Children, some find it easier than Godzilla.