Index is Washington’s most famous cragging destination, and features some of the highest-quality granite trad climbing in the United States. Index has also seen extensive bouldering development in recent years, and there is a growing collection of world-class boulder problems lurking in the woods below the Upper Town Wall, across the North Fork of the Skykomish River, and along the Skykomish River to the west of town. The Washington Climbers Coalition presently owns the Lower Town Wall and nearby crags. The recent fundraising campaign undertaken by groups working to save public access at the Lower Town Wall, public media discussion, and the outstanding climbing opportunities found here are bringing more climbers than ever to Index.
Current status: Seasonal closures: Index is open year round but there is a seasonal nesting closure for falcon nesting in the Spring. Check the bulletin board across the tracks for current information as this closure is subject to change (changes are added here and on social media after announced by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife). Read more…
Share the love: The popularity and ease of access at Index bring into focus certain problems that may be less acute at other ares. As climbers, we share the area with others who may not share our enthusiasm for our sport and who may view large groups of climbers and their dogs, lines of parked cars on the roadside, extended camping along the river, and other climbing-associated behavior with dismay. Please read our 2015 Index Love Letter.
Watch out for falling objects:The top of the upper town wall is nearly vehicle-accessible and is visited by hikers and off-road vehicle users alike. As as result, there is an unusual hazard of large falling objects at the Upper Town Wall. Some visitors like to amuse themselves by throwing large items off the cliff, including car bumpers and medium sized trees. The landing zone for most of this seems to be between Backroad and Dana’s Arch, but climbers should be aware of the risk of falling debris whenever climbing at the Upper Town Wall. Read more...
Access Fund Jeff and volunteers.
Planning: The Washington Climbers Coalition has been improving trails in the area around the Lower Town Wall since our purchase of the site in 2010. We are working to install a permanent toilet near the approach to Great Northern Slab and we are negotiating the terms of a long-term climbing management plan that will guide Washington State Parks’ management of the surrounding area as well as the Lower Town Wall property. Read more…
Stay off the tracks: At the request of Burlington Northern, climbers are urged not to walk along the train tracks; instead, stay off to the left side as you head north toward The Country. DO NOT drive beyond the gate blocking the access to the tracks.
Logging: Holomon Ridge and some other outlying crags are off Forest Service Road #62, about five miles west of Index and south of Highway 2. The land up this road is a combination of private property and Forest Service land. There’s been a logging operation in the area. If you’re exploring in this area, please stay out of the way of any logging.
Fifth Force: Ever wonder about that walled off tunnel at The Country? In 1984 the Robbins Company used the site to test a drill that was to be used for diamond mining in Australia. The tunnel was then walled off and used for a laboratory by University of Washington Professor Paul Boynton. Using a highly sophisticated pendulum, he could measure the gravitational pull of the Index Granite; his experiments here were part of an attempt to observe the mysterious “fifth force,” a theoretical kind of gravity that could explain certain observations in the Universe. Climbers have an instinctive understanding of this magical attraction and that’s why we flock here. Read about Mr. Boynton.
Access saga: Climbers have been active at Index for over fifty years. In March, 2009, a private land owner put up “no trespassing” signs at the Lower Town Wall. Along with partner groups the Access Fund and the American Alpine Club, the Washington Climbers Coalition raised money to purchase the property and, in 2011, we bought the land which holds the Lower Town Wall, Midwall, and other nearby crags. Read about the Index Fund here… We are preparing to donate the property to State Parks for permanent management as a climbing park. For more information: long range planning update.
Ownership/Management: The crags at Index lie on, or are accessed via, a combination of Washington State Parks, U. S. National Forest Service, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, and private land. The Upper Town Wall and the Country area are on State Parks land and the Beetle Bailey area is on private land. The Lower Town Wall (foreground in the photo at left) is currently owned by the Washington Climbers Coalition.
Mikey Schaefer on Godzilla. Photo by Ben Gilkison.
Sonya Kepler navigating the knob-studded crux of Tempitchuous, 12a. Index, WA. Photo by Ben Gilkison.
Kevin Newell on The Engineer V9 in the woods below Lookout Point. Photo by Kevin Newell.
Max Dufford on Clay, 5.11d, Index Town Wall.
Photo by Larry Kemp.
Fred Beckey on 1966 first ascent of Town Crier. Photo by Dave Beckstead.