The Washington Climbers Coalition purchased the Lower Town Wall in 2010. The Lower Town Wall parcel includes 20 acres of spectacular climbing in the middle of a dense collection of the best crags and boulders in the state. This area has drawn climbers for fifty years. We are working on long range planning and infrastructure which we hope will support public access to climbing here forever.
In a nutshell:
The Washington Climbers Coalition is working with Washington State Parks to adopt a climbing management plan that will guide Parks’ management of the entire Index climbing area.
At the Lower Town Wall, we are making some improvements to the parking and trails.
We are working to install a toilet at the Lower Town Wall.
The Forest Service, the County, and other parties are moving ahead on a clean-up of the Gun Club property .
A park within a park. Click this image to see a map showing the Lower Town Wall parcel and surrounding areas.
Management Plan: Most of the Index climbing are lies within Forks of the Sky State Park, and “Parks” has supported climbing there without a formal plan for approximately 25 years. We are preparing to donate the Lower Town Wall property to State Parks for incorporation within the larger park, and this has given us an unusual opportunity to work with Washington State Parks to fashion a plan for a permanent climbing park where climbing will be considered the primary public access priority. This plan is essential to assuring that climbing may continue not only on the Lower Town Wall parcel but on surrounding lands even if agency priorities or other considerations change.
The climbing management plan is in the drafting stages but highlights include:
Overnight bivouacing is allowed
Route development and maintenance, including route cleaning, is allowed
Glued-on holds, chipping, etc. is prohibited
Bolts and other fixed anchors are allowed but State Parks does not monitor them and takes no responsibility for them
Power drills may be used for bolt installation
All area cliffs and boulders are to remain open unless specifically closed as required to protect the “health, safety and welfare of the public, park visitors or staff, or park resources.”
Toilet Planning: Multiple challenges are involved in planning and permitting for the installation of a toilet at Index. The Washington Climbers Coalition bought a crossing easement from Burlington Northern Railroad in 2010, for the specific purpose of allowing climber access to the Lower Town Wall and to allow service vehicles for a new toilet facility. The seasonal pond below the Lower Town Wall is a federal wetland and, as a result, we are going to be required to complete a mitigation project in order to obtain needed permits from Snohomish County. The property line for the Burlington Northern Right of Way must also be established and then the necessary construction permits and other planning can be undertaken.
The Bread Truck. Photo by Ben Gilkison.
Parking: The parking lot at Index went un-maintained for thirty years and it became a muddy mess just a small fraction of the original area available. An abandoned bread truck served as a trash bin for many years, and the blackberries were literally taking over.
We began clearing blackberries in 2011 and, in March 2012, the WCC hired a contractor re-grade the parking lot and add crushed rock so that the area easily handles twice as many cars as it did prior to our work. On busy days it is still not big enough but this was a major upgrade.
Trails: We have been working on trails in the vacinity of the Lower Town Wall since 2010. Increasing climber use had rendered some of the trails rutted and rocky which was both unsightly and, in some cases, more than vaguely hazardous. Our efforts here have been supported by the Access Fund, who has dispatched trail stewards from the “Access Fund Conservation Team” to help with projects here and elsewhere around the state. Most of our recent efforts have gone toward trails serving the Lower Town Wall and the Inner Wall, in part because these project areas are on WCC property but also because they see the most traffic. Rather than imported timber, we have used native material (i.e. rock) for steps and retaining walls and the result is that these improvements will last a very long time and they fade into the landscape, minimizing the appearance of a built environment. We hope to build on these efforts and undertake similar projects in the surrounding area. Read more about the Conservation Team here.
Stimson Bullitt, at age 86. Tim Matsui photo.
Stimson Bullitt:We’ve named the Lower Town Wall property the “Stimson Bullitt Climbing Reserve at Index. Stim was a great guy, and we are very proud to honor him. Click here to learn more…