The Gold Bar Boulders Approach

The other day around quitting time I felt the sudden urge to explore, hike, and feel granite at my fingertips. My climbing partner and I had been talking about going out to the Gold Bar Boulders for some time but I wasn’t about to wait for his ridiculous schedule to magically open up to accommodate me, and besides the sun was shining. So after work, on an especially inspiring one of these abnormally sunny Seattle days, I threw a Nalgene and my climbing shoes into the Subuaru and started making my way towards Hwy 2. Ruca sat shotgun drooling out the window as I drove up out of the city and into the mountains. Even in traffic, it only took a little over an hour to get to Gold Bar from Seattle and only a few more minutes to get to the access road. When I arrived, I wasn’t surprised to see that the gate was closed. I’d read at the Washington Climbers Coalition site that the area is currently closed to vehicles but still open to climbers who don’t mind hoofing it. You can find out more about the current issues affecting the Gold Bar Boulders climbing area at the WCC’s website

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Ruca walking along the road to the Gold Bar Boulders

The road leads right up to the boulders. However, it relies on switch-backs to make the climb and has to be at least 2 to 3 miles of road, which doesn’t make it a very good approach for climbers on foot. I found this out the hard way, having had know idea how far off the road the boulders were. But it was pleasant enough; great views, birds chirping, and I even saw some deer before Ruca scared them off. 

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Mount Index

When I finally caught the first glimpse of my destination, I realized I wasn’t going to get any bouldering in before the sun went down. My new goal was to reach the boulders before dark and find a nice granite perch to watch the sunset. What a gorgeous area! The view of Mount Index was breathtaking and just kept getting better as I gained elevation. The air was crisp but the sun and a steady pace had me sweating and breathing hard by the time I reached the boulder field.

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A chalked out bouldering problem. Looks like a fun roof with thin hands from a sit.

After noting a couple of fun looking lines (I’ll have to try those another time), I scrambled up to an optimal vantage point and sat down to rest on a mossy slab.

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The sun starts setting over the Skykomish River Valley

I watched the sun set over the Skykomish River Valley, closed my eyes and took a couple of deep breaths as to inhale the whole experience before heading back down to the car.  

I made it back to the gate just as the whole world went full dark and the frogs started singing loud. I discovered a slightly-sprained ankle earned by my feeble attempts to chase the sun down the hillside. 

While I didn’t get to do exactly what I set out to do, my desire led to this attempt to climb, which deposited me in an awesome environment. I never would have been there otherwise. I otherwise had no business being there, and the space presented me with the opportunity to experience a moment that begged for an audience. I think that’s what I love most about climbing. In my ongoing search for rock to climb, I often find myself in phenomenal places and experience truly special moments that I’d never have had otherwise. Just another excuse to get outside, and a good one at that.

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To Get There

Take Hwy 2 east past Gold Bar and turn left onto Reiter road. When the road makes a sharp turn to the left continue straight instead. There’s a road on the left after a few miles blocked by a big metal gate. There’s a mud puddle about twenty or so feet off the road. The road leads up to a clearcut under an obvious cliff face. Boulders abound!

Map

Green Trail Map NO 142: Index.

 

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About the author

Loren is a Washington native, avid hiker, climber, and mountaineer. Loren lives in Seattle Washington with his wife Jeannie and dog Ruca and spends his time seeking out new alpine adventures in Washington’s highest places, enjoying the freedom that can only be found in the mountains.

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