On the Farside

248 pages, color photos.  Available
at local climbing stores, but not on
When I last lived in Seattle, I spent my time driving a little further to Leavenworth, Washington Pass, Tieton Canyon, and Smith Rock for my "front-country" climbing fix.  But that meant I was passing up some great locations half that far (and less), like Index and Snoqualmie Pass.  For simple access and variety, Snoqualmie Pass - off of I-90 - is an under-valued resource.  Great sport climbs at a variety of grades from 5.6 to 5.12, and a truly untapped amount of alpine climbs accessed from the Alpental Valley means that I can get coffee from my favorite cafe on my way out of town, climb all day, and be back in time for a beer and my own bed - only an hour away!

While I've been waiting for the snow to melt from the top of the pass, I've been learning about the sport climbing at Exit 38.  Three sectors/regions/trailheads are accessed from this exit, and I've been exploring the western most - the Farside - since it seems to have gotten the most recent development since I last climbed here 5 years ago.

Last Sunday Judy and Duncan joined Neo and I on an adventure-climbing-tour, using the recommended "Beginning Level Itinerary" on page 109 of the guide as a starting point.  Our goals were to 1) figure out the approach trails to the 7 crags at Farside, and 2) get some mileage in at easy grades, giving all of us some valuable time on the sharp end.  We hiked past the Gritscone and Eastern Block to climb at Headlight Point, Squishy Bell and Easy Street.  By the end of the day we had climbed 9 pitches, top-roped a 10th pitch, and got a good bearing on the area.  The climbs tend to be short (one was less than 30') and softly rated, which can be good for your ego but bad if you don't get enough variety in your climbing diet.  On several climbs we finished saying, "If only this was twice as tall!!"  Routes on the Eastern Block tend to be the longest.

Still, Snoqualmie Pass, Exit 38, and Exit 32 are all less than an hour away from home - Exit 38 is close enough for an evening session after work!  This is going to be a key part of my summer plans to get back into rock climbing shape and keep it through next winter.

At Headlight Point, Interstate Park, Farside, Exit 38
Swerve, 5.7, 3 bolts.
Midnight Scrambler, 5.7, 4 bolts.
Light-Headed Again, 5.7, 4 bolts.
Nocturnal Remission, 5.8, 6 bolts.
Swarm, 5.7, 5 bolts.
Carnage Before Bedtime, 5.10b, 6 bolts.  Top-roped.

At Squishy Bell, Interstate Park, Farside, Exit 38
Winter Rushing In, 5.8, 4 bolts.
November Glaze, 5.9, 4 bolts.

At Easy Street, Farside, Exit 38
Easy Street, 5.6, 14 bolts / 50+ meters.  A mid-way belay/rappel anchor means this can be broken into two pitches for climbing and rappeling.