Over the past decade and a half there has been a lot of talk within the bouldering community of the exciting development that is going on in central Washington. While more often than not these conversations refer to what’s going on in the mecca that is Leavenworth, Gold Bar is certainly worthy of being included in the hype. With high quality granite, plenty of inspiring lines to project, and glorious views – all in about an hour’s drive from Seattle – what more could a boulderer ask for?
What Makes It Great
Gold Bar’s boulders are grouped into several areas. The Five Star Boulder, The Clearcut, The Forest, and The Sanctuary are all clustered along the hill that leads up to the towering Zeke’s Wall. The Beach Boulder and Camp Serene are on the other side of the valley.
The closest area from the road is The Five Star Boulder, which Central Washington Bouldering guidebook author Kelly Sheridan calls “one of the best boulders in America, hands down.” It has dozen problems, ranging from V2 to V11. Overall, however, these routes skew both hard and high (so probably not the best place to start if you’re newer to the sport).
The biggest area is The Clearcut, which offers a good spread of problems from V0 to V10. I’d particularly recommend playing on “Summer Solstice” (V3), “Water” (V6), and “Obesity” (V7). Because it’s out in the open The Clearcut has the best views – but if you are looking for a reprieve from summer sun, head to The Forest and The Sanctuary. With several problems in the V0-V3 range, The Sanctuary is also the best place for beginners.
When you go, do good common sense and be polite with Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officials if you do encounter them. As of November 2014, the Gold Bar boulders are newly under DNR ownership. Climbing here is still currently allowed, a privilege we definitely don’t want to lose. In order to prevent that from happening, please don’t drive off the main roadway, don’t bypass or block the gate, do display a discover pass, and do use leave no trace ethics.
Who is Going to Love It
Bouldering die-hards who want easy access to fun problems on excellent rock.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Seattle, take Highway 2 past the town of Gold Bar, and then turn left onto Reiter Road. Follow this until Reiter makes a sharp left, at which point you will continue straight.
Park at on the side of this road once you see the 4X4 road on the left side. Take the 4X4 road up to the boulders.