Photo: Kyle Flick works his way up a route (Canary?) on the Upper Wall.
Attractions: Old Gray Mare, Crack of Doom, Canary, Cat Burglar, Saber, and Century are all among the classic trad routes on the southwest-facing upper wall of Castle Rock. Castle Rock is a large rock formation 2.5 west of Leavenworth. These routes are all on the right side of the main ledge (Logger’s Ledge) dividing the lower and upper walls.
Skill: 3 (intermediate to advanced). Most of the routes in this post are quite moderate (5.6 to 5.8), but Saber is a classic easier route (5.4) and a few of the routes listed are solid 5.10s. Most of these routes are two pitches long if you follow them to the top.
Access: From the western edge of Leavenworth, drive 2.5 miles west on Highway 2. At milepost 96.5, you’ll see the formation adjacent to the road on the right side and an extra-large pullout for parking. The trail to Upper Wall leaves from the uphill (western) end of the pullout.
Gear. Castle Rock mainly follows ‘trad’ ethics. Many routes have a placement or two of fixed gear in blank parts of the route but protection relies mainly on trad placements. A standard rack will allow you to climb all these routes.
Descent. A good descent trail allows you to walk-off the top.
Photo by Tom McMakin (used in the 1976 guidebook Rock Climbing Leavenworth and Index, by Rich Carlstad and Don Brooks).
Other Good Routes near Canary:
- Devil’s Fright (Number 12), 5.10b. The left most route through this roof area. Gear to 2 inches.
- Devil’s Delight (Number 13), 5.10c. Gear to 1.5 inches.
- Crack of Doom (Number 14), 5.10a. This is the hand/fist crack above Old Gray Mare is interesting and first-rate. Gear to to 3 or even 3.5 inches.
- Old Gray Mare (Number 15), 5.8. A route with an interesting combination of moves but be forewarned the protection is run out.Gear to 1.5 inches.
- Canary and Canary Direct (Numbers 16 and 17). One of the most popular routes on the wall with one of the more memorable moves (the step-across) to kick off the second pitch. Gear to 2.5 inches.
- Cat Burglar (Number 18). 5.6. A good route with a bouldering start that is considerably harder than the rating. Gear to about 2 inches.
- Direttissima ( Number 19), 5.8. Another fun and interesting route that takes gear to about 1.5″. The second pitch follows a rather non-distinct line between Pitch 2 of Saber (to your left) and of Cat Burglar (right).
- Saber (Number 20), 5.4. Great rock, and quite continuous for 2 pitches. Easy lines don’t get much better. Gear to 2.5 inches.
- Century (Number 21), 5.8+. Another excellent climb among the many good climbs on this wall. This route is more strung out and the fixed pro can be funky, making for less secure with its protection. Gear to 2.5 inches.
Rope. Most of the routes were established here with 150-foot ropes, but such ropes sometimes necessitated a final, funky belay just below the top. 50-meter or 60-meter ropes recommended.
Shady Summer Climbing: early morning, late afternoon, depending upon routes chosen.
- For additional climbs at this crag see our guidebook entries for 1) Castle Rock: West Side of Upper Wall or 2) Castle Rock: Lower Wall.
- Our information will supply new visitors and new climbers with the information needed for many days of fun climbing at Castle Rock without any outlay of $. People who climb here frequently and those who climb at a higher grade (5.11 and above), will want to refer to Leavenworth Rock by Viktor Kramar which has the best and most complete compilation of climbs at Castle Rock and around Leavenworth.
Fees/Permits: No permits are needed to climb here.
Hazards: With river, road, and wind noise it’s often difficult for climber’s to communicate on many routes at Castle. Climbing teams are wise to work out a silent method of communicating (e.g., series of tugs) to signal belay off, climb, etc.
Reporter and Dates: This report was intially prepared in June 2006 by Andy Dappen and was updated in July 2010.
Leave It Better than You Found It. This should be every user’s goal. Pick up trash left by others, pull noxious weeds along your route, throw branches over unwanted spur trails, etc.
Disclaimer. Treat this information as recommendations, not gospel. Conditions change and those contributing these reports are volunteers–they may make mistakes or not know all the issues affecting a route. You are responsible for yourself, your actions, and your safety. If you won’t accept that responsibility, you are prohibited from using our information.