Photo: Tom Janisch working up Catapult’s corner system (5.8). The Bone is the triangular-shaped overhang (above and right) that’s also pointing right.
Attractions: Castle Rock is one of the largest and tallest crags in Central Washington and sits a few miles west of the town of Leavenworth in the Tumwater Canyon. The crag provides top notch ‘trad’ climbing on steep, grippy granite in an airy setting with views down into the emerald waters of the Wenatchee River and out over the cliff-strewn slopes of a neck-crimping canyon. The crag is divided roughly in half with a variety of two-pitch climbs on the Lower Wall and an even greater assortment of two-pitch climbs on the Upper Wall. Logger’s Ledge is the large ledge dividing the two walls. Link the walls together and you have quite a variety of four-pitch options leading you from top to bottom.
Skill: 3 (intermediate to advanced). Fault and Catapault are quite moderate (5.6 and 5.8 respectively). The Bone (5.9) is a favorite route to knock off and Brass Balls (5.10b, not drawn on our picture) is, arguably, the best route on the Lower Wall.
Access: From the western edge of Leavenworth, drive 2.5 miles west on Highway 2. At milepost 96.5, you’ll see the crag adjacent to the road on the right side and an extra-large pullout for parking. The trail to the Upper Wall leaves from the uphill (western) end of the pullout. To reach the Lower Wall, walk to the lower (eastern) end of the pullout and walk downhill some 50 yards to find the climber’s trail heading steeply uphill to the base of the wall.
Gear. Many of these routes have a placement or two of fixed gear but most of the protection relies on trad placements. Some of the newer routes on the right side of the Lower Wall that aren’t listed in this post rely on more bolts for pro.
Descent. After two pitches of climbing, you’ll reach the massive ‘Logger’s Ledge’ halfway up the crag where you’ll have access to all the routes on the Upper Wall. A trail leads from this ledge back down to the parking area.
Selected Routes of the Lower Wall (our take on the best routes).
- Brass Balls (not drawn on photo), 5.10b. Leaving from a higher ledge (accessed from the left) the route climbs the first prominent overhang to the left and at the same level of the number ‘6’ on our photo. The first pitch surmounts the wild first roof then a smaller roof followed by thin twin cracks. The second pitch is more mid-fifth class in character and rambles up a rather non-distinct line stairstepping blocks. Gear to 3 inches.
- Mr. Clean ( route B), 5.10c. An acrobatic one-pitch route that protects with small wires and cams. Near the top of this route, head up and slightly left if you intend to combine it with Brass Balls or diagnol right to combine this route with Catapult, The Bone, etc. Gear to 1 inch.
- Smut (route A), 5.10a. Start left of the Fault and aim for a bolt some 20 to 25 feet up. This route is runout and requires good gear placement skills. Gear to 1 inch.
- The Fault (route 4), 5.6. The prominent crack/chimney in the center of the Lower Wall and lining up with Catapult above. This is used as the access to Catapult, The Bone, etc. The actual second pitch of this route traverses right from the first belay then heads up and right before it emerges on the right side of Logger’s Ledge. Gear to 3 inches.
- Catapult (route 6), 5.8. A fun and solid route with acrobatic stemming that goes straight up through the corner system above the first pitch of The Fault. Gear to 3.5 inches.
- The Vertabrae (route 7), 5.10b. Leaves from the left side of Stoner’s Ledge, which is reached by climbing the bottom portion of Catapult and then stepping right. Climb the thin crack (crux) to the left of The Bone and wander up the stairstepping blocks leading to Logger’s Ledge. Gear to 1 inch.
- The Bone (route 8), 5.9. Reach Stoner’s Ledge as described in the last route. The Bone is the triangular overhang above the ledge. Climb a steep crack to the right of the overhang, then make an exposed and exciting hand traverse leftward out onto the bone and pull over it (crux). Wander up stairstepping blocks to Logger’s Ledge. Gear to 3.5 inches.
Photo by Tom McMakin (used in the 1976 guidebook Rock Climbing Leavenworth and Index, by Rich Carlstad and Don Brooks).
Rope. Most of the routes were established here with 150-foot ropes, but such ropes sometimes necessitated a final, funky belay below Logger’s Legde — 50-meter or 60-meter ropes recommended.
Maps. See our map below for more information.
- For additional climbs at this crag see our guidebook entries for Castle Rock: Southwest Face of Upper Wall or Castle Rock: West Side of Upper Wall.
- Our information supplies 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 climbing 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.
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.