Photo: Climbing on Martian Slab at Peshastin Pinnacles State Park
The Peshastin Pinnacles are a collection of crags composed of Swauk sandstone sitting just above the orchards lining the Wenatchee Valley near the town of Cashmere. Rock climbers have visited these crags for over 50 years, and because many of the walls have a southwestern exposure, they are most commonly visited in spring and fall. While there are a few crack climbs here, most routes ascend bolt- protected slabs.
Before the mid-1990s, The Pinnacles were a very popular early- and late-season climbing destination. Over time, as Vantage became the desired destination for sport climbing (especially for West Side climbers), the use of the Peshastin Pinnacles dropped significantly. This is good news for climbers who do visit. The area is rarely crowded and, even on the busiest days, there will be no queues for the best climbs.
There’s reason the popularity of the area has waned: it’s small, there has been little new route development over the past 20 years, and the the rock is somewhere between soft and crumbly. But while this may not offer the very best of Central Washington climbing, it’s still an entertaining climbing destination. There are many moderate routes and it’s still an excellent place for beginning and intermediate climbers to hone their craft. It’s also just darn pretty to be on these beige cliffs and to look out toward the stark peaks of the Enchantments and down on the lush orchards of the Wenatchee Valley. It’s a view that doesn’t grow stale and it’s worth returning every now and again to get a refresher on how pretty the Cashmere area is as well as how to smear your way up nubs of sandstone.
Skill Level: Most of the routes here range from 5.5 to 5.10.
Guidebook Info. The pictures and route information we’ve included below is a good introduction to Peshastin Pinnacles and will keep you happily climbing here for several days. We’ve included a few pictures taken by Tom McMackin that were scanned from the 1976 guidebook Rock Climbing Leanworth and Index (long out of print). The pictures may be old but they accurately show most of the classic routes. For more routes and the most up-to-date climbing information, see the 2010 edition of Leavenworth Rock by Viktor Kramar ($36, www.Leavenworthrockclimbing.com).
Access: Follow Highway 2 some 0.2 miles west of Milepost 109 (near Cashmere) and north turn onto North Dryden Road, following signs to Peshastin Pinnacles State Park. In 0.5 miles reach the entrance to Peshastin Pinnacles State Park. Enter and park. The state park has some facilities (vault toilet, picnic tables).
Trails: About 1.5 miles of trail interconnect the different slabs.
More Info: Peshastin Pinnacle State Park covers 34.4 acres and offers six picnic sites, 8,350 feet of trail, and of special interest are the unique sandstone spires and formations contained in this rock climbing park. The crags were once on private property but in the late 1980s, the owners closed the area over liability concerns. The Trust for Public Lands and the Chelan Douglas Land Trust worked in tandem to purchase the area and then turned it over to State Parks, the agency that now manages the area. The Pinnacles re-opened as a park in 1991. This slideshow by Lisa Robinson takes a counter-clockwise walk around the trail system and is a good orientation to the area : Walking Tour.
Other Uses: Hiking, trail running, family walk
Nearest Town: Cashmere
Best Seasons: Spring and fall
Seasonal Closure: The park is closed during the winter. The stated dates of closure are October 15 to March 15, but these are soft dates and typically the park is open well into November if the the weather is mild. The park often opens a week or two before mid-March as well. To find out about the park’s status at any given time call 509-664-6373 or click this link for more details.
Hours: The park is open during daylight hours (6:30 am to dusk).
Permits: None required.
Shady Summer Climbing: Start as early as possible in the morning. There’s shade on southwest-facing slabs until late morning. On Grand Central Tower east sied routes are shaded in the late afternoon and evenings.
Climbing Protection. The majority of routes here are bolt protected but a sizable percentage require gear. Bring a standard rack and you’ll be set to climb most everything here.
Descents. There will be a combination of walk-offs, raps, and lowers. Many of the routes were first established with 50-meter ropes (or shorter) so one modern 60-meter rope gets you down the vast majority of routes.
Photo: The Pinnacles as seen from Highway 2 near Cashmere.
Orchard Rock is the first crag on your right as you pass through the gate into the area. No picture is included. The most popular route is the Tunnel Route (5.6) which starts on the little saddle on the uphill (north) side of the tower, goes up a slabby ramp to a hole (the tunnel) that you pass through. Next, work up a cornerlike slot to the belay on the top. Bring gear to 2 inches. Rappel off the east side of the crag.
Martian Slab/Tower is the broad, wide wall above and slightly to your right when you pass through the gate accessing the trails. 1) Catacombs: 5.8, fixed gear and gear to 2″. 2) Butter Brickle: 5.9+, gear to 4″, weird, interesting, and worthwhile. 3) West Face: 5.8, gear to 2″. 4) Martian Diagnol: 5.6, some fixed gear and gear to 2″, a classic. 5) Martian Direct (aka Diagnol Direct): 5.8, bolts and gear to 2″, excellent route. Also excellent and not shown but located just left of Martian Direct is Baseball Nut (5.9, bolted). 6) Ridge Route: 5.6, gear to 1.5″. 7) Porpoise: 5.6, gear to 1″, a popular route. 8) Gray Whale: 5.8+, bolts, short but popular.
Martian Slab (uphill portion). 7) Porpoise: 5.6, gear to 1″, a popular route. 8) Gray Whale: 5.8+, bolts, short but popular. Variations (7a and 7b) are easy to mid 5.10 and can be top-roped after doing Gray Whale.
Dinosauer Tower is both the highest and most massive crag at The Pinnacles. 1) Skyline: 5.5, gear to 2″. 2) Potholes: 5.8, bolts, a recommended route. 3) Potholes Direct: 51.0c, poorly protected and rarely led. 4) Potholes Direct Direct: 5.10a, bolts, excellent route. 5) Washboard: 5.10c, bolts, excellent route. 6) Primate: 5.10+: bolts and fixed gear. 7) Cro-Magnon: 5.8, gear to 2″, second pitch is interesting and fun. 8) Caveman: 5.9+ , gear to 2″.
Sunset Slab is beyond Dinosauer Tower and has several easy slab climbs that are excellent for beginners and new leaders. The second pitch of many of these routes ascends looser rock so many parties rap off after the first pitch (two ropes needed for some of these raps.) 1) Continuous BS: 5.6 to 5.9, bolted but strung out. 2) Green Velvet: 5.8, gear to 1″, the first pitch is nice but has marginal pro, many people rap from the top of the first pitch. 3) National Velvet: 5.6, bolts, good first pitch, second pitch not as clean. 4) Booby Vinton: 5.5, bolts, good route. 5) Sunset: 5.5, bolts and gear to 3″. 6) Sunrise: 5.7+, looser rock and poor pro.
Grand Central Tower – Back Side. The front of Grand Central offers slab climbs but the back side ascends steep cracks and solution pockets. 3) Empire State Route: 5.8, gear to 3″, awkward, intimidating, and fun for those who like contorting into odd positions. 4) Corkscrew: 5.9, gear to 2″, an indirect but fun line. 5) Vertigo: 5.9, gear to 4″, the best of these short, steep routes. 6) Bomb Shelter: 5.11a, fixed gear, scary pro and runout but a good route to all the slings where most people rappel.
Grand Central – Front Side. This slab offers a few of the better climbs at Peshastin. A rock slide on the right side of the slab over the winter of 2010 has probably affected some of the routes like the bottom of Nirvana Ridge, Sandbox, and the various West Face options. 1) Alley Oop Chimney: 5.9, funky bolts and run out. 2) Jock Trap: 5.9, gear to 3″. 7) Nirvana Ridge: 5.9, bolts and gear to 2″, a Peshastin classic but some of the rock is crumbly and some of the runouts are scary. 8) Scratch: 5.10c, fixed pro but very run out. 9) West Face Direct: 5.10a, good rock, bolts protect crux but much of the route is tricky and run out, easily top roped. 10) West Face: 5.8, bolts, excellent and popular first pitch, second pitch lousy. 11) Lightning Crack: 5.9, gear to 3″, perhaps the best-known climb at the area, do it. 12) Madsen’s Buttress: 5.10, poor rock and scary bolts. 13) Sand box: 5.9, gear to 2.5 “, poor rock and pro.
Austrian Slab has several excellent routes but most are a bit ballsy. 5) Slakin: 5.8, bolts, fun route but run out to the first bolt. 5a) Lichen Delight: 5.9, bolts and thin gear, run out. 6) Standard Route: 5.8, bolts and thin gear, run out. 7) Cajun Queen: 5.10b, bolts, good route but run out. 8) Faking it: 5.10b, bolts, very popular and clean climb but a bit run out. 9) Slender Thread: 5.9+, bolts, excellent route but run out — especially before the first clip. Most climbers traverse off the ledge one pitch up because of poor rock on the second pitch.
Sickle Slab is actually just the right side of the same crag housing Austrian Slab. 1) Windcave: 5.8, fixed gear and gear to 2″. 2) Windward: 5.6, fixed gear and gear to 2″, a good route. 3) Windward Direct: 5.8, bolts, well protected and popular. 4) The Tree: 5.4, runners and gear to 2″, crumbly rock. Note: Starting downhill and right of the Windcave is Testicle Fortitude, 5.9, (not shown) which is a good climb (though run out) following bolts up to a prominent flake before zigzagging to the same anchor as Windward. To descend Sickle Slab either downclimb off the back or rappel the front side (100′).
Leave It Better than You Found It: This should be every climber’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.