Darrington Walls. Although the Washington Cascades are not exactly known for having an oversupply of good granite, it was not until two years ago that climbers became aware of the beautiful and challenging walls and outcrops along the waters of Squire and Clear Creeks near Darrington, only a short 1½-hours’ drive from Seattle. In the summer of 1969, F. Beckey, T. Nephew, and D. Wagner climbed what is probably the most impressive wall of the lot, the Witch Doctor, on the flanks of Helena Peak (A.A.J., 1970, 17:1, p.118). During the spring and summer of 1970 three new routes were added in the area. Tom Oas and I climbed the low-angle slabs on Helena Peak which form the back side of Witch Doctor. The route, rated NCCS II, F8, begins about 3/4 of a mile past the junction of Forest Service roads #3210 and #3210A, where a creek bed and almost flat slabs lead to the climb proper, directly beneath the prominent saddle on the ridge crest. One bolt was placed to anchor a belay. Across the valley from the above climb, one sees a pair of adjacent buttresses 700 to 800 feet high. On the left-hand one, two new routes have now been established. They both ascend more or less the center of the 45° to 50° face, are separated by about 200 feet, and join at a prominent tree five leads up where they continue together for two more leads to easier ground. Hans Fraunfelder and I attempted the left-hand one, but were forced to retreat by an unexpected thunderstorm. Later in the summer Don Williamson and I completed this very enjoyable route which we rated NCCS II, F7, Al, the aid consisting of a few isolated moves. The right-hand route was climbed by Jim Friar and Don Williamson, and it was rated NCCS II, F7. One bolt was placed on each of the routes to anchor belays. Climbing is generally on low-angle water polished slabs, and while cracks are not abundant, and when present often dirt-filled, the soundness of the rock and its proximity to Seattle should contribute to the future popularity of the area.
Manuel A. González, unaffiliated