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Squire Creek Wall, Slab Daddy

In September 2008 Dan Dingle, Bill Enger, and I completed Slab Daddy (V 5.10+ AO) on Squire Creek Wall near Darrington. The 22-pitch route, which took four years to complete, goes free except for a 10' section on pitch 20. There is a good bit of the bolt-protected slap-and-pray climbing that Darrington is known for, but there are also enough flakes, cracks, and features to require a light rack, with at least one piece of five or six inches. The bottom half of the route consists of slabs punctuated by large ledges. Several earlier pitches are 5.10, but most are 5.8 or 5.9. The increasingly steep upper half of the route features more- difficult climbing and reaches 5.10+ in several places.

Squire Creek Wall is 80 miles northeast of Seattle, on the western slope of the Cascades. Just minutes from the rustic logging town of Darrington are several valleys blessed with large granite formations. The 2,000' Squire Creek Wall first made it into print in 1976, with Fred Beckey’s original Darrington & Index guide, but rumors of blank rock and nasty approaches kept most away. Surprisingly, the near end of Squire Creek Wall has a fairly civilized approach. The massif is reached after a 1½-mile walk along a decommissioned logging road. From the road a quick descent to the creek leads to a crossing immediately beneath the route itself. Slab Daddy takes the obvious full-height stroke of rock on the northern end of the wall and tops out on the fin-like ridge at nearly 4,400'.

Several excellent bivouac ledges exist, the most usable being the Reservoir Bivy at the top of the 6th pitch and the Balcony Bivy at the top of the 11th, where we spent many nights. The Reservoir Bivy features a large pocket that holds water through much of the season.

The 2009 season marked a 40-year history of rock-climbing on the Darrington crags. Until recently almost all of that history had taken place in the adjacent Clear Creek drainage, and indeed features like Exfoliation Dome, Three O’clock Rock, and the Green Giant Buttress, though far from climbed out, could be said to be approaching mature status. Now the feature once thought least accessible turns out to be among the more easily reached. After 40 years, this and Chris Greyell’s new routes on the Illusion Wall and Salish Peak point to an exciting future for climbing in the backcountry of Darrington’s domelands.

David Whitelaw