5.9 Granite Trad Climbing At It’s Best In Leavenworth, WA
Just outside of Leavenworth, WA, Snow Creek Wall is an impressive granite formation in the Enchantments. Snow Creek Wall looms over the trail to the popular destination of Snow Lake. We climbed Outer Space, which is considered a classic Washington trad route. Arguably so, the popularity of Outer Space is warranted – every pitch is fun and interesting (well, except for the first two, which are more scrambling than climbing, but beyond that, so so fun).
Route: Outer Space
Objective: Snow Creek Wall
Length: 6 pitches (we ended up linking a couple pitches)
Time: 6.5-7 hours (to/from car)
Park at the Snow Lake Trailhead off Icicle Creek Road, just outside of Leavenworth. We’ve done this route twice and have left early enough to (luckily) be the first on the route (in the summer, I’d suggest leaving the trailhead no later than 5:00 a.m. – this route is very popular). The approach was fairly painless, continue up the Snow Lake Trail until you’re directly across Snow Creek Wall. There’s a cairn on the righthand side of the trail – take that down towards the creek, cross on fallen trees and make your way up the climbers trail to the base of the wall. The approach to the base of the climb took us approximately 1.5 hours.
Pitch 1-2: 5.8
(Mostly 4th class to 5.6 with a couple 5.8 moves, depending on how you do it.)
We linked pitches 1 and 2 of the climb, climbing up the start gully, up a 5.8 (ish) boulder move and traversing left to a big ledge with a tree. We had to simul climb some of this pitch for the rope to reach (with a 70m rope). A party behind us said they traversed left before we did and it was technically easier.
Pitch 3: 5.9
This pitch is considered the crux of the route. From the belay ledge, we took the right variation that included slabby steep cracks up to a small roof before traversing right out onto the crux. The crux is airy, but has great pro. The hardest part for me was the move out onto the traverse (there’s a good foot out right, which was hard for me to reach). After the traverse, continue up to a slanted ledge for belaying.
Pitch 4: 5.8
The start of this pitch includes knobby face climbing up to a left-facing dihedral (crux of the pitch). We stepped out left onto the dihedral instead of climbing up through the full dihedral to the belay ledge.
Pitch 5: 5.7
Best pitch of the route (in my opinion). The 5th pitch provides continuous, fun crack climbing for almost the entire duration of the pitch. Seriously, it’s amazing. Follow the obvious crack up the white scar on the shield. This is a perfect hands crack with knobs right and left – climb however you please.
Pitch 6-7: 5.9
(There were only a couple 5.9 bouldery-type moves right off the belay.)
The hardest part of this pitch is directly off the belay ledge. Step out right onto a fingers crack for some fun, bouldery moves. From here, head up the jammer cracks to the top. We used the entire length of our rope on this route and didn’t have communication, so be prepared.
Enjoy the views at the summit and descend either by rappelling or the scramble down the the gullies climbers left of the route. If you do the walk off, don’t take the first gully to your left – it will lead you to a dead-end and rappel station. Keep heading further out and make your way down towards the creek.
Enjoy! Say hi to the goats while you’re up there! This is an amazing climb and you won’t regret it…