Mazama, WA - The Fire Wall

Firestarter (.12c) and the heart of the Fire Wall
There are a number of excellent "sleeper" sport crags scattered around WA, and the Fire Wall of Mazama is one of them. In fact, 4 of Washington's 5 best sport climbing walls are located away from any major towns, often accessed via private land, and not included in any guidebooks.

 (My top 5 would be WWI, Nason Ridge, Newhalem, Equinox, and Fire Wall - the limestone out in the NE doesn't count only because I haven't visited it.  I know I'm probably missing several more!)

I got the chance to visit the Fire Wall yesterday morning with a few Leavenworth buddies. This wall has seen the area's two hardest single pitches established this summer, when Ben Gilkison climb a long-standing project, following a blue streak of pockets above the anchors on Firestarter. (5.13c) Shortly after that, Joe Kinder bolted a route just to the right which rides a right-trending "wave" of stone, and goes at 5.14a. Nice work guys!

We had a fun few hours on the left side of the wall, climbing and being pleasantly cold. The wall sports very little sun (none until 2:30 at this time of year) and a beautiful waterfall along the crag's left end. I managed to onsight the area classic, Firestarter, but didn't venture above onto Ben's new route. However, knowing how to get here and being aware of the aspect and quality of the routes, I'm definitely keen to return.

The Approach:

Drive ~4.7 miles up the valley from the Mazama Store on Lost River Road. After the Goat Wall parking/climbing, but well before the airstrip or the snow-park, you'll cross an unmarked creek that flows under the road year-round. This is Gate Creek. Park before this creek on the down-valley side of the creek crossing. A well-used trail leaves the road 40 yards  down-valley from where Gate Creek flows under the road. Follow this trail, going straight (ie DO NOT take the one possible hard right turn) for 30 minutes through the woods, and then up talus immediately to the right of the creek bed. The wall is just right of the creek.

All routes are closely bolted or sport fixed draws, so even without the guidebook you wont have much trouble just climbing yourself into oblivion. We consistently had more fun on routes than we thought we would, and enjoyed the movement and holds more than we may move guessed from the ground. 

1 comment:

  1. The line Kindner sent was bolted by Jefff Parmenter...props to both guys!