Leading on Rock 3, Everett Intermediate Climbing Course

Field trip: Intermediate Leading On Rock

Leading on Rock 3, Everett Intermediate Climbing Course - Tieton River: Royal Columns

This field trip will focus on lead climbing, building hanging belays, swapping leads and crack climbing. Participants will walk away with the necessary skills to swap leads on multi-pitch rock climbing routes.

COVID-19: Learn about our most up-to-date guidance for participants and leaders on our COVID-19 Response page. All participants and leaders must agree to the COVID-19 Code of Conduct before participating in this Mountaineers activity.
  • Sat, May 16, 2015 — Sun, May 17, 2015
  • Everett Climbing Committee
  • Climbing
  • Rock Climb
  • Adults
  • Crag Rock Climb
  • Easy

Dates: May 16-17, 2015

Note: Discover Pass or WDFW parking pass is required to park in the lot


We'll aim to camp 3.7 miles up Oak Creek Road (dirt road ~200' past the Oak Creek Game Reserve.) Smart folks will drive out the night before.  Watch the odometer once you leave the highway.  Our target camp spot is a large open space with several camp spots and a few trees for shade next to the creek.  It is visible from the road.  Look for my or Mark’s car.  If this space is occupied by another group, drive 0.3 miles further up the road.  Not as nice a spot, but it'll work.  Plan on dirtbag accommodations (no potty, no water, leave no trace,) but it's much nicer camping than Vantage.  The nearest pit toilet is at the Oak Creek parking lot (a long walk when it’s that time.)  Plan accordingly. 


Bring firewood, water, camp chair and something to share around the campfire for dinner Saturday night.  Sprout, bring your Special Bucket.



Meet at 07:45 for briefing at the Oak Creek Wildlife Refuge (Royal Columns parking lot.)  It is a 3 hour drive from Seattle.  You will need a Discover Pass (same as Vantage.)   We will hand out ropes, and begin the hike up at 08:00 sharp.  


Brief driving directions follow. 

  • EAST on I-90 to Ellensburg

  • SOUTH on SR-97 to Yakima

  • WEST on SR-12 to Naches

  • LEFT at end of town in order to continue on SR-12 toward White Pass, (if you end up on SR-410, you missed the turn.)

  • Oak Creek Wildlife Refuge will be on your right a few minutes later.  The foot bridge across river to Royal Columns will be on your left.

  • Meet at the Game Reserve Parking Lot and be ready by 07:45


Naches is your last stop for food, water, gas and groceries.  Don’t count on buying food in Naches.  The grocery store is gross.  It’s a 15 min drive from Naches to Royal Columns, so it’s close enough if you forget something…  The True Value hardware store will sell the Discover pass in case you forget.



  • Please read the sections outlined above, especially on the Jesus Nut and crack climbing

  • Make tape gloves in advance.  You’ll want these

  • Bring 2 gallons of water per person.  There is no potable water

  • Bring firewood!

  • Plan to cook dinner at the campsite and share.  Salads, veggies and side dishes are always good.

  • If you have FRS radios, please bring them


Saturday Agenda

07:45     Pack up and assemble (aka get your shit together)

08:00     Hike up to Royal Columns (across the street)

08:30     Anchor building exercises

10:30     Demo – hanging belay, swapping leads

11:00     Mock leads with multi-pitch belay transition

15:30     Last climbs notice

16:00     Feet down and tear down

17:00     Debrief in Game Reserve parking lot

19:00    Iron Chef Cook-off 



07:30     Head out from campground

08:30     Anchor building exercises

09:30     Multi-pitch belay transition and open climbing on lead or mock lead

14:30     Last climbs notice

15:00     Feet down on last climbs and tear down

16:00     Debrief in Game Reserve parking lot


How good is “good enough”

Some pro guides teach this method.  Grade your pieces per below.  Your hanging belay should score 21 or better and accommodate an upward force.  Oppositional placements are scored together as one piece. The opposed pieces in a hanging belay should score an 8. If the 3 pieces in your hanging belay don’t add up to 21, add another piece till it scores 21 or better.  See this note for a brief description on How to Build an Anchor


10           A modern bolt.  This score is not achievable with trad pro

  9            A fixed piece in good shape.  Piece is so well set it cannot be cleaned as booty

  8            An ideally placed piece of pro that will take force from any angle   

  7            A well placed piece that will take downward or outward force

  6            A pretty good piece but could be better

…             … continuum

  1            A questionable piece that is likely to pop with any movement


The grading above goes hand in hand with the quality of the rock the pro is set in. 


Taping Hands

Some say tape is aid, but this is a good thing for Royal Columns, especially if you’re new to crack climbing.  The rock is rougher than at Vantage, and you will want these.  Please make tape gloves at home in advance.  Snip the wrist, then save them.  That way we’re ready to go.  Bring tape! 


Good demo on video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCjvTc-7Z6M   

Step by step pictures, http://www.chockstone.org/TechTips/Glove.htm


Building Anchors

You should have been introduced to the process to build a hanging belay at LOR2.  See this note for a brief review on How to Build an Anchor.  One of the comments contains instructions on how to build a rope anchor with clove hitches the old school way.


Mock Swapping Leads

Review the following and be familiar with this process for the LOR 3 exercises

  • Climber 1 will clip into the TOP ROPE with a figure 8 on a bite with a  6’ pigtail

  • Climber 1 will mock lead on TOP ROPE belayed by Climber 2

  • Climber 1 will build a hanging belay anchor midway up with the LEAD ROPE

  • Climber 1 will secure the TOP ROPE to the belay anchor as a systems backup

  • Instructor will review and the multipoint anchor system and okay Climber 1 to belay the follower up with the LEAD ROPE

  • Climber 2 will arrive at belay anchor, secure themselves to the anchor, and tie into the pigtail end of the TOP ROPE

  • Climber 1 will unclip from the TOP ROPE, remove their tie in point, and prepare to belay Climber 2 on the TOP ROPE

  • Climbers will swap leads

  • Climber 2 will mock lead on TOP ROPE

  • Climber 2 will top out and may need to build an anchor if bolts are not present.

  • Climber 2 will belay their follower up with the LEAD ROPE


Routes we will use at Royal Columns – Right to Left (easiest to harder in grade) 

  • Western Front

  • Rough Boys

  • Slacker

  • Good Timer

  • Level Head

  • Bridger


Incident Response


  • As always, in the event of an injury, we will try to self extract. 

  • If assistance is required, dial 911

  • The nearest trauma center is in Yakima


Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital - ER

110 South 9th Avenue

Yakima, WA 98902

(509) 575-5061




Tieton River: Royal Columns

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

Standard Climbing gear.  See class booklet.

Trip Reports