Ever climbed on columnar basalts? Really interesting rock that is very similar to a gym. The rock can be very chossy, so make sure that you wear a helmet. A wide selection of sport and trad routes are available. A guide book is impossible to buy (see below for an online version). The VOC club has one in their library that can be borrowed. There is a camp ground with toilets, but no water. You need a parking permit for this area. However, climbing and camping are free.
September through November and March to early June are not a bad time to visit. The summer months are usually brutally hot. There is swimming in the Columbia river if you keep following the access road. Vantage is super dry, so is a good alternative to Squamish when it's raining again in the lower mainland.
The climbing area is located in state-owned lands, which are administered by the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife. A vehicle access permit is required for parking, and costs US$12 a year. You're supposed to have this permit whether you're camping overnight or just parked there for the day. In contrary to what the guidebook says, this permit can no longer be bought at the Colonial Market in George. Other addresses where you can purchase these permits are (see Online listing of dealers):
- Fred Meyer, 201 S water St, Ellensburg, WA, 98926 (open 7am-11pm every day)
- Bi-Mart, 608 E Mountain View, Ellensburg, WA, 98926
- Texaco, 1352 Basin SW, Ephrata, WA, 98823
- Wal-Mart, 1399 SE Boulevard, Ephrata, WA, 98823
There is free camping on the southwest side of the Feathers. There are two porta-potties. No running water, so buy a large supply in Ellensburg. There are also paid campgrounds in Vantage with water and showers if that's your thing.
The most recent (2002) complete guidebook is: Frenchman Coulee by Marlene Ford and Jim Yoder. However, as late 2007, it is OUT OF PRINT. So it is very hard to get your hands on one of these. The clubroom has one copy, if you borrow it, really take care of it! The new edition is supposed to come out early 2008, but who knows...
A shorter version of the guidebook by Marc A. Dilly is available online:
What to bring
- Bring American money and a passport. You will get hosed on the exchange rate if you try and use a debit card.
- Bring your climbing gear, camping gear (reasonably warm), and a guide book (at least a photo copy).
- Lots of water (desert area)
- Helmets; the Frenchman Coulee is a notorious area for fatalities of climbers. Belayers must also wear them for the amount of loose rocks is extensive.
- Gas money, since drivers pay none of it.
- Firewood if you want to make fire.
The nearby towns of Vantage, and George have small food stores which have limited supplies and are fairly expensive. It's best to do your food shopping in Ellensburg or Quincy.