Adventuring in the Frenchman Coulee

Frenchman Coulee - Search Nearby - Added by Nick Lake

World-class sport and trad climbing routes. Incredible desert and canyon scenery. Brilliant night skies.

Occupying a cluster of desert canyons and mesas perched atop the cliffs overlooking the eastern bank of the mighty Columbia River, the Frenchman Coulee is a rock climber’s paradise. Featuring dozens of world-class sport and trad routes, both single- and multi-pitch, the climbing around Vantage lives up to its considerable hype for novice and expert rock climbers alike.

Numerous free, dispersed campsites can be found on the south side of Vantage Road just west of the Feathers, facilitating a dirt-bag weekend excursion and providing exceptionally easy access to the best features. If possible, pitch your tent by one of the stone fire rings in a broad basin at the base of the Feathers, a straight line of abutting monoliths studded with dozens of lines of bolts. During the hotter months, climb the southwest side early in the day to avoid overheating then move through the keyhole into the shady northeast side to stay cool in the afternoon. Take it easy on 5.8 Satan’s Little Helper or Jesus Saves, or challenge yourself a bit more on the 5.10b Satan’s Wagon.

More advanced climbers, or anyone looking for a bit of a challenge, should load up and make the short trek over the basin’s western wall on a rough path, following the signs to the Sunshine Wall. After squeezing through a slot canyon, the trail bends around to the southwest along the wall overlooking Echo Basin and lines begin to appear. The Sunshine Wall is aptly named and bears the brunt of the day’s solar rays, making an early start a great idea.

The routes along the wall are a mix of fantastic trad and sport routes sporting colorful names like the 5.8 Party In Your Pants, the 5.11c Crossing the Delaware With Your Pants Down, and the ever-popular 5.9 Ride ‘em Cowboy. Climbers could spend days on this wall alone and not get bored, and as such, the crowds on prime climbing days can attest to this. Look for some solitude on one of the area's other walls, like the M n' M Wall, Riverview and Millenium, or the north-facing Middle East Wall.

Thirsty climbers headed back west on I-90 should make a pit-stop in Ellensburg for a tasting flight or growler fill of Quilter's Irish Death at Iron Horse Brewery

Extensive information about the area and all of the established lines can be found in this PDF

Tips:
  • Temperatures can easily exceed 100 degrees on summer days, especially on the Sunshine Wall. Be sure to drink plenty of water and take breaks in the shade. Most climbers aim for cooler spring or autumn days
  • Keep an eye out for the occasional rattlesnake
  • The area is usually very busy in the spring and fall and during big events at the Gorge Amphitheater—stay on trails and clean up after yourself to reduce human impact on the fragile shrub steppe ecosystem
  • A Discover Pass is required to park on WDFW lands
  • A privy is located in the main parking area
Activities

Rock Climbing, Camping, Photography

Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Scenic
Wildlife

Nearby Lodging

Ellensburg KOA

Ellensburg, Washington

Leavenworth / Pine Village KOA

Leavenworth, Washington

From $55/night

LOGE Leavenworth

Leavenworth, Washington

Pasco / Tri-Cities KOA

Pasco, Washington

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Way more than just climbing.

The climbing here is awesome, but there is much more to do here as well. Things such as camping, hiking, exploring, and you can even swim in the nearby Columbia River.

Terrific

Climbing for all ages and skill levels. It is a very popular site due to its great climbing and friendly environment

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