Route of the Week: The Footless Traverse

By Blake Herrington, 14 July 2013

  • DATE

    14 July 2013


    Blake Herrington


    Rock Climbing

The fine-grained boulders on both sides of Hwy 2 through Leavenworth’s Tumwater Canyon provide some of the best, most concentrated, and most historic problems in the area. From the riverside Swiftwater picnic area a few miles west of town, you can quickly work through a huge variety of problems without spending too much time lugging your pads around on a steep, dusty trail. The classics of this area include Premium Coffee (V7) and Royal Flush (V1/2) but my favorite problem in the area, and an all-time local classic, is the “Footless Traverse” (V4/5). This problem is the farthest west of any of the boulders at Swiftwater, and it is visible for an instant off to the left (non-river side of the road) as one drives toward town from Steven’s pass. It consists of a low right-to-left traverse on flakes and smooth feet, culminating in a powerful overhanging crux sequence, still fairly low to the ground. The problem gets shade for much of the day and benefits from cool breezes off the river, making it a good summer project. The continuous nature of the climbing, and lack of height, make it a good one for folks on a solo-circuit or with only one spotter. It can be done statically, keeping your feet on the rock, but I’ve found that the counter-intuitive best beta does indeed involve cutting loose and going footless.

For more info and photos, visit the MountainProject Footless Traverse page [LINK].

Blake Herrington

Leavenworth, WA

Blake Herrington learned to climb as a teenager while working for a small bakery in North Cascades National Park. His first trips into the mountains instilled in him a familiarity with untraveled alpine choss and a love for remote peaks. Now in his mid-20s, Blake has lived in Denver and Bellingham, before recently settling into the mountain town of Leavenworth, Wash. He has established over two-dozen new alpine routes or first free ascents from Alaska, to Colorado to Argentina.

Blake is also a widely-published author, having contributed articles to Alpinist, Climbing and Rock & Ice. He has climbed sport and traditional pitches up to 5.13a, but considers diverse alpine routes the most engaging and inspiring sub-set of climbing. Despite savoring the alpine cooking of many climbing partners, he counts himself among the best camp chefs he’s had the opportunity to climb with.