Exit 38 Climbing: Exploring the Rocks

Introduction to Exit 38 Climbing

As an avid climber and enthusiast, I’ve always been captivated by the unique challenges and beauty offered by Exit 38 climbing. Located near North Bend, Washington, this climbing spot has become a haven for climbers of all skill levels, offering a range of routes that cater to both beginners and seasoned pros.

Why Choose Exit 38 for Your Climbing Adventure?

Exit 38 isn’t just a climbing destination; it’s an experience. The variety of routes, stunning natural scenery, and the welcoming climbing community make it an exceptional place for climbers seeking both adventure and camaraderie.

Preparing for Your Climb

Essential Gear for Exit 38 Climbing

Before you set foot on the rocks, it’s crucial to gear up appropriately. For Exit 38, a good climbing harness, reliable climbing shoes, a helmet, and a set of carabiners and ropes are non-negotiable. I also recommend a chalk bag to keep your hands dry and a small first-aid kit, just in case.

  • Climbing Harness: Ensure it fits snugly but comfortably. Look for adjustable leg loops and padded waistbands.
  • Climbing Shoes: Choose between neutral, moderate, or aggressive shoes based on the type of climbing you’ll be doing.
  • Helmet: A must-have for protection. Look for a lightweight design with ventilation.
  • Carabiners and Ropes: Invest in a dynamic rope for lead climbing and a few locking carabiners.
  • Chalk Bag: Helps improve grip by absorbing sweat from your hands.
  • First-Aid Kit: Include band-aids, antiseptic wipes, blister plasters, and a roll of sports tape.
  • Additional Gear: Consider a belay device, quickdraws for sport climbing, and a personal anchor system for safety.

Physical and Mental Preparation

Climbing is as much a mental game as it is physical. Regular exercise, especially focusing on core strength and flexibility, can immensely enhance your climbing experience. Equally, prepare mentally by studying routes and visualizing your climbs.

  • Physical Training: Incorporate climbing-specific workouts like hangboard training, pull-ups, and grip strength exercises.
  • Mental Training: Practice mindfulness and visualization techniques to enhance focus.
  • Route Planning: Study route guides and talk to experienced climbers about the specific challenges of Exit 38’s routes.
  • Rest and Nutrition: Ensure adequate rest and a balanced diet for optimal energy levels.

Local Climbing Regulations and Ethics

Understanding and Respecting Local Regulations

Climbing areas often have specific rules to ensure climber safety and protect the environment. By following these rules, climbers contribute to maintaining the area’s accessibility and sustainability. For instance, Exit 38 might have designated paths to reduce erosion or protect sensitive habitats.

Climbing with Respect for Nature

Implementing Leave No Trace Principles

This involves practices like packing out all trash, not disturbing wildlife, and staying on designated trails. These principles are crucial in preserving the natural beauty and ecological integrity of climbing areas.

Environmental Consciousness

  • Stay on marked trails to avoid trampling vegetation.
  • Avoid picking flowers or disturbing vegetation.
  • Participate in local conservation efforts, such as organized clean-ups or planting days.
  • Keep noise to a minimum to avoid startling animals.
  • Be aware of nesting seasons and avoid climbing near identified nesting areas.
  • Observe wildlife from a distance and never feed or attempt to interact with animals.
  • Awareness leads to respect. When climbers understand the impact of their actions, they’re more likely to make responsible choices that protect the environment.
  • A well-informed community can serve as stewards of the land, ensuring that the climbing areas remain pristine and accessible for future generations.

Navigating the Routes

Overview of Popular Climbing Routes

Overview of Popular Climbing Routes

Exit 38 boasts a variety of routes like ‘Amazonia’ and ‘Iron Horse,’ each offering unique challenges. ‘Amazonia’ is perfect for beginners, while ‘Iron Horse’ will test the mettle of more experienced climbers with its steep, demanding ascents.

  • ‘Amazonia’: A great beginner-friendly route with gentle inclines and plenty of holds.
  • ‘Iron Horse’: Features steep, technical climbs, requiring advanced skill and strength.

Tips for Beginners

Start with easier routes and gradually work your way up. Don’t rush; climbing is about enjoying the journey. And always climb with a partner – it’s safer and more fun.

  • Start Slow: Build confidence on easier routes before progressing.
  • Learn Basic Techniques: Understand fundamental climbing techniques like foot placement and hand grips.
  • Climb with a Partner: Ensure you have a more experienced climber to guide and belay you.

Technique Tips for Exit 38 Routes

Adapting to Route Characteristics

Each climbing route presents unique challenges. For instance, crack climbing at Exit 38 may require mastering specific hand and foot jamming techniques, while slab routes might demand good balance and friction skills.

Crack Climbing Techniques:

Hand and Foot Jamming Techniques
Hand and foot jamming provides a secure and reliable grip in crack climbing, where traditional holds are absent. These techniques are essential for conserving energy as they allow climbers to rest and stabilize themselves in positions where other holds might not be available.

  • Hand Jamming:
    • Start by inserting your hand into the crack with your thumb pointing down.
    • Then twist your hand slightly so the thumb turns upward. This motion expands the hand, creating friction against the crack walls.
    • Ensure your fingers are well-positioned and comfortable to bear weight.
  • Foot Jamming:
    • Place your foot into the crack sideways, with the outside edge of your shoe facing down.
    • Twist your ankle slightly so that the shoe edge and sole grip the sides of the crack.
    • Balance your weight on the jammed foot while maintaining a comfortable position.

Body Positioning in Crack Climbing
Efficient body positioning minimizes unnecessary energy expenditure. Keeping the body close to the wall and using the legs effectively helps in maintaining endurance throughout the climb. Proper positioning also reduces the strain on the arms, preventing quick fatigue and allowing for better control and technique execution.

  • Close to the Wall:
    • Keep your body as close to the rock as possible. This improves balance and stability.
    • Use your feet actively to push your body upwards, reducing the load on your arms.
  • Legs as Primary Drivers:
    • Focus on using your legs to push your body up. Legs are stronger and more enduring than arms, making them more efficient for upward movement.
    • Position your feet in a way that they can take most of the body’s weight, allowing your arms to focus on maintaining balance and position rather than bearing all the weight.

Slab Climbing Techniques:

Balance and Friction
Slab climbing often involves less-defined footholds, making balance and the ability to trust in your shoes‘ grip crucial. Mastering balance and friction techniques allows climbers to navigate slab routes more efficiently and safely, reducing the likelihood of slips and falls.

  • Understanding Shoe Friction:
    • Recognize that climbing shoes are designed to maximize friction. Trust that the rubber soles will adhere to the rock even when footholds are minimal.
    • Practice feeling the grip on different surfaces to build confidence in your shoes’ friction capabilities.
  • Maintaining Balance and Control:
    • Focus on keeping movements deliberate and controlled. Avoid sudden or jerky motions that can reduce the contact between the shoe and the rock.
    • Keep your center of gravity low, which increases stability and balance. This often means bending your knees and keeping your hips closer to the wall.

Effective Use of Smear Technique
Smearing is a key technique for navigating slab routes where traditional footholds are absent or minimal. It allows climbers to ascend seemingly smooth surfaces by relying on shoe rubber and body weight distribution, expanding the range of surfaces that can be climbed.

  • Foot Placement in Smearing:
    • Place your foot flat against the rock surface, ensuring maximum contact between the shoe’s rubber and the rock.
    • Apply pressure downwards and outwards, creating friction that holds your weight.
  • Body Alignment for Smearing:
    • Align your body so that your weight pushes directly down through your foot. This maximizes the rubber’s grip on the rock.
    • Stay as upright as possible to keep the pressure consistent, but adjust your body as needed to maintain balance.

Energy Management Strategies

Providing advice on conserving energy, such as efficient movement, finding rest spots on routes, and proper breathing techniques, can be crucial for climbers, especially on longer and more challenging climbs.

Efficient Movement:

Plan Your Route
Route planning minimizes on-the-spot decision-making, which can be energy-draining and time-consuming. Visualization helps in preparing mentally for the climb, reducing anxiety and increasing confidence.

  • Mental Mapping: Before beginning a climb, take time to study the route from the ground. Look for key holds, transitions, and potential challenges. This pre-climb analysis helps in formulating a mental map of your climb.
  • Visualization Techniques:
    • Imagine yourself executing each move. This mental rehearsal can help in anticipating and solving complex sections of the route.
    • Consider alternative moves or sequences that could be more efficient.

Use of Rest Spots
Regularly utilizing rest spots can significantly reduce muscle fatigue, especially on longer routes. These breaks allow climbers to recover physically and mentally, assess the upcoming section of the climb, and plan their next moves.

  • Spotting Rest Areas: Look for areas where the climb eases, like ledges, large holds, or places where the wall inclines less steeply. These are potential rest spots.
  • Resting Efficiently:
    • Once at a rest spot, take deep breaths to lower your heart rate and relax your muscles.
    • Shift your weight to your legs, giving your arms a break. Hang off straight arms rather than bent elbows to conserve energy.

Breathing Techniques:

Rhythmic Breathing
Rhythmic breathing ensures that your muscles receive a steady supply of oxygen, which is crucial for maintaining energy levels during a climb. This type of breathing helps in creating a focused and meditative state, which can improve concentration and movement precision.

  • Timing Your Breath: Coordinate your breathing with your movements. Inhale deeply as you reach for a hold, which helps in extending your body. Exhale as you pull up or move to the next hold, aiding in exertion and movement.
  • Consistent Rhythm: Try to maintain a steady breathing pattern throughout your climb. This helps in keeping a consistent pace and prevents overexertion.

Stress Management
Controlled breathing acts as a powerful tool for managing physical and mental stress. It can help in reducing the ‘fight or flight’ response that climbers often experience in high-stress situations. Proper breathing techniques can enhance focus, allowing climbers to stay calm and think clearly, which is crucial for navigating complex or difficult sections.

  • Mindful Breathing: During challenging parts of the climb, focus on your breath. Take deep, controlled breaths to calm your mind and reduce anxiety.
  • Breathing Techniques for Difficult Sections:
    • When facing a difficult section, pause and take a few deep breaths to compose yourself.
    • Use exhales to release tension and stress, especially before attempting a challenging move.

Skill Progression at Exit 38

Skill Progression at Exit 38

From Beginner to Intermediate

Progression Path:

  • Route Selection: I suggest starting with less challenging routes and gradually progressing to more difficult ones as skills improve.
  • Top-Rope to Lead Climbing: I highly encourage starting with the transition from top-rope climbing, where the rope is always above, to lead climbing, involving clipping the rope into protection points on the way up.

Multi-Pitch Climbing:

Building Endurance
Endurance is key in multi-pitch climbing due to the prolonged physical effort required to climb several rope lengths. Mental stamina is equally important to manage fatigue, stay motivated, and make sound decisions throughout the climb.

  • Physical Training:
    • Incorporate endurance training into your routine, such as long climbing sessions, cardiovascular exercises, and strength training.
    • Practice on single-pitch routes with minimal rest between climbs to simulate multi-pitch endurance.
  • Mental Preparation:
    • Engage in visualization exercises, imagining yourself successfully navigating multiple pitches.
    • Develop patience and mental fortitude. Multi-pitch climbs can be time-consuming and mentally taxing, requiring climbers to maintain focus and calm over extended periods.

Route Planning and Safety
Proper route planning helps in efficiently navigating the climb and managing time, which is crucial for multi-pitch routes that can take several hours to complete. Emphasizing safety is paramount in multi-pitch climbing due to the increased risks associated with higher climbs, longer exposure, and more complex logistics.

  • Thorough Route Planning:
    • Study route guides and maps in detail. Understand the length of each pitch, the location of anchors, and the type of gear required.
    • Plan your route considering factors like the time of day, weather conditions, and your team’s skill level.
  • Safety Precautions:
    • Double-check all climbing gear, including ropes, harnesses, and anchor systems.
    • Establish clear communication protocols with your climbing partner, especially for longer pitches where visual contact may be lost.
    • Learn and practice rescue techniques suitable for multi-pitch scenarios, such as escaping a belay or rappelling safely.

Overcoming Mental Barriers

Dealing with Height Fears:

  • Gradual Exposure: I suggest gradually increasing the height climbed to get accustomed to the exposure.
  • Focus on the Climb: Focus on the route and techniques rather than the height.

Managing Fall Frustration:

  • When we fall or fail to perform a certain technique, it’s part of our learning process, so don’t give up.

Building Mental Resilience:

  • Mindfulness Practices: You can practice meditation or yoga to enhance focus and mental control.
  • Support Network: Look for a supportive climbing community for encouragement and advice.

Challenges for Advanced Climbers

For the seasoned climbers, try the more complex routes. Focus on improving your technique and endurance. And maybe, mentor a beginner climber – sharing knowledge is part of the climbing culture.

  • Tackle Complex Routes: Experiment with overhangs and technical climbs for skill improvement.
  • Endurance Training: Include long-duration climbs and cardio workouts in your training regime.
  • Mentorship: Share your knowledge and experiences with newcomers.

Safety First

Understanding Climbing Safety

Understanding Climbing Safety

Always check your equipment before a climb. Understand the basics of first aid and rescue. Never underestimate the importance of a good spotter.

  • Equipment Check: Regularly inspect gear for wear and tear.
  • Learn Rescue Techniques: Be familiar with basic rescue procedures and emergency signaling.

Weather Considerations at Exit 38

The weather can be unpredictable. Always check the forecast before heading out and be prepared for sudden changes in weather conditions.

  • Stay Informed: Use reliable sources for weather updates.
  • Prepare for Changes: Pack rain gear and warm clothing for sudden weather shifts.

Post-Climbing Recovery and Care

Post-Climbing Recovery and Care

Importance of Post-Climbing Recovery

Cooling Down and Stretching

Why It Matters: After a rigorous climb, muscles can be tense and fatigued. Cooling down with stretches and light exercises helps to gradually lower heart rate and prevent muscle stiffness. This routine can significantly reduce the risk of strains and injuries.

Benefits for Climbers: Regular post-climbing stretching improves flexibility, a crucial aspect of climbing efficiently and reaching for holds that might otherwise be out of reach. It also enhances blood circulation, aiding in quicker muscle recovery.

Specific Stretches for Climbers

Finger and Forearm Stretches:

  • Extend your arm, palm facing down, and gently pull back on your fingers. This helps stretch the forearm muscles and tendons, vital for climbers who constantly grip holds.
  • Clench your fists tightly, then release and fan out your fingers. Repeat several times to relieve tension in the fingers.

Shoulder Stretches:

  • Perform arm circles and shoulder shrugs to release tension.
  • Cross one arm over your body and gently push it closer with the other arm, stretching the shoulder muscles.

Back and Core Stretches:

  • Lie on your back and gently bring your knees to your chest, rocking side to side. This helps to relax the lower back.
  • Practice the child’s pose, extending your arms forward while sitting back on your heels, to stretch the back and shoulders.

Caring for Climbing-Related Injuries

Caring for Climbing-Related Injuries

Identifying and Managing Common Injuries

  • Common Injuries: Climbers often face tendonitis, muscle strains, and joint issues. Tendonitis usually presents as pain or swelling in the fingers, elbows, or shoulders. Muscle strains can feel like sharp pain during movement, and joint issues might involve stiffness or discomfort in knees or elbows.
  • Initial Care Steps: For most minor injuries, the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) is effective. Rest the injured area, apply ice to reduce swelling, use compression bandages if needed, and elevate the injury above heart level.
  • Seeking Medical Attention: If pain persists, worsens, or limits your mobility, it’s crucial to seek professional medical advice. Persistent joint pain or swelling, inability to bear weight, or severe pain even at rest are indicators that professional assessment is needed.

First Aid Basics

  • Handling Cuts and Bruises: Clean any cuts with water, apply an antiseptic, and bandage. For bruises, ice can help reduce swelling.
  • Dealing with Sprains: Use an elastic bandage for compression and ice to reduce swelling. Avoid using the injured limb and keep it elevated.
  • First Aid Kit Essentials: Your kit should include band-aids, antiseptic wipes, gauze, adhesive tape, elastic bandages, a cold pack, and pain relief medication.

Making the Most of Your Climbing Experience

Best Times to Visit

Spring and fall offer the best climbing conditions. The weather is mild, and the routes are less crowded.

  • Spring and Fall: Ideal for comfortable temperatures and lower humidity.
  • Avoiding Crowds: Plan weekday trips or early morning climbs to beat the crowds.

Local Climbing Community and Resources

Engage with the local climbing community. They’re a treasure trove of information and can offer tips, route recommendations, and maybe even some climbing company.

Beyond Climbing: Exploring the Area

Local Attractions and Accommodations

Don’t miss exploring the nearby town of North Bend. It has cozy accommodations and some great eateries to refuel after a long day of climbing.

Combining Climbing with Other Activities

There are plenty of hiking trails and scenic spots around Exit 38. Combine climbing with these activities for a well-rounded adventure.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts

Exit 38 is more than just a climbing spot; it’s a community, a challenge, and a beautiful escape. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned climber, it offers something unique for everyone. Stay safe, respect the routes and nature, and most importantly, enjoy every moment of your climbing adventure.


  1. What’s the best route for beginners at Exit 38?
    ‘Amazonia’ is a great starting point for new climbers.
  2. Do I need a permit to climb at Exit 38?
    No, but always adhere to local climbing rules and regulations.
  3. Can I rent climbing gear nearby?
    Yes, there are several outfitters in North Bend where you can rent gear.
  4. What should I do in case of an emergency?
    Always have a plan and know the local emergency numbers. Climbing with a partner is also advised.
  5. Are there any climbing courses offered at Exit 38?
    Yes, there are various courses for different skill levels offered by local climbing schools.


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Tom Harlock

Hi, I'm Tom Harlock. When I'm not scaling the world's most thrilling peaks, I'm diving deep into the digital realm. My love for climbing and tech inspired "Climbing Codex", a platform designed to unite and guide climbers everywhere. Join me in exploring both the highs of the mountains and the vast world of online climbing resources. Let's ascend together!

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