Matt and Joanne’s Page

September 24, 2005

Smith Rock

Filed under: Climbing — Tags: , — Matt Stamplis @ 12:00 pm

Trip Reports:

June 12-13, 2007: Marupial Traverse, Round River, Zebra-Zion, West Face Variation, Pioneer Route

Smith Rock is our favorite place to go climbing. Located in the high desert of Central Oregon, 30 minutes North of Bend, it is a climber’s paradise. The dry climate makes this a year-round destination on weekends for Portland climbers: even in the dead of winter, if the sun is out, it’s warm enough to climb. The best time to visit is spring, before it gets too hot. Fall is great, too, but it usually seems more crowded. Looking back at our climbing log, we spent 18 weekends here in 2006 and climbed in almost every month (except August and December) – so you can tell we like it 🙂

Even if you’re not a climber, visiting the park at least once and hiking Misery Ridge or the Burma Road is worth it, for the views of the park and Central Oregon alone. The Crooked River wraps its way almost entirely around the park, giving the park a feeling of isolation from the outside world. Just don’t drink the water!

The Dihedrals of Smith Rock: Moonshine Dihedral, one of my favorite routes, is the corner in the middle of the picture. Chain Reaction is the overhanging arete to its left. Too many classics to name…

The Morning Glory wall. What an impressive wall! Zebra-Zion is the classic route here, following an impressive line of weakness right up to the middle of the picture here. Click here for our trip report for the weekend we did this route.

The classic Monkey Face spire on a popular day. Everyone in this picture is climbing the Pioneer Route, by far the most popular route on the Monkey. I must say, from this view, it doesn’t look so much like a monkey. There’s a picture further down this page that looks more monkey-ish. Joanne and I finally got around to climbing this (the same day we ticked Zebra-Zion)!

Important gear for sport climbing at Smith in the summer: sun screen, lots of water, and a stick clip. Pretty cool looking hair, Matt! 🙂

Climbing on the “backside” of the park is a good way to beat the crowds and find some shade. Here’s an unknown climber on Moons of Pluto. Looks like she better move soon: here comes the sun!

Cleaning the anchors on Nine Gallon Buckets, on the Morning Glory Wall.

Wherever I May Roam, one of Smith’s few multi-pitch sport climbs, is one of Joanne’s favorite climbs. Here she is heading off on the 2nd pitch of the route.

The view from the top of Wherever I May Roam is hard to beat!

Sky Ridge, shown above, is one of my favorite routes I’ve done. Wild exposure, a healthy runout at the start, best position in the park? Retrobolting has tamed the crux but it’s still an adventurous route. I talked with the first ascentionist, George Cummings, on his ascent of this route. It sports what may be the first rappel-placed bolts in Oregon (placed in 1968!). It set the tone for pioneering routes at Smith (and sport climbing), although it wasn’t until 10+ years later before this practice (pre-inspection of routes) really caught on.

George told me a story about another of his other routes, Euclid’s Column (I might have the name wrong – the route was freed and renamed Karot Tots by Alan Watts). Some years after George’s first ascent he overheard some climbers who had just finished the climb. They were impressed that someone could bolt something like that on lead. He was afraid of telling anyone that these bolts had actually been placed on rappel!

The 2nd pitch of Sky Ridge (shown here) is a hand traverse with 200 feet of air under you. As you can see, the view is spectacular! This is the easier finish to the route: the original finish to the route, which I don’t believe gets done very often, aided a series of bolts directly up the ridge. If we give this one another go, we’ll definitely try this more challenging finish (freed at 10b).

There’s some great wildlife viewing opportunities in the park, as well….

…Just watch where you’re stepping! This rattlesnake buzzed us and certainly gave us a scare. Joanne totally freaked out, though, and REFUSED to walk around the snake. She wanted to turn around and walk 2 miles out of our way to avoid walking past this snake. She really thinks snakes (and anything with scales) are going to jump at her and bite her face. Good thing she didn’t watch Snakes on a Plane…

Here’s a picture of the Lower Gorge, hundreds of yards of basalt columns along the Crooked River. Even better: the rock here is steep and super solid. The result is hundreds of fantastic gear routes that provide a nice change of pace from the rest of the park. Plus, this area is overlooked by most visitors and is WAY quieter than the main climbing area. I hope to spend a lot more time here in the coming year. If only we could find a better way to get our dog down here: I think the best way might just throw him in a backpack and carry him down the approach ladder. I’m not sure what Yogi would think of that…

The routes in the Lower Gorge just eat up as much gear as you can throw at them. Ahhh…the classic climbing buttshot.

Asterisk Pass, one of the other notable features in the Park. The Asterisk balances in the middle of the pass. Joanne and I both think this rock looks more like Woodstock, Snoopy’s bird-buddy.

Route Info + Beta
A detailed Smith guide is a bit beyond the scope of this tiny little page but here’s a few personal route recommendations for Smith moderates! A lot of the classics at Smith tend to get over-run: anything marked with a (*) is less traveled if you’re looking to spend less time waiting in line.

Gear Routes: Moscow OR Super Slab 5.6, Spiderman 5.7, *Marsupial Traverse 5.7, Sky Ridge 5.8, Pioneer Route (West Face Variation) 5.8 A1, Moonshine Dihedral 5.9, Karate Crack 5.10a, Zebra-Zion 5.10a, *Tale of Two Shitties 5.10a, *Trezlar 5.10a, *Calamity Jam 5.10c, and *The Lower Gorge! (mostly 5.10a and harder basalt cracks, enough to keep you busy for weeks!)

Sport Climbin’: Grab a guidebook!


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