Matt and Joanne’s Page

July 2, 2007

Menagerie Wilderness

Filed under: Climbing — Matt Stamplis @ 12:09 pm

This past weekend we headed South to the Menagerie Wilderness, a small wilderness tucked in the mountains of Central Oregon. Hidden amongst the woods here are dozens of spires poking out of the woods. To add to the fun, they are all named after animals: Rooster Rock, Rooster Tail, Turkey Monster, Chicken Rock, Hen Rock, The Opposum, Rabbit Ears, etc. We decided we’d check out the 300-foot South Face of Rooster Rock and a few of it’s neighbors.The guidebook says “If this is your first trip…pack light”. Well, we were planning on an overnight stay so we ignored that advice and packed the kitchen sink. The hike in is only about 2 miles long but it gains 2200 feet of elevation and with a heavy pack, is brutal. We brought a FULL rack and definitely did not need everything: a light rack of 10-12 quickdraws, a set of nuts, and a few cams is probably all you need for the routes we did.

The first route we climbed was the North Face of Rooster Rock (5.4): this is probably the easiest route in the Menagerie and is popular for this reason. The first 30 feet of the climb were soaked from the previous days rain, making things a little tricky. The climbing itself was forgettable but the summit has amazing views of the surrounding area. As I belayed Joanne up, I watched a hawk patrol back and forth above the treeline, looking for some little critters. This summit was used as a fire lookout tower for a number of years. I’m not sure exactly why the tower was abandoned but all that’s left of it now is a big pile of wood near the summit.

Here’s the view from the summit of Rooster Rock. You can see the pile of wood from the lookout tower.

One thing we noticed REAL quickly: there’s a diverse collection of bolts protecting many of the routes. The North Face route has monster-sized bolts, leftover from the long-gone ladder once lead to the lookout tower. However, many of the other bolts we found were pretty sketchy with plenty of rusty chains and home-made hangers that flex when weighted. A few of the bolts I clipped were sticking partway out of the rock – not something I’d want to fall on!

After rapping down Rooster Rock we took a little break and then took a short walk over to Hen Rock (a short ways West of the Rooster). The trees around here are so tall they tend to hide the rock spires and you don’t realize how big the rock is until you’re standing at the base, getting ready to climb! We climbed a long bolted slab (40+ meters) on the South Face (5.9) of Hen Rock. The crux of this route was first climbed in 1959: I can’t even imagine what kind of footwear they were using. The moves at the top were thin and I can’t imagine trying to climb it without sticky rubber shoes.

That night we slept on the rocky summit of the trail: what a beautiful view of the valley below!

The next morning we climbed the Rooster’s Tail. There’s not much to say about it other than it was mossy, damp, and had some not-so-solid looking rock. And had another slightly sketchy anchor.

This is looking up the route on Rooster Tail. Looks more like vertical gardening than climbing!

The last route we did was the South Face of Rooster Rock. This was a really great route, especially the first pitch. It’s mostly bolt-protected and you only need a light rack. After rapping down, we grabbed a quick bite to eat then ran down the trail back to the car. The trail down was almost as painful as the way up, just in a different sort of, knee-shattering way.

The first pitch of Rooster Rock. You can see moss grows in abundance here, even on the sunny South Face. The route here is well scrubbed, though.

I was dissapointed we didn’t get a view of the Turkey Monster, one of the largest spires in the area. We’ll definitely have to go back sometime (when we’re a little stronger) and give that a try.



  1. not bad…too bad i did not see any roosters or chicken in the picutres 😛

    and joanne, u might have a fren getting married end of this year 😀

    Comment by jerry — July 3, 2007 @ 11:34 pm

  2. Is it you?? 🙂

    Comment by joannestamplis — July 4, 2007 @ 11:02 am

  3. nope

    Comment by jerry — July 5, 2007 @ 5:49 pm

  4. Good to see folks are hitting up the Menage! Hope you liked it. Climbing spires is a very different experience, especially there. Cheers on the climbing!

    Comment by Ian Roth — November 20, 2007 @ 3:35 pm

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