Tuesday, October 28, 2008

October at Smith Rock

Andrew and I After our Second Pitch.

Climbing at Smith

Smith Rock Through the Brush

Sunrise at Smith Over the Crooked River

My cousin Andrew and I descended, or ascended, upon Smith Rock last weekend for a beautiful climbing and camping trip. Smith Rock is located in central Oregon and if you look back a few posts ago, was one of the first places Alyssa and I stopped in our initial jaunt across our new home, Oregon.
Smith is the birth place of modern American sport climbing and with more routes then I could think to fit into our weekend we made our journey east to central Oregon. We arrived late and laid ourselves under the stars next to the Crooked River in the $4 a night Bivouac camping area across the river from the cliffs. The Crooked, which meanders through the park and sits just below the gold and pink walls is not often fished within the park limits but is a popular fly fishing river upstream.
Smith has a great history and even greater climbs. The rock here is tuff and basalt, known for its texture. After a few routes of searching for foot holds I came to the realization like every climber eventually does at Smith, that there are foot holds everywhere. The rock, when looked at closely resembles some make-shift organic concrete that set up before it was smoothed out with small pebbles protruding from it's surface. This may be because of the geological history of the area and that tuff is technically consolidated volcanic ash common to the central Oregon area. The marble sized pebbles that sit sticking out of every inch of the walls surface are hard to identify at first to those who are not used to using miniature pebbles as sturdy unyielding stairs. Once identified as such you are on your way to becoming part of the ardent community that prevails at Smith. The local climbing "bums" who spend their time mesmerized by the jagged peaks that rise from the shores of the Crooked and out of the dust of the desert terrain are like most Oregonians, very welcoming. These climbers were more than willing to give me beta (a climbing term for information) when my guide book would seem to fail me or when I would fail it. An example of the gracious fun loving attitude can be seen here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzPqNRVu6-w where a local, Joel Sprenger dressed as Santa Claus, slack lines across the top of Smith Rock to the mouth of one of the most popular multi-pitch routes in the country, Monkey Face.
Smith Rock is one of the most unique and inspiring places to climb in the country with sport and trad climbing that will challenge the best of climbers. The community is welcoming and fun, and the weather is almost always dry which creates close to year round access.
I highly recommend taking the desert roads and heading to Smith. If not to climb the hiking in the area is beautiful as well.



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