Inspired Stone

Smith Rock: Tuff Climbing
May 19, 2010, 4:49 am
Filed under: Climbing | Tags:

Just when you thought I was obsessed with the mountains and climbing of the Sierra Nevada, I venture to two neighboring states and prove that I’m really obsessed with mountains and climbing in general. At the end of March I sampled the long sandstone free-climbing of Red Rocks, near Las Vegas. Last weekend I went north to finally experience the amazing volcanic tuff climbing of Smith Rock.

One motivation for the trip was to visit my friend Eric, who moved to Seattle last year. Smith Rock is roughly equidistant between Seattle and Davis, so we settled on a Thursday thru Sunday in May and met up in Oregon. I’ve known about Smith Rock for almost as long as I have been climbing. It was the birthplace of American sport climbing in the 1980’s and for a time, was home to America’s most difficult route: To Bolt or Not to Be, 5.14. But I don’t get that excited about sport climbing. So I never thought much about visiting. Yet I do like visiting new areas, climbing new rock, and of course it would be great to see Eric, so I was on the road Thursday at 5 PM, along with another friend Drew.

Smith Rock impressed me for a lot of reasons. The sport climbing is justifiably famous, but about half of the climbs we did were high quality crack climbs, such as Karate Crack, shown above, as well as Wartley’s Revenge and Zebra-Zion. But not only is the climbing great, the area is scenic and the camping perfect. Some serious resources and thinking went into the development of the camping situation. The bivy site is within walking distance of all the climbs, so once you park there is not need to drive again until you leave. The parking and picnic table area are kept separate from the big, undeveloped sleeping area, so you don’t have to deal with a pack of drunk people 20 feet from your tent when you are trying to get an early start the next day. The central bathroom even has a designated dish washing area, and even free dish soap! It was a fantastic trip-good climbing, good company and good living.