WHO: Kevin, Ashley, Mollie and Shauna
WHAT: Rock climbing
WHERE: Smith Rock, OR
WHEN: March 2012
How can a guy top off a week of skiing, eating, libations and laughter with three of his best friends? He goes climbing! And in Bend, Oregon, Smith Rock is where you head in the winter. I met with my friends Ashley, Mollie, and Shauna who live in this amazing Central Oregon town. We spent 2 days at Mt. Bachelor, toured Shevlin park by way of trail running, sampled lots of great beer, woke up late for coffee meetings at local spots in funky brick-lined alleyways, dressed up for neon-bowling, wined, dined, danced, and laughed ourselves to death. Did I mention that it was a spectacular week?
Ashley had asked me to bring some gear with me. Since she’s starting to rock the local indoor bouldering scene at Bend Rock Gym, she wants to begin tackling outdoor routes. Sweet! One more bag of gear to shuffle into the pickup. So on Sunday morning, Shauna, Ashley, and I headed about 25 miles northeast of Bend over to Smith Rock State Park to scope the scene.
From the parking lot, it’s a short, scenic walk across the river to the two most popular sections of rock: The Dihedrals and Morning Glory Wall. We had belay school for a bit, and then hit a fun easy climb: Five Gallon Buckets (5.8), which consists of a tafoni-pitted rock face. We then moved to a 5.9+ route just left of the Peanut, a spot between Morning Glory and Dihedrals. The name escapes me, but it was a great climb forcing you to use some jamming, stemming and some teeny, crimpy little holds. What I noticed most about Smith is how well developed this wonderful climbing location is. Belay pads have been built with rock retaining walls, and in some spots there are beefy wooden stairs leading up and down the pathways, or directly up the rock to a belay. I was extremely impressed with the work they’ve put in there!
In Bend, you could literally ski Bachelor all morning, then head to the rock in the afternoon and have less than an hour commute between the two. Additionally, most of the climbing at Smith Rock faces south, which means you’re taking in the sun the whole time. The scene here on a warm day is pretty busy. Smith is definitely a popular location, but worth going because of the mellow vibe and beautiful view. And there’s so much climbing, that even with the weekend crowd, we were able to find climbs without waiting. There are plenty of routes on both ends of the difficulty spectrum. From 5.7 to 5.12 and above. How can you beat this in the middle of winter?
The Tahoe Mountain Sports Adventure of the Week blog series takes a walk, hike, ski, climb in someone else’s shoes, from pro athletes to local Tahoe adventurers. Let us know if you’ve got an adventure to share.
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