You are hereRock Climbing Destinations: Smith Rock

Rock Climbing Destinations: Smith Rock


Written by Janice Hirata August, 2001 

Smith Rock, located in Central Oregon, is considered by many to be one of
the best sport climbing areas in the U.S.  Two French climbers, Jean
Baptiste Tribout and Jean Marc Troussier, put up the now famous "To Bolt
or Not to Be", the first 5.14a in the U.S.  in 1986.  At the time, this
route far exceeded the grade of any other in the country and put Smith on
the map as a premier sport climbing destination.  Tribout returned in 1992
to climb "Just Do It".  At 5.14c, the grade again surpassed those of
America's hardest routes.  Smith is also a great place for beginning and
intermediate climbers with many quality routes at more moderate grades. 
There are also good quality traditional routes at Smith for those that
want to take a break from sport climbing.

The rock at the most popular areas at Smith is made of tuff.  The quality
of this tuff varies dramatically throughout the park ranging from darker,
solid rock to softer, lighter rock.  Basalt is the other type of rock at
Smith and can be found at the Gorge, an area apart from the popular walls
at Smith and hence, generally less crowded.  One of my favorite climbs at
Smith is at the Lower Gorge.  "Pure Palm" at 5.11a is a stemming and
palming problem up a basalt column that is considered a Smith classic.

If you visit Smith, don't forget to hike out to the West Side Crags and
the Monkey Face area.  Monkey Face gets its name from a 350 foot spire,
the top of which sits the face of a Monkey.  The "Pioneer Route", a five
pitch 5.7 A1 climb on the Monkey Face affords a spectacular view from the
top of the spire and extremely exciting exposure on the way up.  "Just Do
It" is located on the spire as well, for those hardman sport climbers. 
"Moons of Pluto", a 5.10d arete climb and "Screaming Yellow Zonkers", a
5.10b knobby, face climb on the Mesa Verde Wall at the West Side Crags are
highly recommended.

The best time to climb at Smith is during spring and fall.  Winter can be
very cold in the desert and summer temperatures sometimes hit 100 degrees. 
There is a walk-in campground at Smith complete with solar showers.  For
up-to-date information on the park, go to the Smith Rock State Park
website at http://www.oregonstateparks.org/park_51.php.  For more
information about climbing at Smith, visit http://www.smithrock.com.  The
"Climber's Guide to Smith Rock" by Alan Watts will give you all the
information you need about routes at Smith along with a climbing history
of the area.  Besides the climbs already mentioned, recommended routes
include Moonshine Dihedral (.9), Wedding Day (.10b), BBQ the Pope (.10b),
Chicken McNuggets (.10b), Magic Light (.11a) and Vomit Launch (.11b).

There are two climbing stores conveniently located near Smith Rock if you
need gear.  Rockhard, a quarter mile from the Smith Rock parking lot has
been in business for 25 years and packs a lot of stuff into their store. 
They are also famous for their huckleberry ice cream.  Redpoint Climbers
Supply in Terrebonne also carries a complete selection of climbing gear.

Smith Rock State Park is located in the high desert in Central Oregon, two
miles east of Hwy 97 near Terrebonne.  To the south are Redmond and Bend,
about 10 and 30 minutes by car.  Portland is 2.5 hours northwest of Smith. 
You can also fly into Redmond if you prefer to skip the drive from
Portland.

Bend is a rapidly growing community with many great restaurants and places
to entertain yourself on your rest days.  Deschutes Brewery is highly
recommended for its excellent cuisine as well as its beer.  Their India
Pale Ale is one of my favorites as well as the salmon salad.  Breakfast
doesn't get any better than at the Wagon Wheel in Redmond.  The service is
very friendly and the food is just like home cooking.  Pancakes and the
breakfast burrito were breakfast staples during my trip to Smith.

For those that prefer more upscale accommodations, there are motels and
hotels in Redmond.  Lodging information at the Redmond Chamber of Commerce
website is a good place to look for accommodations
(http://www.redmondcofc.com).  For lodging information in Bend, check out
http://bend-or.com/bend-info/lodging.shtml.

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