|GPS:||44.368, -121.139 Google Map · Climbing Area Map|
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|Shared By:||Peter Franzen on Jan 22, 2006 with 5 Suggestions|
|Admins:||Kevin MP, Nate Ball, Micah Klesick|
Located in the high desert in central Oregon, Smith Rock State Parks cliffs and hillsides take a commanding presence over the surrounding terrain. The main cliffs are made of volcanic welded tuff, and surrounding bands of columnar basalt lie above the winding Crooked River.
Smith Rock is a perfect weekend getaway for residents of the Portland area as well as a worthy destination for anybody exploring the Wests climbing. The prominent walls overlooking the Crooked River are home to many of Smith Rocks most famous routes, but for those seeking some solitude and adventure there is plenty to be found on the back side or among the basalt columns in the Upper and Lower gorge. Monkey Face, perhaps the parks most recognizable feature, sits proudly on the back side of Smith Rock with spectacular views of the Cascade Mountains and the arid landscape below.
It takes years to become familiar with all of the areas at Smith, and there is enough climbing here to allow even the locals to find new favorites every season. There are over 1,500 routes at Smith but it's easy to get stuck in a cycle where you only climb the same 50 classics each season; a little exploring here to the less-traveled areas goes a long way.
Approaches are generally short and straightforward from the main parking lot, and a well-maintained system of trails provides easy access to all of the parks areas. Please dont stray from the established trails; the visual and environmental impact of people scrambling up the hillsides can be enormous.
There is water available at the parking lot and a drinking fountain at the bridge, although they both get turned off during the cold months. I've heard that the water from the sinks in the bathrooms isn't potable so bring your own to be on the safe side if the fountains are shut off.
Restrooms are available in the main parking lot, at the bridge, and the Phoenix Composting Toilet is conveniently located within sprinting distance of the popular walls on the front side of the park. Please respect those around you, keep your pets under control, and pack out everything that you bring in.
If you've never been to Smith Rocks before, there is an overview map posted here that can help you find your way around.
The areas to the left are organized in the same fashion as the Watt's Guidebook, going to the left from Picnic Lunch Wall, to Monkey Face, and then across to Red Wall and towards the Monument Wall and around the gorge.
Safety Note: Part of Smith's long history of climbing and subsequent popularity is the existence of heavily used and/or aging hardware in various states of decay. If you encounter bolts or fixed gear that is beyond your ability to make safe, please report it here: goo.gl/forms/Fg2XZHWEW0xPUpN23 Examples of fixed gear that don't need to be reported are old/decaying fixed draws (if they're marginal, take them down and install new ones!) and expansion bolts that simply need to be tightened with a wrench. If a bolt won't tighten and/or stay tight, then it's a candidate for replacement.
Driving time to Smith Rock State Park is approximately 6-7 hours from Seattle, 2.5-3 hours from Portland, and around 30 minutes from Bend. The closest airport is 10 miles away in Redmond, OR.
Due to its location in Oregon's high desert the weather at Smith is typically dry and sunny. Generally there are very few days of the year where climbing is out of the question at Smith; soaking rain is rare, although the heat can be oppressive during the summer.
The best times to climb at Smith are the Spring and Fall. Summers are hot and it's not uncommon for the thermometer to soar above 100F in the sun, and in winter there are plenty of near to sub-freezing dry days for your hardcore redpoint attempts.
Standard desert rules apply to camping too: it gets surprisingly cold at night so be sure to pack that down jacket.
A Brief Note About The Routes
First-timers will undoubtedly notice something strange about the first bolt on many of the routes: it is often 15 feet off the ground, and there will likely be some committing moves leading up to it. This goes for routes of almost any grade, from the 5.8 trade routes to the 5.13 and .14 projects. Many of these routes begin on hillsides as well which makes a pre-clip tumble a very, very bad idea.
Do not hesitate to bring a stick-clip down into the park with you, and prepare to be somewhat humble about the climbing. People do occasionally take some ugly falls before the first bolt has been clipped on popular routes, which can easily be avoided by pre-clipping the 'draw.
You don't often see routes here with bolts every 5 ft. as you might at other areas, and while it may be intimidating at first you'll learn to love it as you spend more time here. If it's your first time at Smith it wouldn't be a bad idea to start off slowly and try a handful of routes a grade or 3 below what you're used to climbing, just to make sure you're comfortable.
Camping & Fees
There are two options for camping at Smith. For a fee ($8/person/night) you can camp at the Smith Bivy area which is adjacent to the park-- look for the sign just before the main parking lot. There are bathrooms with showers, water, and a cooking area. No fires are allowed. Be aware this is tent camping only - you cannot sleep in your vehicles.
The second option is the Skull Hollow campground. To get there take either Wilcox Avenue or Smith Rock Way East until you reach Lone Pine Road-- take a left. After a few miles of cow pastures look for a sign on the left for Skull Hollow (Here's a Google Maps link with directions from the park). If you hit Hwy. 26 you've gone too far. It has bathrooms and camp fires are allowed. There is no water available here so stock up beforehand. It's first-come first-served and can fill up on busy weekends. It is $5/car/night, and a 14-day limit.
The more compact Smith Rock Select is a great short list of the mega-classics here. Great pictures, clear topos, and good descriptions make for easy routefinding, but it's pretty brief in scope and is by no means comprehensive. If you're just passing through Smith for a weekend you could easily get by on this book alone.
Both books are listed in the Books For This Area link on this page.
Food & Supplies
Redmond is a 10 minute drive away and has a few decent breakfast places as well as some other hotels, fast food, grocery stores, and dinner options. The increasingly cosmopolitan city of Bend has a wide variety of restaurants, bars, and brewpubs that cater to everyone from the country club crowd to the local hippies.
Redpoint Climber's Supply is a great shop to pick up all your climbing and camping needs in Terrebonne. In addition to climbing gear they now offer coffee and espresso drinks, along with beer, cider, mead and kombucha, by the glass, or filling growlers. They have a small sitting area so people who are traveling can sit on a couch, or at a table, use the free WiFi, and grab a drink.
Classic Climbing Routes at Smith Rock
Days w Precip