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Areas in Lower Gorge

East Side 54 / 11 / 3 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 65
West Side 75 / 25 / 3 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 99

Description

The Lower Gorge is Smith's best "secret." In a park known for its sport lines lies an impeccable collection of cracks. The lower gorge contains more four star cracks than bolts. The majority of the climbs range from easy 5.10 into the .12's.

Even on Smith's busiest days there are usually only a handful of crack connoisseurs in this serene area. The Gorge is composed of a series of striking vertical basalt columns located on both sides of the crooked river. The rock is generally of superb quality with sometimes sharp edges and good friction.

Although the most classic crack lines were done long ago there are still a few new mixed lines going up as well as 2nd pitches going to the top of the formation.

Getting There

There are several popular ways to descend into the crack mecca depending on which side of the river you want to climb. As spring turns into summer the river goes down allowing for adventurous boulder hoppers to ford the river and get quick access to both the east and west sides of the river.

West Collums approaches:
From the turnaround at the northern end of the parking area head East to the rim. Find a place where there are detached pillars and a rebar ladder going down a chimney. Climb down this chimney and head upriver (southeast). After crossing a large slide of small boulders you'll see the start of many pillars that are the lower gorge.

A second method of descent is my preference. This "secret entrance" once went through private property but now is owned by the park. This way also starts at the turnaround parking lot. Park and then head back up the road until you see a driveway leading to a house on the east. This house is now owned by the park. Go behind the house and through a gate. Walk along the rim for about a 100ft to find an improbable but easy 3rd class descent into the gorge.

East side Columns descent:
Descend the main trail toward the river. Cross the bridge and follow a nice trail next to the river to the right. Make sure to stay near the river as alternate trails head to other areas of the park. Pass the student wall, a series of shorter columns, until you arrive a the longer colums of the lower gorge.

164 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Lower Gorge

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 159
Cruel Sister
Trad
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 129
Gruff
Trad
5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b
 67
Quasar
Trad
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
 127
Bad Finger
Trad
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
 94
Blood Clot
Trad
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
 80
Wildfire
Trad
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
 51
Hand Job
Trad
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
 67
Rim Job
Trad
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
 69
Cornercopia
Trad
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
 40
Morning Star
Trad
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
 56
Last Chance
Trad
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
 39
Prometheus
Trad
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
 138
Pure Palm
Sport
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
 46
On The Road
Trad
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c PG13
 41
Crack-A-No-Go
Trad
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Cruel Sister W Side > (3) Catwalk Cliff
 159
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad
Gruff W Side > (2) Wildfire Wall
 129
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad
Quasar W Side > (3) Catwalk Cliff
 67
5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b Trad
Bad Finger W Side > (2) Wildfire Wall
 127
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad
Blood Clot W Side > (3) Catwalk Cliff
 94
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad
Wildfire W Side > (2) Wildfire Wall
 80
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad
Hand Job E Side > (3) Hand Job Wall
 51
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad
Rim Job W Side > (2) Wildfire Wall
 67
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad
Cornercopia W Side > (2) Wildfire Wall
 69
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad
Morning Star W Side > (4) Star Wall
 40
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Trad
Last Chance W Side > (3) Catwalk Cliff
 56
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Trad
Prometheus W Side > (3) Catwalk Cliff
 39
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Trad
Pure Palm W Side > (2) Wildfire Wall
 138
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
On The Road W Side > (2) Wildfire Wall
 46
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Trad
Crack-A-No-Go W Side > (3) Catwalk Cliff
 41
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c PG13 Trad
More Classic Climbs in Lower Gorge »

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Peter Franzen
Phoenix, AZ
Peter Franzen   Phoenix, AZ  
Also worth mentioning is that the West Side of the gorge is almost always in the shade due to its orientation. For climbers seeking a respite from the scorching heat of the main area this is a great place to cool off. Oct 1, 2006
Joel Sprenger
Terrebonne, OR
Joel Sprenger   Terrebonne, OR
Does anyone know about the routes on the Shakespeare wall not listed in the Watts guide? Specifically the bolted route on the left side of the wall, the top was hard Nov 17, 2007
Wylie
Flagstaff, AZ
Wylie   Flagstaff, AZ
Beware the horde of flying rats (pigeons) that sit above Wildfire and Windfall wall constantly dropping bombs. After my partner and I were crapped on about 6 times I began daydreaming about shotguns and arsenic birdseed. I. Hate. Pigeons... Sep 23, 2011
Max Tepfer
Bend, OR
Max Tepfer   Bend, OR
A few thoughts after too many years climbing down here:
The way the routes sort out by grade and style is unique. 5.10 tends to be relatively mellow splitters that are straightforward to climb and protect. 5.11 tends to be abstract and technical often requiring at least some small to tiny pro. Somewhere between 5.11 and 5.12 you start finding more and more bolts. You can have a truly standout day with just a rack of quick draws climbing in the 12- to mid 12 range.

In terms of movement, the 5.10 cracks feel pretty soft compared to the desert and/or Trout Creek. While they're certainly splitters, they're peppered with feet and rests such that their grade often comes from an individual sequence instead of the generally sustained nature of the climbing found in other crack climbing venues. 5.11 and up feels pretty hard (or perhaps spot on) for the grade and is an excellent simulator for granite face climbing.

Also, Contrary to the above, the west side of the gorge sees PM shade. It's scorching hot in the morning on any warm day. Jun 19, 2018

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