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Areas in Cougar Buttress

Main Area 3 / 5 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 8
West Side 0 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 1
Elevation: 5,213 ft
GPS: 44.036, -121.548 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 2,443 total · 615/month
Shared By: Jeff Edge on Jun 26, 2018
Admins: Nate Ball, Micah Klesick
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A nice quiet crag overlooking Tumalo creek, featuring some longer trad lines up to 600' and a handful of bolted sport routes as well, mostly concentrated in the low 5.10 range. Perhaps about 50-60 routes total in the main area, with lots of potential for more (especially easier lines).

This area has had a secretive aura about it for some time, and shows signs of having very little traffic apart from one or two main routes you can expect to brush dirt, lichen, and spiderwebs off the chalk-free holds on the way up. Rock quality is pretty variable, with a number of questionable sections and holds on most routes. Many if not all of them could benefit from increased traffic--bring a brush and wear helmets. Inspect jugs and edges before you commit to them.

For these reasons, this place is probably best as a weekend diversion if you live in the area, and might be a little disappointing if you drove from out of town, past Smith, to get here.

As routes are being added here to the MP database, further information can be found on the Cascade Climber's forum, Summit post, old guidebooks, blogs, etc for the time being. Despite all the secrecy hype, it really isn't hard to find information on.

If you want a true adventure, stop reading now, drive up towards Tumalo Falls stop when you see the big rock, hike up towards it with a sling full of widgets and go exploring. Don't forget to check for ticks after. There you go, you now have the opportunity to experience it how many have before you.

Getting There

Drive as if you were going to Tumalo Falls (Head out of town West on Skyliners road, turn onto gravel at FS 4603...or just type "Tumalo Falls" into Google Maps), this final stretch of road is closed seasonally in the winter.

Cougar Buttress is the obvious 600' cliff on your right. If you don't see it, you probably shouldn't be climbing. Park in a small turnout on the side of the road (FS 4603) just before you are parallel to the highest point of the wall.

The approach trail starts at a small break in the line of trees along the road; it starts just to the left of a white USGS Survey Marker sign and a smaller blue Natural gas line sign. It is directly in line with the highest point of the buttress, and offers a full view of the Cougar Buttress route.

A little difficult to pick up at first, the trail is very obvious where it cuts up into the thicker woods/ manzanita fields about 200' up from the road. Unless neck deep manzanita wading is your thing, I would recommend finding the trail. After a steep 10-15 minutes, the trail will deposit you right at the big shady alcove that is the start of the eponymous Cougar Buttress (5.9) route.

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Ryan Swanson
Pepedidnothingwrong, freejg
Ryan Swanson   Pepedidnothingwrong, freejg
"Numerous locals" requested this area be removed from MP last summer. No idea who the locals are, but I am glad to see this back. Please don't delete this admins. Jun 26, 2018
Thanks for the support, hopefully enough has changed that the secretive "locals only" attitude towards climbing on public land in Central Oregon has started to die off.

In my opinion that attitude towards this place is especially silly because it's only good enough to ever really be just a local climbing area. The 4 star routes here are probably 2.5 stars compared to Smith.

The real beauty of Cougar Buttress is that it's a good, less-crowded place for someone who lives nearby to break into 5.10 sport climbing or easy trad climbing, and it's really only useful for that if there's reliable information available. So it is my hope that it stays up here, and can continue to be shared. Jun 26, 2018
Paul Trendler
Bend, Oregon
Paul Trendler   Bend, Oregon
One vote here for taking this back down again. Not everything needs to be sprayed on the internet. Jun 27, 2018
Nate Ball
Portland, OR
Nate Ball   Portland, OR  
True, not everything "needs" to be sprayed on the internet, but unless there is a valid reason to take it down, then I don't see why it shouldn't remain. As Jeff said, it's only good enough to ever be a local climbing area anyway. Jun 27, 2018
Ryan Swanson
Pepedidnothingwrong, freejg
Ryan Swanson   Pepedidnothingwrong, freejg
It's all public property. Taking down areas that are on public property is a bit against the purpose of this site wouldn't you say? Jun 27, 2018
My other main point is that this area is already pretty thoroughly sprayed about on the internet, just not on this particular site.

Spray, which I believe (correct me if I'm wrong) is where you hype up how sick and titeee your crag is to make other people jealous while giving only vague directions.

Currently, if you google the phrase "cougar buttress bend or" the first results are:

1) a blog post with a bunch of dreamy looking pictures mostly from the one main known route, and a little bit of text hyping it

2) a link to Trip Advisor which links to a guide service where I can pay someone to show me this secret area. Here is the actual text from the guide service website:

"This quiet gem is located near the beautiful Tumalo Falls, and it is home to high-quality multi-pitch, sport and trad routes....There is no guidebook to this crag, so those who venture up to this formation must either bribe a local for beta, or commit to a line of bolts or a crack-system on sight." (Option three is obviously hire these guys to take me)

^I don't really think I even need to comment on how it seems a little messed up to keep it a "secret" crag, but also offer paid guide services there.

3) The Crag - gives directions and satellite photos

4) Summit Post - Photos from another trip report hyping the main route

5) Cascade Climbers - someone calling Cougar Buttress the best 5.9 route in Oregon with vague directions

And if you google "cougar buttress climbing" instead, the third result is a confusing text based list of about 60 routes with vague directions Jun 27, 2018
Paul Trendler
Bend, Oregon
Paul Trendler   Bend, Oregon
One of the reasons this page was taken down last year, shortly after putting it up has to do with the nature of climbing at Cougar, and what makes it unique. Name any other crag in Oregon you can think of, and there is a guidebook for it... whether it be on MP or paper. I would argue that this is the last, easily accessible/scoutable/approachable multi-pitch crags that doesn't have topos and route descriptions posted online. It's arguably the last of its kind.

I agree that it is no secret, and that it is easily google-able enough to get yourself there, but what makes Cougar special IMO is that you can challenge your climbing decision-making skills, assess the routes yourself, rather than have someone else tell you whether or not you're up for the climb.

I have to disagree with Jeff, Cougar is still incredibly useful without more information about it on the internet. Odds are you too have have been able to scout out a line you wanted to climb there, and done it without the need of an online guidebook. If it is already sprayed about on the internet, and it's not good enough for people to travel to experience as Jeff says, then why spray about it more?

Am I coming off as curmudgeonly? Perhaps. What I can say is that the times I've climbed out there, what has made is special is it's perceived seclusion, its lack of beta, and the feeling of challenge and adventure those two aspects of place can create. Arguing that its a quiet place, and not as good as Smith, so why not blow it up on the internet baffles me. If it were to remain, I would ask that folks try to preserve a little adventure/spice/mystery to it. Would a fair compromise be to have amazingly detailed information about the location and approach? No one should have to bushwhack in all that head-high Manzanita. Jun 28, 2018
I can definitely respect the desire to preserve a vertical environment full of unknowns and adventure nearby a lot more than the "locals only braj!" attitude I've gotten at other times.

I think there actually probably are quite a few more places like this out there (crack in the ground, Sunriver crags, sisters boulders, tick ranch, wake Butte (lol), or all the hwy 20 crags or the canyons between Madras and Portland. Heck, even Wolf rock still barely counts as being documented at this point), but your point is that most of those are a considerably further drive, less developed, more unknown and shorter in vertical distance.

I can see how one might make the argument that those who want the adventure of an undocumented crag need to just accept that they're going to have to keep looking harder and driving further as the years go by, routes get developed, and guidebooks get printed--but, honestly I can relate to what you're saying is special about Cougar. It IS nice that you can drive 20 minutes, get off the ground, and not really have the option of knowing which crack is the "right" one. Just the other day, I had a great time blindly charging up some loose offwidth roof crack with a fixed pin at the bottom 500 feet up. I was glad I didn't know what it was beforehand or I probably wouldn't have done it!

But when I'm clipping bolts or climbing single pitch trad routes I think I personally find the adventure aspect a lot less valuable, nor do I think that's what many climbers are looking for when climbing 60-80 ft routes. In addition, there are probably at least 60+ other developed routes, also not documented, within the same amount of drive time from Bend, as well as the potential for dozens more.

So, my suggestion for a compromise would be to list first pitches and longer bolted lines only, and leave the tall stuff a mystery to be shared by word of mouth. That way people can continue to be challenged by the unknown up high, while the lower area can be enjoyed by those who want to know and track what they're climbing. And if climbing undocumented single pitch lines is still your bag, then you're not out of luck because there's still a million more at other areas even closer to town than Cougar. Jun 29, 2018
Max Tepfer
Bend, OR
Max Tepfer   Bend, OR
Full disclosure, I'm both an employee of said guide service as well as one of the 'locals' who requested that Cougar stays off My reasoning aligns with Paul's: Cougar is a pretty generic and mediocre crag who's best feature is the fact that you can go up there and have an experience like you describe on that offwidth. Keeping it a 'secret' has nothing to do with it for me. People will always say that if you don't want beta, don't look, but I think that's a BS argument for reasons we don't need to get into here.

Sure, there are other crags out there that are similarly undocumented, but few of them have routes longer than a single pitch/approach the volume of Cougar. If we slowly post them on at a time, but point to the remaining minority as evidence that it's okay to 'just post this one,' then everything will be on the internet in relatively short order. I could get behind posting it in a way that preserves the possibility of adventure climbing at Cougar, but I have a hard time imagining what that would look like. Part of me likes the idea of writing up just the single pitch climbs, but I've had a blast climbing on those with zero info too.

To Kevin: I hear what you're saying about the proliferation of information online in the modern age, (heck, it feels hypocritical of me to advocate against posting routes to MP given how much I post...) but I'd disagree that this is 'how people experience climbing.' It's how a lot of people experience it, particularly at the major crags, but it's certainly not the only way. Climbing something without knowing anything about it is a powerful and empowering experience that not enough people get the pleasure of having. Jul 7, 2018
Why is "If you don't want beta, don't look" a BS argument? It seems very reasonable to me in this case for a number of reasons:

1) If you climb at Cougar Buttress without beta that's what you're already doing.

As I mentioned earlier, the beta currently exists online it's just the 5th and 6th Google result instead of the 2nd and has less pictures. The list of 60+ pitches on Cascade Climbers has been listed for over 4 years and nobody (including you) has complained about the beta being there and infringing on their experience.

So if online beta is that much of a problem, why not be consistent and ask for that older, much more extensive list, to be taken down too?

2) People climb without beta in environments where they personally find it comfortable and more enjoyable to do so, regardless of it's availability.

A few years ago I added route descriptions for the cracks at meadowcamp, but my experience is that the only people who actually look at them before climbing is people who's limit is around 5.9/5.10.

I've seen and done the same thing at a number of other crags before, (I'm sure we can all think of examples of crags where this is the norm, despite the availability of info. Holcomb valley pinnacles in so cal comes to mind, ), because 5.10 isn't my limit and I and find it enjoyable and sometimes even more efficient than trying to figure out exactly where I am on before climbing. I think this is how most people who climb harder than 5.10 tend to approach obscure crags with a lot of moderates, but just because I do it doesn't mean I'm going to try to force other people not to share beta on the area.

Everyone likes to experience climbing in different ways, and it doesn't seem right to try to force people to enjoy it the same way that you do-- especially when the difference in preference is so closely related to varying skill levels.


My main point is that adding single pitch routes to MP at Cougar isn't going to hurt anyone's experience. Climbers who are confident and skilled enough to climb without beta still can (and probably will), and climbers who aren't at that level will be able to access the crag as well.

If people who would rather climb without beta choose to look at it, that is their choice--no one is forcing them to. Whereas removing beta from the internet IS forcing another group of climbers to approach it one specific way (and forcing people to do something your way is rarely the right thing to do). Jul 8, 2018
Lucas Novak
Bend, OR
Lucas Novak   Bend, OR
I suppose in the grand scheme of all the injustices in the world right now, posting Cougar on MP is small potatoes. That said, I would vote for having it taken down, as well.

I moved to Bend 3 years ago from the Front Range of Colorado and first stumbled upon Cougar when taking my dog for a trail run. Cougar has never been a secret or locals only crag, all you have to do is watch countless cars drive by to Tumalo Falls to know it's hidden in plain sight. Some exploring with a stick clip, draws, and a rack made for a great time and some amazing learning for my partners and me. It was awesome to have those experiences in the context of coming from Colorado where everything is sprayed upon, as it were.

Aside from the nostalgia of my first Cougar climbs (and yea, I had access to the CascadeClimbers forum to offer some guidance thanks to the Google), I think the larger issue here is the lost art of getting beta from an actual person rather than the interwebs. Again, Cougar has never been a secret, and anytime I inquired in person or via a direct message, folks were more than happy to point me in the right direction. I think the other thing that's missing from this conversation is the fact that, due to the proliferation of Smith, the first ascensionists and route developers at Cougar made a point to keep the crag off the internet. I think that's an important point in the context of climbing's history in Central Oregon and, again, one I came to understand by asking around.

In this day and age, a little bit of mystery goes a long way, especially as it relates to the culture and history of a place. I just ask that you don't confuse mystery with secrecy. Those are my two cents, thanks for reading. Jul 10, 2018
Sam Bedell
Bend, OR
Sam Bedell   Bend, OR
I was one of the people who posted routes for this area last year. At the time I felt like I was doing a community service too, but I was eventually convinced that the page should come down. For me the biggest reason was that the route developers and first ascentionists at Cougar requested it. If someone makes a route and chooses to leave it a mystery, as the route developers out here have done intentionally time after time, then its their decision. It's on public land, true, and no one is trying to stop people from climbing here, but they are intentionally trying to create an "adventure" crag and that is how they want their routes to be experienced.

Jeff, you pointed out that there is beta out there on other sites, but I think it's important to point out that none of those sites have route overlays, bolt counts, exact locations, or rack descriptions. I have since come around to this way of thinking (obviously) and really value having routes near my home that allow me to see how I stack up in a first-ascent-style experience. I don't think that this in anyway diminishes the safety or opportunity for climbers at Cougar, after all I climbed many routes at Cougar off of this minimal beta as a new climber. I hope you will consider rescinding some of the information and wait for some of the route developers to chime in before adding anything else.

Thanks for listening. Jul 24, 2018
I have strong feelings about Cougar, but not this issue. I see it both ways. A brief background: I showed the crag to Mark Deffenbaugh in 2005 after a former climber mentioned he could show it to me, and Mark and I were both blown away. A 400 foot sustained cliff, with mainly just sport routes, the low hanging fruit! Hardly anyone had explored the upper 300 feet aside from a handful of multis. Soon after, we went out and put up a 5 pitch route (plus some variations) just right of the 1970s era Cougar Buttress. (Yard Sale) We were amazed that with Bend just 11 miles away, nobody had motivated to climb these mainly 5-8 to 5-10 cracks that went free with no bolts. We put fixed anchors on ledges. The pitches are legit. Mark also freed the shiny rad looking summit headwall at 11c. I FA'ed the obvious chimney to its route at 9plus. So both those pitches end at the summit, and we couldn't believe nobody had freed them.

Now my point: we worked off of an old topo Mark got from Jim Davis. Like others have said, we turned to real humans because we had the fire and passion to become familiar with Cougar and add some new routes. We put up zero sport routes, and I think zero lead bolts. Just ground up cracks from 5-8 to 10b. Dozens of them, when you add in new routes put up by others like Jim A, Gabe C, Mai H, Tyler K, etc. I updated the Jim Davis topo and in the past I've been willing to hand the topo out to anyone who wants it provided they don't turn around and put it on MP. That approach seems to have worked.

I see the compromise of only putting the single pitch lines here, and preserving some of the mystery and adventure. I'm not taking a position, but i would love to see more people enjoy Cougar and have some of the same kind of adventures we did. If a partial entry here on MP gets that done, so much the better. Ask me for the topo if you want it. Sep 7, 2018
Tim Page
Tim Page   Bend
I just want to know if I can leave the #4 at home and I have to sift through all this BS. Seriously! Good beta helps keep climbers safe, teaches etiquette, and plays an important role in protecting access. I've witnessed "Locals Only" attitudes in virtually every outdoor sport, Mt. Biking, Skiing/Snowboarding, Surfing, etc. The only thing it ever does is make the locals look like a-holes. Shut up and climb already.... Sep 20, 2018

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