Mountain Project Logo

Portland area sport/TR

Original Post
Beau Griffith · · Fresno, CA · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 20

Was wondering if anyone wanted to weigh in on some good climbs in December in the Portland area. Ideally within an hour of downtown, preferably sport or with easy walk-up access to set top ropes. I am starting to learn trad and would be comfortable on EASY mixed routes, but no pure gear routes.

I have a copy of Portland Rock Climbs and have poked around the MP route finder. Sounds like I may want to try Rocky Butte or Salmon Slab but would love to hear any additional info that isn't captured in those sources.

Finally, any gym recommendations are welcome!


The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air · · Portland, OR · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 0

The winter weather in Portland does not treat climbers well. With that said, I believe Broughton Bluff would be a good place to start. There are some toprope climbs on the Hanging Garden's wall. Supposedly some of the steeper walls stay dry; the description for the Jungle Cliff on here states that the wall is dry year round.

Rocky Butte is meh. Keep in mind that high school kids like to party there; it can get pretty messy with broken beer bottles and other things. I did find a bag of grass on one of the routes.

PG, PRG, and The Circuit are all nice gyms imho. I would check them out for yourself before purchasing a membership.

Mike Brady · · Van Diesel, OR · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 679

You are going to have to be very lucky to be able to climb in December. Go to the's the best climbing in the Portland area :)

Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 162

Usually you need to venture over to the "dry side" this time of year, but it won't be within an hour of downtown. Smith, Trout, Vantage, Horsethief, etc. Being in the desert, these spots can be cold, even if they are dry.

There is some stuff at Broughton and Ozone that is under big roofs, but it may not be too fun in a blowing rain.

I can't see Salmon being dry this time of year, it's exposed slab on the west aspect of Hood, I bet it is getting crushed with precipitation.

NickP · · Golden, CO · Joined Apr 2008 · Points: 15

Just to elaborate on what some others have said...

At Broughton, there are a handful of topropes at the far end of the hanging gardens wall that can be accessed from the trail to the summit. Classic Crack can be toproped pretty easily (couple exposed moves to get to the anchor) and would be a pretty good trad trainer. The jungle wall stays dry, at least in the middle of the wall, but it's all pretty stout sport climbing.

The Mordor area at ozone stays pretty dry but that is also all sport climbing in the 11 and up range.

Salmon slab is out for the season, as are basically all of the mt hood crags. I really can't recommend going to Rocky Butte. I wish it was better maintained, but right now the place is just totally trashed. In my opinion it's always worth it to drive the extra 15 minutes to Broughton where the climbs and the ambiance are significantly better. If you're considering going there, be EXTREMELY CAREFUL at the top of the cliff as it's covered in downward sloping slippery mud (which I'm sure is even more sketchy at this time of year). Since you approach from above, it's easy to forget to pay attention to that and risk sliding off the cliff.

I've never been there, but I bet Horsethief Butte would be exactly what you're looking for, unfortunately it's a little more of a drive.

My 2 cents: I would just focus on getting stronger in the gym during the rainy season and take weekend trips to the east side when the weather looks good. If you have a free weekday and the weather's nice, then head to Broughton and hit up hanging gardens or classic crack.

bryans · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2006 · Points: 10

Good old Mike Brady, never misses a chance to trash the climbing opportunities mother nature gave us around Portland. :) Not that he's entirely wrong (remember we traded some messages a few months ago?) I can't add much here except to confirm Broughton's Red Wall stays dry unless the wind is from the west (rare).

Also, Stepchild is a 10a route in the Mordor area of Ozone that should stay dry with the possible exception of the last moves (clean fall, bring a rag with you to wipe the last holds if you want). Check the page for that route. It takes a hand sized cam between two bolts, placed from a decent stance, but plenty of hardmen have made sure to point out that the cam is "completely unnecessary" so maybe you don't need it either.

When Madrone opens, you can climb a bunch of those climbs in the rain. It is the rainy day spot. But let's talk about that next summer when Madrone finally opens.

Mike Brady · · Van Diesel, OR · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 679

I really just do it to have another Portlander in the mix and I know you will take the bait. There are not that many of us on here and of course I remember. :)

bryans · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2006 · Points: 10

Sure, and I'll bite again, too, it's all good fun! I won't defend our local crags to the death, but is there another city of over 2 million metro that has this much decent enough climbing within 30-60 minutes even during a rush hour? (Besides Salt Lake) Anyone can live hand to mouth in a van by the river outside Bishop or Moab or Boulder or Flagstaff or Bend, etc, in their 20s - or forever without wife and kids and/or a desk job that offers the hope of a retirement - but add that whole well-balanced life thing into the mix and not a lot of cities offer a solid 8-10 month climbing season (I concede December and January, but February has plenty of sunny mild days, as does even November) for climbing after work or for just half a day. That is all!

PS - Bouldering is another story. We are hosed. I miss living in Bend so much. Carver aside, there's hardly anything nearby, let alone within even a 2 hour drive.

Mike Brady · · Van Diesel, OR · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 679

Regardless of my statements I DO love our little craglets and have frequented them often. Seattle, Denver, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and San Diego all have really good crags too within those guidelines. Cost of living and travel time is better or worse in those areas but, Portland is becoming not so cheap of a place to live and it has the 9th worst traffic in the country, admittedly LA and Seattle are 1st and 4th on the traffic shit list.

Bouldering is definitely a whole other story. Lost Lake(2 hrs) was a very welcome reprieve from the dismal selection in PDX and The MArsh(4.5 hrs) has also been amazing to have.

bryans · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2006 · Points: 10

Good points. I thought Seattle only had exit 38 (and 32?) but weekdays wouldn't that take 60-120 minutes to get to, anytime after noon? (32-38 miles from downtown, and you sure aren't going even close to 60...) And Index and Leavenworth are a couple hours away, not exactly after work material.

Anyway, the OP did want beta. I can add that I went to Carver in late October after days of pouring rain, expecting everything to be soaked but kinda curious anyway. The left wall was indeed completely seeping, very single hold wet, so being a masochist I aided every inch of the 5-8 crack next to Smerk, climbing with feet but pulling on piece after piece and realizing it has more pro than i ever realized! But the right wall, the chemistry slab, was actually bone dry from bottom to anchors, due to the massive roof above, so I led the 5-7 and 5-9 cracks on the far right, just before the 5-11 finger crack Dreamscape. Point being, if you want easy trad in December, Carver actually fits the bill even after days of rain. Much to my surprise. The OP might want to check it out.

Mike Brady · · Van Diesel, OR · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 679

For sure on Carver. I went a couple of weeks ago and things had changed a bit though. Chemistry slab is a cascade right now. Angular Motion was bone dry as was Dreamscape. Both can have TR setups if you feel comfortable leading 5.8-5.9. Rubicon(easiest way to TR Dreamscape) might feel pretty stinking hard right now but Rites of Passage(easiest way to TR Angular Motion) was pretty dry. Out on a Limb(alternate for Angular Motion) was visually dry but that lichen might be pretty slippery and that is not a route you want to feel slippery on.

Sorry to the OP for the hijack :)

Beau Griffith · · Fresno, CA · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 20

Thanks all for the great info. I should clarify- I'm only in town for the holidays although one day hope to move up here full time.

Obviously the weather wasn't very conducive to climbing this week but I checked out PRG and had an awesome time. Great routes and an amazing facility!

bryans · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2006 · Points: 10

Today would have been a great day to climb at Ozone or Drop Zone. If you don't mind the colder temps...

Loganator · · blue van, on the highway to no · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 240

If you can solo 5.7, Beacon rock is great for TR solo. I was hiking the 3 pitches of the SE corner to the grassy ledges all summer. From there you can drop a 70m rope to the ground, and climb ~10 different routes on the best rock near Portland. (Beacon is Index quality, as far as basalt goes imho). Guaranteed you'll have the place to yourself, and some of those pitches are hardman status. Check out "Bears Reach/ flying Dutchman" linkup, perfect 70m to the ground from the ledge, splitter, and recently cleaned.

You could probably also downclimb from the summit if you knew where to go, but the SE corner is super mellow (although, very exposed at times). Many first time climbers try that route.

The South face gets morning sun, watch out for those dry days. In the summer, afternoon shade with that gorge wind... I can't think of a better summertime crag. You could set a tent up on the grassy ledges its so big!

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Post a Reply to "Portland area sport/TR"
in the Pacific Northwest

Log In to Reply