Mountain Project Logo

Life in Eugene as a climber?

Original Post
sgreen Verde · · salt lake city, ut · Joined Apr 2007 · Points: 10

I am considering a move to Eugene for a job and was wondering what life for an avid climber was like there. I am currently living in Salt Lake City so I know the access anywhere else will never match where I currently live. I do know there is a small gym in Eugene but seems like hours are pretty limited. The job I would be accepting will be time intensive and so my time to climb will be limited.  Hoping someone can shed some positive light on the climber life there.  Is there a strong local community, motivated partners, other than the college kids?  Any home gyms that people train in? Am I going to be relegated to increasing the size of my quads by biking, running, hiking or am I going to just have to become a paddler?

Josh Kornish · · · Joined Sep 2009 · Points: 845


I lived in Eugene for a little over a year and might be able to give you some insight.

First, that small gym is about to be outcompeted by a new gym across the street.  The owners of Crux were quite stagnant in their management and investments and I think this held back the potential of the climbing community.  So exciting things to come in that regard.

Access wise there is a fun little crag right in downtown called 'Skinner's Butte'.  I had a great time TR soloing all the lines there and if you have an open mind I think you'll enjoy it.  Solid crew of old timers that are out there most mornings.  There are a bunch of interesting little crags and bouldering areas scattered through the Willamette and access is predicated primarily by precipitation.

Other than the college students I didn't get a feel of a serious climbing community that was open to outsiders.  Eugene is an extremely friendly place but beyond the 'social climbers' it was certainly a struggle to find serious partners.

As a climber coming from SLC you may feel like you've been exiled, but there are plenty of other great things to do in the area to keep you occupied.

This is just my honest opinion and isn't meant to bring anyone down.  I enjoyed my time there and would most certainly consider moving back.

Best of luck!


Max Tepfer · · Bend, OR · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 1,630

I grew up in Eugene and lived there until I was in my mid 20s.  Leaving was far and beyond the best thing I ever did for my climbing.  I'd say that it really depends on your priorities and what you want to get out of climbing.  If you'll be unhappy knowing that you're not pursuing every opportunity to progress and grow as a climber, then you'll be unhappy in Eugene.  As has been said, there's okay access to limited styles of climbing (easy, mostly low-angle sport climbing, some really good intermediate trad climbing) in the surrounding area and that is limited by the weather. (which is by and large damp)  I will say that Skinners Butte/the Columns are probably the best place on earth to be introduced to trad climbing and crack climbing, (not so much to progress beyond beginner-intermediate) so if this is a weakness of yours, you might get something out of being there for a couple of years.  Also, given the weather, you'll likely be spending a lot of time at Smith.  If your job is only going to allow you to climb on weekends, you'll be fighting the hordes in the park every week and should expect this frustration.  Lastly, the skiing will be really disappointing if you're coming from SLC.

Ryan Dirks · · Washington, DC · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 5

I'm currently living in Eugene, and I'd say that your experience will really depend on your expectations and climbing ability.  It looks like you have some trad climbing experience, so the columns might not be that special to you.  For me, it was a great place to get comfortable leading, and isn't bad for training as long as it isn't raining - however the tallest routes are only 50', and there's only ~20 routes packed closely together.

Moolack has some great crack climbing in a serene setting that looks like a good fit for your ability - a little over an hour away.  However, it will be damp for much of the winter.  Then again, it really depends on the winter.  This year has been consistently wet and snowy in the cascades.  Two years ago (strong El Nino?) it was relatively warm / dry, and it didn't really snow at all in the passes.

There are also a handful of small crags scattered around the cascades within an hour or two.  I haven't been to many of these - my friends say they are somewhat secluded and nice but the rock quality can be iffy.

If you move here in all likelihood you'll be driving to Smith a lot to get your fix.  The 2.5 hour drive is really beautiful and seems to go by pretty quickly.  I'm guessing you wouldn't have too much trouble meeting partners to join for the drive.  If your job allows weekday trips that would be a major plus to avoid the crowds, but might be harder to find a partner.  The scene is definitely dominated by college / high school students, but there is a small group of older climbers as well.

Feel free to PM me if you move here and are looking for partners.  Good luck!

astrov · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 0

Let's not forget the routes that CorvallisClimber frequented on Route 20 such as the Menagerie, Wolf Rock, and others. Again, this is quite a trek from Eugene and you might be disappointed compared to SLC. But there are other goods to be harvested. 

If climbing were important to me, I'd stay in SLC. But I'm an internet schlub ... And we have legal weed in Oregon, which should be a factor. 

Politically Correct Ball · · From WA to AZ · Joined Dec 2016 · Points: 5

Real talk: Oregon as a whole is IMO pretty climbing poor compared to all other states west of the rockies. Other outdoor pursuits like whitewater, back-country skiing, hiking, mtbiking, fishing, etc. is where Oregon shines. If you want thousand foot cliffs, go elsewhere. After you do Barad Dür, you'll understand that the big stuff in Oregon isn't really worth pursuing other than for bragging rights (or admission of insanity, which I freely admit to).

What we have in Oregon are what I term Desperation Crags™ which some Oregonians hilariously pump up beyond all proportion (like Trout Creek).

For my money Moolack is the best climbing in Oregon outside of the Willowas. It's in old growth wilderness and really awesome if you can appreciate the natural beauty. I'm always looking for partners so PM me if you're keen.

Beyond that there's bolt-clipping at Smith and then things get really obscure. I've put up a lot of routes on various rock formations in the Willamette Valley which I'm quite sure haven't been touched by anyone else. These are more adventurous than most "climbers" seem keen on, but there you are. If you're keen on adventure, I am, just don't bitch if you get pelted once in a while by choss. There are also miles of basalt in Eastern Oregon that hardly ever get climbed due to remoteness or obscurity. 

Edit: There's also another in-town desperation crag I helped develop near Thurston if you're looking for another after-work option.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Post a Reply to "Life in Eugene as a climber?"
in the Pacific Northwest

Log In to Reply