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Best Beginner Top-Ropes at Smith Rock

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Scott Strang · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 3

Hi guys,

My family and I are going to be in Bend OR the week following the eclipse and I'm looking to take them climbing.  They have only climbed a few times in a gym and I think their max is probably around 5.7, and I'm wondering what the best area to take them to would be.  I don't have trad gear to set up a top rope so was thinking about leading a sport route and setting up toprope there (through my gear).  Is that appropriate at Smith, and if so where would the best place to do so be (looking at dihedrals but wondering if theres someplace else)?  Also, are stick clips customary at Smith Rock?

Thanks in advance,


Nick Young · · Spokane, WA · Joined May 2015 · Points: 215

Popular for newbies is cinnamon slab - some good easy sport lines all bunched together, and usually populated by school outings and beginner groups. Be mindful of the sun, as it'll probably get hot pretty quick, but it's a good place to get the family on the rock.

Kemper Brightman · · Tucson · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 1,913

- North Point: Approach from the parking lot loop, walk to the edge of the cliff to find bolted anchors.

- Rope de dope: Climb a fixed line on the back of the cliff to reach the bolted anchors up top. 

- Bunny Face, Cinnamon Slab, Christian Brothers: Lead to reach anchors 

Pat Cooper · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 0

+1 to kemper. Cinnamon slabs are taller, need full ropes and climbs are constant. Student Wall (see basalt rimrock section on mp's Smith rock page) are shorter and varied/chunky. Walk to top and look over. It's been 10 yrs but i remember an easy down clmb. Rope de dope is cool, but if u go there and want more climbing u have to double back. Of these 3 only cinnamon is across the river.

bradyk · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2010 · Points: 143

Hire a guide

mediocre · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 0

What's your lead ability? 

Definitely do not need to hire a guide as long as you are competent and willing to get up early. Rope d dope ( or however the hell you spell it) and cinnamon slabs are your best bets. But be aware that there will be crowds, and it will  be hot as hell. 

Only reason for a guide would be to get off the beaten track,  but if you're looking at 5.7 climbing I don't think it would be worth the money. (Personal opinion)

Scott Strang · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 3

Thanks for all the advise! I've led up to 5.9 outdoors so will be comfortable leading anything my family will climb.  I'm a little confused about cinnamon slabs, as when I look on MP I only see one route labeled cinnamon slab (2 pitch trad). Are the "cinnamon slabs" the easier routes on the far right side of the dihedrals? Also I'm looking to purchase a guide book to help get more info and there are a few out there, any favorites?

Also I looked into guides but I think my plan for the day is to take my family toproping for only a few hours, and then they'll go off and hike and my girlfriend and I will do some multipitch so really only need 2-4 routes for them to climb

Kemper Brightman · · Tucson · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 1,913

Cinnamon Slab is an area, with cinnamon slab also being the name of the most popular route on the formation. Easy routes are to the right of  this fun, easy 2 pitch corner crack. Bunny face is farther to the left of this formation, and also has a handful of mellow leads. If you get up early enough, you could probably get on something on morning glory wall as well. 

Alan Watts is the best guidebook IMHO

TP2934 · · Bend · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 5

I like waterfall slab. It just past the southern point. You get a nice walk through the park past all the crowds. There's a nice picnic area along the river for kids to hang and play if they are not climbing. You can walk to the top to set up anchors for two of the 3 climbs. The climbs are 5.6 and 5.7 range. I've been there twice with kids age 6 to 9 and they mostly hung by the river and played in the sand and my wife read a book and relaxed. It's way more chill then fightin the crowds at Rope De Dope or Cinnamon Slab. It's about a 30 min. walk with kids. Cinnamon Slab is full sun during the day so morning or evenings are best. Rope De Dope is shaded but crowded in summer because it gets shade. And with Rope DE Dope and North Point you never cross the river and go anywhere to appreciate the area. It worth walking through and appreciating. Also, if it's open, be sure to check, the monument has some good beginner climbs, and is a little more out of the way bUT you'd have to lead the climbs.

Scott Strang · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 3

What type of anchors are there available there? Are there bolts or do you build off of trees? Just wondering what gear I'd need to set up the toprope there

Nick Young · · Spokane, WA · Joined May 2015 · Points: 215

Scott, I can only speak for the more popular areas at Smith, but everything I have climbed there has bolted anchors (Minus a few trad routes). 

TP2934 · · Bend · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 5

Bolted Anchors at all the spots I mentioned.

jp.brown · · Silverdale, WA · Joined Sep 2012 · Points: 0

Have fun, Smith is a beautiful climbing area. Just take into account the temps in August.

Kassia Howell · · Portland, OR · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 0

Found some decent beginner climbs with shade in the Smith Rock Group > Northwest face and flounder and cod rock. We especially enjoyed When Expecting, which iirc lets you do What to Expect as a top rope afterwards.

Ben Stabley · · Portland, OR · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 171

Dihedrals (right side): what folks above are calling "cinnamon slab".

Night Flight 5.5, Easy Reader 5.6 (hardish for kids to get off the ground, then easy), Lichen It 5.8 for more of a challenge...just a few 5.8 moves near the ground then easy. This area will get sun in the morning, will be better in the evening while in the shade.


North Slab Crack 5.5, How low can you go 5.7, Shamu 5.9... climb up the back to set TR anchor on bolts, or just lead How low. Shamu is 5.9, but just for a short steeper section at the bottom, which is followed by easy slab.

Smith Rock group, southern tip (aka Waterfall slab):

6666 (5.6) very fun and easy. Amelia Dearheart (5.7) to the left is also worth doing. This area should get morning shade. Kinda a long but flat hike.

The Monument - Base Area

Lounger (5.6) and Bagpiping in the Buff (5.7), both easily lead and TRed. I believe the golden eagle nesting closure is over, but refer to signs and rangers at the park for accurate info. Will get morning sun, evening shade.

Andrew Child · · Santa Clara · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 655

Rope-de-dope, pleasure palace, north point, student wall, and waterfall slab all have easy routes that you can set up top ropes on from above.

The monument, the peanut, smith rock group west face and dihedrals (either far left side around bunny face or far right side around cinnamon slab) each have a high concentration of easy routes that you would have to lead first.

In four years of climbing at smith I have never encountered a route that doesn't have a bolted anchor at the top, so I wouldn't worry about that.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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