REI Community
(8) The Wombat
Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Birds in a Rut T 
Endless Weekend S 
North-East Sramble T 
Santiam Highway Ledges T 

Birds in a Rut 

YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b

Type:  Trad, 6 pitches, Grade III
Original:  YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b [details]
FA: Ryan Lawson, Darin Chadwick 1998
Page Views: 4,288
Submitted By: JGHarrison harrison on Oct 23, 2011

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (36)
Your todo list:
Your stars:
Your rating: -none- [change]
Your ticklist: [add new tick]
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [0 people like this page.]
Looking down the dihedral pitch, definitely the be...

Seasonal Raptor Closure MORE INFO >>>


Very fun route. great step up for folks looking to get a bit more air under their heels. Anchors are bolted. This route involves a bit of route-finding that I found quite enjoyable. Its not tough to find the way, but you may have to look around for a few minutes here and there.

Pitch 1: Start left of little juniper tree below the slab. Start with a bolted pitch of low angle 5.5-5.6 climbing. End at a little alcove. You can fit three folks here but its a bit tight.

Pitch 2: Continue on up the bolted second pitch of similar climbing to a huge ledge.

Pitch 3: (Note this not a technical pitch, its more of a 2nd class scramble) Walk to the right, then switchback and head up a ledge system till you get to the next anchors. You may have to explore a bit, but you will find them.

Pitch 4: From the anchor, step left out of the alcove and enjoy an airy traverse that leads to a fist crack. This tops out into a massive ledge system. This pitch has a few bolts but you will want to throw a couple cams into the fist crack. This puts you on another large ledge.

Pitch 5: This pitch finds you looking at a nice dihedral with a hand sized crack. This crack goes at about 5.7 and is the definite crux of the route. As you belay your partners ensure you don't knock any loose rocks onto them.

Pitch 6: This pitch is a bit rambly. Go uphill and you will find a bulging section of rock to climb up and then head over a low angle slab to the top. You could wander left on a ledge system to get there as well. I found going over the bulge harder, but less exposed.

Descent: Rappel off the backside. Single pitch rappel.

All anchors are bolted on this route.


This route is on the northwest face of the Wombat. From the parking lot the wombat is that big hulking rock way off on the top of the marsupials. Follow the main trail down into the valley, cross the bridge and head left. Eventually the trail gets to a spot where the old stretcher is housed. Head left and uphill from here, the trail immediately splits. Take the left fork, follow some switchbacks and eventually end up at a canal. An old dirt road keeps switch-backing uphill behind the canal and up to the marsupials. Keep heading uphill until you get up even with the Wombat. (Again the Wombat is the biggest of the pinnacles at the very top of the ridge.)Head on over. The route is on the northwest face. Look for a bolted slab with a little juniper tree next to it. Its a long hike, but a good mini-adventure of a climb.


Cams to 3 inches, a few nuts are good as well. A modest rack should serve you well.

Photos of Birds in a Rut Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Final pitch of Birds in a Rut.
BETA PHOTO: Final pitch of Birds in a Rut.

Comments on Birds in a Rut Add Comment
Show which comments
By Nate Ball
From: Portland, OR
May 14, 2012
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

This route can be done in essentially three pitches. Bring lots of double- and single-runners.

String together pitches 1&2&3 with a 60m using single-runners on the wandering bolt(s) of the first pitch, double (or skip) the anchor and the two following bolts, and single those afterwards. The 5.7 variation is really about 5.4, and I was completely unable to find anything for a camalot between .5-2"... so bring medium nuts or run it out.

The anchor atop the "third" pitch is on the ground, which sucks, so I chose to build a gear anchor in the cracks up and to the right, which puts it more in line with the route. There will still be fairly moderate rope drag, but it's worth it in my opinion.

We protected the "fourth" pitch with a .75, 3, and 1" camalot... the rest of the pitch is easy, straightforward, and covered in lichen. Oh yeah, make sure you use single and double-runners on this pitch as well.

The "fifth" pitch is the money pitch. Move your belayer over to the single bolt that is out of the direct fall line. I ran out the first slabby bit, as the left-hand crack is really junky, and the climbing is easy. The tight dihedral makes climbing with a rack a bit of a pain, but you will want a lot of medium-large nuts and cams from .3-3".

From here, you can ditch the rope. There is little/no protection to get up onto the ledge above, and no anchors. Honestly, it's safer to just solo it. Once up here, there's a short crack which is essentially a V0 boulder problem. With a spotter, you're perfectly safe. Once onto the shoulder, it's an easy scramble up to the summit. You will have to downclimb to the top of the dihedral, which is really exposed... but pretty easy.

To rappel, use the fatty hangers at the top of the dihedral to descend to the ledge below. Traverse downhill (south) to a webbing anchor and rappel over the lip, past the first ledge, to a second huge ledge. If you're interested, there is a .10b to the right which looks wicked. From here, walk right (north) until you switchback down into a pair of caves. The last rappel anchor is on the far side of this lowest ledge. It will put you down about 40 yards from the juniper tree.

As for the approach... take the path down towards Picnic Lunch Wall, turn right, follow it to the Burma Road, continue uphill to Koala Rock, continue up the left (north) side through a scree slope from hell, then follow a path directly up to the Wombat, traverse towards the north (about 300 yards) until you see a scraggly juniper next to a detached boulder below a bolt line. Go up. From parking lot, about an hour.

This route gets morning shade, and the belays can be in the shade all day if you seek it out.
By Nate Ball
From: Portland, OR
May 14, 2012
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b


You can rappel from (almost) every anchor at every ledge, and each one will take you directly downwards to another ledge with another anchor.
By Kev
Apr 4, 2013

We did Santiam Hwy the other day. All the way to the top to where Birds come up. We walked off.....well more of a downclimb. But no exposure probably 5.6 (last move) to downclimb. Mostly 4th class.....
By Forrest Koran
Oct 8, 2013

is the walkoff on the north side or south? we were able to do a double rope rappel off the north side, but I didn't see an obvious walkoff back to the start without detouring all the way around
By Muscrat
Dec 13, 2014

Did this a while back when my partner and i discovered that we were at Smith on Memorial weekend...oops. Great place to loose the crowds. The approach sucks, which keeps the crowds away. The dihedral is so good we each led it twice. There would be lines on it if it was on the ground! Stepping out of the 'cave' is almost as much fun as stepping out panic point on the monkey. Fun line. Carry your approach shoes, the talus bites.
By pritchtp
Mar 29, 2015
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

Pretty heinous hike up to the base, only worth doing once based on climbing being fun and good, but not amazing. Dihedral pitch is the most fun, placed a lot of nuts. Bolted pitches were fine but lacked anything really memorable. Top out is straight forward. Reference Watts book to the top where there are rappel chains off the back. Before you rappel look to the northeast and find the trail you will be walking down that comes off the mini-ridge. Rappel, follow faint trail on northeast side of ridge until you find a break in the ridge to hike down scree back to the base.
By Adra
From: Portland, OR
Mar 20, 2016

I highly recommend anyone doing this route to combine pitch 2 & 3. Not sure why anyone would opt for the third "pitch" of the second class walk around as the 5.7 direct (route 96a in the Watts book) is really obvious, short, and leads directly to the next set of anchors. The books says gear up to 2 inches for this section but I didn't see room for anything bigger than .4 inches.

As for the descent, we did a short rappel from the summit anchors and then walked south down a steep scree slope down to the base of the Wombat near Koala Rock. We had to hike back up to retrieve our packs at the base of the climb.

A really fun route and each pitch had its own unique appeal. The summit view is one of the best in the park. I thought it was well worth the hike up!
By Jennifer L
Jun 16, 2016
rating: 5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c

I felt like the first pitch was a bit more thoughtful than 5.7, even for Smith. Still, a FANTASTIC climb with epic views on top.
By Alex Macd
Oct 12, 2016

I'd consider some minimal protection for the scramble to the top. A few moves were exposed and committing in that a breaking hold or slip would be catastrophic.
By Ben Stabley
From: Portland, OR
Oct 27, 2016

The 'variation' is the way to go. It doesn't really have much protection though the climbing is pretty easy (5.6 maybe). There's a tempting crack on your left, but a giant chunk moved when I placed a cam and gave it a tug.

My main complaint about the whole route is that most of the belay bolts are so low (P2 is on the ground) that belays are annoying and uncomfortable affairs. The route is otherwise a great adventure climb.

Mountain Project

The Definitive Climbing Resource

MTB Project

Next Generation MTB Trail Maps

Powder Project

Backcountry Ski Maps & Secret Stashes
FREE Stickers · Gyms · RSS · School of Rock · Contact · About