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(z) Lower Gorge

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(z) Lower Gorge Rock Climbing 

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Location: 44.3686, -121.1307 View Map  Incorrect?
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Administrators: Nate Ball, Micah Klesick, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Karsten Duncan on Jan 29, 2006


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Pano shot of the West Side Columns of the Lower Go...

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The Lower Gorge is Smith's best "secret." In a park known for its sport lines lies an impeccable collection of cracks. The lower gorge contains more four star cracks than bolts. The majority of the climbs range from easy 5.10 into the .12's.

Even on Smith's busiest days there are usually only a handful of crack connoisseurs in this serene area. The Gorge is composed of a series of striking vertical basalt columns located on both sides of the crooked river. The rock is generally of superb quality with sometimes sharp edges and good friction.

Although the most classic crack lines were done long ago there are still a few new mixed lines going up as well as 2nd pitches going to the top of the formation.

Getting There 

There are several popular ways to descend into the crack mecca depending on which side of the river you want to climb. As spring turns into summer the river goes down allowing for adventurous boulder hoppers to ford the river and get quick access to both the east and west sides of the river.

West Collums approaches:
From the turnaround at the northern end of the parking area head East to the rim. Find a place where there are detached pillars and a rebar ladder going down a chimney. Climb down this chimney and head upriver (southeast). After crossing a large slide of small boulders you'll see the start of many pillars that are the lower gorge.

A second method of descent is my preference. This "secret entrance" once went through private property but now is owned by the park. This way also starts at the turnaround parking lot. Park and then head back up the road until you see a driveway leading to a house on the east. This house is now owned by the park. Go behind the house and through a gate. Walk along the rim for about a 100ft to find an improbable but easy 3rd class descent into the gorge.

East side Columns descent:
Descend the main trail toward the river. Cross the bridge and follow a nice trail next to the river to the right. Make sure to stay near the river as alternate trails head to other areas of the park. Pass the student wall, a series of shorter columns, until you arrive a the longer colums of the lower gorge.

Climbing Season

Weather station 7.1 miles from here

153 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',25],['3 Stars',79],['2 Stars',37],['1 Star',3],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in (z) Lower Gorge

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for (z) Lower Gorge:
Patent Leather Pump   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 65'   West Side : (3) Catwalk Cliff
Cruel Sister   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   West Side : (3) Catwalk Cliff
Gruff   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 75'   West Side : (2) Wildfire Wall
Quasar   5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 75'   West Side : (3) Catwalk Cliff
Bad Finger   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad   West Side : (2) Wildfire Wall
Blood Clot   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 90'   West Side : (3) Catwalk Cliff
Wildfire   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   West Side : (2) Wildfire Wall
Rim Job   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   West Side : (2) Wildfire Wall
Cornercopia   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch   West Side : (2) Wildfire Wall
Hand Job   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   East Side : (3) Hand Job Wall
Prometheus   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 90'   West Side : (3) Catwalk Cliff
Last Chance   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 90'   West Side : (3) Catwalk Cliff
Morning Star   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 70'   West Side : (4) Star Wall
Pure Palm   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 80'   West Side : (2) Wildfire Wall
Master Looney   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   East Side : (4) Arrington Columns
On The Road   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   West Side : (2) Wildfire Wall
Cry of the Poor   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad   West Side : (2) Wildfire Wall
Crack-A-No-Go   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c PG13     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   West Side : (3) Catwalk Cliff
White Trash   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   West Side : (2) Wildfire Wall
Catalyst (aka Child Abuse)   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   West Side : (3) Catwalk Cliff
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in (z) Lower Gorge

Featured Route For (z) Lower Gorge
Rock Climbing Photo: Much ado

Much Ado About Nothing 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b  Oregon : Smith Rock : ... : (5) Shakespeare Cliff
Great crack climbing followed by an exciting roof make this a highly memorable climb.Start in a obvious crack just left of a flat face and right of a bolted column. Climb pleasant 5.9 hands with face holds up to a two bolt anchor with green chains...but don't stop there.Clip the anchor and work up and into the roof above. Climb a finger crack through the roof to a nice ledge above with a bolted anchor. Best to belay from above and rap off....[more]   Browse More Classics in Oregon

Photos of (z) Lower Gorge Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: The center of wildfire wall with new routes drawn ...
BETA PHOTO: The center of wildfire wall with new routes drawn ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Shakespeare Wall
BETA PHOTO: Shakespeare Wall

Comments on (z) Lower Gorge Add Comment
Show which comments
By Peter Franzen
General Admin
From: Phoenix, AZ
Oct 1, 2006
Also worth mentioning is that the West Side of the gorge is almost always in the shade due to its orientation. For climbers seeking a respite from the scorching heat of the main area this is a great place to cool off.
By Joel Sprenger
From: Terrebonne, OR
Nov 17, 2007
Does anyone know about the routes on the Shakespeare wall not listed in the Watts guide? Specifically the bolted route on the left side of the wall, the top was hard
By Joel Sprenger
From: Terrebonne, OR
Nov 17, 2007
Also, a camera was found in the lower gorge on 10-28-07 near the Hand Job wall. Send me a email at if it is yours.
By Wylie
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Sep 23, 2011
Beware the horde of flying rats (pigeons) that sit above Wildfire and Windfall wall constantly dropping bombs. After my partner and I were crapped on about 6 times I began daydreaming about shotguns and arsenic birdseed. I. Hate. Pigeons...

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