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Voyage of the Cowdog 

YDS: 5.8+ French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c

Type:  Sport, 3 pitches, 260'
Original:  YDS: 5.8+ French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c [details]
FA: Jon Bates FFA Jon and Heather Bates
Page Views: 31,339
Submitted By: JonBates on Feb 11, 2010

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Seasonal Raptor Closure MORE INFO >>>


Pitch one starts at the top of the gully separating the table scraps wall from ship rock. Climb an easy slab that wanders right into a steepening water groove and exit onto the ridge through a shallow chimney (5.8). Pitch two consists of basically moving the belay 60' up the scenic ridge to the base of the final pitch (5.5). Pitch three is the money pitch that justifies the mediocre 1st and 2nd pitch. Climb the airy slab through several steep bulges to a crux high step with entire height of the Picnic lunch wall beneath you (5.8).


This route is located between table scraps wall and ship rock at the top of the gully. Hike up past the shipwreck wall until a faint trail takes off right, under the table scraps wall and then switchbacks up the gully, please try to find this path as the hillside is fragile. Walk off(adventurous/reccomended) to the misery ridge trail or rap the route(difficult) with at least a 60m rope that will BARELY make it down to the base of the third pitch and barely make down to the ground on the first pitch(use knots at the end of the rope). Rapping down the shallow gulley climbers left seems to be the best on the second pitch. This was one of the last routes to make the new guide book and it was quickly rated with only a few ascents before the new book went to print, therefore it got rated harder than it is. That being said, this is not your average 5.8 Smith sport route with manicured rock, avoid if loose rock bothers you...


Bolts, Helmet, lifestyles

Photos of Voyage of the Cowdog Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo:  VOTCD. Photo  by
VOTCD. Photo by
Rock Climbing Photo: 3 pitch
3 pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: Last pitch
Last pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: The rope clearly marks the 3rd pitch of the route....
BETA PHOTO: The rope clearly marks the 3rd pitch of the route....
Rock Climbing Photo: this is the approach There is a trail the entire w...
BETA PHOTO: this is the approach There is a trail the entire w...
Rock Climbing Photo: Follower pulling up onto the final slab on the las...
Follower pulling up onto the final slab on the las...
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down half way up the third pitch
Looking down half way up the third pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch 2 and 3
BETA PHOTO: Pitch 2 and 3
Rock Climbing Photo: Ever vigilante, the Tico the Cow Dog.
Ever vigilante, the Tico the Cow Dog.
Rock Climbing Photo: Topping out on the last pitch!!
Topping out on the last pitch!!
Rock Climbing Photo: looking down from a boulder you can free solo just...
looking down from a boulder you can free solo just...
Rock Climbing Photo: repelling down on the first pitch, lots of rope dr...
repelling down on the first pitch, lots of rope dr...
Rock Climbing Photo: Long distance shot of the last pitch
Long distance shot of the last pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: Half way up the third pitch, fun exposure, safe ro...
Half way up the third pitch, fun exposure, safe ro...
Rock Climbing Photo: P3 X marks some rotten rock. Otherwise, hellof fun...
P3 X marks some rotten rock. Otherwise, hellof fun...
Rock Climbing Photo: The view from the top Voyage of the Cowdog. Happy ...
The view from the top Voyage of the Cowdog. Happy ...
Rock Climbing Photo: The glorious Pitch 3! Get out on the arete near th...
BETA PHOTO: The glorious Pitch 3! Get out on the arete near th...
Rock Climbing Photo: Belaying from the top of Pitch 3
Belaying from the top of Pitch 3
Rock Climbing Photo: Jake leading the first pitch.
Jake leading the first pitch.

Comments on Voyage of the Cowdog Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Oct 19, 2017
By Tico
May 22, 2010

Spectacular last pitch, fun climbing with a great position.
By Honeymelon
From: Crestline Ca.
Jun 27, 2010
rating: 5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c

Absolutely, Hands down the best finish to a two and a half pitch 5.9 sport route EVER!!! The exposure is incredible. Super Fun.
By BSwett
From: Bend, Or.
Sep 17, 2010

Whoever took the time to go buy bolts, haul a drill up there, find the line, clean it and put it up for us deserves my most sincere thanks. The position, the views, and the moves of this voyage are phenomenal. All three pitches are lots of fun. I was smiling for three days after I came down from it. That third pitch is as exciting and exposed as the famous 'Panic Point" on the monkey.
I was tempted to rappel all the way down from the anchors atop the 2nd pitch, but I think i would have knocked some huge rocks on top of myself. Instead me and my partner lowered/downclimb belayed each other to the 1st pitch anchors (from the ledge below the 3rd) and then rappeled down. Next time I'll try walking up and around.
By Richard Denker
From: Portland OR
Apr 11, 2011

This is a reasonable good climb. The start of the climb is at the very end of the walkable part of the gully between Table Scraps and the backside of Picnic Lunch Wall. The upper part of the first pitch appears to be skanky, but despite its appearance it was solid. The first pitch is just short of 35m long. The second pitch is harder then 5.2 (as reported in the guidebook) more like 5.4/5 and it is not on top of the ridge but on the right side, giving it really neat exposer. The third pitch is great. Though the high step near the end of the third pitch is considered the crux, I think the first pitch was harder.

Getting off it is a bit of an adventure. At the top are two sets of anchors. The best-located anchor to rap off has a bad bolt. The other does not have chains and the biners left on it pinches the rope so it can not be pulled (I know, I had to prusik up the rope, realizing that unless we leave more biners there was no way we felt conformable in rapping, besides rapping the second pitch would also have been problematic, considering it is a low angle ridge, so we walked off in our rock shoes). Note we had a 70m rope, so I was not concern in rappelling the first pitch, but it appears that it would be a close call with a 60m rope. The walk off has an easy but exposed move (bolt protected), an unprotected, but not exposed 8’ down climb (or lower to a point where you drop the last few feet) and a long round about path to Aggro Gully.
By John Rudolph
May 16, 2011

  • ***The second rappel bolt is gone on the final pitch****

Today I pulled the bolt out with my hand. I removed it so no one would haphazardly clip it. Once replaced, a 60 meter rope barely makes it back to anchors. From there down climb the second pitch. A final rappel just makes it to the ground at the highest point - tie knots!
By Steve Wolford
Oct 14, 2011

The right anchor bolt at the top of the third pitch is blown again, and needs replacing, as it is very loose in the hole and ready to go.
By Toby Butterfield
From: Portland, OR
Jan 16, 2012
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

Thanks for putting this up, Jon. Really a great route with outrageous position considering the difficulty. I ran up this with a friend of mine at the end of a beautiful winter day, and it was just a blast. Definitely a memory I'll hold onto for a while!

The exposure on the third pitch is great. I would recommend folks be a bit careful on this route as it is fairly new and some of the rock is still loose; I kicked off a softball sized chunk on P3 and watched it free fall a few hundred feet and land perilously close to the trail.

As of yesterday (14 Jan 2012) I did not notice anything wrong with the rap bolts on top of P3, nor any of the other anchor bolts on the route. I did not use the "normal" bolts on top of P3 so I can't speak to their quality.
By Derrick Peppers
From: everywhere
Apr 5, 2012

Did this route two days ago. The left fat bolt moves. Not just the hanger but the bolt itself moved about a sixteenth of an inch in every direction. Great third pitch. worth the trudge up the first two pitches for sure.
By Nate Ball
From: Portland, OR
May 1, 2012
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

Wowzers is this an epic! First pitch is relatively clean, straightforward, and nothing short of awesome vertical 5.8. Second pitch is nicely protected, short, and 5-easy. Third pitch... well, it still needs some cleaning. A whopper-sized chunk came off in my hand, which had obviously been a primary hold, but was amongst a plethora of other big holds. This may have set the tone for the higher climbing, but my heart was in my throat as I pulled the final bulge. All hardware is solid... just hope the rock is too. The grade in the guidebook is inflated due to the exposure, in my opinion.

Just uphill from the top-out is a really nice picnic spot.

Now, the walk-off... well, it would have been nice if Watts' had mentioned that it included a bolt-aid pull over a hump 30 yards beyond the anchors, and a rappel from a single generously-placed nut and locker down to a ledge with a memorial plaque (someone tried to downclimb this and died?) and another hundred yards of meandering above sheer cliffs before joining the main hiker's trail. So now I'm mentioning it in case you think the "...or walk off" bit sounds casual enough to follow without consideration.
By JonBates
From: cody, wy
May 3, 2012

More concerning the walk-off: I haven't been back to smittys in quite awhile so I'm living vicariously through the internet and drawing off foggy memories but, the walk off can be done without rappelling. It is exposed almost all the way to the trail but the really sketchy areas can be belayed off of bolts (if they're still there). There is the obvious bolt on the boulder problem move to exit the perch at the top of the p-lunch wall and if you walk up and to the left after this move there is a bolt hidden above the slab which can be used to belay a second on the boulder problem and while they down climb the 4th class slab which should be down-climbed before traversing towards the trail. I'm pretty sure if you don't go down the slab you'll end up cliffed out above the memorial plaque. After the slab traverse by a tree and traverse the ledge that is level with the plaque and then 4th class to the right up a ramp to another slab that cuts back left towards the trail. I'm pretty sure this is how it goes, I'd hate to see someone get hurt up there.
By Marc Wasserman
Jul 2, 2012

Fantastic climb with a spectacular 3rd pitch! The rock is also way more solid than you would think just by looking at it, especially on the first pitch.

As of June 29th, the right bolt of the lower, beefier bolts (I assume intended to allow a 60m rap) was loose, with the bolt itself wiggling in the hole. Upper set of bolts were solid though, and someone left some pretty fresh-looking 7mm cord with a couple of quick links that could probably be used to rappel for the next few months. Could use actual rappel chains on top. That being said, we climbed with our packs and did the walk off.

A few notes on the walk off:

The bolt protecting the first boulder move out of the perch (great lunch spot) is still there and takes the sketchiness out of what would otherwise be a very precarious move (not hard, just exposed). We initially stayed high as we traversed after the boulder move only to run up against the 10' unprotected down climb. Instead of down climbing we backtracked and scrambled down an easy low-angle slab (fine without a belay although we would have used it if we'd known there was a bolt) and then traversed below the down climb and scrambled back up to where the plaque is located. From here we continued traversing, following a faint use-trail along the top of Picnic Lunch Wall. After the plaque we went high over another jut of rock and did a short scramble down the back side to a wide sandy area full of sagebrush. From here it was a short hike up to the Misery Ridge Trail following a much more distinct use trail. Overall the walk off was fine, but it really does merit more than Alan Watt's one sentence.

Final Note: If you do rap with a 60m rope, tie knots! We met another group as we started the walk off and they said the rope just barely reached the 2nd anchor station from the top.
By Nate Ball
From: Portland, OR
Aug 26, 2013
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

We climbed it yesterday before the wicked storm hit. The left bolt on both the 1st and 2nd pitch anchors are loose; hole is blown out a bit, and the bolts themselves wiggle a bit.

Lots of crispy rock up there still. The spice adds to the overall flavor.

Confirmed the slabby walk off, which is now marked by cairns.
By Holden Marsh
From: Eugene, OR
May 27, 2014
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

Whether climbing this route on a busy or slow day, I recommend walking off. It is a bit exposed, but if you rappel down, you're guaranteed to shower the Picnic Lunch Wall with loose rock from your ropes. That aside, the rope drag is horrendous, especially if you try to do it in two rappels.
By Aaron Nash
From: North Bend, WA
Sep 2, 2014
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

As of SEP2014, all bolts were fine, all anchors had nice rap rings on them. The raps are fine and easier than the walk-off. Not sure how you'd "shower" PLW with rocks unless you really tried...

Bring two extra draws and link the first two pitches together to save on time. It'll go with a 60 and a bit of drag.

Great route. Thanks for putting it up.
By Tony Litke
From: La Crosse, Wisconsin
Mar 4, 2015
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a PG13

This was my go-to multi-pitch at Smith with newish climbers. I gave it a PG-13 rating just because I've seen rocks fall on two occasions (you might want a helmet if you're belaying the first pitch). Lots of exposure and a very memorable climb! Top-notch.
By Jrd311
Apr 16, 2015

fun route Pretty easy climbing overall. second pitch felt like very easy fifth class kind of funky Bolting I used one 24 inch sling on the entire route. third pitch wAs is super cool with great only real suggestion is towards the top of the third pitch I was a little too far left the last bolts or two and The Rock quality definitely not as good and one of the jugs I grabbed fairly large block shifted stay straight up or right of The bolt line and it's smooth sailing to the top. we rAppelled the route with a 70 meter In three raps 2nd pitch was a little interesting but two people new to multi pitch had no problem with the whole route and had a blast. you can walk off which is kind of a long trip back around or rAppel which wasn't the greatest but no problem really. go with your gut on the descent. the views are absolutely worth the climb Great for the grade.
By Obi
From: Portland, OR
Apr 27, 2015

Just going to re-iterate most of the comments about the loose holds on P1 and P3. Getting small pebbles rained upon ye ole brain bucket seems to be the thing for P1. P3 has some soft ball to head sized blocks that are loose / hollow and ready to come off - too bad too since they're the obvious jugs for the route.

All in all a good route with a view at the end of P3 that is hard to beat. That being said I would have given it more stars if I didn't have to think about breaking holds off and raining death and destruction on my belayer and/or hikers on the trail below.
By Lan Dogan
From: Seattle, WA
Jun 3, 2015
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

We did not link pitches 1 and 2, but looked easily doable with minimal drag if you used long slings for pitch 2. Pitch 3 is money.
By nicktucker
From: Portland, OR
Jun 30, 2015
rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

Third pitch is definitely the money pitch! It's also home to the most loose rock on the route, and some of the loose jugs probably affect the grade. You can rap the 2nd pitch, but you'll take a big swing to climber's left if you're not careful. We did it in about 3 hours, 2 weeks ago for my friend's first multi-pitch. Great route to top out to watch the sunset!
By C.jake
Sep 2, 2015

No. Just no to everything everyone has said about this climb. The only 3 star part of this route is the top out and the exposure you are climbing with. First of all, almost every hold on the first pitch is ready to blow if you were to crank on them. At no point on the first pitch did I or my partner feel secure. At the belay station for the second pitch, be careful because there are copious amounts of small pebbles and rocks that are ready to fall on your partner. Helmets are not suggested they are an absolute must. The second pitch is not easy either, with heavy exposure, it will get the blood pumping for any confident climber. While the third pitch is cool, it is not something to be taken lightly. Many huge portions of rock sound like they will break and most of the bolts are far apart. Do not be fooled by the rating, this climb will freak you out. Someone said they would give it a PG-13 rating, I would agree in the sense that if you were to take a fall while clipping any of the number of bolts it would surely suck. Be very careful and take note of other potential climbers on the crags below. Would I climb this route again? No. Would I suggest it? Sure. Should you climb it? Not if it is your first multi-pitch, it will scare you into single pitch crags for the rest of your days. The number one thing I would say is be VERY careful of rock fall, which seems to kind of be the theme at smith rock. There are many other quality routes to hop on, but if you insist on getting after this one, make sure it's sooner rather than later, I don't know how long that rock will hold for before this route becomes harder.
By Ben Stabley
From: Portland, OR
Sep 19, 2015
rating: 5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c

On 8/29/2015 (and again on 10/25 when climbing it again) the left bolt of the P1 anchor was loose. The bolt actually wiggled a bit.

It was really windy that day, and some small gravel was being blown down P1 from the dirty ledge above. On normal days, I don't think it would be a problem with a little care. Only other major rockfall concern I experienced would be when rapping P2 back to P1 anchors. Staying rapper's left of the P2 route is a more direct line to the P1 anchors, but has some loose stuff that could be knocked down by feet or when pulling the rope. I didn't notice any terribly loose holds, however.

Cool route, and I would certainly climb it again.

I think considering all the traffic this route sees now, it would be beneficial to explore the possibility of making a separate rappel route--down the gulley for example.
By Gavin Echterling
Sep 20, 2015

Warning against two rope rappel. Don't do it. Not worth it. We had ours get stuck twice before just going with the single rope way. A single 60m rope will get you to a slanted bolder next to the belay anchors a couple feet off the base of pitch 3. It's a little more precarious, but still fairly safe and won't have knots to get stuck at the top.
By Carson Baker
From: Portland, OR
Nov 10, 2015
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

I disagree in every way with C. Jake. This was a fun, mellow, and well-protected route with little danger. All the bolts were good and the raps were easy. I also recommend linking pitch 1 and 2 to speed things along. We rapped with a 70m rope from the top to the pitch 2 anchors, and then to pitch 1 anchors, and then down to the ground. We kicked off a few tiny pebbles, but nothing serious. I was careful when grabbing holds, but everything seemed pretty solid -- I wasn't really concerned with breaking anything. Thanks Jon!
By Kiryl Bushwackacowski
Mar 28, 2016

Lots of hollow scary holds on the final pitch, but overall the climbing doesn't seem as scary or intense as some are making it out to be. You can avoid the worst holds and use other ones, as there are normally plentiful options. I would agree that helmets are mandatory, something big is bound to pop off this climb occasionally. Got our rope stuck on the 2nd pitch while rappeling. It would probably be better to downclimb it on belay, as someone else suggested.
By tsherry
From: Portland, OR
Jun 1, 2016

Based on what C.jake wrote, I'm wondering if he was on the right climb.

Definitely wear a helmet as top of pitch 1 has a lot of loose dirt and pebbles. Pitch 1 was solid face climbing. Didn't feel like anything was hollow. Also, I\if you're needing to "crank" on any holds, maybe you aren't paying attention to your footwork. Pitch 2 is just kinda a dirty short scramble. Pitch 3 is solid and money.
By Max Tepfer
From: Bend, OR
Jun 18, 2016

I'd agree that C.jake's concerns about rock quality are largely unfounded/their reaction is out of proportion to reality. That being said, many of the holds on the first and third pitches are a little creaky and/or have hairline fractures all around them.

More importantly, I feel like this route merits an R rating. The run outs are on super-easy climbing, but there are certainly points on the (slabby) first and third pitches that the leader could take huge rides. (at one point on the third, you could easily hit the belay ledge if you totally botched it) Regardless, not for the budding 5.8 leader.
By Steven Higdon
From: Portland, OR
Sep 6, 2016

I agree with anyone who claims the quality of the route is anything less than stellar. There is one softball site block on P3 that's a bit loose, but was chalked and rechalked by myself and my climbing partner on Saturday 9/3/16. The Anchors on top of P1 are a little wobbly, but so long as you don't yank on them straight up, you'll be fine.

P1 (5.8) bomber holds and a fun little finish.

P2 (4th class) safe and fun with good 4th class exposure

P3 (5.9, because of the high-step) Bomber holds and tons of beautiful exposure
By Sarah Lydecker
From: Hood River, OR
Sep 19, 2016

Fun climb! I recommend shorter climbers bring something to extend the anchor with at the top of the second pitch. Makes for a kind of uncomfortable almost-hanging belay otherwise.
By Conner W
Oct 9, 2016

Rock Climbing Photo: exposed walk off move bolt
exposed walk off move bolt

The obvious bolt that protects the exposed move on the walk off appeared to be missing a hanger yesterday, 10/8/16. Does anyone have info about this?
By Nick_Cov
From: Truckee, CA
Oct 17, 2016

Worth doing for the last pitch alone. Approach following the nice steps all the way up the gully to the black looking slab, the only bolted line in the area.

Link P1 and P2. Pitch 1 seemed mostly cleaned up but still some loose stuff. I only clipped 2 directional bolts on P2 to minimize rope drag.

P3 was fun exposed 5.8. We rappelled the route in 3 rappels with no problem. Rap from the top to the P2 Belay. Rappel from the P2 belay to the top of pitch 1. Be sure to carry both ends of the rope on slings rather than throwing them- this way you can avoid knocking off any loose rock. If you knock off any rocks they will go straight down picnic lunch wall onto the crowded paths that contain hundreds of people so be very careful. Simply walk backwards to the top of P1 belay paying out your rope as you go. If you were to slip and fall here it would be a nasty pendulum so don't slip. From start to being back on the ground we were done in about 90 minutes with a party of 3.
By Caleb Berghoff
From: Helena, Montana
Mar 11, 2017

P2-5.0 or 4th
P3-5.9 (I thought the hardest part on the third pitch was getting over the bulge right before the chains)

Overall it was a great route with good protection and exposure and an amazing summit. The rock quality was good overall, however there was some loose stuff on the first pitch. P3 felt solid though. Rapping down P2 is a bit of a hassle because its such a low angle. I carried the rope down the first half and then threw it after the angle got steeper.
By Byron Igoe
Jun 5, 2017
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c PG13

There are multiple loose flakes, each with a chalk X on them, but the bolts seem secure. If you do this, I recommend walking off. The position on VOTCD is unique, but Wherever I May Roam and Dirty Pinkos are both much better experiences.
By BendB
Oct 1, 2017
rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

Enjoyable route with an ending position that justifies the approach and time. I linked P1+P2 like suggested above, but soloed the chossy gully to the left of the normal route. I brought some alpine draws, but even with these it felt like the rope drag wasn't worth it. Next time I would bring a couple of really long (48in+) and clip the two traverse bolts. Note: the anchors on P1 had loose bolts and hangers.
By PortlandRob
Oct 2, 2017
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

Did this route 9/30/2017. The bolts on top of P1 both seem to be slightly loose. This would be concerning enough if everyone walked off this route, but many prefer to rap. I would not trust 2 loose bolts as my only protection for rapping. Better to walk off, which is really not that bad. The very easy (V0)"boulder move" you first encounter is indeed very exposed, but there is a bolt and hanger you can attach personal pro to while you pull over/around it so it feels totally safe. A few moments later there is a ~8 ft drop you have to downclimb/hop down. Not exposed at all - big platform you drop to. Downclimb a few feet of ~V2 then hop the remaining 3 feet or so. Then descend the Misery Ridge trail.
By Geordi Alm
From: Mesa
3 days ago

Are the lower bolts at the end of P3 safe? From the photos, it looks like some people choose not to use those. Will be climbing this in a few days... Excited!

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