Published: October 1st 2008September 11th 2008
Smith Rock, Oregon. A small, nondescript state park whose name doesn’t conjure up images of wild landscapes or scenic crags. In truth, quite the opposite is true. Smith Rock is the home of sport (bolted) climbing in the US. When it was ethically prohibited to place bolts in the rock unless absolutely necessary which often translated to very sparse protection and very scary and potentially dangerous routes. Smith Rock was one of the first parts of the US to embrace the then radical concept of placing bolts where convenient rather than placing them at utmost need. Today, many areas have accepted a more moderate stance and both styles have found various areas to thrive in.
All ethical considerations aside, Smith was a wonderful place to climb and a wonderful place to be. One of the aspects that stood out the most to me was how many different types of people used the park and the rapport that existed amongst everyone. Strong climbers, climbing families (replete with toddlers), old people, young people, hikers, bikers, sightseers, and military groups, youth groups…you name it, there was something for everyone. It stood out to me as being very user friendly—not like the parks
highest point in Oregon
where your presence is tolerated but rather you are welcomed when you arrived. For 3 dollars a day you get a map (a nice one) and running water, and bathrooms located all throughout the park. Compare this to our hometown crag the Gunks, where 15 bucks a day gets you a map of the hiking trails and porta johns…
Some highlights of the area- We randomly met a guy who had lived in Port Jervis (NY)…he didn’t know of Steel’s junkyard…we met an older couple who was just super nice and seemed genuinely happy that we took the time to visit their state…we got mistaken for vagrants and told: “move along, you’ve been here for a couple of nights, now” by some old fool at a nearby state park. Let me briefly qualify that statement. There were no signs posted forbidding camping or overnight parking. It was a state park. The rules for the facility included nothing that suggested that overnight occupancy was frowned upon. On the other hand, all the bathroom stalls had the doors removed and all the water fixtures had been taken off to discomfort anyone attempting to take up residence. Passive aggressive law enforcement has
at skull hollow BLM campground.
come to Oregon! Aside from that ranger though, I would have to say that the people we have met really stand out as the memorable happenings.
We saw some otters one of the days we climbed. They had the right idea—staying wet and cool while we got the convection oven treatment. Suffice to say we went out later after that. The climbing itself was pretty fun. It also held something for everyone. Some routes were so thin and strenuous looking that only the chalked up holds belied the fact that people had ever been able to get up them; on the other hand there were routes with holds so big that families of pigeons would nest inside them. The climbing was varied in its challenges but bolted climbing (for me) holds a limited appeal because it does lack some of the adventure of having to protect your own path. Unless you are strong enough to climb hard 5.10 or 11, its not going to keep you that entertained. That said I climbed a couple of easy 10s and Stef climbed a few stiff 9s and 8s and we didn’t feel shortchanged. I greatly anticipate a return trip after spending
Peter Skene Ogden Overlook
Idaho anybody? No, its Oregon. This state park is a commemoration of Peter Skene Ogden (for whom Ogden UT is named) who was very influential in trapping and pioneering trade routes in the Pacific Northwest in the 19th century.
more time training.
There are more photos below