A Crater Lake adventure!
Sarah had planned a glorious adventure: We would drive down to Smith Rock to climb for a day, then spend a day at Diamond Lake exploring, and then hit the jewel of the trip – a sunrise exploration of the Crater Lake rim. From the rim, we’d stay nearby, explore Crater Lake, relax, take a boat ride, and have a great time. We’d packed the car, made trip itineraries, and Ollie was safely at camp for the week. All we needed to do was drive…
Smith Rock. Climbing place. Rocks. Stuff like that.
We’ve been here a few times… a lot of few times. We weren’t particularly worried when we parked at the main site in the mid-afternoon, and started racking up at the base of the cliff at 3:30.
We… we should have been, though.
The route started gloriously though! We headed up Moscow, a 5.6 2 or 3 pitch trad route – one of my favorites at Smith, if I’m being honest. It’s easy… but sustained; the climbing is never insane, but it’s almost never easy. The moves all keep the same difficulty level, and it’s a great challenge of a route. It’d been a bit of a challenge for us though, since the first move is Sarah’s white whale – a reachy bulge move.
But she pulled it! Sarah crushed the move, and annihilated the first pitch. I did the same to the second pitch, officially ticking off my first post-injury Trad lead! Yay wins for both of us!
Pitch 3 threw us a bit of a curveball though… Sarah ran into some trouble about halfway up, with tough moves and tired hands, so I climbed up and took over the reins to finish out the route. I did leave a headlamp with her though, just in case my lead took longer than expected and we had to have a dusk adventure.
Ohh… I am glad I left that headlamp with her. Though I kind of wish I’d brought a second one…
When Sarah topped out after Pitch 3, it was dark. She’d needed the headlamp for the last dozen feet, which led to a pretty cool view from my end. Something between an angel ascending up the rock, and a monster crawling up from the abyss. I think it depended more on what noises she was making at the time… either happy about finishing the climb, or angry at my difficult-to-remove placements.
But wait, there’s more!
There’s always more, isn’t there? Remember… the climb is only half the fun! The other half if the descent! This descent wasn’t super fun. Short version: I taped my phone to my helmet and set it to flashlight mode, Sarah tracked our way up, and we took a 20 minute nap at the base of the climb because we couldn’t really walk super well, thanks to being tired and super thirsty.
In all, the three-pitch route was done in five pitches, including the final roped top-out for safety, and took us nearly six hours. We did debate sleeping on the wall at one point… but I think that thought was what kept us going to make sure we DIDN’T have to do that.
Then began the long trudge down into the canyon. Then back up the canyon. Honestly, not that bad in retrospect… we were tired, true, but we held a pretty good pace and kept pretty happy spirits. Once back at the car we chugged more gatorade than one should normally chug, and ate more cheetos than one normally admits to eating. A quick drive took us to the campsite, and then a quick unpack had us cooking ourselves a dinner.
It was nearly 11:00 at this point, so we’d obviously debated skipping dinner and setting up the tent right away. But this was the first day of our adventure: It doesn’t behoove one to start an adventure by starving ones self. We buckled down and made ourselves pasta with rendered sausage and asparagus, paired cleverly with a nice red ale. It went down wonderfully, and was clearly our best decision of the day.
Then our sleeping bags lay out, and asleep we went.