The first climb of the year… at 18 Deg.F


Sunday, 29-Jan-2023

How long has it been since I’ve climbed at Smith? Let’s see…

According to my photo record, It’s… been a really long time. We’re leaving it at that.

Jess and I left Bend early-ish… and by “early-ish” I mean “not even remotely early”. The dawn had broken over a solidly single-digit temperature, with thick snow and ice covering both the truck and the world around us. We slept in, relaxed, and took our time showering and getting packed up.

It wasn’t like the world would thaw before noon, anyways.

A quick breakfast in Terrebonne helped us rally and energize, and gave the world a little bit more time to dethaw and start warming up to more bearable temperatures. By the time we left the truck behind and began our descent into the gorge it was a (relatively) balmy 18 Deg.F by our thermometer.

The rock, of course, helped reflect the heat of the sun back into us. By the time we’d roped up and I’d started climbing, the rock face was legitimately warm – literally warm to the touch. I didn’t feel the need for a jacket, despite the cold, and even ended up rolling up my pant legs to help vent some of the heat that climbing generated.

What did we climb?
Five Gallon Buckets, 5.8, Sport, Lead then top rope.

Yep, just the one…

We got two runs of the climb in when we realized the danger – While the Sun wasn’t hitting the horizon for another two and a half hours, it didn’t need to hit the horizon. The Smith Rock cluster was in the path of the sun, and the shade was creeping up on us surprisingly quickly. There were only two other teams nearby, and of them only one was climbing… and that climbing team was rapidly packing up to avoid being plunged into darkness and cold.

(As a quick interesting note – there were three teams climbing this Sunday at Smith. Ourselves, climbing a 5.8. A team to the East, climbing a 5.12c and a 5.13a. And a third team of 12, re-bolting a handful of routes. Yep – we hang with super cool folks!)

With the shade fast approaching, I took a quick final run of the route to clean the anchors. We had warm gear with us, of course, but nothing that I’d be comfortable leading in… so instead of continuing the climbing, we started into the exploring. We hikes around, checked out Asterisk’s Pass, and got the chance to appreciate the sun dropping down lower.

We packed up our gear, and headed out. The desert passed, the trees grew, and we stopped to take pictures of a beautiful sunset.

We dined at a small restaurant in Rhododendron, and continued our way home. The snow gave way, then the trees followed suit. The city grew up in their place, and soon enough we were unpacking the truck once again after a very good weekend!

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