Tag Archives: Smith Rock

Smith in September

Smith in September


Monday, 25-Sept-2017 through Thursday, 28-Sept-2017


It’d been a while since Sarah and I had done a dedicated climbing trip – we’d been kind of hesitant, since we weren’t really sure what my knee could do, and that hesitancy had bred just enough inertia that we’d become complacent and okay with sticking in town and playing on the plastic of the climbing gym.

No more.  No more would we be captives of our own inertia.  No more would we be slaves to complacency.  Instead, we would blaze a trail of adventure and excitement!


So, a quick summary:


Arrive mid-morning, after depositing our finally-returned security deposit from the house in Hood River.

Crush a few routes in the more popular areas, since they’d be empty mid-week.

Side note: Ollie was amazing.  She hasn’t forgotten her crag-dog training, and relaxed like the best pup.

Head back to camp, and make a group dinner with the friends who we were meeting up with.

Sleep like logs, and start to fix our messed up circadian rhythm.


Wake up, have breakfast, and do some hiking.

Tuesday was a relaxation day – I read, Sarah painted, and we wandered around with the puppy.

Hit some quick climbs at the waterfall slabs, just to keep energy up.

Glorious dinner and gloriously early bed.


Dawned hot… hotter than expected.

Bust out a climb at the Dihedrals… then skip out to the shade.

Climbed at a new area… new to us, at least.  Sarah led a 5.10!  Ben followed!

Read and draw some more, climb a little bit more, then another early dinner.

Super early bed – we were seriously in the tent falling asleep by 8:30.  What.


Pack up, head out back toward Portland.  Get coffee a few times on the way, because we missed coffee shops.



Climb details:

We honestly didn’t climb as much as we’d expected.  I guess that inertia that I mentioned above still held sway over us… But hey.  We hadn’t been out on a trip like this in a while, and we needed the chance to re-connect to our more energetic selves.  This was the perfect opportunity too, since the park was nearly deserted, and the weather was glorious the whole time.

What we did climb though…



5 gallon buckets, 5.8, Sport.  Sarah led, Ben seconded.

Left Slab Crack, 5.4, Trad.  Sarah led, Ben seconded.

Easy Reader, 5.6, Sport.  Ben and Sarah led.


9999, 5.6, Sport.  Ben and Sarah led.

Amelia Dearheart, 5.7, Sport.  Ben and Sarah led.

We also did a few variants of each, for giggles.


Purple Headed Warrior, 5.7, Sport.  Sarah and Ben led.

Nacho Libre, 5.6, Sport.  Ben led, Sarah seconded.

Float like a Butterfly, 5.10b, Sport.  Sarah led, Ben seconded.

How low can you go?, 5.7, Sport.  Ben led, Sarah seconded.

Rope de Dope crack, 5.8, toprope.  Ben and Sarah climbed.


What else… The trip was excellent!  We had a great time, enjoyed cooking food over a fire, and doubly enjoyed the pizza and mozzarella sticks that we had on the last evening we were there.  We climbed well, hiked well, and felt really good.  My knee didn’t give me any trouble the whole time, and actually felt better than it had in a long time.  I think that means that I’ve been under-exercising it, which is definitely good to know.  Means I can push harder, and maybe even start doing heavier lifting… deadlifts, here we come!

Driving toward Crater Lake

Driving toward Crater Lake

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…


Tuesday, 29-August-2017

After our evening adventure, we slept in.  It was glorious.

We drank Dunkin’ Donuts, we ate breakfast, and even made sandwiches.  It was awesome.  And best part – we woke up to a glorious sunrise over Smith, thanks to the campsite we’d snagged, and the fact that we’d been too tired to actually set up a tent.  We’d slept under the stars, and could roll over and see the sunbeams shining onto the rock.

Or… in theory we could.  I didn’t have contacts in.  So I couldn’t see anything.

Also, there were forest fires that made everything hazy and thick with smoke.


That last part was the big theme of the day, unfortunately.  Thick, cloying smoke that messed with breathing and vision and plans.


We had debated staying at Smith an extra day, but since we’d burnt most of our energy on the epic the previous day, and since the smoke was already wafting in from the nearby fires, we decided to travel South, pressing on toward our destination of the evening: Diamond Lake.

As we drove though, the smoke didn’t get better.  It actually kept getting worse… we stopped in Bend to catch our breath (literally, in Sarah’s case), and pick up some nasal sprays to try and make the air breathable.  They didn’t work so well, unfortunately… but having lunch in an air conditioned (and thus filtered) cafe was definitely a pleasant reprieve.


The final decision came when we stopped for gas in a town called Crescent.  While filling up, we heard some subtly pertinent news – specifically, that the highway ahead of us was on fire.  And closed.  But mostly the fact that it was on fire.  That’s subtly pertinent when on a roadtrip.

We turned around and went home.  Cooked steak in the kitchen, drank some beers, and got annoyed at the Northwest for being on fire.

Visiting Smith Rock! An Epic of epic proportions!

Visiting Smith Rock! An Epic of epic proportions!

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…


Monday, 28-Aug-2017


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.