A few weeks ago we headed down to a little part of central Oregon called Terrebonne. The small town is surrounded by ranch land and is home to about 5000 people year round. Right on the edge of town is somewhat of a climbing mecca called Smith Rock.
The area came to prominence in the early 80’s and is said to be where sport climbing started in North America. For years the area was flooded by climbers who were drawn to the giant rock formations because of easy access and the potential for hundreds of new routes to climb. The area still draws thousands of people every year but as the sport progressed Smith became one of many sport climbing destinations.
We had heard about this place over the winter and were told that we could climb it in April if we were willing to put up with cooler temperatures and variable weather. Given that we can’t climb anything around here until May at the earliest the idea of taking a road trip to Smith sounded great. I did some research on the area and we decided to give it a shot as the weather was looking favorable and we were looking for a short get-away before Tracy started school again.
We travelled down on the 2nd of April and came home on the 8th. The drive was about 11 hours each way including ferries and border crossings so that ate up two of our 6 days but in the end it was definitely worth it. We spent a day touring around the area checking out breweries and wineries and taking in the scenery. Then a couple of friends (April and Al) joined us for three days in the park. We managed to get in two full days of climbing and then a day of hiking around before heading home.
The park was fantastic with over 1800 routes to be climbed, miles and miles of trail to be hiked, and access to a lot of mountain biking; there was something for just about anyone. The park was really well maintained and the climbing areas were setup with platforms at the base of each route so that the belayer could be comfortable and you could keep your gear close by. I did a lot of lead climbing over the two days as most of the routes (97%) were lead only, meaning there was no walking access to the top. I really enjoy the challenge of lead as it makes you really concentrate on what you are doing and on the rock in front of you. Unfortunately, I also got to take my first lead fall outside which was a little terrifying as I fell about 20 feet before smashing myself up against the rock. Tracy had no problem catching me and I managed to finish the route after I recovered my nerve… great team building exercise.
Our trip was great and we are looking forward to getting back down there again. Likely we will try and get down again next spring to get a jump on the season a little. Now that our season here is opening up we are looking forward to getting out a lot more.
Hope that things are all well on your end!