There aren’t many things that would prompt me to set a 5:00 AM alarm, but on Tuesday morning I was thrilled to wake up – after four hours of sleep – for three hours of driving and miles of hiking with ropes, helmets, and lots of metal gear. All for the purpose of climbing hundreds of feet up a cliff-face. Are you sold yet?
Smith Rock State Park is serene. The park’s tuff and basalt cliffs punch out of the surrounding flat land and the Crooked River meanders through the park. Smith is a world famous rock climbing destination, with over 1,500 climbing routes across all levels of difficulty.
Dan and I climbed Super Slab and Moscow, 450′ and 300′ multi-pitch climbs on Smith Rock’s Red Wall. Route finding on Super Slab was tough and we ended up bailing at a nearby rappel station that we found around 150′ up. Moscow was ridiculously fun. I led both climbs and Moscow offered some occasional exposure and an unexpectedly tricky section toward the top. At our first belay station I grabbed my cell phone to film a “Hey, Mom!” video.
When we topped out from Moscow and were looking for the trail down, we encountered a hiker who had taken a back trail up. Picture this: She’s cool-as-a-cucumber, hiking with a small bottle of water and wearing a black spandex top, a bright green fleece and black hiking pants. We’re sweaty, carrying two 200′ ropes, wearing helmets and harnesses, and each of us has around ten pounds of climbing gear on slings and hanging off of our harnesses.
We ask her for directions, and she points us toward the trail that heads to the parking lot. Then: “Hey, so which trail did you guys take up here?” :Long pause: “Umm…” [I point toward the cliff-edge around 40 feet away] ::Another pause:: “OH! – – – OH MY! THAT’S CRAZY!”
In the end it turned out that she pointed us in the exact opposite direction than we needed to go. Maybe we should have realized that she wasn’t the brightest, but our hour-long detour along the river was Edenic and we had the time for it. I’m already trying to plan another trip out to Smith Rock before we leave the area.
posted by yair