Chasing Cracks at Smith Rock

After saying our goodbyes Friday afternoon, we pointed our wheels south and knocked off the first 250 miles of our journey, landing us square in the middle of Oregon at Smith Rock State Park. Now for those of you who don’t already know (as well as those that need a reminder) – Smith Rock offers some of the best rock climbing in the Great NorthWest, nay North America. The park boasts nearly 2,000 routes and is more beautiful that one can imagine. If you haven’t been, book a flight, get in your car, or at least plan a trip. Seriously. Do it.

Our weekend docket consisted of picking up fellow rock enthusiast and all around bad-ass Chris Mutzel at the Redmond airport circa 12am Friday night. From there we headed into the park to snag a wink of sleep before blitzing up some weekend rock.


Chris Mutzel scoping the edge on Monkey Face

Morning light came early with no apparent signs of the forecasted rain clouds on the horizon. After a quick warmup on the ever classic ‘5 Gallon Buckets’ we proceeded to try our hand at Zebra/Zion – a 4 pitch 5.10a/b trad route situated right in the middle of the Morning Glory Wall. We laid down 3 good pitches but were forced to bail off the route before topping out due to the setting sun. The days sure seem to be ending quickly.

Zebra-Zion (1.1)

First pitch down on the 5.10a Zebra-Zion Direct Route. Shot was taken from a hanging belay at 180 feet.

Sunday brought an attempt at arguably Smith’s most iconic route, the West Face Variation of the Monkey Face. Please allow me to quote the guide book on this one – “This climb has it all: trad climbing, aiding up a bolt ladder, plenty of exposure, incredible positions and a 100-foot free-hanging rappel. Stepping out of the mouth cave into seemingly oblivion gives a whole new meaning to exposure.” Ummmm… Where do we sign up?! Best thing is, the climb was all that and more. Ultimately we tackled 3 of the 4 pitches, including battling up the aid pitch until the darkness once again snuck up on us. We made a quick rap out of the cave and in our haste ended up leaving a stuck rope we would have to retrieve the next day. Darkness and climbing are like oil and water, they just don’t mix.


Swallowed by the cave after three pitches on Monkey’s Face

All in all the weekend was a success. Not finishing the two multi-pitches left us hungry for more rock. That being said, dry rock, good friends, and climbing in November is the recipe for one delicious weekend!



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