Smith Rock is a climber’s paradise. When you descend the winding trail that takes you toward its mesmerizing cliffs, you realize you’re someplace special. The craggy outcrops seem like they’ve been transported from a fairy tale and the Crooked River meanders in a perfect bend around the formation, cradling the valley in the comfort of an old friend. The warm and inviting ancient ambiance makes you want to stay. And after my first visit there in 2003 that’s exactly what I did.
From 2005 to 2010 I spent my summers working for Chockstone Climbing Guides, leading brave clients of all abilities over and up the craggy playground. By 2012, I had left Central Oregon for Portland and started working as a copywriter for The Clymb. When we launched Clymb Adventures in December 2013 I knew I had to bring my two worlds together.
The adult climbing camp run by Chockstone Climbing Guides at Smith Rock is one The Clymb’s most popular offerings. Last week, I had the opportunity to head back to my old stomping grounds and participate for a day. No longer a Chockstone guide, I had the benefit of viewing the experience from the outside, as a Portland-based climber and as an official hawker of the service. All biases and clichés aside: it rocked.
I work in the outdoor and adventure travel industry because I dig helping people get outside and experience the places I love. And there is almost nowhere on this planet I’d rather be climbing than at Smith Rock.
Here are the top 5 reasons why you will love climbing there too:
1. World-class routes: Steeped in tradition, Smith Rock is home to some of the best climbing in the universe. The volcanic welded tuff is known for its technical edges, cryptic sequences, and forearm-pumping enduro-routes. For the traditional climber, Smith has a wide array of multi-pitch lines that range from moderate to puckering, and you can climb laser-cut cracks for days in the basalt wonderland of the lower gorge.
2. Dirtbag Delicacies: Chockstone guides know how to whip up a meal. The menu includes everything from spicy curries to three-course Italian spreads. One of my favorite parts of being a guide for Chockstone was at the end of the day, when we got to sit down and share good food and better beer with cool clients in the great outdoors.
3. The Best Guides Ever: These guys are pro. Not only will they keep you well fed, buy they’ll also keep you safe while showing you the best that Smith has to offer. Ever tunneled through basalt caves or copped a view of Golden eagles picking off prey? There’s a lot more than just world-class climbing at Smith Rock.
4. A Room With a View: The high desert of Central Oregon is pristine and wild. My favorite evening chore was watching shooting stars till I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer. You’ll fall asleep as the coyotes howl at the moon after a long day of sampling all the different tastes of Smith.
5. Awesome People: Smith Rock draws climbers of varying abilities from across the world to hone their skills on its massive walls. Their shared love of stone leads to impromptu tent-communities of like-minded climbers who want nothing more than to sit around and talk rock. During the day, you will enjoy some of the best climbing the country has to offer with your new friends as the guides take you to secret stashes all throughout the park. At night you will toast your successes over specially selected Oregon micro-brews.
I have to stop reminiscing now otherwise I might end up burning through the rest of my vacation days to go back!
Photos Courtesy of Richard Yeh
4-Day Smith Rock Climbing School — Book it