climbing-smith-rock-4Smith 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:

climbing-smith-rock-11. 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