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The Dirtbag Adventures: Episode 8 - Smith Rock, a homecoming

The Dirtbag Adventures: Episode 8 - Smith Rock, a homecoming

The Dirtbag Adventures: Episode 8 - Smith Rock, a homecoming

Read all of the Dirtbag Adventures!

In this blog, Matt writes about Smith Rock State Park, the truly world class climbing spot right here in the Oregon. If you haven’t been, or haven’t been in a while, you should go. If you can get away with it, you should go. If you can’t get away with it, you should go to. Seriously, go climb.

I couldn’t help but chuckle at the irony. We were getting rained out of Utah, and the driest place to climb within a day’s drive was Oregon. What are the odds? We packed up the trad gear and headed west: goodbye sandstone and granite, hello volcanic tuff at Smith Rock State Park!

For me, climbing at Smith Rock used to be just a weekend trip. Load up a few friends, drive for three hours, climb a bit, and tell stories around a picnic table at the bivy. Over the last few months, my climbing experiences have been a lot grander in scale: days or weeks on end, back to back, in some of the most iconic climbing places in America.

Smith Rock dirtbags
Me on More Sandy Than Kevin, 5.11a in Shipwreck Gully. Photo: Alex Goldman, Thanks!

A little over a week ago Casey and I were in Indian Creek, one of the wildest places I’ve ever climbed. A long canyon in the southern Utah desert, Indian Creek is lined with vertical sandstone walls for miles, and these walls contain the most enticing crack lines I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately for us, it kept raining, and sandstone cannot be climbed if it’s wet.

From Indian Creek we drove up to Salt Lake and climbed in Little Cottonwood Canyon for a couple days. The fall colors and a dusting of snow high on the peaks radiated beauty throughout the Utah high country, but soon it was raining there too.

We found a greasy diner to post up all morning, drinking bad coffee and researching every crag within a thousand miles. It turns out that our best bet this time of year was Smith Rock. With no precipitation in the forecast and a seemingly endless number of routes, the crag in our backyard had more to offer than anywhere else.

We drove from Salt Lake and camped out in the Ochocos National Forest, just east of Prineville (if you haven’t had the chance to check it out, it’s beautiful!). Another hour behind the wheel and we were pulling into Smith Rock State Park. It was a Sunday and the parking lot was packed, but a ten-minute hike into the park and we were already finding walls we could enjoy all by ourselves.

Not only is Smith jammed back with classic, single pitch sport lines, but It also has a surprising amount of trad climbing. On this trip we focused on the plethora of moderate, multi-pitch bolted climbs that I think help smith really stand out.

On our first day in the park, Casey and I climbed together then headed over to Redpoint, a local climbing shop that serves up beer and Wi-Fi for all the dirtbags. Here I meet up with Stuart, a lone climber from New York who was looking for partners. The next morning Stuart, Casey and I were perched at the top of Voyage of the Cowdogs, looking out over central Oregon and the recently snow-dusted cascades. This 5.9, 3 pitch route is awesome!

Smith Rock dirtbags
Casey and Stuart clowning around on top of Voyage of the Cowdogs. For a 5.9 this route offers great exposure and engaging, secure climbing-check it out if you can!

After that we linked up with our friend Spencer Clark, a Next Adventure staffer and all-around great guy. Spencer and I got to climb some really fun routes. The highlight was Dirty Pinkos, a three pitch 5.9 sport route on the Red Wall contains an airy but well-bolted traverse. It was a blast!

Smith Rock dirtbags
Next Adventure staffer Spencer Clark leading out on the traverse pitch of Dirty Pinkos, 5.9.

The days are getting shorter and nights are getting colder, but this makes for amazing climbing. During the day we were able to find sun and still wear T-shirts most of the time, but the cooler temps mean the rock is stickier and we weren’t overheating in the really sunny spots. I’ve climbed days at Smith where I was worried my shoe rubber would melt from the heat, so this was a great relief!

I’m not exaggerating when I say this last week has been some of the best climbing I’ve experienced all season. Smith’s out-of-this-world sport climbs, ample trad, and friendly vibe really make it a world-class crag, and this is the season to go!

Smith Rock dirtbags
Me about the rappel off Voyage of the Cowdogs. This was our first route of the day, and apparently, I was daydreaming about a strong cup of coffee.

Read all of the Dirtbag Adventures!

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