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Trip Report: Thin Air, 5.10b, Koala Rock, Smith Rock State Park, OR
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Trip Report: Thin Air, 5.10b, Koala Rock, Smith Rock State Park, OR

Trip Report: Thin Air, 5.10b, Koala Rock, Smith Rock State Park, OR

When: 03/30/2017
Location: Thin Air, 5.10b, Koala Rock, Smith Rock State Park, OR
Conditions: 20mph wind, sunny
Duration: 3 hours
Difficulty: Fun, cruising route. Each pitch is a one move wonder.
Kid Friendly: No
Pet Friendly: No
Useful links: mountainproject.com

The Full Report:
The Marsupials may be the most underrated climbing area at Smith Rock. The 45-minute approach keeps away those who don't know what lies there. But when the weather gets nice and the classics get crowded, the Marsupials is the place to be.

smith rock

To approach Thin Air, take a right at the end of the bridge and follow the trail past the Monument to the base of a hill, where there's a litter and a pair of crutches. Take the switchbacks up, over the canal, following signs for Burma road. Walk up the first part of Burma road, but instead of talking the obvious switchback, continue on a small trail. The large rock up on the left is Koala Rock.

Thin air ascends the southwest corner of Koala Rock and yields beautiful views of the park. The climb is fun, straightforward, and a total joy. If it were located closer to the lot, it would certainly be a classic. Instead of climbing the first pitch 5.8 trad finger crack, we walked around the corner and climbed Suck My Kiss, 5.10a.

smith rock

Challenging opening moves lead you to a relatively easy face. The base was so windy I was convinced we were in for a rough climb, but when I arrived at the sheltered top of the first pitch, my mind began to change.

In order to link Suck My Kiss with the bottom of the second pitch of Thin Air, we had to climb a short (20ft) pitch of 5.4 trad. I placed a .4" cam, although anyone comfortable at 5.10 doesn't need much protection on this short bit.

The second real pitch (though I'll refer to it as the third, because that's technically what it was on the climb we did) is really really fun. The belay is comfortable and a hard foot-intensive move brings you onto a well protected 5.9ish slab. Sustained 5.8/9 moves end at a smaller ledge with a two-bolt anchor and rappel chains.

smith rock

While both the third and fourth pitch have four out of four stars in the Alan Watts guide book, the fourth pitch (technically the third pitch of Thin Air) is the money pitch. though it's rated 5.10b, the moves feel more like 10a, although the exposure adds a scary touch. Do a few 5.10 moves out right over an exposed drop, climb up over the bulge, and ascend a 5.7ish slab. Clip the bolt inside the roof then find a good facehold out right. Given my 5'5" stature, I had to dynamically jump for the great jug inside the roof, and using high feel, stand up around it. Continue up a fun, easy, exposed slab to an anchor at a 4th class ledge.

We used two 70m ropes (60s would almost certainly reach) to rappel off the summit anchors down past Ryan's Arete to the ground. If you only have one rope, I would probably rappel down the route.

Thin Air with the Suck My Kiss variation was an amazingly fun and exciting. 3 pitches of 3/4 star climbing is hard to come by, especially at consistently moderate grades. Thin Air truly deserves the four stars it has and should definitely be on your list next time you head to Smith Rock State Park!

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