After spending the morning in downtown Bend, we headed up to Smith Rock State Park, a very well known destination crag. We first stopped at the climbing shop at the Terrebone turn off, where they graciously let us fill up our fresh water tank. The little shop has a good selection of climbing gear, and the staff gave us plenty of beta on the area. They also recommended a free UFSF campground, "The Grasslands" about 10 miles from the state park. It turned out to be a very nice camp, with open views of the valley and good trails into the hills. Once we got settled, we went to Smith to scope the routes we would climb the next day.
The climbing at Smith Rock is divided into two primary areas with very different flavors: the main park which is mostly sport climbing (and a few easier trad. lines) on the scenic outcrops and the Gorge which is mostly traditional climbing on the canyon walls along the river. The rock "quality" at the main park can only be described as awful. It is a mystery to us why this area has gained so much popularity... must be the lack of any other decent climbing nearby, and the generally sunny and dry weather at the park which acts as a magnet on drenched Portlanders. The Gorge, on the other hand, has beautiful single pitch crack climbs on solid basalt, quite reminiscent of the crags of White Rock, NM where we learned to climb.
We spent our first day climbing in the sport area, at "The Testament Wall". We very quickly got disenchanted with the rock quality (or lack thereof). The next day we gave the Gorge a try. There are awesome crack lines at the Upper Gorge. Most of the lines are 5.10's and harder. The quality of the best routes compares favorably with Paradise Forks, AZ, THE standard for basalt crack climbing in the US. Needless to say we spent the rest of our stay climbing in the Gorge and never went back to the main area.
We spent our rest days hanging out in Bend. Bend is the perfect town for the all around recreationist. Bike trails, mountains, and ski areas nearby, and a relatively dry weather have attracted lots of young outdoor enthusiasts. There is a pleasant downtown area, although we did not find it very lively most of the time. We were in town for the Earth Day celebration and its annual "Procession of the Species".
Just outside Bend and on the way to Smith Rock is the town of Redmond. The town is unremarkable save for the apparent contrast in the political bend (no pun intended) of its people with the progressive outdoorsy people of nearby Bend. Every street in Redmond was lined on both sides with American flags about every six feet, in support of US troops then fighting in Iraq. Quite a sight. Instant patriotic overdose.
On our last day of climbing at the Gorge, Eric took a bad leader fall, badly bruising a rib on his left side. We took this as a sign to take a break from climbing for a while and go visit the Oregon Coast.
Bend and Smith Rock, OR
|Smith Rock State Park.|
|Free camping at the USFS campground, "The Grasslands".|
|Volcanoes near Bend: Mt. Bachelor and the Three Sisters.|
|Eric leading one of the awesome cracks in the Gorge, "Cruel Sister" (10a).|
|Going up "Prometheus", 10c.|
|Eric stemming up "Morning Star", 10c.|
|Flag extravaganza in Redmond, OR.|
|Cartoon from Bend alternative newspaper ("This Modern World", by Tom Tomorrow).|
|Downtown Bend (Earth Day).|
|"Procession of the Species".|