Smith Rock State Park

May 24-25, 2008

If you have never visited Smith Rock State Park near Redmond I have two words of advice: Go there. Smith is one of those places every Oregonian who loves the outdoors should visit. The towering, multi-hued cliffs and abundant wildlife alone make this a fine place to hike, bike or just sit and enjoy the beauty of Oregon’s high desert. And for rock climbers, it is a Mecca that draws people from all over the country and around the world.

So our group of ten considered ourselves lucky to have such a great outdoor playground so close at hand. Due to Smith’s popularity I was a bit concerned about scheduling a sport climbing trip on the Memorial Day weekend but the unhopeful weather predictions may have kept some of the crowds at bay. Our “advance party”, who went over on Friday evening, were able to get the premier camp site at Steelhead Falls campground, and though there were plenty of people climbing, our group never had to wait too long to get a chance to work on routes even in the more popular areas at Smith. The weather was unsettled, with a bit of rain blowing through at times and some periods of thunder in the distance. But it was dry enough for us to get in plenty of climbing and enjoy our camping as well.

We spent the better part of two days climbing. I think everyone in our relatively experienced group managed to try a route they had not done before. The majority took a turn on the “sharp end” of the rope, going out on lead to put up a top rope for the rest to enjoy. We climbed various routes ranging in difficulty from 5.6 to 5.10.

When the rains chased us off the rock on Saturday afternoon we changed our plan for a wiener roast in camp and ate a restaurant meal instead. Later the clouds cleared and gave us a beautiful star filled sky to enjoy around the camp fire. Our breakfast the next morning was was leisurely and delicious. Thanks to Dennis for the coffee and to Sue for the good camp cooking. The morning clouds and light mist kept the temperatures moderate for our second day of climbing. By mid afternoon the clouds were breaking and we had all had enough exercise on the rock, (Well, maybe Peter and Larry could have done a couple more routes!) so our party split up for some hiking. One group going over the top via “Misery Ridge” and the other exploring up the gorge to look at some other climbing areas. Cell coverage is good at Smith and it is very handy to be able communicate so easily even when the party splits up.

This trip was everything a good Obsidian outing should be. Friends, new and old, sharing beauty and challenge in the outdoors, and having a great time in the process. I can not thank this group enough for joining me on the trip and making it so much fun. Every leader should be so lucky to have a group that takes such good care of him/her! Special thanks to Wayne for all his help and support, and to everyone for making this a safe and most enjoyable outing.

Participants were: Sue Carey, Wayne Deeter, Dennis Gordineer, Peter Green, Larry Huff, Chris Jensen, Kathy Jensen, Juli McGlinsky, Lori Tierny and Doug Nelson, leader.

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