Adventure climbing at Smith Rock

On Friday April 6th, Kyle Sears and I headed out to Smith Rock, hoping to avoid rain and tick an easy multi-pitch route or two. The day prior we had slept in Karen at the Mt. Hood parking lot, fingers crossed for clear skies but instead work up to the inside of a ping-pong ball. Hightailing it out of there we spent the rest of Thursday driving back to Bend and salvaging at workout at the gym. 


supper prior to our mt. hood "attempt"

Government Camp, Oregon 


Friday dawned clear and we made it out to Terrebonne early and began the steep descent toward the Crooked River with plenty of stoke. The primary goal was to climb "First Kiss" but we found it closed due to raptor nesting. No matter, the Marsupial area was open and there is a 3 pitch route called "Living Blindly" I had been wanting to check out for a while. The hike out there is about 45 minutes and after a bit of confusion, scrambling, and consulting the guidebook we were at the bottom of what I thought was the correct route.

Took a bit of a break to rack up, have a snack, and go over our plan for the climb. Kyle is my most frequent climbing partner and the person I enjoy going out with the most. He is very patient with me and I don't feel embarrassed about flailing or making a fool out of myself around him. This is such a nice thing to feel about a climbing partner as you are very vulnerable up on the rock and it helps to have someone you fully trust on the other end of the rope. 

I started up the 5.6 first pitch, made it 3 bolts before getting stumped by a tricky bulge that had me concerned, requiring a take and lengthy hang to rest my forearms. I probably tried the move 6 times but could not fully commit to pulling over even though I could see the safety of 4th class terrain just out of my reach. After too much negative self-talk, I was done and had to be lowered down and let Kyle take over. He led the pitch easily, found the anchors, and brought me up to his belay without too much fanfare, although I did fall at the bulge! 

Once at the belay station I could see we were no longer climbing "Living Blindly" and were instead on "Cave Route". Apparently Kyle and I had miscommunicated regarding the route we wanted to climb and he chose more adventure over more bolts. All good with me as I was feeling pretty demoralized about my failed lead earlier. The second pitch involved a neat traverse in a rock cirque that was no-fall territory for both leader and follower as any slip would result in cheese-grater wounds to any exposed skin. 

After navigating this obstacle the rest of the climb was pretty casual and we soon stood about one of the many spires that dot the Marsupial group. The wind was howling at this point and we quickly organized for 2 rappels down the sheer south face of the Opossum. The second rappel was a rope stretcher and we barely made it to the ground, thank goodness for the 70 meter rope!


kyle Preparing for the rappel

Smith Rock, Oregon

Wanting to get back on the horse, I led "Round There", a route I have climbed several times before and Kyle styled up "Buffalo Power" over on Koala Rock. By this time it was 4pm and we were due in Bend for a BBQ with friends that evening. We jogged with heavy packs most of the way back to Karen, hit Safeway in Redmond for food, made some epic burgers, grilled veggies, and sweet potato fries with our good friends.  A memorable day at one of the most beautiful climbing areas in Oregon with a spire summit to boot.


setting off on lead

Smith Rock, Oregon

Have Fun and Stay Safe,


Andrew Kersh