- Despite still recovering from a nasty little cold, I took the opportunity to spend a day out with a good friend at Smith Rock State Park. I suppose it was the official start to my rock climbing season, though it will be a slow transition from ice season and frankly climbing is simply a continuous activity that seems to change forms.
I was also eager for this particular opportunity because it may be one of the few times I have to spend at this particular spot for quite some time. Despite all the climbing I have planned this year, Smith is not likely to be a frequent destination and to be sure, I have soft spot for this place that has become a home crag. Strangely enough, Smith climbing is unique, and doesn’t necessarily translate well to much of the climbing I prefer. The rock quality isn’t great, the classics are often crowded, many of the routes are single pitches and shorter, and there are lots and lots of bolts. That said, if you are willing to work for it, you can find excellent quality routes of almost any flavor of climbing. You can push yourself in a supportive community and superbly beautiful place, and still make dinner at an excellent restaurant at the end of the day. I’ve spent more time at Smith than any other single crag in my climbing experience, and regardless of your preferred style or ethics, most of the routes are simply a lot of fun. This place will be a part of my experience in all the amazing places I look forward to climbing.
One of the best parts about Smith is that you can reliably find great weather and new routes. I’ve got some bunion problems with my left foot, so we were looking to keep approaches short. Strangely enough I had never done any of the routes in the Wooden Ship Gully, and there is a variety of high quality routes to be found. Amongst the day’s accomplishments: the first trip for both of us up Voyage of the Cow Dog (5.9)- a great warm up with beautiful exposure over the Picnic Lunch Wall, my hardest on-sight yet, and several great routes on the Table Scraps Wall.
The energy was high, the weather was gorgeous, and the climbing was quality. I can’t think of better soil to root my climbing experience in.
“Denial is the active ingredient in Ibuprofin.” (Patrick Clinton)
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