Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Moderate Sport Climbs at Smith Rock

This could have been a part of the previous post, but really I want to write more about my love affair with Smith Rock. So, here is a tick list of moderate to moderate-hard-ish routes (mostly 5.10s).

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The cliffs run roughly north/south. Because of the strong desert sun, you want to climb on the west side in the morning, then chase the shade to the east side in the afternoon. We looked at the forecast and we were all like “awww, only a high of 82, we climb in 82 degrees all the time” but HOLY GUACAMOLE 82 sunny desert degrees will fry your skin. Follow the herd and chase the shade.

Morning West Side Climbs - Mesa Verde Wall

Both mornings at Smith were Super Lazy. Day one we climbed at Mesa Verde, day two we didn’t get to the cliffs until noon.

Cosmos – 5.10a*
Little pebbles, golf balls, and tennis balls embedded in the rock. Great intro to Smith Rock pebble pulling. Recommended.

Screaming Yellow Zonkers – 5.10b*
Like Cosmos, but a little harder and a little longer. Recommended.
screaming yellow zonkers
There is also a 5.10d, Moons of Pluto, which is directly right of Screaming Yellow Zonkers on the arĂȘte. Heard good things about it but didn’t climb it.

Early Afternoon East Side Climbs – Phoenix Buttress/ Llama Wall

We spent a bunch of time at Phoenix Buttress, because it comes into the shade around noon. Roughly from left to right…

JT’s Route – 5.10b
The “open book” top seems difficult until you see the sequence. Fun route.

Fred on Air – 5.10d*
Feels 10c if you escape left, feels 10d if you stay right and take the steep part like a woman. I fell once but decided to stay right anyway, and was I did – it kept the character of the route consistent. Recommended.

License to Bolt – 5.11b/c
Gave it a burn – it was super sharp and aggressive. Didn’t get very far and decided to save my skin. Dave climbed it and said it felt hard.

Phoenix – 5.10a
All the way on the right of the wall. Gets a ton of traffic and people seem to like it – there are a few moves on sharp pockets and that was it. Ok.

The Struggle Within – 5.11a*
Finger crack to easy slab to hard smears to very hard pockets and crimps to steep moderate edges. Long, varied, and super fun! I took one random fall while resting (I know, wtf) and one more at the crux because I couldn’t reach far enough on my first try. Recommended.

Llama Enlightenment – 5.10b or c, don’t remember
Blah. I got on this thinking it was a 5.9 warm-up. Slightly overhung jug haul on sharp, abrasive rock. The rock sounds extremely hollow here – creepy.

Later Afternoon East Side Climbs – Morning Glory Wall or Dihedrals

Zebra and Buckets are at Morning Glory Wall. Wedding Day is at Dihedrals.

Zebra Direct – 5.11a*
This was my first 11 followed cleanly, in good style and with good fun. It’s shorter, the real business is ~50’ or so, but it’s a bit vicious. Sharp crimps and one or two finger pockets on a steep yet off-vertical face. The first clip is pretty darn high – stick clip recommended. This is my style of climbing, so it gets Recommended.
zebra direct
Five Gallon Buckets – 5.8*
Climb the huge huecos. Like most routes at this wall, first clip is high-ish, but the climbing is very moderate (this is Gunks 5.5-5.6). Thereafter, very well protected and lots of fun. I led this one and felt super comfortable. Recommended.
five gallon buckets is all the way to the left
Wedding Day – 5.10 b or c
Just like a wedding day – terrifying, hard, committing, unrelenting, and painful. The first bolt is SCARY high, especially for the boulder-y start. Use the arĂȘte for 10b or stay on the face (like silly Nicole) for 10c. Thereafter, the climbing doesn’t relent, and I found the last few moves pretty hard too. 
wedding day
Icing on the terror cake: a rattlesnake hangs out at the bottom of this climb.

Ok, now go buy your plane ticket (get one for me, too) and get climbing!

P.S. Don’t forget your stick clip.  The grades seemed fair (not sandbagged), but MAN some of those first clips are high...

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