We enjoyed a near perfect culmination to a wicked two weeks at Oregon's incredible Smith Rock a few days back.. and it's definitely saddening to move on. Climbing there and getting to know the community was really a memorable experience, and I'm proud to state that Smith Rock is one of my favorite crags on Earth. Despite how many stunning, classic lines are packed into this place, it's not just the climbing that stands out to me.. in large part it's the community.
In a little over two weeks we've gone from being complete strangers to feeling like family with the locals in the Bend / Terrebonne area. Never have I encountered a community so welcoming, hospitable and psyched. We ran into the same stoked individuals at the crag almost everyday, all eager to shoot the shit, share a few laughs or spray us up and down with beta.. it's been great. Hats off to you guys!!
'Dreamin' 12a Andy Mann Photo
After our good friend and photographer Andy Mann arrived last Tuesday the weather made a dramatic change, from being essentially too hot to climb, to dropping into a crazy period of unseasonable low temperatures, followed by perhaps the most dynamic weather patterns I've ever seen (literally shorts / T-shirt / SPF-50 status turns to hail, down jacket / long-johns / thermos gripping within the same hour). After some hot temps, even the erratic cold and cold/hot was a relief, although we did get rained on a number of times.
Paige climbs 'Chain Reaction' 12c. Mann Photo
The intermittent cool weather was exactly the opportunity I needed to give some more effort on 'To Bolt or Not to Be' 14a. Being something of a heinous slab fan, this stunning route has captivated me for years. It possesses all of the characteristics I look for in a climb: interesting history (first 5.14 in America), stunning aesthetics (a massive, intimidatingly blank slab of golden stone) and difficulty (featuring a never-ending crux, literally 70 feet long). To Bolt has over 80 moves on it, is barely climbable on a 70 meter rope with stretch and overhangs zero degrees. The real difficulty of this climb is in the first 10 liberally spaced bolts, where a tiny inaccuracy with footwork can send any potential suitor screaming off. To Bolt is intimidating, beautiful and legendary- simply put, it's incredible.
A cooler day approached and I couldn't take my mind off this climb. After warming up I went up the climb again to rehearse my beta and try to just remember the dozens of moves and numerous cruxes. Feeling prepared to redpoint, Andy Mann ascended a static line and got in position to shoot some photos. At one of the lower crux sections, I rushed a sequence and barn doored off- tearing open another one of my tips in the process. Frustrated, I linked the section again, ticked a few more feet and wrapped my tip with tape. Back on Earth, I contemplated the poor condition of my skin, the mindf*ck that this incredible route induced and the fast approaching end to my time in Smith. I couldn't imagine myself leaving Smith without finishing this line, but I knew it would not be a give away.. recklessly inspired, I tied in and chugged for the anchors. Andy fired away as I passed through crux after crux with 3 taped tips and eyes red with determination. I really wanted this climb and thankfully I succeeded.. cause my skin could not have handled another burn. It goes without saying, but this send is no-doubt one of my favorites and most cherished, ever.
the legendary 'To Bolt'. Mann Photo
In the following days we changed our pace considerably. Paige and I were both feeling beat-up and Andy was ambitious to shoot lots of photos. Super content with my two weeks at Smith, I decided to take it easy and get some work done. I did dispatch the hardest 5.12c on the planet 'Da Kine Corner' (Brooke Sandahl is a sandbagger!!) and 'Time's Up' 13a/b both onsight while Andy fired photos. Paige hammered out an inspirational flash of 'Kings of Rap' 12d as well. The next day at Smith would be our last, and I knew I needed to climb some classics I had yet to try before our departure. Top of the list was 'Dreamin' 12a, a recognizable line of chalk up the right side of the Christian Brothers that ascends a nearly perfect slab after a powerful pocketed start-it's top quality. Next I moved onto 'Vision' 12b, a choice, thuggish arete nearby. I also did 'Latest Rage' 12b, a killer sharp arete that features one of Smith's boldest run-outs and is worthy of all praise. I finished off the day with laps on 'Vomit Launch' 11b and 'Churning Sky' 13a.
'stop pulling on my leg Paige!!'
After one last evening bullshitting with Steve and Jeanne at the ranch, we found ourselves headed North towards Seattle. I'm super pleased with my experience at Smith as it was nothing short of radical.. and while I did manage to summit a healthy number of awesome, difficult routes, I will surely find myself back there soon.. in-fact I miss it already. Smith reminded me of the true value of community and the world of climbing. No matter where we go, if there's rock, there are likely individuals that share our passion and more often than not they're kick ass people too.
-write your own caption contest-
On that very same note, I'm now sheltered from the Seattle rain thanks to the generosity of our new friends Dylan and Jenna Johnson. We arrived here yesterday after a day of driving and an afternoon exploring Portland (totally underrated city IMO). Today we awoke psyched and made our way to one of my favorite bite sized crags, Little Si, despite a grim forecast. The day turned out to be alright though, and local crag-master Bret Johnston joined us in the mist for a solid Si session. Paige impressed as usual with a 2nd go send of the classic testpiece, 'Chronic' 13b on her first day at the Si. I took a crack at a killer extension to 'Dr. Evil' 14a, called 'Extended Evil' 14b that takes a long, pumpy journey through crimps and edges- I had a pretty decent second try on it before the humidity set in proper and shut me down.. I'm STOKED on this route however and hopefully the heinous forecast will allow an alright sending day soon.
if you're gonna smile, make it a GOOD ONE
Depending on weather, we'll be hanging in Seattle for a little while, soaking up the big city after a couple weeks out in the country. Enjoy some Andy Mann shots from last week in the meantime and keep your fingers crossed for some dryness!!