| The Life of a Climbing Bum (Smith Rock, OR) - Part 2 of the Road Trip
Countless hours were spent driving. After climbing the Corkscrew summit in Utah, we started driving for our next destination, Smith Rock in Oregon. It was about 8 o'clock when we started from the eastern end of Utah and we kept driving until about 3 o'clock switching off drivers whenever one of us got tired. It was my turn and we were in Salt Lake City trying to find a place to pitch a tent. But what's the chance of that. I took a random exit looking for somewhere to just sleep in the car. Then all of sudden I spotted a KOA campground. We were so happy. We pitched our tents and headed to bed. We woke up and saw the swimming pool that was included. We went in it for a cleanse and I took all my dirty clothes and washed them in the pool and let them dry in the sun. I laughed at the thought of what I was doing.
We continued on and drove all day. We got to Boise, Idaho and stopped off to get some food at a gas station. I then looked and by the front door was something very odd. They were selling a product called "Monkey Butt." It stated on it that it was for "butt busting activities and extreme sports." I guess it's a powder and prevents sweating. That's all that I remember Idaho for – that and potatoes. I was tempted to buy it for someone as a joke.
After many hours we finally approached Oregon and soon were at Bend at about 11 at night. We were about to get gas when all of sudden a guy dressed very neatly with what looked like a chef hat came up. We asked," Can we help you?"I guess it's illegal to pump your own gas in Oregon. There are some strange laws out there.
We got to the trailhead for Smith Rock and ended up finding the most beautiful spots to camp. We went to bed in a rush.
We woke up quite fast and discussed our climbing plans. In the guidebook it stated that not climbing the Monkey face was like visiting Yosemite and not climbing the El Capitan. I suggested we do it that day. Jeff agreed.
The Monkey Face
We took a while to get everything ready. While Jeff was finishing up I started talking to a few climbing bums. They all had the VW vans that they were staying in. I asked them for some information on the Monkey Face and then continued to have a conversation. We seemed to get along pretty well. We finally left for the approach. After two hours, we were at the start. It looked hard, overhanging, intimidating with crazy exposure. I knew I could do it but it just looked insane.
I combined the first two pitches into a lead. It was only 5.7 and pretty easy. But you started to feel the exposure right below your feet. I set up a belay right below the 5.13+ overhanging aid pitch. I belayed Jeff up. I stared at the next pitch. The more I did that, the more I kind of got intimidated. When Jeff got up, he didn't look like he was enjoying it. I discussed with him the rest of the route and told him he had to be fully confident and feel committed and good to do it. I knew he could do it but he had to have his mind in the game. The answers weren't good. The climb is always here so I was about to set up the rappel when he stated," Oh the route traverses to the right before that wicked second overhang." He then said," I can do this." He thought the route went a different way. So after that he started putting me on belay. I asked him again if everything was good, including his ascenders and etc. for jugging up the pitch. He stated he was ready.
This aid pitch was not that hard but the exposure was absolutely stunning.
Me on lead aiding the 5.13+ pitch It took a while to finish this pitch but I soon did and was in the cave, "mouth" of the monkey.
A Panorama from inside the cave I fixed the rope for Jeff and waited for him to come up. It took a while but after MUCH grunting and groaning, he got up. He laid down quite tired. I got ready for the next pitch. In the book, it stated this pitch will be one of the most exposed pitches out there. It stated the exposure was like being on the El Capitan. It also stated it would be nauseating exposure. I thought, "How could the exposure get any worse than the Corkscrew?"
Jeff at the bottom of the aid pitch
I was on belay and stepped very precariously out of the cave and instantly the exposure was more insane than anything. The climbing seemed a few grades harder. Though only a 5.7 pitch, it felt like a 5.9. I yelled in excitement. I clipped into a few pieces and got up to the anchor. I fixed the rope for Jeff so he could jug up. I didn't know how he would handle it. I yelled," Don't look down!" By this time there were a quite few people watching us climb down at the trail.
Jeff coming up the "most" exposed pitch (Pictures dont do justice)
He came up and joined me pretty fast. I then went for the summit pitch and set up an anchor for Jeff. Jeff didn't seem to want to join me on the summit so I told him to stay clipped into that anchor. I extended my personal anchor and went to the summit. It was getting close to sunset. We needed to get off. I shot some panoramas and a solo summit shot and made the first rappel to Jeff.
Solo summit shot
We then got out the second rope for the double rope free hanging rappel. It was 200 ft. of a rappel with hanging in mid air. Awesome! I felt like I should be paying for this ride. I shot a video midway through it and soon Jeff followed. After this, we soon reached the ground. Now, after an intense climb with insane exposure, you feel SO good to reach the flat ground. We looked up and said," We really did climb that."
At Sunset on the trail
It was getting dark. We packed up and made the hike back to camp.
We woke up the next morning and I went straight to the shower. Took a quick shower and came out. A couple guys asked how the climb went. I replied," epic." I got packed for another day out in Smith Rock. Michael then called me and said he was two hours away from Rainier. It ended up we only had enough time for one more climb. I wanted a hard trad lead to end with. I chose a ultra-classic line called "The New Testament."
The New Testament It weighed in at a sandbagged 5.10- or should I say Eldo 5.10-. I was feeling good both mentally and physically. I went for it. It ate all the cams for the first half. For the second half, it was all nuts/stoppers to the top. It was a long and VERY sustained pitch.
On lead One of my hardest trad leads. You had to really take time to place the nuts in the thin crack up top. The crux was ¾ up and was balancy and hard. I approached the anchor and sighed in relief. That was really intense. Jeff lowered me while I cleaned. There were a couple people that were standing there watching me. Jeff's hands were very cut up so he didn't want to attempt it. I thanked him for the belay.
We got everything packed in the car and headed off to the Kautz Glacier route on Mount Rainier - a great route that includes two ice climbing pitches to satisfy my vertical needs. It was something different then the overcrowded other routes.
Stay tuned for Part 3 - Rainier Summit or not?
Video Links From The Climb:
1) http://video.yahoo.com/watch/7818140/20700563 (The Second to Last Pitch, Monkey Face)
2) http://video.yahoo.com/watch/7818154/20700579 (The 200 ft. Free Hanging Rappel)
"The life of a climbing bum"
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):