Home of the first 5.14 in North America (To Bolt or Not To Be), Smith Rocks has an important place in the early history of sport climbing. The beautiful face climbing on pocketed, edgy tuff makes for some of the best sport climbing in the country, and there’s a lot of it here. While most of it is single pitch, there are some soaring walls here with exciting and even some moderate multi-pitch. Add to that a distinct assortment of basalt crack climbing further up the river, and you have one of the country’s best climbing destinations.
Primarily a sport climbing mecca, most lines at Smith can be climbed with a 60-meter rope and a rack of 12+ draws. The bolting is generally friendly and overall quite safe, but a stick-clip comes in handy to get started on some of the climbs with hard starts. Bring your rack along to open up an additional selection of generally less-crowded traditional lines.
Being Oregon’s most famous and popular destination, Smith often gets crowded on weekends, particularly during the peak seasons. The effect of the crowds be seen on several of the more popular lines, which offer a reduced friction challenge where the rock gets polished.
- Moonshine Dihedral 5.9
- Wartley’s Revenge 5.11a
- Chain Reaction 5.12c
- To Bolt or Not To Be 5.14a
The best seasons at Smith are definitely spring and fall, but climbing is possible year-round if you’re determined enough and willing to chase the shade or sun. That said, the heat becomes unbearable in the dead of summer, so best to head elsewhere in July or August.
The Smith Bivouac is located right next to the main parking lot, and offers a unique setup where the camping is set back in a secluded area while the parking, cooking, and bathrooms are all up front. The price is $8 per person / night, and you can stay for up to 14 nights.
There is water available at the Bivouac.
There are plenty of good options in Bend. Nearby the climbing, Terrebonne Depot and Base Camp Pizza are both highly recommended.
The Bivouac has showers in the bathrooms for $2 for those not camping there.
Steelhead falls swimming hole is about 30 minutes’ drive from the climbing, and great fun on a hot summer day.
Slacklining and even high-lining are quite popular at Smith, so get after it if that’s your thing. If the climbing career doesn’t work out, maybe you can join Cirque du Soleil some day!
By Tyler Wellman