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Logisitics: - Fees and Camping - Meeting Up/Communications - Driving Directions - Weather Beta: - Climbing (Basalt and Tuff) - Hiking and Mt. Biking - Bend and Redmond
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Cell phones generally work most places in the park, although there are definitely areas where there is no service - if you drop down into the gorge, or at the dihedrals, for example. Generally, it is not far to go to find service, however, which is handy in case of an emergency.
Continue on 5 past Redding to the town of Weed, CA just beyond Shasta. The pass next to Shasta can have some pretty bad conditions, so if the weather looks at all questionable, carry chains. In Weed, you'll turn off 5 and take 97 to Klamath Falls, just over the Oregon border. Klamath Falls has the cheapest gas on the whole route - just as you're about to come into town from the south there's a cheap station called "18" or something like that. Be aware, in Oregon it is illegal to pump your own gas (to create jobs), and tips are not generally expected for the pump attendant.
After leaving Klamath Falls, you'll pass by the beautiful and huge Upper Klamath Lake, and then you're on the home stretch (about 2.5-3 more hours). 97 from Klamath Falls is pretty much dead straight, and the speed limit is 55, which can be frustrating. If it is late at night, feel free to drive faster, but during the day I have often seen highway patrollers, so I certainly wouldn't drive faster than 65. Watch out too, if the weather was at all bad coming by Shasta the whole section before and after Klamath Falls can be icy. If there hasn't been precipitation, then even though the air temps may be quite cold (it was 4°F last time I came through), the roads are usually good.
After passing a few tiny towns (Chiloquin, Chemult, Crescent), you're getting close to Bend. If you're heading straight for Smith, you'll pass through Bend staying on 97, then continue another 15 minutes to Redmond, which has the last good grocery store and cheap gas before Smith. Another 10 minutes on 97 past Redmond will take you to tiny Terrebonne, where you make a right turn on pretty much the only cross street in Terrebonne - look for the sign for Smith Rock State Park. The road (Smith Rock way) will drop down a hill (you should definitely notice the giant rock formation at this point), and then you should take the first left (1st street), which will swing right after a bit and turn into Wilcox. Take Wilcox maybe a mile to the left turn onto Crooked River Dr. for the park. After passing the Smith Rock gear store, the first left is the Bivouac area, and the day use parking area is after that. If you want to climb in the Gorge, go on to the end of the road and park at the turnaround.
In total, the drive to Smith is around 8.5 - 9 hours if you go the speed limit the whole way. If you are leaving later in the day, its best to make it at least past Redding before stopping for the night. If you can make it onto 97 between Weed and Klamath Falls, there are plenty of dirt forest service roads to pull off onto and sleep. Between Klamath Falls and Bend is a little more lean for good sleeping spots.
Smith itself has its own microclimate, where even if the weather in Terrebonne (the closest place with a weather forecast - http://www.wunderground.com/cgi-bin/findweather/getForecast?query=terrebonne%2C+or ) looks bad, its probably pretty nice on a south-facing wall at Smith. In fact, it can be in the 30s and dumping in Bend, and be patchy sun and temps in the mid-40s at Smith, which on a south facing wall is definitely climbable. For example, the other day (March 13, 2008) the forecast was for 41° and 60% chance of rain/snow. We went out to a south-facing wall in the Gorge, and it was beautiful, sunny most of the day, and temps were perfect for long pants and t-shirt climbing. If its at all early season, definitely bring warm jackets/sweatshirts, and something wind/drizzle-proof to the climbs with you.
Good south facing walls on the Basalt include the Student Wall, the Textbooks, the North side of the Lower Gorge, and the Upper Gorge (warmest basalt). Good south facing walls on the Tuff include Morning Glory (the warmest tuff), Redwall and the dihedrals until mid afternoon, and the south facing sides of the Gullies (cocaine wall especially).
Later in the season it can be quite warm, and good shady areas include the south side of the Lower Gorge (from mid-morning on) and North Point (both basalt), and Monkey Face, Mesa Verde, and the rest of the backside of the tuff.
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If its warm, the columns of the lower gorge are know for awesome, cerebral, dead vertical .10 and .11 cracks between 60 and 100' long. If you are looking for excellent .10s, the lower gorge is definitely the best place to go at Smith (if you lead trad). A double set of cams and nuts will serve you well for pretty much any of the routes in the lower gorge, as will a 60m rope. Favorites include: Cruel Sister (10a), Gruff (10a), Quasar (10a, reachy), Blood Clot (10b), Badfinger (10b+), Wildfire (10b), Cornercopia (10b), Last Chance (10C), On the Road (11a), and one of the most unique climbs anywhere, Pure Palm (11a sport, easily toproped from Cornercopia).
If it is cold, the Student Wall, the Textbooks, and the north side of the Lower Gorge are the ticket. The student wall and textbooks are on the basalt rimrock and vary from 30-60' tall. The north side of the lower gorge are columns like the other side of the gorge, but generally are slightly less steep and shorter. If you are looking for Smiths best 5.7, don't miss Mines of Moria, 5.7 R (bring standard rack and a headlamp for this awesome chimney). The Virgin Slayer is tied for the best .9 I've done at Smith. Also excellent on the warm basalt are: The Living End (10b+, cruxy), Hand Job (10b+), Labyrinth (10b), Original Sin (10c), and Embryonic and Drilling Zona (11d and 11c, sport, easy to toprope).
Finally, if you're looking for harder (.10-.13) sport that climbs like trad climbs, on a warm south facing wall, with absolutely no other visitors, or if you want to do smith's best 10a sport climb, then head to the upper gorge (tricky approach). The best sport at smith is a climb not in the guide, which shares the start of E-Type Jag, but then cuts left below the roof to pull it where it isn't quite as big on giant jugs, finishing up to the anchor for E-Type Jag. Favorites include: Land of the Lost (10a trad), Sign of the Priest (10b, sport), Naxius (10b, sport), E-Type Jag (11a sport), Virtual Beach (11a, sport), and Wardance (12a, sport).
Sport: Cinnamon Slab (.6), 5 Gallon Buckets (9), 9 Gallon Buckets (9), Light on the path (9), Dancing with Clams (10a), Barbecue the Pope (10b), Screaming Yellow Zonkers (10b), Moons of Pluto (10d), Magic Light (11a), Vomit Launch (11b), Toxic (11b), Monkey Space (11b), and Chain Reaction (12c).
Trad: 5.8 West Face Variation of the Pioneer Route on Monkey Face (5.8 A1, 1 pitch bolt ladder, 5 pitches), Peking (8), Lion's Jaw (8), Moonshine Dihedral (9), Sundown (9), Zebra-Zion (10a, 5 pitches), Trezlar (10a 2 pitches), Bills Flake (10a), Pack Animal Direct (10b), and Calamity Jam (10c+).
Good mountain biking can be found when there isn't snow at most trailheads along skyliner road, and the highway up to Mt. Bachelor.
Redmond is the closest major town to Smith, and it is a good place for supplies (large safeway right in the middle of town), but otherwise there is little of interest in Redmond.
Bend is a very cool town, with lots to do. Recommended restaurants are: The Taj Palace (reasonably priced Indian), Toomies (excellent Thai food), and Pizza Mondo, all downtown. If you're looking for cheap Mexican, head over to Rigobertos, on Gavelston and Century. There is free live music (usually bluegrass, rock, or reggae) at McMenamins just south of downtown every wednesday night from 7-10pm. The summit saloon downtown comes recommended if you want to head to a bar, and movies can be seen at the movie theater on the east side of town on Highway 20. Drake park along the river is an excellent place to hang out, and in the warmer months many people float the river through town to stay cool.
-Matt (mfarrell1 [AT] gmail.com)