Ascent of Smith Rock on 2016-05-07

Climber: Austin D. Smith

Others in Party:Emily Nagele -- Trip Report or GPS Track
Douglas Graham
Ed Betz
Will Howard
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, May 7, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Smith Rock
    Elevation:3200 ft / 975 m

Ascent Trip Report

The guide book is very difficult to understand. It took us a while to figure out which pinnacle was the Smith Rock High point - that's how bad it is. Determined its the pinnacle on your right when coming from the climbers trail off the River Trail. As the guide book mentioned, "the first free ascent of the spire (from the back side in which we were climbing) awaits someone with low standards". The rock is very crumbly and low quality. The guide book rates it 5.4 A0 but I do not see the 5.4. it is AT LEAST 5.8 and A0/1.

You start by scrabbling up about 15 feet to a platform where the first bolt is. There is one bolt below the first scrabbling section on the side of the rock so you can belay the leader as it is a shear drop on either side. Ed lead the pitch and discovered that some control freak copped the first bolt and that the first bolt was about 10 feet up. We found a stick and taped the draw to it and used it as a stick clip so we could clip the second (first) bolt.

You should definitely bring a stick clip if you have one as the opening moves to get to the bolt would probably be 5.10a/b from my judgement looking at it. That wouldn't necessarily be a deal killer if it wasn't for these three factors: 1) its extremely crumbly and crappy rock, 2) Its overhanging to start, 3) a fall (which you would most likely take) would be awful as straight back is a 10 foot drop onto a ledge and then another 15 off the back of that to the ground. Off to the left is a shear drop to the bottom of the River Trail - its like 400 feet. The most likely scenario would be a fall off to the right as the climb leans to the right, which is again a shear drop about 200-300 feet.

After Ed got the first clip, he did a very awkward aid/free lead to the top. Ed is about 6.2' and very strong. The bolts are strung close enough together that he was able to reach up and clip the next draw from the last bolt. He would find one hold to lock off on to get the rope clipped and then pulled him self up the rope to the draw and repeat the process.

Once he got to the top, he strung the rope as a top rope. I then belayed Will, Emily, and Douglas up. The most effective way we found to get up was to have the climber pulling them self up the rope while in belayed in the slack. Will cleaned as he went up which made a more direct path up the rock.

I went last and since there was no one to belay me, Ed anchored the rope and threw a tail down to me. I had a GriGri and one prusik. My goal was to use the GriGri as a jumar. The only problem with my plan was that the rock is overhanging enough, the first 25-30 feet that you can't get enough foot grip to push up to take tension off the GriGri to pull the slack through. I ended up using using my prusik line as a foot prusik to push up on to pull the slack through the GriGri. This actually worked fairly well. Once I was up high enough, I found it faster to just use the rock instead of the prusik line.

Once we were all at the top (which took like an hour), we had to traverse about 30 feet to the higher ground behind us. Again, I belayed ed over to the true summit. Amazingly, there were some fairly new bolts at the top. So I anchored my side off at my set of anchor bolts and Ed did the same on his side. We then just had everyone clip onto our traverse line and walk across.

We took pictures at the top and then traversed back. We then set up a rappel and rapped off. I had fun doing this, but I would not recommend attempting this peak just for the fun of it. Just to recap, if you do not have much climbing experience and/or are not confident in your lead and aid climbing skills, stay off this summit! that being said, If you do decide to make an attempt at this peak, plan on 2-4 hours RT. You will need: a minimum of 8 draws (I would bring 10-12), 50+ meter rope, 2 sets of anchor gear, belay device, and some form of an ascender (jumars, ascenders, GriGri, prusiks, etc.). To make it easier on yourself, I would also bring a set of aiders for the leader, and climbing shoes, but you can do without.

Summary Total Data
    Grade/Class:Class 4, 5, 6, YDS 5
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Scramble, Exposed Scramble, Rock Climb, Aid Climb
    Gear Used:
    Weather:Hot, Calm, Clear

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