First Trip to Smith Rock


About a week or two ago I got invited to do some climbing with a friend and his friends at Smith Rock for a couple of days. The longest outdoor route that I had climbed before this trip was only about 60 feet, so I was really excited to get on some of the best rock in the world.

Due to pesky things like work, we weren’t able to actually leave Portland until about midnight on Friday night, and ending up rolling into the climber’s bivouac around 3:30 am. After a short nap, we awoke the next day tired but ready to do what we came to do. What I loved about this was that I didn’t get to see the iconic rock formations when we got there, and so when I poked my head outside of the tent I was greeted to the spectacular view for the first time ever.

Smith Rock is incredible crowded. Not only is it one of the best places in the state for climbers, with incredible rock and also easy access, but it is also just popular to all people for similar reasons. This created some challenges in terms of shooting, as I wasn’t really able to post up on a route above my friends who would be climbing since there was always a line for almost every route. The fact that it was over 85 degrees in the sun, driving all the climbers into the limited shady spots, did not help with the crowding.

I did manage to find some routes we could climb that had a hike above option, which allowed me to get at least level with the climbers with my 135mm lens. If I had had something even larger such as a 200mm or 70-300mm that would have been perfect for the spots where I had this hike option.

On the last day we spent there our group decided to split, with two of us going for a long 100 mile bike ride, and my buddy Chu and I deciding to head up Wherever I May Roam. This is supposed to be one of Smith’s classic beginner multi-pitch route, and it did not disappoint. It was my first multi-pitch and I was a little spooked at first as I there were some slightly overhung sections, which reduced visibility between Chu and I at times. I didn’t bring my camera up on the route with us to save weight but also because I mostly wanted to focus on learning the new techniques behind multi-pitch climbing.