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Smith Rock in December: A Trip to Remember · Thu. Dec. 5th - Mon. Dec. 9th

Warning: This is an old trip - it already happened

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Organized by: Noah Macdonald.

Start: Thursday, Dec. 5th, 8:00 am
End: Monday, Dec. 9th, 2:00 pm
Pre-trip meeting: Sunday, Nov. 24th, 6:00 pm
Pre-trip meeting location: VOC Clubroom


Take a break before exams with an expedition to Smith Rock! Ignore your skis and grab your rope; the plan is to head down to Oregan and climb for three days. 


I’m not anticipating a ton of demand for this trip given the rather bizarre timing (finals, december, etc), so I’m more than willing to make it somewhat instructional. You must have completed at least Rock 2 (or equivalent training). Lead experience is recommended, but not necessary — I’m happy to teach. Strong preference for VOCers with cars; mine is sitting at home in Calgary, woefully inaccessible at the current time, and since you can’t rent an Evo over the border, we need transportation. 


Why climb in the Winter?


I know: it sounds insane. I want to go to Smith Rock in… December? 


While the exam break could be used for skiing, I’m convinced that an out-of-season climbing trip would be a unique and exciting experience. 4 brief (and slightly questionable) reasons why:


1. Colder weather means better friction on slabs, and numb fingers means those cracks are less painful.

2. Off-season climbing means fewer crowds (particularly in Smith Rock, which I hear is usually quite busy).

3.Do you really want to get rusty by taking the entire winter season off climbing? Won’t you miss the excitement of cragging during those unending months of cold, rain, and snow? 

4. It’s an adventure! Do something unexpected in December, instead of sticking to a fixed rotation of climbing/skiing.

Here  are  four  links  that show I’m not completely crazy; winter climbing is definitely a thing at Smith Rock, I swear.


What is Smith Rock? (This section is copied from a past trip description)


(Spoiler Alert! And feel free to skip first 20s of video)


Smith Rocks is the birth-place of American sport climbing. There are beautiful lines going up faces which would not be protectable using traditional means so they were bolted. The rock is quite different from our local granite, with lots of pockets (some big enough to sit in), and lots of pebbles to pull on. Smith Rocks is not very top-rope friendly for the most part so it's recommended that someone in your party can lead climb.


To Bolt or Not to Be (5.14a)


Rappelling down the Monkey Face


A stick-clip is recommended for most climbers since some of the first bolts can be quite high. See here for how to make your own stick clip, if you do not own one (note: your own mop/broom handle can substitute the painters pole, should it be long enough). 


Proposed Schedule


We leave either Thursday the 5th or Friday the 6th, depending on demand/exams. Drive down to Smith Rock and set up camp. Climb until Sunday the 8th, and either leave that afternoon or Monday morning (also depending on peoples’ schedules).


Alternatives (if the weather is bad)


If the weather looks bad ahead of time, we may decide to go to Red Rocks, Nevada instead. While it takes twice as long to get to, it has a good reputation for climbing in the winter.


Alternatively, if the weather turns bad when we’re already there, some winter hiking is in order.


If the weather is bad everywhere, we go skiing like normal, sane people.


Questions, Objections, or Alternatives?


Shoot me an email at [email protected] 


My end goal is to get climbing, so I’m happy to entertain alternatives, especially if it gets other people on board.

Posted: 2019-10-22 12:11:03
Last modified: 2019-11-08 14:39:39