A view of Oregon from the Smith Rock State Park
Once I’d had my fill of the Oregon coast, it was time to head inland and visit the Smith Rock State Park, an otherworldly landscape near Bend sharpened by the indolent Crooked River, golden flatlands that stretch to the distance, and sheer crags that jut into a deep blue sky. The land is almost like something out of a J.R.R. Tolkien story, which is fitting, for as I write this post it is the great novelist’s birthday. The land also happens to be a mecca for climbers, and luckily, I was able to get a taste of the sport by tagging along with local climbers Jesper Hilts and Garrett Handke. The following is a gallery of what I found.
The entrance to Smith Rock at sunset
Hilts was cracking jokes all day, and here he is climbing one of the thousands of routes that climbers from all over the world come to enjoy
We headed down a trail along the river to find our next climbing spot. Hilts, in yellow, gave me, in brown, a tour of some of the lesser-known and more difficult climbs in the park.
Hilts climbs, left, with the Crooked River in the distance below; at right Hilts tackles a route called “Kill the Hate,” which is rated 5.13a (hint: it’s insanely difficult), and Handke is below him, belaying.
Behind the scenes of how I captured Hilts with the Crooked River in the background using a GoPro Hero3 on a pole.
As we were leaving the park, we looked back and saw someone highlining across two of the tallest towers in the park. I told Hilts I had to try to get up to the highliner to take some shots, so he told me how to get to the top and wished me luck.
When I got to the highliner, he was being buffeted by fiercely cold winds, which got up to 40 miles per hour. At that point, Robbie wisely called it a day.
Self-portrait of me gazing at a place I will not soon forget.
See you on the road!