SMITH ROCK STATE PARK – AN INTRODUCTION

I first went to Smith Rock State Park in the late 1990’s. It is truly one of the most beautiful and unique places that I have ever seen. As with all things cool, it was born out of a volcanic eruption. 300 million years ago the eruption shot ash and debris into the air. When it settled Smith Rock was created. Then half a million years ago lava flowed into the area and hardened the rocks. Over time erosion and the Crooked River formed magnificent Smith Rock State Park.

There are many things to do in Smith Rock State Park. There is a first come first serve camping area with bathrooms and showers, and it’s vast 621 acres provides hiking and horseback trails. From these you can see massive amounts of amazing animals. There is a family of River Otters that live in the Crooked River. Mule deer, marmots(I took a quiz online and this is my Smith Rock spirit animal), lizards, and rattlesnakes all dot the landscape. If you look into the sky you will see bald eagles, canadian geese, northern harriers, ospreys, great blue herons, and one of the biggest birds of prey in North America, the golden eagle. But most come here for the climbing.

Smith Rock State Park

The thing I love about climbing is the adrenaline rush you get with minimal risk. I know, minimal risk you say; have you seen Cliffhanger with Sly Stallone. That scene where that woman’s harness buckle breaks and she plunges thousands of feet to her untimely death. No wonder Black Diamond was going to sue. That would never happen. Anyway, I’ll go climb, but I would never ride my bike downtown; too risky. It’s also relatively cheap to start climbing. All you need are some climbing shoes, harness, belay device, about five locking carabiners, fourteen quickdraws , a rope and rope bag, some chalk with a chalk bag, an anchor and a personal anchor. All this will run you about six hundred bucks. Small change for a new and exciting passion in your life. And if you live near Portland, Smith Rock is only three hours away.

US Outdoor employee Dan G. sport climbing Smith Rock

Smith Rock is the birthplace of sport climbing in the U.S.. Sport climbing is a type of climbing that relies on the use of permanent anchors, or bolts fixed to the rock for protection. You climb up the route, clip into the bolt with a quickdraw, clip the quickdraw to your rope and move up to the next bolt, and on and on. Alan Watts, the father of sport climbing, started climbing Smith back in the 1980’s. Back then there were only a small group of core climbers at Smith, now it has become a destination for climbing all over the world. One of the great things about Smith Rock is the diversity of places to climb and the amount of routes, there are close to 2000. Monkey Face, To Bolt or Not to Be, Five Gallon Bucket, Crybabies, and Just Do It, a 5.14c that at one time was the hardest sport route in North America, are just a few of the famous climbs of Smith Rock.

You can see why Smith Rock is a world renowned climbing destination. Which is why the American Alpine Club is having the SMITH ROCK CRAGGIN’ CLASSIC, a 3-day climbing festival at Smith Rock. It’s starts September 15th and goes to the 17th. It’s a celebration of climbing one of the great crags in the world. There will be food and beer, and you can stop by for some of the clinics taught by professional climbers. You should probably go before the beer. Two US Outdoor climbers, Alex H. and Dan G. will be there, you will be able to spot them by the US Outdoor shirts they will be wearing. Dan’s got a pretty impressive beard, and Alex, well, he’s pretty. So stop by the pop up tent, pick up some swag and talk to those guys about climbing. They know their stuff. And like I said, the beard.

Sunday School: Climbing Inspirado

Yesterday we gave you a video introduction on the Yosemite Decimal System and some of the key ingredients when it comes to climbing gear. So today’s lesson is to get you in the mood; to give beginners a future look into the world of climbing and where it can take you, literally and figuratively. It won’t be to hard to jot down the mental notes on this short film, it is pretty savage. Enjoy.

 

What’s New: Black Diamond – Half Dome Helmet

Black Diamond Half Dome Helmet

 

If you’ve been around the outdoor block you understand that Black Diamond is no pony in a stud’s stable. Their brand has delivered head of the class, adventure driven products for climbing and skiing since their inception in 1957. With that much experience, outdoor enthusiasts can rest assured their interests are well preserved.

With that said, sometimes a product doesn’t have to be “new” to be new, if that makes any sense. I say this because the Black Diamond Half Dome Helmet has been completely redesigned and now has a better fit and cuts weight without compromising safety. In the spirit of climbing adventures, every ounce counts and the right fit could mean the difference between life, serious injury and even death. I’m not trying to sound too dramatic but often times it helps to get the message across.

As Black Diamond’s most popular climbing helmet, the Half Dome spans the gamut of the climbing spectrum; from alpine climbing to cragging it helps lighten the load for adventurers partaking in a sport which relies on technique, speed, agility and mental toughness. Available in two sizes: SM/MD and MD/LG, the Half Dome weighs in at 290 g/10 oz for the Small/Medium size and 320g/11oz for the Medium/Large size and offers great features that personify safety, comfort, and performance. Its ABS Shell exterior is well ventilated and is outfitted with molded EPS foam for superior comfort and breathability. Lighten up (figuratively of course); its head lamp clips are a market best. Equipped with tuck-away suspension, the Half Dome became more pack friendly. Another key feature is its new custom design wheel adjuster that allows you to quickly and easily dial in a precise fit on the fly. Every feature plays a roll in delivering a seamless climbing experience.

In closing, come the inevitable critiques helmets receive in the style department. However unflattering climbing helmets might seem to some, they bear the heavy burden of keeping your think tank in full working order; although I must give the climbing community due credit when it comes to checking this sort of vanity at the door. But all that aside, it’s a helmet engineer/designer’s duty to keep you safe. With that said, you can bet they understand that designing a lightweight helmet with a great fit that allows the helmet to remain relatively inconspicuous while not making you look like a total goon is preferred. Thus, this Half Dome redesign is not gaudy or flashy; it does not scream fashion or leap out at you; it is just a great design that exemplifies the proper blend of form and function. Cheers!

Check out the Black Diamond Half Dome Climbing Helmet at USOUTDOOR.com, click here.