Bend, Oregon

 

I’m starting to feel right at home in Bend.  This must have been my fourth visit to Joey’s new hometown, and I appreciate it a little bit more every time I make it out.  I’m not used to real seasons or cold weather, and it’s always a shock as I exit the plane and get smacked in the face by the chilly, dry air.  If it’s below 60 degrees, I’m a popsicle.  I’ve spent all of my life in Southern California, after all.

Trying my best to keep up with Joey

We had three days to get after it, which would give us ample opportunity to look for Joeys’ secret powder stashes on the backside of Mt. Bachelor, and knock out a few climbs at Smith.  On day one, I learned that riding powder is a heck of a lot harder than it looks.  I might have done alright if we were boarding down an open bowl, but we were weaving through the trees and I had a hard time keeping up.  I was worried about slamming into a fir, so I rode pretty slow, which made it hard to keep my speed up through the flatter sections.  And once I got off balance in the powder, well I might as well have been swimming through mashed potatoes.  After a handful of runs, I felt like I had just wrestled a bear.

Oh, and I forgot my helmet, so I looked like a complete moron wearing my bright orange climbing helmet.  At least I was easy to spot, when I was lying face down in the snow.

Groomer messing around in the parking area.

Getting ready to ride

We had the backside of Mt. Bachelor all to ourselves

Aside from our plans on the snow and the rock, Joey also wanted some help setting up his new reef tank.  I was pretty sore on Saturday morning and one thing led to another, so we ended up spending most of the day getting supplies at hardware stores and picking up the tank and livestock at his friend’s house.  We also made a dump run, ate some delicious poutine, and fretted over the hotspot that was growing on Bodhi’s neck.

30 gallon bowfront and Remora-S skimmer (I hear they are good)

We’ve been out to Smith Rock a few times together, but I still feel like a total newcomer to the area.  We haven’t really gotten a full, legit day of climbing in, for one reason or another.  Despite the cold weather, we decided to try one of the multi pitch classics that ascends the Monkey Face, a tall pinnacle of rock that juts out from the backside of Smith.  The Pioneer Route looked super fun and involves some easy climbing with big exposure, and even some aid up a bolt ladder, which neither of us have ever done.  Perfect choice for a frigid January afternoon, right?

Leaving the parking lot and wearing everything I brought

We had about 5 hours until my flight, so it would be a little tight.  We’ve raced against sunset, thirst, and hunger, but this would be a new test.  Would we be able to hike over to the start of the route, get up and down (including the aid portion of the climb, something we’ve never done) and get back to the car in time?  Only one way to find out!

We pulled up to the parking lot and I immediately felt the enthusiasm drain out of me.  It was in the low 30’s, overcast and windy.  I couldn’t imagine climbing a long, exposed route in these conditions.  We started down the trail towards the bridge that crosses the Crooked River, and I ended up butt scooting down 30 feet of trail that was too slippery to walk on.  I snapped a picture of Joey crab walking, just as a girl slipped and ate it behind him.  This was a mere 5 minutes from the parking lot, and I began to adjust my expectations for our climbing day.

Perfect conditions

Joey heading towards Asterisk Pass

We hiked up towards Asterisk Pass, which would lead us over to the Monkey Face. I had absolutely no confidence in my shoes, which were mostly devoid of tread, and found a way to get myself stuck on some boulders.  I was too lazy to pull my rock shoes out of my pack, and they wouldn’t have helped at all on the icy sections, anyway.

Trying to figure out how I will get down

Eventually, we decided to bail on our plans to ascend the Monkey.  It was just too damn cold, and we were running out of time.  We hiked back towards Shiprock and the bridge, and briefly stopped under Chain Reaction, a classic hard climb.  We eyed some other tantalizing (and hard) trad routes.  So many great routes to climb, but not on this day (or maybe ever).  Legend has it that we even roped up at one point, and started up an easy climb, only to back off before the first bolt.  Neither of us were feeling it on this day!

After departing Smith, we stopped by a brewery and shared a few beers and some good food.  We discussed future climbing trips and if I’m not mistaken, committed to each other that we would train our asses off and prepare for the 3rd Pillar of Dana, later this summer.  Whether we will actually be in shape to tackle such a demanding climb.. only time will tell.

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