Smith Rock Climbing: October 21-22, 2006

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Trip report for Smith Rock:

By Emma

It was a cold October morning when we boarded the bus for Smith. We dumped our stuff under the bus and eagerly anticipated the departure to Smith Rock. I fell asleep, being very tired from the early morning. I was sleeping until we woke up stopped at a rest stop on the side of the road. The landscape out the windows was amazing. The only trees were stunted junipers that sat lonely in the middle of far stretching hills and plains. Once we reached Smith Rock, everyone made a stop at the bathrooms before getting our gear. We divided up the ropes, gri-gri’s, ATC’s, tarps, harnesses, and helmets. We introduced ourselves in a group and got to know each other by learning everyone’s favorite dessert. Once instructed of the plan, we divided up into two groups; the experienced climbers and the less experienced. Being in the less experienced group, I headed off with Aiyana and Chris, as well as Patrick, Murphy, Ana, Colby, Max, Andy, Charlie, Mike, and Maddie.

We hiked to the edge of the parking lot where we headed down the side of the cliff to where we were going to climb. We talked about not yelling or throwing rocks and the “rules” of the trip. Excitement filled the air when we reached the small spot in between two big boulders where we would be climbing. Aiyana laid a tarp down and some people began to pull out food. She explained to us how to flake a rope and how that was important to do or else the rope might have knots in it. She instructed us how to belay and the other devices we would use. We went over a lot of specific safety instructions, but the most important was that you couldn’t step on the rope. If anyone did however, they would need to kiss the rope and apologize, or else the rope might take vengeance on you.

Over the course of the day, everyone climbed at least 2 of the routes that were set up to climb top rope, meaning you climb attached to a harness, which is attached to a belayer. This is the safest way to climb, and the easiest to learn. It was much different than I expected, and it was really cold since we were in the shade. The rock was cold on my fingers, and they were numb by the time I reached the top of my first climb. The day was filled with encouragement, yodeling off of tall rocks, and eating Starbursts that Murphy brought. Nearly everyone was taught to belay and at the end of the day, we were taught how to rappell. We practiced walking down some comparatively flat rocks before we rappelled down the big climbs. We picked up everything and hiked back up towards the parking lot. Along the way, I chatted with Charlie and Patrick. We walked and talked on the dusty path towards the bus. Then, out of nowhere, Greg and Jack jump out of the bushes and scare us all to death. After what seemed like a few minutes of screaming, we laughed and Greg told us that they were waiting for us to walk by for a while, and so he saw these other people and he just stood up when they walked by, but when they passed Jack, he jumped out and yelled, “RAAAAAAAWHAUAOAOAAA…..oh sorry…I thought you were my friends….” We laughed all the way to the bus. We talked to the other group members about their day and couldn’t get much out of them because we were all too excited to go eat Mexican food at a nearby Mexican restaurant. The drive seemed to take forever and it was already getting dark when we finally reached the restaurant. We took up 5 tables side-to-side in the middle of the restaurant. We were all excited and hungry, but also dirty and sweaty. We sat and chatted until our food came. The food was amazing for how hungry we were. I swear as a group, we probably ate about 40 bowls of chips before our food came. The only exciting things that happened at dinner were when Wayner spilt his Pina Colada and he was so sad, and also when he poured too much hot sauce in the bean dip, then had Colby try some. It was hilarious!

We headed back to the bus and drove a bit to our campsite. The bus driver said we have 10 minutes to get ready so we just laid all of our sleeping bags on tarps and some put up tents. Once the lights went out, Peter pointed out constellations such as Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, Pleiades, Orion’s Belt, and the Milky Way. I didn’t know some of the stars he pointed out, and it was relaxing to lie down and look up at the stars. We were all tired from the climbing we’d done that day, and we quickly fell asleep.

Nothing could have prepared me for what I woke up to that next morning. My sleeping bag was still kind of warm, but my feet were cold. I pulled the sleeping bag back from over my eyes, and I heard a crackling sound. I sat up and saw my whole sleeping bag was covered in frost. I looked around and all the sleeping bags were covered in this thin, silvery-white blanket. I was glad I covered my shoes and backpack with my raincoat, and I was able to shake off the powdery frost. Patrick stood up, freezing, wearing at least 4 jackets, and Andy groaned, saying, “Man, I wish I left my pants on…” We hustled to get ready and get back on the bus, hoping for warmth. It took a while for everyone to get back from the bathroom and pick up all the tarps from the site. After we had everyone on the bus, except Greg and Wayner who went on a run to Smith, we were off.

I talked with Tony about how the Goldfish manufacturers segregated the goldfish. It’s a good question why the pretzel goldfish aren’t combined with the Parmesan. Everyone was all bundled up until we reached Smith Rock and it actually felt the heat on the bus. We got there and were split up into groups to go out and climb. My group was with Peter, Andy, Charlie, Patrick, and Wayner. It was getting warmer outside as we ran to the 9-gallon buckets climb, and Wayner climbed lead. More and more people showed up and some asked when we would be done, but then seemed frustrated to find that we were going to be there all day. Everyone made it up the climb, but everyone seemed to have a hard time getting started. It warmed up a ton during the day.

Once everyone climbed this route, we walked over to where the other group of Murphy, Torin, Greg, Jack, and most of the other guys were. There were three climbs set up and I belayed two and debated whether I wanted to climb the route where Brynmor had just shot off the side of the cliff when being lowered after his climb. This was when we heard about Jack’s crazy climb of a 5.11 B or C . My group just heard about it, and weren’t able to see his lead climbing. He still made it up and it sounded awesome. After climbing for a while, a group of us decided to go to another area where not many people were climbing. Murphy, Charlie, Patrick, Torin, and I decided to go to where Chris’ group was, on the other side of the river. We walked, with Kix cereal in hand, talking on the way to the climb. We met up with Maddie Miller, Colby, Max, and Mike who were climbing the other routes. There wasn’t much time, so I only got to belay but we watched them finish the three routes then we packed up and started the hard walk back to the bus. We filled up our water bottles when we got to the top, and walked to the bus. It was getting warmer and once we sorted our stuff by the bus, some people got out their food and laid outside the bus on the hot cement.

Once we got back on the bus, I took some pictures of Smith from the bus, and then fell asleep with the sounds of Patrick rapping in the seat behind me echoing on the bus. I fell asleep so don’t really know what happened on the way back. Once we got to Catlin, parents eagerly awaited at the Cabell center parking lot as we cleaned the bus and dropped the gear off in Peter’s office. It was dark as we headed to our car.