The Smith Rock and Mt Bachelor Day

Socked In Again

On the fifth day of the Cascade Expedition, I wake up in Bend, drop Geoff off at the bus station so he can head back to Portland, and drive up Pilot Butte for a first hand look at the weather over the Cascades. To my dismay, all of the volcanos in Three Sisters are socked in, even though it's bright blue skies in Bend. This destroys my plan to start climbing them today. Instead, I shift to plan b: head into the desert and do some hiking at Smith Rock, an internationally renown rock climbing spot.

Smith Rock

I am absolutely blown away by my day at Smith Rock. I spend hours hiking down along the river, then up and over Misery Ridge, up to the summit of the park. I do a little bit of bouldering down by the river, watch climbers tackle the big walls, and spend time just soaking up the beautiful day at the summit. Conveniently, I can keep an eye on the volcanos from here, and by late afternoon the weather over them has cleared. Once I can see the summits of my brothers and sisters to the west, I start to gravitate toward them.

Bachelor on Bachelor

My first scheduled climb in these parts is Mt Bachelor. I decide to drive from Smith Rock to Mt Bachelor this evening and speed climb it at dusk. I've been snowboarding on Bachelor many times from summit to base, and am very familiar with this mountain. I've never climbed it though, because there is a chair lift to the summit. With only a 2500 foot gain from parking lot to top, many ski lift landmarks and ski runs carved into the forest, and an established climbing route to the summit, Bachelor seems like a perfect sunset sport climb. It's better than sitting in a motel, or starring at the ceiling of my tent.

I power climb/jog the entire mountain on a clearly marked trail (once I find it) and am able to make summit at 9000 feet in an hour. Two trail runners pass me along the way. I spend quite a while climbing around on the piles of volcanic rock up top, and taking in the views of the Three Sisters to the North. The wind is fierce, but it's not too cold. As the sun disappears behind the summit, I bolt down the mountain, and am back my car shortly after sunset.


Bachelor is not the most attractive mountain to climb. It's crisscrossed by numerous chair lifts, and many ski runs have been carved into the forest below timberline. The top of the mountain resembles a bizarre black rock quarry. I kept expecting to see dump trucks up there, or hear the "beep - beep - beep" of some large vehicle backing up across my route. There are no real climbing challenges or routefinding problems on Bachelor. The most notable part of the climb was actually a trail runner I met along the way, using this mountain as an evening running park.

No comments: