We took a stroll out to the Lower Gorge with John Rich, a long-time climbing aficionado of the Gorge Area, aka “Mayor of the Gorge.” We wanted to get his take on the proposed Oregon State Parks & Rec (OPRD) acquisition of 38 undeveloped acres to expand Smith Rock State Park there on both sides of the Crooked River.
The full title of the book says a lot. “Hangdog Days: Conflict, Change, and the Race for 5.14.” In it author Jeff Smoot weaves an intricate story around some of the characters he hung around during the period of arguments, fistfights, and even death threats that were part of the painful birth of modern sport climbing. At the center of the controversy, local Alan Watts, was one of the revolutionaries that pushed back against the climbing traditionalists of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s to use another approach to get American climbing routes up to the coveted 5.14 gade.
When we asked local climbing route developer Chris Hatzai to write a post for SmithRock.com on what’s been happening this past year in the Monument Area and the Marsupials, we had not realized it was the anniversary of Alex Reed’s fatal fall. Chris’s poignant piece elaborates on the route development question, expanding it into a story of evolution, both for him personally since the tragic accident, as well as an evolution for climbing at Smith.
Golden and Bald eagles closures are in effect starting this Friday, February 8, 2019 to August 1, 2019. They've been flying around actively amongst the crags courting, and possibly mating, according to the rumor mill. Eagle nesting site closures for climbing routes and camping along the Bivy rim at Smith Rock State Park will go into effect at that time, with detailed route closures by area below. Falcon nesting closures are coming on February 15.
Sometimes it takes the present to bump into the past to provoke a discussion about the future. The recent visit of world renown Czech climber Adam Ondra to Smith Rock brought Alan Watts, pioneer of Smith Rock and well-known author of the guidebook series on the area together in this video.