Alan Watts’ Rock Climbing Smith Rock State Park, 2nd Edition: A Comprehensive Guide to More Than 1,800 Routes is the definitive guidebook to climbing at Smith Rock. Located in the high desert of Central Oregon, Smith Rock’s volcanic tuff and basalt cliffs offer thousands of world class climbing routes. Known as the premier sport climbing destination in the US, Smith Rock is home to some of the hardest climbing routes in the US, but it is also the perfect climbing destination for climbers of all ability levels.
No trip is complete to Smith Rock without a copy of Rock Climbing Smith Rock State Park by Alan Watts – aka the Smith Bible. The yellow and black Falcon Guide is seen at the base of nearly every climb. Climbers have their eyes glued to the pages while wandering the well maintained trail system and trying to find their route. It’s a good idea to write your name on your copy. Whatever type of climbing you are seeking, Rock Climbing Smith Rock State Park by Alan Watts will help you find it.
The 2nd edition of Rock Climbing Smith Rock State Park by Alan Watts is a welcomed update from the 1st edition in 1992. The guidebook covers sport, trad, mixed, aid, and bouldering routes in the 641 acres of Smith Rock State Park. It covers pretty much everything you could want to know about the park. It’s 499 pages are rich with history, ethics, route descriptions, camping info, day use areas, nearby towns, and more. Smith Rock is massive and Watts has done a good job breaking the book into digestible chunks. The climbing areas that are covered include:
- Picnic Lunch Wall Area
- The Wooden Ships and the Gullies
- Morning Glory Wall
- The Dihederals
- The Christian Brothers – East Wall
- Smith Rock Group
- West Side Crags
- Monkey Face Area
- Red Wall Area
- The Monument Area and Staender Ridge
- The Marsupial Crags and Surrounding Areas
- Basalt Rimrock
- The Lower Gorge
- The Upper Gorge
Each of these climbing zones has detailed images, drawings, and route info. Overall the format of the book is quite clever and it’s easy to find all the info you need for every climb – including classics like Spiderman – 5.7, 5 Gallon Buckets – 5.8, Voyage Of The Cowdog – 5.8+, Wherever I May Roam – 5.9, Phoenix – 5.10a, Monkey Space – 5.11b, Chain Reaction – 5.12c, Scarface – 5.14a, To Bolt Of Not To Be – 5.14a, Just Do It – 5.14c, and countless others.
Rock Climbing Smith Rock State Park is easy to use and makes it simple to find your route of choice. There are few mysteries left at this sport climbing destination. Watts starts with large, overview maps. Then colored photos of the above climbing areas help you fine tune your search. Finally, detailed drawings help you pinpoint which bolt line you’ll be climbing. The drawings are clear and simple to understand. Bolts, anchors, flakes, huecos, roofs, cracks, and corners are all clearly identified. Each section of the route is broken down into grades so you know what to expect.
Terms like “homely,” “knobbiest,” “flaring chimney,” “dirty,” spooky knobs,” “scary,” “endurance,” “glue everywhere,” “clean dihedral,” “classic jams,” “fool’s approach,” “pumpy,” and “spectacular!” help paint a picture of the route. Each route is numbered and corresponds to a route description. The brief description gives the grade, a quick summary, the number of bolts or size of rock protection necessary, the number of stars, how many pitches, and other relevant info.
Click here for a sample of the book on REI.
This is one of the better climbing guidebooks that I have seen. It is written by a well respected climber, Alan Watts. Watts is the real deal. If anyone should write a guidebook, he’s the guy. Watts brought sport climbing to Smith Rock and the US. His first sport route was Watts Tots, a 5.12b, in 1983. From this route to MonkeyFace, Watts pioneered routes all over Smith Rock. Alan Watts put his decades of experience and passion into Rock Climbing Smith Rock State Park and it shows. That’s why every climber at Smith Rock totes the 2 lb, 1 oz book to every nook and cranny of the tuff and basalt cliffs.
The guidebook covers pretty much everything you need to ensure you have a good time at Smith Rock. In fact, it’s hard to be critical of Rock Climbing Smith Rock State Park, but there are two things that I wish were included. First, a full index of routes listed by grade would be an excellent addition. It would help with planning the day and finding the best routes. Second, it would be great to have mileage listed between climbing areas and campsites. The free Climbing and Trail Guide from Oregon State Parks lists this clearly and effectively, but it would be nice to have it all in one place. Of course, maybe both these things are buried in the 499 pages and I just missed it.
Overall, Rock Climbing Smith Rock State Park by Alan Watts covers everything you need to know about Smith Rock. The guidebook can be a bit overwhelming, but that is the fault of any guidebook that is this comprehensive. With a copy of this guidebook in your hands, all you need is unlimited time and extraordinary climbing abilities to climb all of the 1,800+ routes at Smith Rock.
Rock Climbing Smith Rock State Parks retails for $40, but you can find it for cheaper. Purchase your copy of Rock Climbing Smith Rock State Park by Alan Watts Guidebook at: