Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Stormy Monkeys

Monkey Face, Smith Rock (previous trip)

On June 28 I climbed one of Oregon’s most iconic rock formations, the Monkey Face in Smith Rock State Park.

I was joined by two of my classmates from the Mazamas Advanced Rock class for an ascent of the West Face Variation (5.8 A0) with a direct variation on pitch 2 (5.8).

There were at least three other groups ahead of us on the route, so we did a lot of waiting to get started as well as on the route. We didn’t get to leave the ground until around 11:30 a.m.

About 2 pitches up, a series of thunderstorms started rolling through. The winds would pick up and it would sprinkle a bit and then clear up. We could see these cloud systems moving through in the distance and dropping rain, but it would have been a real pain to bail since the rap station is just off the summit, so up we went.

By the time we were headed up the last pitch out of the cave onto the summit it was raining and hailing a bit and blowing like crazy. By the time the third person in our group was on the summit there was thunder and lightning out to the west. Time to get off fast! I was getting pretty worried about the 180’ free-hanging rappel in 30 mph winds, but we got lucky and the wind stopped and the sun came out by the time we got the rappel set up.

At camp that night people were telling about how they bailed on routes all over the park when the first series of storms came through. Some said there were pebbles blowing off the top, so it was basically raining rocks. Someone said there were gusts clocked at 55 mph, but I don’t think we had any over 30-35.

This was a great way to end the class. Definitely an adventure I’ll remember for quite some time.


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