Elevation: 3,000 Feet
Smith Rock looks like God grabbed the desert plateau by the balls and tried to pull them to heaven. It is home to hiking, mountain biking, gawking tourists and, of course, world class rock climbing. I have heard it from many a local that there are three lifetimes of routes at Smith, and I believe I have to agree with them.
Climbing is accessible pretty much year round, depending upon your tenacity, endurance and ability to weather extreme heat and cold. There is very little percipitation throughout the year, so except for the hearts of winter and summer, you can find excellent rock climbing all year round.
Be prepared for the knife edges, chicken-heads, welded chunks of crap on tuft, nubbins galore and stiff ratings. The rock is fraught with flexing flakes, hollow shelves and flibs of rock so small as to slice your favorite rock climbing shoes' big toe.
The locals in Bend are a staunch group that is virtually impossible to break into unless you either happen to know one of them well, or you have put in your time enough out on the rock so that they have seen you for a few years. What is funny is that all of them will complain about the stand-offish attitude the locals had towards them when they first got their, but none of them make any moves to help break that cycle. Of course, if you're in, you're in. But then you are being judged for the first time by a critical eye. It's more of a mental eye than a real one because I have found the stronger climbers give the most encouragement to flailing fledglings than anyone else.
Smith Rock has a cornucopia of trad, sport and a bit of aid climbing. Most people come to Smith Rock with the idea that sport climbing was realized at this location, spitting out several of the hardest routes in the world such as the first 5.14a route in the world with "To Bolt or Not to Be" put up by Jean Baptiste Tribout and Jean Marc Troussier in 1986.
Alan Watts' climbing guide is essential to any climber going out. Alan is still working on a new book to include 1,700 - 1,800 routes. He has been working on the book for some time and is not sure when he will be done. They are saying Spring 2006. But I think they said that last year about Spring 2005. Every once in a while you can spot Alan out at Smith with his family taking a hike.