If You're New Here: Get Your Climb on in Central Oregon This Fall | If You're New Here | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon
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If You're New Here: Get Your Climb on in Central Oregon This Fall 

Read on to get five ideas for getting started with Central Oregon's climbing community

Are you new to town and looking for some vertical rock wall-ups? Jugs, crimps, lay backs, and sit starts, oh my! Central Oregon is chalk-full of indoor and outdoor bouldering, sport and traditional climbing. World class basalt (splitter cracks and shredder lava rock), welded ash tuff and some of the best manufactured indoor walls that can be bought, al la Metolius and Entre Prises, are all in our region. If you've got ungodly, veiny, bulgy Popeye forearms with a diameter larger than your biceps, this list of local climbing bounty is for you.

Author Jason Chinchen, of a locals' fan-favorite climbing book, climbs at Widgi Boulders. - FORREST FRANKLIN
  • Forrest Franklin
  • Author Jason Chinchen, of a locals' fan-favorite climbing book, climbs at Widgi Boulders.

Bend Rock Gym

Named climbing gym of the year by USA Climbing and the longest standing indoor climbing gym in Central Oregon, Bend Rock Gym offers three separate facilities, side by side in a cul de sac off Reed Market—with bouldering, top rope, sport and crack climbing on offer. Jim Stone, owner and Joey Jennsen, head route setter, set on-point and high standards for their youth programs and all climbing routes and facilities.

The Circuit Gym

In 2005, The Circuit Bouldering Gym opened its first bouldering gym in Southeast Portland. Now it boasts four locations including Central Oregon, in northeast Bend, just off Empire. The Circuit has the most cutting-edge routes, has boulders climbers can top out on and a great set of taps where you can enjoy a post work-out ice cold adult beverage. Maybe the coolest offering from The Circuit is the 50% off nights themed for ladies and Latinx folks, periodically offered Wednesdays.

Smith Rock State Park

Ready to bust a balancy, slightly positive vertical move on chicken-heads and cheese-grater shred-ready volcanic ash? It must not be as bad as it sounds because on any given day, hundreds of climbers are out at Smith Rock State Park hauling themselves up Hueco Tanks and The Dihedrals. On the other hand, you could visit North Point, just across the river, where fresh basalt off-width and smaller fractures are ready to be traversed. As the birthplace of sport climbing in the '70s with legends like Alan Watts bolting routes, this is a can't-miss, high desert climbers' paradise. In fact, for a stellar history lesson and dialed in detail on all the climbs, be sure to see Watts' guide book produced with Falcon, "Rock Climbing Smith Rock State Park: A Comprehensive Guide to More Than 1,800 Routes."

She Moves Mountains

Are you a woman looking for some instruction and guidance in climbing? She Moves Mountains is an amazing company passionate about helping women lead climb classics at Smith Rock, like Bunny's Face for their first time, or smash a new challenge at Rope-de-Dope. As Founder Lizzy VanPatten says on her website, "Women are significantly underrepresented in the guiding industry. We want to change that. By teaching women-specific rock climbing and backpacking clinics and creating mentorship opportunities, we hope to increase the number of confident female rock climbers and guides."

Bend Bouldering Book

In 2017 Jason Chinchen, local OG climber, released a first-of-its-kind guidebook for Central Oregon, titled "Central Oregon Bouldering: Ropeless Rock Wrangling In and Around Bend, Oregon." Although it's currently listed on Amazon as unavailable, Chinchen says he's almost finished with the second edition which will be out this spring.

"I wrote the book to fill a hole in the climbing community that wasn't represented in Central Oregon. And to unite and give a voice to that user group. It was important for me to produce a well-made, organized, and useful guidebook. The second edition will cover all of the same areas plus some new zones like Smith Rock Boulders. It will also include many updates and new and harder climbs that were not in the first version, more pages and new images—320 full-color pages."

Chinchen encourages climbers to purchase the book at a locally owned shop such as Dudley's Bookshop Cafe, an Oregon local climbing gym or from the book's premier sponsors, Redpoint Climbers Supply in Terrebonne, adjacent to Smith Rock, or Mountain Supply in Bend.

About The Author

K.M. Collins

A native Oregonian, K.M. Collins is a geologist-gone-writer. Covering everything outdoors and a spectrum of journalism, she's a jack of all whitewater sports and her favorite beat is anything river related. Don't blow her cover as a freshwater mermaid amongst humans.
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