OverviewOld timey rock quarry, then rifle range for a local military academy, then an abandoned, overgrown cliff area; this crag was discovered, explored, cleaned, and opened up for climbing by Oregon's pioneer climbers in the 70s and 80s.
Featuring something like 150+ routes ranging from 5.4 all the way up to .13a, it's a worthwhile urban crag for climbers of all experience level and ability. With most routes in the higher .10s to lower .11s, you likely won't run out of new routes to try for some time.
Being a secluded, fairly wild state park in the middle of a major metropolitan area, the place has a bit of a rep for broken beer bottle glass, discarded condoms, and occasional bums passed out here and there.. Fortunately, this means most local climbers avoid the area like the plague, and there's always good areas/routes open.
Getting ThereTake NE Fremont east from NE 82nd in Portland, Oregon. Stop at the japmart on the left before the base of the hill and stock up on Powerade and snacks, then proceed up the curve to the left, then follow to the right, and you'll be at the cliff area. Just park in the dirt on either side of the road next to the college (the giant domes), but don't park in the college parking lot.
Access is basically divided into two by the fenced guardrail:
-To the NW (to the right of the houses) you'll find access to two classic walls with moderate routes- Breakfast Cracks and Toothpicks. Pick a spot, pick a tree, and rap in. Also accesses Mean Street, Grotto, Shadows, Freeway Wall and other smaller walls.
-To the SE (area closer to the big dome), you'll find the majority of the walls, and generally shorter and easier routes, including Video and Silver Bullet Bluffs, but as well as longer/harder routes, like the Wizard Wall with it's classic Phylynx (.11b). Some walls, like Video Bluff, are really only accessible via class 4 or rap in, but most walls are accessible via the main trail which descends between Trivial and Poodle Pinnacles at the SE end of the cliff area. Switch back, and hike up to the wall of your choice.
Red TapeNONE- open year round, no permit required, just make sure you don't park in the college parking lot.
CampingCamping is prohibited in the park, but you probably won't run into any trouble if you camped out in your van up on the road. And bums make camp in the park itself aaalllll the time- so if you're willing to risk getting your throat slit for your stash in the middle of the night, you'll likely not encounter any enforcement down below either.
External LinksThere's pieces of info scattered across the net, but no comprehensive online resource.
Some good links:
With a comprehensive section in Portland Rock Climbs, orderable through:
You can sometimes find older editions at Powells, but they're generally outdated and dont include grade changes and many additional routes that have been cleaned off and FA'd along the walls.
Named Climbing AreasFrom NW end to SE end:
(will be updating this section for the duration. i don't intend to add detailed individual route info here, but will be including summary info about each named section and probably photos for IDing the walls. i will not write a summary of an area i haven't climbed yet- if you care to write an area summary, i'll be happy to include it and cite the source. check back in periodically)
Wall of Shadows:
The Wiz is one of the taller walls with some of the longest routes at Le Butte. There's some confusion over where Dream-Weaver ends and Wiz starts, but by the PRC book, Wiz owns 10 established routes generally mid 10s to mid 11s. The Wiz's classics include Phalynx (5.11b), and the challenging off-width 5.10 Mind Games.
-Route Range: 5.9-5.11d
-Average Route Difficulty: .10c'ish
-Access: The top of the Wiz is easily IDable via the pinnacle of the main wall. Get on the main SE trail by the guardrail and head into the woods.. soon, you'll come on a little popout section of rock with a great view- look for the lone backup bolt sticking up from the pinnacle. That's Wiz.
One of the most climbed/loved areas, Video boasts at least 20 climbed routes, and a couple of Rocky Butte's classics; Edge of Might (.11b), Flakey Old Man (5.7), Eve of Destruction (5.8+). At least a third of the routes are bolted, some have little to no protection, so these shorter 30-35ft routes are generally toproped or sport led.
-Route Range: 5.4 - 5.12
-Average Route Difficulty: about 10c
-Access: The Video base is situated about 35 feet down from the main trail above, and most of the way up the slope from the trail below, through very steep/thick forest. Therefor, the best way to access is to simply rap in from one of three main openings, with the most obvious being the Flakey Old Man topout. There's a class 4 at the SE end of the ledge, which gives access to an awkward scramble back up to the trail, or down to the NW routes of Silver Bullet.
Silver Bullet Bluff:
So named because of the multitude of bullet pock scars that actually make chip holds in one route (Bite the Bullet [11a]), SBB's routes average about 5-10 feet longer than Video (40-45'), but are more in the 5.9-5.10bish range. Classics include Fandango (5.10c), Glen's Route (bolted 5.7), and Superman Crack (5.8).
-Route Range: 5.7 - .11a
-Average Route Difficulty: about 5.9+
-Access: Probably the most accessible of all the major walls, Silver Bullet is accessible via rap in from the trail, class 2 down (and back up) just SE of the Trivial Pinnacle (last ledge before you descend the main trail), or you can take the main trail all the way down, switch back to the left and back up to the base of the wall. As to location above, the bluff can be found where the SE trails merge after the pedestrian tunnel. The middle ledge is also accessible via two class 4s, the one on the left being hidden around a boulder and easier up and down (but a lot more dangerous) than the main "root route" to the right.
Three short 40', but popular routes, and I think a fourth might have been sent at some point recently, this little spot seems to be popular, for being small, short, and cramped. "Harlequin" (.10) is bolted, Trivial Pursuit (.10) and Joker (5.8) have hangers for toprope, or pro to 1".
-Route Range: 5.8 - 5.10
-Average Route Difficulty: 5.9
-Access: It's the last, small rock outcropping before you head down the trail. Immediate access to the top from the bottom via a class 3 mud slope just to climber's left.
Poodle Wall is a developing wall. Several local climbers have started to clean it off, and there are rumors of a dry-tool route or two... but I don't have any firm info at this time.