ApproachFollow the directions to Asterisk Pass (low point between Smith Rock Group and the Christian Brothers) on the main Smith Rock Group page. The route starts at the Asterisk Pass and follows the prominent arete on the northern terminus of the Smith Rock Group.
Long range, select east face routes overview shot:
This route arguably offers some the best views in the park. Some of the rock is crappy and it is somewhat runout but...the runout and the crappy rock both occurr on easy terrain (5.4 - 5.5) on the first pitch (or the second pitch the way it's described below). The hardest climbing (5.8 face) on the route is well protected by a series of shiny new bolts. It offers fun exposure at a "reasonable" grade (top pitch, 5.7). Lastly, the route is not very popular - you get a great view of the crowds below (Christian Brothers and Dihedrals) though!
Scramble up to Asterisk Pass from either the east or the west side. One may want to gear up and leave the packs below the pass though there is some space for this atop the pass itself. Though the route is described in Watt's guidebook as being done in two pitches, the approach to the first belay station is exposed and many may want to rope up earlier (than the book would suggest).
Pitch 1: 4th - 5.0. Belay from a comfortable "nook" next to the pass. Scramble south from Asterisk Pass along the ridge-top toward the prominent arete that is the northern prow of the Smith Rock Group. The moves are easy but there's little or no opportunity for protection. Aim for the sandy ledge surrounded by boulders immediately at the foot of the arete.
Pitch 2: 5.8 [5.5R]. Move up the 15-foot boulder from the sandy perch on the left side of the arete. One can sling the boulder with a long (~15-foot webbing). Although Watts' guide book shows a bolt somewhere here (on the east or the Dihedrals side of the arete), the hanger is missing and it is easy to miss. Move up the crumbly arete. Little opportunity exists for reliable protection placements. Was able to use a small (pink) tri-cam behind a questionable flake and a #4 Camalot works well inside the fist-sized pocket high on the arete. Move up this largely unprotectable arete (easy climbing in the 5.4-5.5 range) until you see a pair of bolts on the west side. It is approximately 30-40 feet above the belay station. Move onto the west face and follow the obvious bolt line up. The moves become thin after the second bolt. The bolts become sparse near the top of the pitch but the climbing becomes easier. Move back onto the arete near the top of the pitch. Another opportunity for large gear (large hex) exists in the short crack just below the belay bolts. This pitch ends in a nice notch on the arete with two new bolts.
Pitch 3: 5.7. Move up and left from the notch following the left-trending crack (5.5) until you see a horizontal hand crack above you. Note that there's a bolted line heading directly up from the belay notch which might provide another option for reaching the hand traverse - uncertain (this is the way to reach the Sky Dive, 5.10 pitch above). Set a piece in the beginning of the hand crack and traverse leftwards (5.7) toward the sandy ledges (~30 feet). Ample opportunity exists for placing (questionable) pro in the hand crack (dirty rock) and there are many good footholds. The crux here comes near the end of the traverse when you mantle onto a narrow ledge (the hand crack becomes a "cavelet") and make the final move to finish the pitch. Awsome shot of the hand traverse on the topmost pitch!
Scramble up and right on the dirty ledges till you find a set of bolts on a low-angle slab facing north-west (standard rappel line for Wherever I May Roam). Do three, single 60 m rope rappels down the west side. Note that the first rappel brings you to the top of the third pitch of Wherever I May Roam route but the remaining raps. follow an independent line. Follow the foot of the northwest wall right till it brings you back to Asterisk Pass.
One 60 m rope. Some QD's for the bolts. Few cams from 0.75" to about a #3.