Although technically not a mountain, the Marsupials or Marsupial Crags are a cluster of curiously-shaped "mini summits" dotting a hillside located in a relatively remote (and hence uncrowded) area of Smith Rock State Park. These "mini-summits" require anywhere from one to three pitches of technical climbing to reach their individual tops. The area received more attention in the recent years and many new routes have been put up (most in the 5.8 to 5.11 range) as well as many older routes which were previously badly run-out have been retro-bolted (though many runouts still remain). The area is also home to Smith's longest multi-pitch route, The Marsupials Traverse, an 8-pitch, 5.10a X odyssey (according to R. Lawson's booklet - see below) that enchains the ridge of summits from the Mudpile to the Opposum
. The Marsupials (as well as the rest of Smith) are usually a good place for a mountaineer to wait out the long Oregon winter months as the weather is generally drier (and warmer) in this part of the state and one gets the thrill of "bagging" summits (albeit small ones) when climbing here. A long range overview shot taken from top of Wherever I May Roam
route on the Smith Rock Group
The principle rock formations include the Koala Rock
(with the beautiful and easy Round River
route), The Wombat
(with its imposing west face, the summit of this formation is the physical highpoint of the Marsupials), the Opposum, the Tail, the Brogan Spire
(with its knob-like summit formation), the Mini Half Dome (the resemblence is clear), the Mudpile, The Kangaroo
, the Wallaby, and the Delirium Tremens
. The views from the tops of these are beautiful as you get a nice mix of Oregon farmlands and a panoramic shot of the Cascade volcanos in the distance. Additionally, these offer the best vantage point for viewing the rest of Smith Rock State Park, including the Smith Rock Group
, the Christian Brothers, the Red Wall, and Staender's Ridge.
The elevation listed here is roughly the mean elevation of the crags.
Smith Rock State Park is located outside the town of Terrebonne, Oregon (approximately 30 miles north of Bend) off of US highway 97. Those who wish to fly in usually do so via Portland, OR about 3 hours driving time (140 miles) northwest of Terrebonne.
Take US 97 to the town of Terrebonne. Turn east onto B Avenue which shortly becomes Smith Rock way (there are signs for Smith on US 97). Follow the road past railroad tracks and down the hill to a signed intersection (approx. 0.75 miles from 97). Make a left onto NE 1st Ave. which then becomes NE Wilcox Ave. Follow it for about 1 mile to another signed junction with Crooked River Drive. Turn left toward Smith. Follow this road (passing the entrance into Smith Rock campground) until you see a roadside parking area on your left. Pay the day use fee ($3 per car per day) at the vending machine (or at the self issue station located in the driveway to the campground) and don't forget to leave a copy on your dashboard. The parking area has a public restroom and vending machines. Stopping at the above-mentioned billboard in the driveway into the state campground (you can pay the day use fee there as well as camping fee if staying overnight at the campground) is generally a good idea since it will allow you to see if there are any pertinent route closures. Follow the trail down hill toward the bridge over the Crooked River below. Cross the bridge and you will see a pointer sign. Turn right following in the direction of Burma Road (1 mile from this piont) along the river (don't climb uphill). Follow this river-side trail as it makes a large rightward arch. Once you reach a junction in the trail (there's an emergency evacuation basket hanging there), bear left and uphill via several switchbacks. Soon the trail tops out on the side of Burma Road (a narrow dirt road). Follow Burma Road uphill toward a series of large rock outcrops (the Marsupial Crags) rising up from the slopes until you get to a hairpin leftward turn. At this point you're there and need to make a decision as to which summit you'll be climging first.
Once you're at the hairpin turn on Burma Road
, Koala Rock
is immediately above you (from this vantage point you're looking at the slab with the Round River
route on it). The Wombat
is the large rock face further uphill past Koala. Opposum (uphill side), The Tail, and Brogan Spire
(downhill side) are directly ahead of you (before you make the hairpin turn on Burma Road
) across the slope. Further downhill along the same line are the Mini Half Dome, The Mudpile, and The Wallaby. The view of The Kangaroo
(a free-standing outcrop of rock) is blocked by The Mudpile. Reaching the bases of any of these is a cross-country affair at this point - try to tread lightly without disturbing too much of the vegetation.
The park charges $3 per vehicle per day to park at the state parking lot. The park is "open" from dawn to dusk (or about 10 pm in the summer). The consequences of staying past "closing time" are unclear and some climbers do "moonlight climbing".
The park allows dogs but is very strict as to keeping them leashed (fine = $96) and requests that you clean up after them.
New regulation, as of March 1st, 2003: Owners of unattended dogs left tied in at the base of climbs will be given a citation.
When To Climb
The park is officially open year round (though shower facilities at the campground are turned off in winter time). Climbing can be uncomfortably hot in the summer and snow often blankets the rocks in the winter. Spring and Fall are ideal as the temperatures are moderate and the east side of Oregon's Cascade Mountains is generally dry.
Check with the park (or by calling one of the climbing shops below) for seasonal route closures due to falcon nesting. You will most likely be ticketed if you break the rules here as the locals often keep an active watch of the crags during closure periods.
Smith Rock State Park operates a campground that overlooks the crags (see directions above under Getting There section). The campground has bathrooms and shower facilities (showers available summertime only) as wells as some communal picnic tables. Sleeping in cars is not permitted. The campground charges $4 per person per night (this will also allow you to spend a day enjoying Smith without having to pay the additional $3 day use fee).
In addition, there is a free campground (BLM operated?) approx. 7 miles from the main parking area for Smith. Directions to this campground: Skull Hollow Campground
. This information was provided by Brian Jenkins
Want to spend your time at Smith in the lap of luxury? This is especially nice during late/winter/early season outings when the days are short and nights are long. The Hub Motel in Redmond offers clean rooms (shower, fridge, cable included!) for $35/night (double occupancy). This price is most likely a "special" for climbers so be sure to smile at the nice folks in the main office and let them know the purpose of your visit. The motel (huge red neon sign) is located on the left hand side of US97 on the northern outskirts of Redmond, approximately 6 miles south of Terrebonne.
Smith Rock is part of the Oregon state park system. The official (though not very useful for climbers) website is here
. A more useful Smith website is here
Redpoint Climbers Supply
store located on the corner of US 97 and B Avenue (the turnoff to Smith) offers not only a complete selection of climbing paraphenelia but is a great place to inquire about route conditions including details such as bolt conditions and route closures (800-923-6207 or 541-923-6207, hours vary with weather and season). This is also the place to purchase the guidebook supplement (New Sh!tuff at Smith) mentioned below.
Rockhard store is another option for route beta and climbing supplies. It is located about 100 yards before the campground driveway on Crooked River Drive.
Guide BooksA Climber's Guide to Smith Rock
by Alan Watts (one of Smith's climbing legends) is the main reference for Smith Rock climbing. The book offers a good selection of both route topos and route photographs. However, given the age of this latest edition (10 years) it does not necessarily contain all of Smith's routes and excludes even some of the currently very popular ones (ex. Five Gallon Buckets 5.8). Also note that many routes in the Marsupials have been labeled with an "X" rating in Watts' book. This MIGHT no longer be the case as many of the old face routes were retro-bolted (The Cave Route is a prime example). However, in some cases the "X" rating still very much applies.
A short supplement entitled New Sh!tuff at Smith
by Ryan Lawson containing the latest route editions can be purchased at the Redpoint Climbers Supply store in Terrebonne, Oregon for $5 per copy. It too however does not necessarily cover all the new routes. The bulk of the retro bolting work as well as many of the new routes in the Marsupials were put up by R. Lawson. Note that all proceeds from sale of this booklet go to the American Safe Climbing Assoc. for bolt replacements at Smith. OUT OF PRINT
Smith Rock Restaurant in Terrebonne (behind a hardware store) is a great choice for after-climbing "pig-outs". The service is outstanding and food very good - both dinners and breakfasts. Note that it's closed Sunday afternoons.
Burger Works in downtown Madras (20 miles north of Terrebonne) is not to be missed for their top-notch marionberry milk shakes. These are THE best milk shakes we've ever had - PERIOD. The place is located on the east/south-bound side of US26/97 in Madras. They also serve decent burgers and very good grilled hot dogs.
- Smith Rock Message Board
Good source of beta esp. for new (unpublished) routes but you'll need to dig through a ton of spray to find it.
Single Pitch Route Descriptions
I'd like to try and have single pitch routes on the formation added here. We'll see how that works out. If there's a route you've done and care to share beta about it, please post a note here. I'll add it in and give you credit.
5.10a, 60 feet. This is an outstanding trad line on the formation by the same name. The route climbs a very clean dihedral on perfect rock and with bomber gear. Cruxes come at bulges that that are either jammed or stemmed and liebacked (depending on your mitt size). Belay from two beefy bolts on the right side wall. When hiking in from the main area (follow directions on the main page for Marsupials), it is best to stay on the low Burma Road (one that shadows the man-made irrigation canal) till just below the formation. Then, cross the canal (usually dry) and hike up the slopes to the base of Delirium Tremens formation. Can't miss this obvious dihedral - see photo here
. Gear: Cams (2X) from #0.5 to #1 or #2 Camalot.