Wherever I May Roam

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 44.36291°N / 121.14687°W
Additional Information Route Type: Sport Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: 5.9 (YDS)
Additional Information Difficulty: 5.9
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 5
Additional Information Grade: II
Sign the Climber's Log


Photo by Michael Wallis. On...top

Follow the directions on the main page to get to the northwest corner of the Smith Rock Group. Directions are most easily given from Asterisk Pass but if one wishes to avoid the exposed (and unroped) scrambling over Asterisk Pass, stay on the main riverside trail all the way until it circles the Smith Rock Group and puts you on its west side. From that point on, one can scramble up to Asterisk Pass and follow the directions below. As you cross Asterisk Pass from the east (Dihedrals) side to the west side, turn left immediately below the scramble portion on a climber's trail that follows the base of the Smith Rock Group. Hike about 200 feet on this trail never getting more than 40 feet away from the base of the rock until you see what looks like a huge (about 40-50 foot high) boulder detached from the main wall. The route starts on the north side (your approach side from Asterisk) of this detached boulder. Look for shiny and beefy new bolts.

Route Description

Wherever I May RoamP2
Wherever I May RoamP3
Wherever I May RoamP3 Vintage
Wherever I May RoamP4
Wherever I May RoamP5 Vintage
Shirley seconding (crux)...P2 Vintage
Wherever I May RoamP1 Vintage
Wherever I May RoamP2 Vintage

Like many of the fine routes at Smith, this is a bolted, multi-pitch face climb. The route reaches the top of the northwest wall of the Smith Rock Group in five bolted pitches of face climbing. It provides a fun outing with outstanding views of Monkey Face, The Christian Brothers, The Dihedrals, the Oregon farmlands below, and the Cascade Volcanos on the western horizon (from Jefferson to the Three Sisters complex). The route was put up recently (early 2000's?) by Ryan Lawson (author of many new routes at Smtih and of the Smith guide book supplement) and is beautifully bolted all the way. The route is quickly becoming popular and waiting lines will soon be the norm.

Pitch 1: 5.8. Starting in a vague, left-facing corner, climb up to the top of the detached boulder/pillar to a belay anchor. The crux of this pitch is getting started off the ground.

Pitch 2: 5.9. Once on top of the pillar, walk a few steps, then step over the gap between the pillar and the main wall. Move up the nearly vertical section past 3 bolts (crux of pitch 2). After the third bolt the angle eases. Keep climbing (movig up and left) until you reach a doubly bolted belay ledge.

Pitch 3: 5.9: Move left and up from the belay ledge. You will see a bolt line going straight up from here - that's not your route. Instead, traverse left onto the exposed face clipping bolts. Keep moving left and up along this face on nice knobby holds. At some point you will see a doubly bolted anchor directly above - this is NOT your anchor. Keep moving up and slightly left (your anchor is out of sight until you're pretty much there) to reach a narrow ledge below a sloping slab with double bolts.

Pitch 4: 5.9: This is probably the crux pitch of the route. Move up and right following the right edge of a slab. The last two bolts put you on a short arete beyond which is the belay anchor at the bottomo of a gently sloping slab. Great views north from here.

Pitch 5: 5.8: Move up the greenish slab (5.4) toward a short headwall. Go directly up to the top of the headwall. Belay anchors are at the top.

Descent: The description in the R. Lawson's booklet is not very clear after the initial rappel (I can add the better descent option here if someone has the beta). Next to the belay bolts on top of pitch 5, you'll see a set of fat rap bolts. Rap (to east side, that's the Dihedrals side) with a single 60m rope to the large, sandy ledge below. You have three options at this point:

(1) Single 60m rope rappels. Scramble left (or north) along the base of the wall you just rapped down on the dirty ledges till you find a set of bolts on a low-angle slab facing north-west (standard rappel line). 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 (potential traffic jams!) but the remaining raps. follow an independent line. Follow the foot of the northwest wall right till it brings you back to Asterisk Pass.

(2) Double 60m rope rappels. Move left (descending person's left) and east to see rap slings wrapped around a boulder sitting atop a squeeze chimney. Begin the TWO 60 m ropes rappel by lowering yourself into the chimney (akward start) and past a VERY LOOSE ledge. Continue the rappel down the east side of the Sky Ridge arete. Use extreme caution - several killer-sized rocks are just waiting to be dislodged from this ledge by a rope (or a strong breeze). EXTREMELY DANGEROUS if there are people below - you WILL be launching some rocks. Keep rappelling till you reach another ledge. There are two sets of bolts on this ledge including a nice fat set you can use to run your rap rope directly through. Do another double 60 m rope rappel to the ground (single 60 m MIGHT work here - haven't tried). Scramble left toward Asterisk Pass. Obviously not the choice option unless there's a huge traffic jam below you on the route. Some webbing/rap rings may be required to back up - if needed - the existing rap station on the way down (put new sling + 2 rap rings there on 3/9/03).

(3) No roped rappels required. There is also a walk-off option for this route (have NOT tried it - take the description here with a large grain of salt!). It involves doing the top-most rap as described above (this rap could also probably be skipped with some exposed 3rd or 4th class scrambling up and left from top of pitch 5) and then walking up the 3rd class terrain (roughly south) from the sandy ledge (mentioned above). Keep walking roughly south until the terrain allows you to turn west (right) and walk down to the river-side trail below. Supposedly this option puts you on the west side (south-west) of where you started.

Essential Gear


A set of quick draws (12 or so). All belays are doubly bolted - NO trad gear needed. One 60 m rope.

Route Topo

Wherever I May Roam route topo

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

Viewing: 1-6 of 6

Andrew_ - May 5, 2004 12:53 pm - Hasn't voted

Route Comment

On May 2nd, I climbed Wherever I may roam and did a bolt count. 7 or 8,9,10,10,6 respectively for the pitches. Note: These don't include double-bolted belay stations. If you use quickdraws for anchors, 12 is the absolute minimum! We took ten quickdraws and made anchors with slings and carabiners, we had just enough.


rpc - May 5, 2004 1:44 pm - Hasn't voted

Route Comment

I think a single 60m if I recall brings you safely down back to the west side base (total of 4 rap's incl. one from the very top)?

Andrew_ - May 5, 2004 1:00 pm - Hasn't voted

Route Comment

Also, a 60m rope is highly recommended. Otherwise, have the second climber bring up a second 50m for use when rapelling. We brought two 50m ropes and it was inconvenient.


elementalphotos - Sep 28, 2004 1:43 pm - Hasn't voted

Route Comment

"At some point you will see a doubly bolted anchor directly above - this is NOT your anchor (presumably that's where the other bolt line mentioned above terminates)."

As of 9/6/04, the day I climbed this route, the above mentioned double bolted anchor is no longer double bolted, but a single bolt with a chain on it. The other bolts have been chopped/removed for whatever reason, there are only two or three bolt holes left in the area besides the single bolt with the chain. If you get suckered into climbing up to this single bolt (like I was), your only option is to downclimb two bolts of 5.8-5.9 moves to get back on route. Talk about excitement...


jtschanz - Oct 10, 2005 12:38 pm - Hasn't voted

Route Comment

I just wanted to give a bit more info about the walk-off descent. Yes, it is possible to walk off of the Smith Rock Group without doing any rappels, and in fact is probably faster and easier than rapping down, especially if there are multiple parties. From the top of "Wherever I May Roam", follow a scramble trail up (south) towards the summit of the formation. Just over the top, there is a gully on the right with a cairn at the top. This looks like it would work but I haven't tried it. If you continue futher there is a nice gentle trail that descends back to the base of the climbs.


cluck - May 7, 2007 3:37 pm - Hasn't voted

An update from 5/07

Lots of traffic has made this route pretty solid (vs consistency of expected Smith Tuft) and most of the loose crap has likely been pulled/kicked off. A helmet is a good idea still, but I wouldn't worry too much about portable holds. Lots of bolts now on the leftward traversing face on P3. Think the beta is stay to the far left most line of bolts to follow the route correctly and to stay on 5.9 or lower terrain. We had no traffic on the route and did it from start to finish of final rap in just about 2 hours traveling in a pretty efficient manner. FYI just in case you wonder if you can sneak it in before dark late some afternoon.

Viewing: 1-6 of 6



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