Area 51 is a sport climbing crag that's located in the forest on the eastern flanks of Mt. Hood. It's a single cliffband around 60-70ft. high that's composed of nicely featured andesite.
There are a few dozen bolted sport routes here that range from 5.7 to 5.13. The routes are very well bolted with up to date hardware, although many of them do require a piece of gear or two to get you to the top.
Drive South on Hwy-35 out of Hood River. Take a left on NF-44 towards Dufur. Drive up this road for a few miles and take a right when it splits at a large intersection. Keep driving for a couple more miles and take another right on NF-4420 towards 15 Mile Campground and Flag Point.
This road will split after a few hundred meters-- stay right on the paved part (the left fork goes to a small crag named Bulo Point). Take this road for another few miles; you will pass 15 Mile Campground, and shortly after that you will pass the turnoff to Flag Point. Stay on the road, and look for a large pullout a few hundred meters past the cattle guard. Park here and take the trail down below the bluff and follow it down and around to the right to the cliffs.
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Area 51:
A quality climb that offers a variety of climbing and amazing position. Crop Circles ascends the arete with the blank streak running across it on the face. The delicate and finger intensive crux comes at the beginning of the arete, but the final bulge at the top is no easy exit. Lie backs, aretes, lunges, and face climbing; Crop Circles has it all, getting better the higher you go....[more]Browse More Classics in OR
Beautiful but quite chossy. I pulled a microwave-sized hold off of one of the better routes with little effort and pulled more rock off of the crux bulge of another "3 alien head" rated route. There's some fun stuff, but IMO not worthy of a long drive.
I have been climing at A51 for about 8 years now. Most route anchors can NOT be reached from the top - and should NOT be given the fragile dry soils and plant life. So you really need to be able to lead 5.10. And 1/3 of the routes are mixed gear/bolts, so bring a rack. And bring a helmet - folks ain't kidding about the choss! And don't snub the locals when you are out there, a hello would at least be nice.... Paul
Edit to Add: Peter, I was hoping you would take my picture last Saturday when I was climbing the dirty chimney!
It always blows me away to hear climbers rant about an area when they have nothing positive to say. It would be nice for people to really climb at an area a few times before making statements like "this place sucks" and "Why folks from Portland would go there is beyond me". Where would our sport be if not for the hard working folks who take the time to find new areas and put up new routes; show some respect to those who strive to make our sport better. If you do not like something about an area find a respectful way to post your concern.
As far as Area 51 is concerned, it is not my favorite crag, but it would be well worth the drive just to hike thru a very unique and beautiful ecosystem, as well as a good opportunity to meet some new climbers... plus there are some excellent routes that are well worth climbing. I have been climbing there for 7 years now and still find enjoyable routes that challenge me.
Thanks for letting me Rant! (and thanks for all the new routes over the last few years everyone!)
Area 51 Rocks! There are some sweet climbs here as well as some mungy ones. But because there are so many, you can be picky. The Mothership Wall is great hard sport climbing. There are many other hard clean lines. Well worth a few visits. Enjoy the solitude!
elmo, thanks for your comment. Individuals who clean and establish routes (especially in a climate such as Oregon's) work balls hard to provide a safe, enjoyable, environment for the climbing community.
Here are just a few things that go into this:
- Find out about an area (either from friends or exploring) - read up on access issues, consult other first ascensionists - "discover" some kind of trail (which often entails clearing space, coming into contact with poison oak, ticks, or whatever other local hazards are about) - trundle dangerously loose rock - remove sheets of moss, mud and dirt over a surface area that would make your head spin and your arms burn like they've never hurt while actually climbing - negotiate a delicate ethical balance when deciding what is naturally protectable, and which bolts, if any, will be necessary to keep others safe - make sure to use proper equipment (keeping in mind corrosion interaction between differing metals, rain exposure and eventual rusting of non-stainless equipment) - mock out every move and consider people much shorter than you when placing any actual bolts - use a 400+ dollar rotary drill, brush/blow out all the rock dust - pound in a 3 dollar stainless bolt attached to another 3 dollar stainless hangar - apply lock tight sealant to the bolt threads and torque the nut down to manufacturer's specs - etc. etc.
Sorry if any of this sounded like a rant; it's not meant to be. Route developers enjoy the hell out of what they do and are happy to spend the money/time to do it. People should just try to understand a bit about the investment and how their comments might be received
On a side note, Area51 is a kickass crag. there are some beautiful climbs (every one I got on the other day was quite enjoyable and expect to go back there often). There is a great amount of variety, and the texture is a refreshing contrast to the smooth basalt you'd find at broughton or the andesite at ozone. Anyways, was well worth the drive