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Season's Change is six pitches of exposed climbing on one of the least visited sections of Smith Rock. Expect long pitches of pebbling, with shiny new bolts everywhere, and only occasional run-outs.
As of now (early 2010), the route still suffers from poor rock. On the bright side, some sections of Smith feel as though they will never be clean, but this isn't one of them. With a dozen more ascents (or one ascent specifically for cleaning), this route will likely be solid, and completely amazing. Bring helmets, call "rock", and be comforted by the fact that almost all pitches wander a bit away from the belay. The first pitch may never be very good, but the rest should clean up nicely.
It was a mistake to climb this route in the winter without adequate clothing, but that was not clear until we were high on the wind-whipped wall and psychologically committed to finishing. Retreat was physically possible, but unthinkable.
For us, Season's Change was a formidable route, and worth the time. In better conditions, it may have been enjoyable, but the brutal conditions, and the necessity of rising to the boldness of the route were more than adequate substitutes for joy. A great adventure sport route, with the safety of modern hardware.
All bolt numbers are approximate - bring extra draws and a runner or two.
Pitch 1 (10a): 7 bolts. Make your way over a couple of big lumps, clip at 20 feet, and then execute a miserable traverse.
Pitch 2 (10b): 12 bolts. Step left from the belay, and then launch onto the long, pebbled face with a low and a high crux. The top of this pitch has the only completely seated belay. All others are hanging, or partially hanging.
Pitch 3 (10+/11-): 11 bolts. Straight above the last pitch, power your way through a series of tough moves on difficult to spot holds in a bulge, and then rejoice on jugs on the face above. Finally, work through one of the easier sections of climbing to the base of the fourth pitch. Watts gives this 10c, but the crux moves are harder than that.
There's another pitch that starts up the left side; ignore it and attack the bulge/overhang.
Pitch 4 (11b): 12 bolts. The crux pitch, and unfortunately, it isn't the cleanest. The crux is right off the belay, but it is fairly sustained for another fifty feet. Take care on the easier upper section - this is one of the dirtier parts of the whole cliff, and more than one hold exploded in my face.
If I remember right, there is also a pitch heading up left from the base of this pitch - take the line on the right.
Pitch 5 (10a): 4 bolts. A fun traverse on good rock, with a momentarily baffling crux at the end. Thankfully, the tight bolting makes for a stress-free follow. Awesome exposure!
Pitch 6 (10c): 12 bolts. Another long pitch of pebbling and edging, this pitch could really use some cleaning. The belay at the top is heavenly, with amazing views of the main area, monkey face, and beyond.
The route is located on the northeast face of the Smith Rock formation, specifically, the chunk of stone between The Pedestal and the face that contains White Satin and Sky Ridge.
The easiest approach: hike past the main area, to the Pheonix buttress. At the Pheonix buttress, follow the cliffline back for a few hundred feet. The route starts vertically, and then on a leftward leaning flake in the center of the face described.
There are three routes on the face: a 5.9 start in a groovy sort of thing on the left, this one in the center, and a 10a R that starts in a crack on the right.
Descent: A couple options here. 1) Apparently, you can hike uphill, around the platform and arrowhead, and then scramble down a scree gully, then back to Asterisk Pass. We couldn't find this way.
2) Make you way downhill (3rd-4th class), back towards Sky Ridge, then look to your left (west) along the ridge for a rap anchor. This is the descent for "Wherever I May Roam". The first rappel passes a line of bolts, and then a pair of naked bolts. Go a little further to a pair of bolts with links, in a little nook in the rock. The second rappel can drop you to one of two sets of anchors (I am told). The ones on the left, on a small ramp, are 1/2 inch bolts. My partner tells me there are better bolts, with links, to the right. One more rappel takes you to the ground. Hike back to Asterisk Pass.
Bolts, and bolted belay anchors. A couple long slings will reduce rope drag on the occasional zigzag.
We used 48" slings to equalize anchors, as many are loaded from an angle.
|Comments on Season's Change
|By Drew Peterson|
Jul 4, 2010
rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- E3 5c
7/10 - as of our send this route is not clean. If anyone is above you on this wall expect rockfall. Before we even started we had a very close call from massive rockfall (seriously) that eventually ended up in the river. The first pitch is the worst, followed by the last pitch being almost equally as shitty. Every pitch has some choss, but it is bolted well. The crux pitch has some super fun moves with about 50' of good stone. We walked off by heading east and up over. Not just a "sport climb"... this route is pretty serious. I'm not sure I'd recommend it as a good rock climb, but it is an interesting Smith adventure.
From: Minneapolis, MN
Aug 8, 2010
Yeah, MP doesn't allow you to categorize routes as "adventure sport" or "bolted", instead of "sport". There's a serious sort of flavor to all these bolted routes on the Smith Rock Group - pretty awesome. Glad to hear you got a good adventure out of it.
|By Max Tepfer|
From: Bend, OR
Apr 13, 2011
The crux pitch (fourth) definitely has some garbage rock in one specific place, but it also has the best rock quality on the whole route for the majority of the pitch. (including the crux moves) Additionally, the garbage can be pretty easily climbed around on good rock-just don't grab the holds with the consistency of a sand-castle near the finish and you're fine.