Area of The Month: Trout Creek, Oregon

By Blake Herrington, 06 October 2013

  • DATE

    06 October 2013


    Blake Herrington


    Rock Climbing

The routes are vertical and relentless. Protection bolts are totally nonexistent (at the entire crag). Getting to the wall requires an 800-foot trudge up climber-created switchbacks. The finger cracks will tear up your tips, and the hand cracks carve out gobies after just a few jams. The wall is often freezing cold or blazing in direct sun. The base of the wall is littered with toppled columns and gaping holes perfect for losing gear and breaking ankles. Without a doubt Trout Creek is one of the best traditional crags on the west coast.

Trout Creek is located in north-central Oregon, about 45 minutes north of Smith Rock State Park. It benefits from the same dry climate and sun as its more famous neighbor, but the climbing is on vertical and textured columns with almost no face holds. The grades are stiffer than Indian Creek, and the texture and small gear are both better. But Indian Creek is the only other area I’ve been to which offers the same unrelenting challenge of sustained vertical splitters from the second you leave the ground.

The camping and ambience at Trout Creek are major facets of what make the area special. The campground is a beautiful stretch of riparian shoreline, more popular among river users than climbers. Numerous spots border the Deschutes River, with the wall looming a mile upstream and 800’ above the valley floor. Trout’s ideal season is late September through early December. The wall faces nearly due west, getting direct afternoon sun, but staying frigid in chilly fall mornings. Recent years have seen spring closures of the wall to make room for Golden Eagles who rotate their nesting site and have used the far south end of the wall as an aerie.

Bring every cam you can get your hands on and a 60-meter rope. What you won’t need is the pile of slings and draws that are included on a standard trad rack. Even the most wandering of Trout Creek’s direct lines wont require more than 3 or 4 slings, and nearly every anchor is fixed with steel carabiners for lowering off.

For all the beta on climbing at Trout Creek, head to [LINK].

Blake Herrington

Leavenworth, WA

Blake Herrington learned to climb as a teenager while working for a small bakery in North Cascades National Park. His first trips into the mountains instilled in him a familiarity with untraveled alpine choss and a love for remote peaks. Now in his mid-20s, Blake has lived in Denver and Bellingham, before recently settling into the mountain town of Leavenworth, Wash. He has established over two-dozen new alpine routes or first free ascents from Alaska, to Colorado to Argentina.

Blake is also a widely-published author, having contributed articles to Alpinist, Climbing and Rock & Ice. He has climbed sport and traditional pitches up to 5.13a, but considers diverse alpine routes the most engaging and inspiring sub-set of climbing. Despite savoring the alpine cooking of many climbing partners, he counts himself among the best camp chefs he’s had the opportunity to climb with.