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ericAZ

Oregon Beta for a Desert Dweller

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Howdy Folks.

 

My girlfriend and I have grown tired of the heat and sprawl of the greater Phoenix area and are considering a move to the northwest for cooler temps and a little greenery. We're leaning towards Portland, so I'd like to get a local's perspective on the climbing scene within Oregon and also the surrounding states. I'm familiar with Smith Rock and very aware of the mountaineering potential of the Cascades. What can I expect in terms of trad, sport and bouldering in the area?

 

Are there any other AZ transplants on this board who could give their perspective?

 

I must say that I'm pleased with the pub-club reports. Sounds like my kind of climbing community.

 

Thanks very much for any input.

 

--Eric

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As a city to live in, I'd take Portland over Seattle any time, but I think overall the rock is better in Washington, and I know the North Cascades beat most of what the range has to offer in Oregon. I lived in Tucson for a couple years, and I know you will have a little adjusting to do moving up here, and wherever you locate up here you won't have the same level of rockclimbing access that you're used to. And frankly, at least on the west side of the Cascades, the bouldering flat out sucks.

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Agreed. WA Cascades are the place for alpine rock in the PNW. A good haul from PDX, but doable. The OR cascades have their charm in the winter and spring, but most routes rely heavily on snow conditions as the rock is pretty miserable. Most rock in the OR high cascades is loose by cragging standards, which keeps the difficulty ratings down and the objective hazards up.

 

Good skiing can be found across the range, btw.

 

Portland is a good town. Not too big, not too small. Traffic is starting to bite though.

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Definately PDX over Seattle. Seattle is just getting too big. But, I prefer smaller towns. And as for the N.Cascades driving. I will drive to the N.Cascades everyweekend during the summer jsut to climb one day if need be. Yeah, it takes 6 hours one way, but it beats living in the mid-west. There are some tough sport climbing/trad climbing crags throughout Oregon now, with many of the areas just being developed. Smith is obvious, but places around Portland, Eugene, along the Coast, and in the SOuthern Willamette Valley are sprouting up monthly it seems. I have now heard of three new areas being developed in the last two weeks within an hour of Eugene for bouldering and sport. As for alpine, OR rock sucks. Must go to the N. Cascades. I look at it that I am around 10 hours N. of the Sierras and 6 hours South of the N. Cascades, so if I want, I could take a long weekend and get down there without much hassle.

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I've lived in Tahoe, Seattle, Portland, SF and the East Coast as well as the Midwest, and Portland's my favorite. The city itself is by far the best urban environment I've seen outside of Bangkok. People tend to complain like children about the rock arond here, but that's ridiculous. There is plenty of quality rock to keep you busy, and there is TONS of amazing mountaineering in these parts. People that get bored of the mountains in Oregon don't love the mountains.

 

That said, don't move here. There's too many transplants already. [Moon]

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I agree with Winter, Portland rock is way better than some wimpy, "I-only-climb-at-Smith" local climbers will have you believe. Last night after work, I climbed an incredible 300 foot 5.9 route at Beacon rock (not the SE corner) about 45 minutes from town. No other western PNW city comes close to Portland for cragging within an hour's drive.

 

Alpine rock in Oregon definitely sucks. And the PDX local rock season is very short - i.e., May-Oct (actually Beacon just opened for the year). The rest of the year, you need to head to Smith or, better yet, ski!

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quote:

Originally posted by Winter:

People that get bored of the mountains in Oregon don't love the mountains.

That's the truth, well said.

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quote:

Originally posted by texplorer:

Ryland, don't forget to mention the short 15 hour drive to Yosemite.

Not to mention the short 22-hour drive to Mt. Lemmon.... I'm a Tucson transplant, been living up here for about ten years. I will tell you flat out that if you move to the NW, the first couple of winters will be hell. If you're not skiers, you will definitely want to start. But, the unavoidable truth of the matter is that Phoenix and Tucson are shitty places to live unless you don't mind spending most of your time in your car driving around strip malls and eating at places like TGIFridays... or whatever is the smarmy corporate franchise du jour. Maybe it's Applebees. Thankfully, I have no idea. Which is part of why Portland is such a great town. If you're looking to avoid sprawl, it turns out that Oregon started shutting down sprawl before the rest of the country even knew what it was.

 

Don't get me wrong, I definitely miss having that incredible granite playground right in my backyard... but there is plenty of climbing up here. In April, when you're ready to eat a bullet because it's been raining for six months straight, you can drive to Smith and climb in the sunshine. Or at least you can wait in line to get on a route in the sunshine - but eventually you'll be climbing. Just remember to watch out for cougars and snafflehounds.

[big Drink]

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As a person who has lived in both OR and WA with a girlfriend from PHX and sister who lives in PHX, I can say both Seattle and Portland have their charms.

 

Portland is a nice town, it still has a small-town feel to it. You can be walking downtown and actually recognize people you have met or know. Portland is just as rainy as Seattle in the winter, but hotter than Seattle in the summer, on average. Access to the mountains is easy from Portland, the skiing on Hood can be epic or suck. Access to windboarding in the Columbia Gorge. Rock climbing in city is limited, but Smith is not far and is a year-round climbing area. As far as real alpine, sorry, Oregon only has Mt Hood (which is how I started, and I love Hood) which does offer alot for 1 mountain, but its 1 mountain. Yosemite, Vegas and the Sierras are 3 hours closer than Seattle.

 

Seattle is a nice town, still small by East Coast standards. Visually and geographically, its very diverse, and that makes it interesting. Wonderful summers, overcast at other times. Nearest rock climbing is an hour away, but there is alot of climbing within 2 hours - very little of it is year-round climbing though. Skiing from 1 - 2 hours away, is usually epic somewhere, and usually sucks at Snoqualmie pass, but thats just the nature of Snoqualmie pass. Access to alpine climbs is unparalleled in the lower 48. There is alot of reliable ice climbing in WA, where these is little in OR. Plus Banff is 12 hour drive.

 

If you can stand the long periods of no sun, you can be very happy in either place.

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quote:

Originally posted by Alex:

Oregon only has Mt Hood (which is how I started, and I love Hood) which does offer alot for 1 mountain, but its 1 mountain.

So that's why Jeff and the sisters are still so pleasantly empty. Hope that PDX-centric attitude persists. [laf]

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Don't get me wrong, Eugene is the worst place I have lived for accessibility to excellent climbing, except maybe for SOuthwestern Virginia, where I lived for 18 years (NR Gorge was 3 hrs, Stone Mountain, NC 3 hrs). After living in the Cumberland Plateau region, TN for four years and in Jackson, WY for 3 years, I still feel that Oregon has more diverse opportunities than living in areas where I could climb 150' sandstone bluffs on my own property, or bike out to GTNP and hike up into Death Canyon in a matter of a few hours. You may have to drive to get there, but for urban life, ease of gettting out (don't have to drive an hour to get out of the City), and the diverse climbing (sport, bouldering, alpine, glacier, ice, backcountry skiing), you'd be hard pressed to find a better spot in the US. The spots may not be at your back door, but offer many options if you are willing to drive a little further. My two cents.

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Keep in mind that nearly any location in the northern I-5 corridor will be plagued by rain from October to June (give or take a month or so either way).

 

Climbing options near Portland are fair, with a smattering of basalt crags within about 20 minutes, as well as some secret-stash and newly-developed (and recently hyped) bouldering. The real problem with the climbing is that it's frequently wet due to the fact that it's frequently raining. There is, you see, a reason that so many people "only climb at Smith."

 

DFA would recommend (does recommend) that you look into Bend as an option. Bend has that nice, dry, high-desert climate, and the skies are more often than not blue. You can climb around Bend when it's snowing (at least at Smith), and often it will be sunny again after snowing or raining. It's truly a great climate. You do get a bit of the summer heat, but the evenings are typically manageable. It's about 20 minutes from Smith, and there is scads of good bouldering lurking in the surrounding forests (and subdivisions and golf courses) nearby. Add to that the Cascades within spitting distance (making for spectacular sunsets), lift-accessed and backcountry skiing, mountain biking galore, a large outdoorsy community, and some very good beer, and you've got a great place to live. Of course, you miss out on some big-city amenities like concerts and whatnot, but the trade-offs are well worth it (e.g. you're unlikely to have a half-hour-plus commute in Bend).

 

Hope that helps, and good luck on the relocation!

 

Love,

Dr. Flash "location, location, location" Amazing

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Goodness gracious, DFA has arrived at last. Sigh.... I knew the peace couldn't last forever. I expect you've already bookmarked the Spray area?

 

And Hutch, good to see you here, how is that crampon "repair" you made on Coleman Glacier Headwall holding up?

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The Doctor sees his reputation precedes him, and with some measure of horror induced thereby. All as it should be.

 

Come, friends, DFA just wants to shoot the proverbial shit about the vertical (or the overhanging or the slabby -- but hopefully not the slabby).

 

Shalom,

Dr. Flash Amazing

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ahhh, but you may have forgotten... this is cc.com. you will be put in your place [laf]

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DFA has stepped into the ring and should make a fine combatant in the sprayfests that are known to ensue here.

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quote:

Originally posted by iain:

quote:

Originally posted by Alex:

Oregon only has Mt Hood (which is how I started, and I love Hood) which does offer alot for 1 mountain, but its 1 mountain.

So that's why Jeff and the sisters are still so pleasantly empty. Hope that PDX-centric attitude persists.
[laf]
Jeff and the Sisters are hills, son.

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I guess Alex hasn't done Jeff Park Glacier Route before. The Chronic Gumby status applies I guess...

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quote:

Originally posted by Alex:

Jeff and the Sisters are hills, son.

I'll happily take that as the troll it is if it keeps PDX people away. Go tag Reid Headwall for the umpteenth time. Fine by me.

 

Whoops noticed you are from Seattle. In that case the only route you know is Sandy Glacier Headwall out of "Selected Climbs", Same diff.

 

[ 08-01-2002, 11:58 AM: Message edited by: iain ]

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oh, you can believe what you like I suppose

 

doesnt really matter, as long as we're all having fun!

 

Cheers, Alex

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STAY AWAY FROM PORTLAND!! The beer sucks, the clibers are assholes and the mountains are for pussys. Move to Seattle and buy a new press board house in Issaquah.

[Mad]

[Moon]

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