The Conception and First Run of The Smith Endurance Love Letter
By Garrett Genereux
September 13th, 2022
25 guidebook pitches - Marsupials Traverse (5.7), Birds in a Rut (5.7), First Kiss (5.7), Sky Ridge (5.8), "West Tower" [SMG true summit] (5.4 A1).
All three Smith Rock High Points - Wombat, Misery, Smith Rock Group - a grand tour of Smith Rock.
Name and route by Garrett Genereux @scarecrow.gpg on Instagram
In June of this year, while guiding a lot at Northern Point among other crags, I began dreaming of an enchainment to connect significant features at Smith Rock State park. As I dropped ropes from the anchors atop basalt columns, I’d look up to the Marsupials ridgeline, then to the Wombat, scan across the Monument section over to Misery Ridge, and then landing on the Smith Rock group. The topography called to me, the established climbing routes along the way made logical sense, and the park’s established trails could connect a lot of it.
I’ve never been someone who thought of myself doing FKTs or even following along to the incredible feats of mountain athletes; however, I thought that maybe there was just a chance that what I was thinking might fit within this style. I checked out fastestknowntime.com and noticed that Jason Hardrath had done some awesome work at Smith. A quick Instagram message and he shared that, “I have been pondering the most perfect expression of a ‘Smith Rock Grand Tour’ since 2018.” When then started messaging about what it might look like. Initially I rebuffed his efforts to make plans and trade notes. One, I didn’t have anything, just a dream, and also it seemed a bit ridiculous for someone like me to be making comparable plans with someone like Jason.
On a day that I couldn’t find a climbing partner, I decided to run/walk the non-climbing sections of the route plotting a track on CalTopo. It was on that day that I realized that it really was possible. Sure there was a question mark here and there, a few routes that I wanted to climb first before including, and really work on my endurance. I excitedly sent Jason a message that I finally had something useful to provide, thinking that my beta could give him the keys to unlocking his own plans. We had a phone conversation about the track, looking it over, discussing the climbing routes and the challenges I foresaw. Still in the back of my mind, I was thinking that I’d be in a place to give it a go in Fall of 2023 once those previous concerns were a bit more sorted.
On the Saturday of Labor Day, I received a message from Jason, asking what I was up to the rest of the weekend. Then, all of a sudden, we were going to give it a go. Jason and I did have an honest conversation about where I was fitness-wise. And yet, he was still psyched! That gave me a lot of confidence. On Sunday, September 4th at 5:30a we began! First up was heading out East to the Marsupials Traverse (5.8, 10 guidebook pitches). We made it out there and I lead off. It went so smooth! Jason had done the route several times prior and was able to give necessary route finding beta to keep us on track. Soon that was done and we were onto Birds in a Rut on the Wombat (5.7, 6 guidebook pitches). I lead this route as well. We simul climbed these first two routes, with quick munter hitch belays as necessary when we needed to reset the rack, or rappel. Once we were on top of the Wombat it was straightforward to hit the highest point, Grey Butte, of our whole day!
We came down to the intersection of the Summit Trail and Burma Road. We then cruised down the Summit Trail, this was one of the fastest parts of our day, on trail, downhill. The next climbing route was First Kiss (5.7, 5 guidebook pitches) on Kiss of the Lepers Buttress. This would make a fairly straightforward path to the highest point of Misery Ridge. We again cruised this route, me leading, simul climbing. We did pass one party at the top of pitch two. This was one aspect of route selection that we had thought a lot about, knowing that some of the chosen routes are very popular. From the top of Misery Ridge we headed down towards Asterisk Pass and the Smith Rock Group.
This section was one of my initial question marks as originally, I thought it would be most aesthetic to follow the ridgeline as far as possible, crossing the tops of the Dihedrals and the Christian Brothers group. This was untenable as there were too many towers to get up and down without established routes. So we cut out West and down to the Mesa Verde Trail and up to Asterisk Pass. This is where the final “real” route of the day began, Sky Ridge (5.8, 3 guidebook pitches). It wasn’t fully planned before we got to the base of the route, but it made sense to pitch this one out especially considering the final pitch’s traverse. I took us off route, getting sidetracked by the mental and physical protection of bolts. However, this meant some challenging 5.10 climbing in our approach/running shoes which undoubtedly slowed us down. We did eventually finish it up! This lead us to the base of the North tower (5.2) of the Smith Rock Group which we scrambled up and down. Then onto the South tower where we knew there was one final roped pitch. We had brought along an ascender for this pitch. There is a bit of a bolt ladder through some challenging free climbing until you hit easier terrain at the top. I did this as a 5.7, A0 pitch and fixed the rope for Jason to ascend. We made our last rappel and then were on our way! Down to the river trail, then to the gate! Had a bit of water at the spigot just over the bridge and then struggle bus time on going up the Chute Trail. Begrudgingly I attempted Jason’s tradition of going hard together at the pavement. He had a crazy bit of energy left, I was running empty. And then, it was over, we touched the gate!
What an unbelievable day! 11.2 miles, 4k feet, 25 guidebooks of rock, 10 hours and 13 minutes. I lead all the rock, and Jason kept us pushing forward on the ground. We remarked a few times that we made a pretty good pair for this endeavor. I think it was more than that. I did not think that this was going to be possible for me at that time, Jason was a huge part of convincing me. The time is now, the time is always now. The past is irreversible, and the future does not yet exist. Don’t wait!
To the stout-hearted, may you enjoy...