Jason writes: "Birds in a Rut" had been in the "run + solo/simul-climb" section of my FKT notebook for a year and two months as of the date we did this. I had read the positive reviews of the 5th pitch up the dihedral. I knew the route consistently got 3 star reviews on mountain project, qualifying it as a "great" route. The reading description made me aware of some possible dirtiness/crumbliness to the route, so I knew I wanted to simul-climb or pitch it out on the first go. I was hopeful that this would be the best easy-moderate way to hit the top of the Wombat, one of the three high points above Smith Rock State Park. Winston was is one of the few in the area who is the magical combination of technically proficient, fit (cardio and climbing), and has the desire for these kind of routes and we had already climbed Hood together on Friday before this effort. So we decided to give it a once over...
We wanted to be fast but safe, since we didn't know what to expect or if the route would live up to its reviews and actually be "good enough" to stand as an FKT.
but between the grinding ascent to get to the base of the route, the stellar 5th pitch, and the bomber scree-fest back down from the top...
WE WERE BOTH STOKED ON IT!!!
I will leave the technical writing to Winston below, as he is much better at it than I...
2:20:04 Gate-to-Gate. It can certainly go faster. Winston and I will be getting after it again... but in the meantime...
Jason ran in Salewa Wildfire Edge approach shoes, Coros Vertix, BD Vapor helmet.
Approach although steep isn't bad. If you're used to climbing routes like this one you've probably done worst.
Follow the trail to Koala Rock, pass Buffalo Power and head uphill at Round River. As you reach the top o the Koala Rock trend left on the only trail in sight. Follow this trail up to the Wombat and look for the small tree. It will be obvious when you see it.
P1 - 5.4 Will post photo of tree at the start of route for better reference, first pitch is featured slab. Lots of positive edges and steps, although they are slightly crumbly they are plentiful and climbing is easy. Bl;ot line heads up and trend left finishing at a huge ledge with a bolted anchor.
P2 - 5.4 Step left from the belay out to some exposure. I stepped down and left for he belay to make this move. You're first bolt will be directly left and up of the belay stance. This pitch starts moving left before sliding right and over the top of the belay. Trend up and right till you see some pebbles ahead with a large flat area. The flat area is what is described as the "walking pitch". I recommend climbing 4 more feet up a short corner (5.4 IMO not 5.7 as described) to a ledge on the left. Belay is on the ground 10 feet away and consists of 2 bolts.
P3 - 5.5 Moves out left and trends up to a low angle choss flake/corner ramp. I did not recognize anything as a "fist crack" however my fist is a BD#5 and this flake could take some useless gear. Falling on a cam in the flake would probably blow the rock. Topping this super short corner leads to more bolted and features slab which trends right towards the obvious jagged dihedral. Arriving at a sidewalk there are 2 bolts on the ground.
Walk the sidewalk toward the dihedral and find the single bolt for the belay.
P4 - 5.6 Fun dihedral pitch, stem box all the way. To call this a hand crack is an interesting misdescription IMO. The crack is ad sized at times but does not really climb that way....I threw one hand jam while placing a cam. Climbing is steep but fun and very features. Look for edges and ledges for secret stemming to the left and right of the crack system. If you're creative you shouldn't have to smear for feet. Pro for this pitch could be anything from a BD#2-.3, nuts would work better as its hard to make good cam placements on featured rock. Long pitch ends at a ledge with a 2 bolt anchor on the right when meeting the tom of the dihedral.
P5 3rd Class leads to the right of the anchor past some quick exposure and the left to the notch seen above and left of the final belay. This sandy shelf leads to a quick 5.8 two bump stem (vey secure and low consequence). Walk up low angle slab to the left to reach the top of the formation. down climb is obvious as ou pass a 2 bolt rap station with chains (right) and leads to low angle slab and a 5 foot down climb probably easier than the 5.8 pull you've already done. If your not sure about the down climb or don't trust your feet rap from the chains on top. Once on the dirt follow a trail down through a notch to come out on the uphill side of the start to the route (down climbers left/rappelees right).
Cant figure out how this would be climbed in 6 pitches... 5 seems like the way to go. If your in for some fun fast pace mobbin maybe try it in 2 or 3 with some simul-climbing. I like Nate's idea of linking the first 3 pitches with long runners, skipping anchors. These pitches are very short anyway. Note that if you do this and don't extend with some alpine doubles you'll experience the rope drag of a life time!
Car to car went at 2 hours 20 mins 4 seconds. Would be fun to try and beat that (totally do able). If anyone is interested shoot me a PM.
4.7 miles round trip from the parking areas and 2500 feet of gain climbing included.
Overall the climbing is just OK with the exception of the superb dihedral pitch which could be cool to take your 5.6 trad skills to something steep. Great pitch and superb view from the top of the Wombat.
On Strava Winston wrote: Spent a little too much time in Z2 on this one but hey 🤷🏼♀️ Jog/simul/jog, dunno where this route gets off at “5.7” it seemed pretty 5.6 to me. Pitch 5 is indeed “the 💰💵 pitch”. Super fun. Brought about 8 alpine draws and 10 pieces, mostly used scattered draws on bolted section, microtrax, and 3 pieces in the “crux” pitch. Good fun and a baller descent from the formation. Just about broke my ankle in those TX4 on the run. Better game for the TX Guide but had no good options at the end of a weekend. I’m as tattered as my pants 😅 good fun.
Notes for next time, bring only 4 cams, bring 2 more microtrax, bring 6 single alpine draws, climb with 30m rope.
Also climb in kaptiva trail runners with dot rubber, maybe with tx guide. Shoe transitions are huge for this short of a route but the slab sections can def go faster with a more technical shoe.
Winston ran in the Suunto Ambit3 Vertical, La Sportiva TX4, and BD Vapor Helmet
Thanks to sponsors and gear (Jason):
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