Climbing Route:

Cave route, Brogan Spire of the Marsupial Group

Difficulty:

2- 3 pitches at 5.5 to 5.6 with 300 ft of climbing

Skull Hollow Campground:

15 minute drive from Smith Rock – $5 per night for 1 vehicle

Latitude : 44.397241

Longitude : -121.062984

Elevation : 3120

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I sat perched atop a 5’x5’ 3500’ tower, eyes wide, hands sweaty.  My fingers shook slightly as I clipped both slings in to the bolt anchor in the rock.  With that action, my risk of falling at that moment was near zero.  Yet, my body felt frozen to the same spot I put myself on immediately after ascending to the top.  I felt like a robot, a zombie going about the motions.  As my two more experienced climbing partners secured the rappel rope, I looked around slowly, taking in the gorgeous blue skies and vast rocky formations of the world famous climbing area that was Smith Rock State Park.  The wind whipped wildly around us.  In this moment, life became both real and surreal at the same time.

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Soon enough, the time came for me to move.  I was second in line for the decent.  After teaching me how to rappel, Jacob led the way quickly down the tower section.  I was overwhelmed to the say the least.  Donovan helped me secure the rope to my harness as I gripped my anchor tightly.  With right hand holding the brake rope, I unclipped and  leaned back into the open air.  I’d like to say I descended with grace and speed but it was quite the opposite.  I fumbled awkwardly down the tower, only half trusting the rope for safety.  With the first rappel done, I clipped into the second anchor and waited.  Soon, I again found myself leaning into nothingness.  I unclipped and slide down to the cave where we had ended our first pitch of the climb.  The relatively flat plateau of area felt relieving.  I could see the girls down below and hear their laughter.  The wind didn’t whip quite so hard and everything seemed more normal.  I finally came out of my zombie like stupor and looked up at what we had climbed.  It wasn’t impressive at all by regular climber standards but it was exhilarating nonetheless.

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We rappelled down from the first pitch to the ground and greeted the girls on solid ground.  I was a bit shell shocked but more than a bit cocky at what I had done.  I told Lisa my harrowing story of exposure on a windy rock tower and encouraged her up the first pitch.  We all met as a group on a small plateau after climbing the initial route.  From there, some went up the tower, some stayed and relaxed in the setting sun.  Beers flowed and stories were told.  That moment will always be with me for the rest of my days.

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