Acker Rock- Southern Oregon Adventure Climbing

This week Iain and I headed south from Bend to explore Acker Rock. For years both of us had heard of this spot, and we finally arranged a day to go. Acker is placed squarely between Highway 138 and 62, west of Crater Lake National Park. Geologically speaking it is composed of Quartz Latite, but for climbers like us, it just meant that it climbed like well featured granite.

Looking towards the Peregrine Traverse from the SW Wall.

At its tallest, Acker Rock is about 500 feet. Not bad for our neck of the woods. The longest route is the “Peregrine Traverse”, 5.7, and it is about 10 pitches long. We had other plans and decided to try “Where Eagles Dare”, 5.9, which is about 8 pitches long and climbs the center of the SW wall of the formation. One of the coolest features of the route is that in order to start, you must rappel down 5 or 6 rappels off to the side of the climbing. This heightens the sense of commitment, as there is really no good way up and out other than climbing up the route.

Iain in the mist

After a week of really hot weather in Central Oregon, we arrived at the trailhead in a light mist. We couldn’t believe it! The trees were dripping and the weather caught us off guard. This was an inauspicious start. We hoped things would get better as it looked like morning clouds that were going to burn off.

At the top of the rock, there is a really cool lookout that you can rent by the night. Its perched right up on top of Acker Rock and has some cool amenitites.

Iain on the final stairs to the lookout.

Here is a view of the lookout.

The lookout.

The lookout.

An interior view of the lookout. Seems like a great place to spend the night.

Inside of the lookout.

After checking around a bit. We decided to start looking for the top rappel station for “Where Eagles Dare”. Unfortunately, the weather looked like the photo below and it was tough to figure things out. We didn’t want to rap into the void!

Is there a rappel around here somewhere?

After consulting the guide and scrambling about, we thought we had located the rappel route.

Hopefully, this is the right way to go.

Above, Iain on the what turned out to be the right rappel! With the fog and light breeze, the whole area had a fairly austere feeling to it. Some would argue that it was Gothic! After 4 rappels, we still couldn’t see the ground!

Still rappelling into the fog. Its gotta be down here somewhere!

Finally, we found the base of the route, and some really wet, slippery grass. We found the start and began heading up the first pitch. We hoped it didn’t get any wetter! The sense of commitment was in the air! Below is Iain on the first pitch.

Pitch one featured a little moss.

It was good to be climbing and the weather wasn’t getting any worse. Pitch 2 began with some vertical face climbing and a tricky step across move.

Looking down to the top of Pitch 1.

Approaching the top of Pitch 2. A little tree thrashing, but hey, we are in Western Oregon.

After the first two pitches, the route really began to open up and steepen up. We climbed a really sweet 5.7 arete, that had some excellent exposure.

Ever increasing exposure and steep climbing in the middle of the route.

One of the highlights of the climb was the “terrible traverse” as indicated in the guidebook. It really wasn’t bad, it just required a bit of footwork and balance. For some reason, traversing is always seem tougher than it should be. Below is a short sequence of Iain coming across.

Starting the "terrible traverse".

Delicate side stepping.

Almost to the belay.

At this point, we starting to see some nice breaks in the weather. At least we weren’t going to get wet. We climbed up a really long, nice face and arete as the sun came out.

Some sun on the Peregrine.

Coming up to the belay at the top of Pitch 6.

The last 2 pitches were excellent, exposed face and arete climbing with great holds.

Exposed!

The final arete moves high above the valley floor!

Stepping across to the summit.

Another cool thing about the exit back to the lookout, is that we had to rappel off of the tower, down to a notch and climb out the other side.

Rapping off the last tower. This is feeling like alpine climbing!

At least the top! What a great route!

Iain on the top.

We took a short lunch break and then decided to climb another route on the SE wall called Black Magic. But that’s a whole ‘nother story……

Acker Rock was awesome. If you’d like to see more pictures of this exciting area, click this link:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/petekeane/sets/

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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. greg
    Nov 23, 2011 @ 21:19:50

    Pete,
    I enjoyed your post on Eagles Dare, nice pictures.
    Would love to see something on Black Magic.
    greg

    Reply

  2. petekeanemountainguide
    Nov 24, 2011 @ 07:22:24

    Hi Greg-

    Great to hear from you! I have enjoyed you books over the years.

    I enjoyed Black Magic, but (as you know) it was way more runout than Eagles Dare. After doing it, I could do a great route description, if you need one. I would suggest some re-writing in the verbage as well as the description of the “PG” protection rating, just to give your readers the best information.

    I applaud your efforts down that way! Keep doing what your doing, and I hope to run into you one day! I can’t wait to get back. Is is climbable in the winter time?
    Cheers,
    Pete

    Reply

    • greg
      Nov 24, 2011 @ 11:03:55

      Acker has a Peregrine closure from January until two weeks after the young have fledged (usually sometime in July).

      The lookout is now being rented out in the summer. Reservations are made through recreation.gov at $40 per night and a $9 reservation charge.

      I’m interested in your feedback on Black Magic’s PG rating. I’ve watched a climber fall on every bolt on the first pitch without injury, so I know the falls are safe.

      Reply

  3. petekeanemountainguide
    Nov 24, 2011 @ 12:54:16

    Hi Greg-
    Yes, I agree the rating should be PG. I would just suggest some subtle, descriptive changes in wording. The route was awesome, and I will definitely come back and do it again. In fact, I’ve got Maltese Falcon on the hit list next time.

    Is that face in the sun during this time of year?
    Cheers,
    Pete

    Reply

    • greg
      Nov 29, 2011 @ 20:59:48

      Pete,
      The scramble to the base of Maltese Falcon can be a little tricky this time of year when the moss is wet. We did it the other day, but if your not sure where to go you’re fist time I would recommend dryer conditions. Once you get up to the Madrone where you’ll set up your fist belay the rock is in the sun and clean.

      Did you see the PG description on pg XL in the introduction of the Umpqua guide?
      greg

      Reply

      • petekeanemountainguide
        Nov 30, 2011 @ 08:38:31

        Hi Greg-

        Yes- I did see the description in guidebook, that’s what essentially threw me off. For instance, it says your PG means “non-sporty”. I’m 47 years old, so when someone tells me a route is “sporty” it means runout. Therefore, I assumed “non-sporty” means not-runout. See my confusion? I think most people think sporty means runout, hence my confusion.

        I was also confused on the first pitch description says a full length pitch of friction. There are a few friction moves at the bottom, but, the pitch is mostly steep, vertical in places, thin face climbing. Really good climbing I might add, but in no way friction climbing.

        I hope I don’t sound to picky, I have been involved with guidebooks before, and I am kind of anal when it comes to route descriptions. Either way a great route you have a great place down there! I am coming back. Cheers, Pete

      • greg
        Dec 01, 2011 @ 07:09:30

        Pete,
        What ratings would you give the first and second pitches of Black Magic?
        greg

  4. petekeanemountainguide
    Dec 03, 2011 @ 09:19:59

    Hi Greg-

    I would venture to say that the first pitch is solid mid 5.10. We did the left version of Pitch 2, I would rate it 5.10-, with a note that there is some 5.8R in there. If you whipped after the beginning, you would really fly! I also would possibly mention that final part of that pitch is dangerous for the second with the rightwards traverses. I was able to sling some horns etc, but my partner was able to pull it no problem.
    Pete

    Reply

    • greg
      Dec 04, 2011 @ 16:34:06

      Pete,
      Thanks for the input. Its always good to have second opinions on ratings.
      I originally rated the overhang on the second pitch .11a because I wasn’t tall enough to reach the hold. I had to wedge my wrist in the crack and make a one arm pull up to reach the hold. Everyone since has said it’s only .10a, thus I down rated it.

      Obviously the term runout is a bit subjective. My personal preference is to give a 5.8 section with little to no protection on a 5.10 route a PG and not refer to it as runout. If on the other hand it was a 5.8 section on a 5.8 route I would consider that runout. I realize this gets away from the current norm that a route should be considered runout when the climber is unable to clip the next bolt before his feet leave the last.

      I think the concept of runout might also have to do with expectations. I wonder if there is not a problem with climbers trying to lump styles into one of two categories, trad or sport. I would not consider most of the climbing on the west side as either, as I would not consider a lot of the bolted non pro routes in Tuolumne as either. I hear a lot of west side climbers describing Menagerie, McKinley Rock, and Acker Rock as adventure climbing and I wonder if maybe that wouldn’t be a good third class of climbing. While I love and appreciate a good sport route, the routes at Acker are bolted as intended. That said we have gone back to routes, especially the ones we initially did on lead, to add bolts. At Acker we added bolts to the Peregrine Traverse and Maltese Falcon. I do not think that any of the routes at Acker Rock would meet sport climber expectations, nor were they intended to. That said, there is a lot on unexplored climbing still to be done in other styles on Acker, McKinley and others here on the west side.

      greg

      Reply

  5. GORDY
    Mar 06, 2012 @ 15:00:13

    I AGREE WITH GREGS RATINGS,ive been climbing in Oregon for 8 years and love the adventure climbing.Great job Greg. GORDY

    Reply

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