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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Sky Ridge- A Route Profile of a Classic

People often ask us what are favorite routes are. For me, there are several qualities that make a route special to climb. First and foremost, it has to have good position. Second, the climbing has to be fun. And third, a minimum of hanging belays!

Sky Ridge meets all of the above requirements, but it really appeals to folks who want a great, exposed position. Depending on how you climb it, it is 3-4 pitches and some scrambling to get to the top. If you can climb 5.8 face, and 5.7 cracks, this route is a must do.

The first pitch, pictured below, climbs directly up a rib of rock no wider than a sidewalk, straight from Asterisk Pass. Easy, but exposed, this pitch is just a primer for what is to come.

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