If you are looking to take your rock climbing outside this summer, Portland has several crags located an hour or less from the city. Mountain Shop Staffer Jeremy Ray gives us a rundown of some of his favorite spots and what we should know!
OZONE | Washington
Sometimes referred to as Portland’s outdoor gym, Ozone has a multitude of great sport routes. Ranging from 5.5 to 5.12d there really is something for everyone. The climbs are primarily sport, but have some great trad options as well. Brining a small trad rack can also allow you to get on some of the mixed bolted/trad routes. The one thing to be wary of are the weekend crowds. By noon on a nice weekend expect the place to be packed, with lines for popular climbs.
Helm’s Deep 5.9 (Sport). Big moves between good holds, a classic fun route.
Unless you like crowds, go during the week. The climbing is great though, so definitely make it out there!
Mountain Shop Ambassador, Theresa Silveyra making her way up the wall at Ozone.
BROUGHTON BLUFF | Oregon
The largest crag in the area, Broughton Bluff has climbs for everyone, and easy access swimming to cool down post climb. To make it even better, it’s also one of the shortest drives, just a few miles down I-84 outside of Portland.
Gandalf’s Grip 5.9+ (Trad) - One of the classic Broughton multi pitches, it is by far one of the most recommended climbs here.
If you are unfamiliar with Broughton, start out on some climbs a grade or two lower than normal. Some routes here are quite sandbagged, especially the lower grades, and it’s easy to bite off more than you can chew.
Karly Osten climbing the basalt cliffs at Broughtons Bluff.
Beacon Rock | Oregon
The best place to go if you’re looking for a local multipitch adventure, Beacon Rock offers many longer climbs and an easy drive from the city. In my opinion the best crag to challenge your trad skills, Beacon offers everything from single pitch test pieces to multi pitch route finding fun.
Southeast Corner 5.7 (Trad) - Maybe the most classic climb at Beacon, and an absolute must do for any trad climber in the area. A fantastic third pitch is the highlight of the route.
A Discover Pass is required for parking here so make sure to pick one up! The south face, where many of the most popular climbs are, is closed seasonally so make sure to check before going. This year it will open up July 16th!
Mountain Shop's Jeremy Ray scouting the route at Beacon Rock
ROCKY BUTTE | Oregon
The only crag actually within the city of Portland, Rocky Butte is characterized by it’s distinctly urban atmosphere. Many will tell you to avoid climbing here at all costs, scaring off the unaware with stories of needles on the ground any partying teens above the climbs. After gathering your courage to climb at this hellish place, you likely will find a number of quality routes with easy top access. You may even be pleasantly surprised by the lack of crowds and more pitches to climb than either Madrone or Ozone.
Flakey Old Man 5.7 (Sport) - A fun easy climb that is super easy to find by Rocky Butte standards. It’s a great one to toprope or as a first sport lead.
Blackberry Jam 5.10 (Trad) - Getting a bit harder Blackberry Jam is a classic pumpy hand crack.
It is by far easier to access routes from the top than bottom, just be prepared to try and identify climbs from above and rappel in to do the climbing.
Maddee and her pup Ginger hanging at the base of their climb
MADRONE WALL | Oregon
A somewhat quiet crag, Madrone has a multitude of quality trad climbs and can be counted on to be far less crowded on a nice weekend than other crags in the area. Madrone opened in 2017 after a 20 year fight to make the cliff a park and not a quarry. The wall is named after the distinct peeling red madrone trees common in the park.
Nouveau Riche 5.10c (Trad) - A burly overhanging finger crack to start turns into a tricky thin finger section before turning into 5.fun. A great climb.
Exodus 5.8 (Trad) - A delightful climb in a deep corner, with just the right amount of spice. A must do for everyone.
Madrone is a Clackamas county park, and does have a gate that closes at night so be sure to check the hours before going. It is also closed seasonally for Peregrine falcon nesting. Information online says July 16th was the planned opening but it also says it is still closed in some places. Check the parks site to confirm your trip! https://www.clackamas.us/parks