Scarpa North America Blog

My Enduring Love Affair with Trout Creek

Feb. 11th 2015

By Blake Herrington

I had never been cheered on by a flash mob at the crag until my first visit to Trout Creek, Oregon’s splitter crack-climbing mecca. Trout doesn’t have a single protection bolt and it sits in the middle of nowhere, approached via a mile of riverside hiking, and an 800’ uphill trudge. Maybe the shared challenge ofgetting to the wall, let alone climbing there, puts everyone in a mood to encourage their fellow climber on the sharp end.

Blake Herrington on Fall Line (5.13-)
Photo: Blake Herrington on Fall Line (5.13-) in his SCARPA Vapor Vs.

After fighting through the heady 5.11 stemming crux of “Space Mission” as my warmup at the wall, I ran out of any gear that would fit in the final 30’ of overhanging terrain. I’d over-protected the start and now faced a bit more challenge than a standard warmup should provide, but I told my belayer to keep an eye on me in case of a big fall, and managed to complete the route with my heart racing as a clipped the anchors. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the supportive crowd who watched and cheered would help make Trout one of my favorite walls. Thus began my project to tick every route at the crag.

Local guide Max Tepfer working on an open project at the wall, which he later sent.
Photo: Local guide Max Tepfer working on an open project at the wall, which he later sent.

In the intervening three years, I’ve visited the wall frequently, climbing in ski pants and using propane heaters to fend off icy fog, or whipping off cruxes amid sweltering June heat. On nearly every visit, despite coming down from a small town 5 hours to the north of the crag, I have always been welcomed as a friend. Rather than needing to push back against any localist resentment, I encounter a supportive and steadfast cew, eager to loan a cam, offer a belay, and ensure everyone has enough food and water to last the day, and sufficient headlamp batteries to manage the moonlit hike back to the campground.

TC Sunset

There are few simple pleasures in life as comforting as simply being accepted among a group of one’s peers, and I have been privileged to welcome some of my Trout Creek friends into my home in Leavenworth, and sleep on their couches amid winter visits to the Bend, OR area. I’ve teamed up with members of the local ‘crew’ for big routes in the Cascades and Zion, and I’ve been able to work, belay, and send, some of the wall’s last open projects, which have all been in the 5.12+ and 5.13 range. They represent the ‘high-hanging-fruit’, but also the best routes at the wall.

Entering the name, date, and grade of an FA on the battered crag-copy of the area guidebook.
Photo: Entering the name, date, and grade of an FA on the battered crag-copy of the area guidebook.

On January 14th, the very last day before the wall was closed for the seasonal eagle nest closure, I shared the crag with a half-dozen motivated folks, including two of the strong locals I had met on my very first visit. Hours before the eagle closure, I established “Aerie Interlude”, the wall’s newest addition. The cold conditions were perfect for a bouldery face climb (protected with all natural gear) taking a powerful line of features on the outside of a pillar.

A few unclimbed project pitches still remain, but even after everything has been done, I know I’ll be back for the unforgettable characters, as well as the climbing.

Allison Herrington and Max Tepfer on a left-side warmup along the main wall.
Photo: Allison Herrington and Max Tepfer on a left-side warmup along the main wall.

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