Climbing Monkey Face at Smith Rock (with an Approach on Mountain Bikes!)


Climbing Monkey Face at Smith Rock (Video)

Click image to watch the video!

I’m balanced on my toes 300 feet off the ground, chalk dust blowing off my fingers. My friend Brandon yells encouragement, but the gusting wind gobbles up his words.

It’s my first time climbing Monkey Face, the famous feature in Oregon’s Smith Rock State Park. Tomorrow, we’ll crush plates full of Thanksgiving food. Today, I’m tied into the sharp end of the rope thinking about nothing except where to put my feet and how much air is between me and the ground.

Monkey Face! We climbed up the opposite side, then out the mouth on the right to the top.

This is where the rubber meets the rock. The route I’m climbing, Monkey Space, is famous for its exposure, and I’m overgripping like mad at the moment. My mind knows the rope I’m tied to will keep me safe, but my amygdala is screaming “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”

The video tells the story best!


A little background: I inked “Climb Monkey Face” onto my bucket list soon after arriving to Oregon. It only took 10 years to stand on top! It’s a must-do for any experienced climber visiting Smith Rock.

To add some adventure, Brandon and I loaded up both our climbing gear and mountain bikes. After a two-wheeled approach to the base of The Monkey, we laced up our shoes and headed skyward. Our route: three 5.8 trad pitches via the West Face Variation of the Monkey, then enjoyed the infamous exposure of the two pitches of 11a/11b sport climb Monkey Space.

Climbing out of the Monkey’s mouth on the 11b final pitch to the top of Monkey Face. (An old photo of mine from 2012!)

4 replies
  1. dave
    dave says:

    That route looks amazing. Wasn’t it a bit cold to be up there? We just watched a tv show on aerial America about Oregon and it covered monkey face.

    • Dakota
      Dakota says:

      Such a sweet climb! The position, view of the mountains, exposure (and fear management aspect) plus good company made it a awesome time.

      It was 60 degrees, so not cold at all! T-shirt weather. Unlike today when I was out at Smith again in three jackets and 37 degrees at noon…brrrr. Still awesome! Mind over matter.

  2. Chris
    Chris says:

    YIKES!! Once again I’m glad I’m not your mom!! Just watching that made me dizzy . . . You are amazing. Sorry I’ve been out of communication for a while. My dad passed away last November and my mom in June. I’m trying to reset myself and it’s been surprisingly slow going. Happy holidays!

    • Dakota
      Dakota says:

      Oh no, sorry to hear about your parents! Hope you’re doing ok. And yes, my poor mom indeed… At least I only tell her about this stuff after I do it, not before 😉 Take care and see you around Moscow sometime!


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