A Central Oregon author has a brand new guidebook detailing over 2,000 Smith Rock State Park routes.
“My first book probably had 900 routes,” Alan Watts said. “My second book probably like 1,500 routes. This book has about 2,300 routes. So, there has been over 800 new routes done just in the last 12 years.”
Growing up in Madras, Watts started climbing Smith Rock with his dad in the mid-70s, around age 14. Back then, things looked different, not in the structure but in the amount of people.
“Almost no people,” Watts said. “Very, very few climbers. Very few people hiking around in general. Central Oregon wasn’t yet a tourist attraction. So, it was just a really, really quiet place.”
Smith Rock is now a world-renowned climbing destination, and rock climbing is growing in popularity.
Watts says things really started to take off in the mid-80s, and at that time, he was approached about writing a comprehensive book on climbing Smith Rock.
“Every route is drawn into the photos,” Watts said. “Thousands, thousands of routes.”
Watts has now written three guidebooks. The third was recently released, with every chapter divided into different cliffs and how to climb the other areas.
The first two books Watts wrote while climbing. With his age, Watt’s doesn’t climb as much, and the third book was written in a different way.
“It’s turned more into a research project, but it is really satisfying to see this place that I have been climbing for almost 50 years and pretty much built my life around this area,” Watts said.
The Smith Rock bridge is currently closed as a new one is being built. The park remains open during the project, but some areas are inaccessible.