Bouldering Around Bend

Transition from indoor to outdoor climbing, explore these bouldering spots


India Slodki, Staff Writer

As soggy gray days creep into sunny afternoons and blissful balmy evenings, fresh air becomes more and more enticing. For those that discovered rock climbing during the snowy season, it can be hard to figure out how to transition to climbing in the great outdoors. 

Bouldering is easily the most accessible way to climb outside. All you need is a crash pad and some shoes. Both are fairly easy to find second hand, and cost $40-$60 each. Good places to look are Gear Fix and Craigslist. I found my shoes for 35 bucks at gear fix, and my pad from a very nice lady on craigslist for 50. 

A favorite but little known bouldering spot sits to the southeast of Miller’s Landing Park. Across from the rapids at McKay Park, there is a slab of basalt about 15 feet tall. There is a cool crack system to practice hand jams. As of now, there are only two established routes, but the crag offers many avenues for experimentation.

A classic Bend bouldering spot is  upstream of the Bill Healy Bridge on the west side of the Deschutes River Trail. Walk over the bridge, to the left, and upstream for about 15 minutes. There are five officially recognized problems in the area, known locally as “The Depot,” ranging from grades V1-V4—perfect for those in the beginner-to-intermediate zone. 

For those looking for a project, there are 20 or so undeveloped but climbable boulders near the OSU Cascades campus. Between the Century Drive roundabout and the Simpson Avenue roundabout there is a short road ending in a gate across from Metolius Drive. Walk down the service road about 300 feet and the spot rise from the right side of the cinder pit. 

All the above locations and many more can be found under the Central Oregon Bouldering tab on Mountain Project. Mountain Project is a collaborative, peer-edited catalog of climbing routes found across the world. More bouldering projects as well as trad and sport climbing crags are also listed. Mountain Project is available as a mobile app or a website.