Postscript: I have just learned that Nick Dodge , Author, “A Climbing Guide to Oregon” passed away sept 28th 2012, after a battle with cancer. I cant say how big of an influence his work was in my early climbing life. I dedicate this story to the memory of this man, and his classic work. RIP, Mr. Dodge
There is a constant battle going on inside the mind of the climber on a scary lead. Ambition and stoke are at war with self preservation. Throw in added stresses like loose rock, exposure, and constant overhang, and you have the supreme conflict like we had on the Turkey Monster last weekend.
Poorly hidden in the trees of the Menagerie Wilderness in Central Oregon, the Monster towers above the canopy with its bizarre sculpture. The 350′ tall tower defies imagination and gravity with a much larger girth in its midsection than its skinny base. At the top of the crumbling tube is a summit that reminds one of , of course, a turkey, but I see the devil himself.
Originally climbed in 1966 by legendary climbers Eugene Dod, Dave Jensen, and Bill Pratt, they aid climbed the steep cracks on the NE Face using 70 pitons and placing 30 now ancient or subsequently replaced bolts.(Thanks Ty-ler Adams) Later free climbed at 5.11 (thanks to Jeff Thomas), many of the anchors were updated, yet the large loose blocks and the sketchiness remains.
Obsessed with it as I was from the old Dodge Guide, Bob M, Tim O, and I climbed it in 1990, swapping leads and chucking blocks on our way to the top. I still had vivid memories of the amazing , yet scary time we had on it with great friends. Here is what I wrote in my journal 22 years ago:
“Truly a Monster. It had been a goal of mine ever since I first saw it in (Nick) Dodges book. Was really a serious undertaking. I had to muster a lot of gumption for this one. Bob led the first one, a 10a or b., rotten, but neat! 2nd pitch put me on the sharp end to tackle the first wide roof, then the “Giant Rotten Bong” crack, which was incredibly loose, perhaps the loosest of my career. After that came the cool, 5.11 crux which Bob attempted. it was so tough to clip the small hangers, he “took” on the last one. I stranded him at his belay above by pulling his rope and leading it myself on “pink-point”, barely pulling it off. From there, easy to the summit, found a rotting summit register and some rabbit bones with my new lucky rabbits foot!”
Sept-2012. A couple of years ago, I had the good fortune of making friends with Ben and Bekah Herndon, from Moscow, ID> An inspiring pro photographer, he asked me what climbs I thought would make a good photo shoot. I of course set his sights south to the Monsters lair. We planned it for last year, but weather didnt allow. We again planned it for sept of 2012 and tried to get a much help as we could. I brought along Christina, and Ben, his wife: Bekah. Nobody else made it there, so we went for it with the team we had. Bekah did great, following my leads on the first day all the way to the top! I am grateful to not have pulled down any loose stuff on her at the belays. ” Sorry I killed your wife, bro” was not something I wanted to offer my good buddy. On the way down we fixed a static line and rapped to the beloved earth.
Early the next morning, I did the first 2 pitches again(!) for the close-ups pictures. They werent any less intense doing them for the 3rd time. What a run, and I hope Ben gets his great article in a coming magazine! Thank you B+B, and X-tina for a wonderful, and safe weekend.
Stray Notes: This area is closed to climbing from April-September for raptor mating season, Check the inter webs for exact dates. Also of note is the notion locals have, that this area should remain as obscure as possible to the masses.Sorry to blow it up). Info in the several guide books were a highly contested affair. The best one for beta is Northwest Oregon Rock by Tim Olson. Please respect this as a wilderness area, thanks. .
Some photos courtesey of Christina M.