Falling Hard

Smith Rock, Oregon

Smith Rock

The view from Smith Rock's Misery Ridge Trail     Photo: Jordan Siemens

Climbing terrifies me. So do women. Which is why it’s astonishing that I met my wife, Turin, while climbing at Smith Rock, a high-desert crag that juts out of central Oregon’s farmlands and is home to 1,800 of the best 5.4–5.14 climbing routes in the country. Turin had come from Portland, four hours to the west. We met beneath Ginger Snap, an easy 60-foot, 5.8 route. I flailed around; she flitted up the rock like a butterfly (sigh). I hoped she didn’t notice the acrid smell wafting off my shirt—a mix of sweat and fear—as I told her why I loved Smith: the breathtaking views of 10,497-foot Mount Jefferson (translation: I’m a sucker for a vista), the three-mile Misery Ridge trail, which I’d hike with my dog (meaning: I’m responsible enough to provide food and shelter for another sentient being), the Class IV Crooked River, which bends beneath Smith’s most dramatic buttresses and which I planned to kayak (i.e., I’m not a total wuss). Later, I dallied at the parking lot, separating myself from the crowd of bandanna-clad men opening beers with carabiners. Turin arrived, I asked for her number, and we made a plan to go kayaking. We were married a year and a half later.

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