A Climber’s Guide to Oregon, by Nicholas A. Dodge. Portland, Oregon: Mazamas and Beattie & Co., 1968. 154 pages (plus eight pages of Introduction), eight photographs, 68 maps and sketches. Price: $3.95.
In addition to furnishing interesting historical and other information on the different climbing areas in Oregon, this first comprehensive Oregon guide describes about 250 climbing routes. It includes the known routes on all the major Oregon peaks and sections devoted to a number of rock climbing areas with routes from F1 to F9, inclusive, plus numerous artificial pitches. While Oregon has neither the quantity of mountains found in Washington or the rock potential of Yosemite Valley, there is plenty here for everyone, rock or snow, easy, moderate or advanced.
All the climbs, including snow and ice, are rated under the NCCS as to over-all difficulty and free pitch difficulty, and, in rock climbs, as to artificial pitch difficulty where applicable. The ratings are consistently made and will be most helpful. They are also consistent to the NCCS ratings of areas outside of Oregon except that there is a noticeable tendency to downgrade the over-all ratings. For example, while Leigh Ortenburger grades as II the standard routes on Mount Baker, Nez Perce and the Middle Teton, the Oregon guide grades only as I a number of routes of equal or greater over-all difficulty. These include four routes on Mount Jefferson and about five on Mount Hood.
Those who have not previously climbed in Oregon will sometimes encounter unpleasant surprises in the Oregon Cascades because of the unusual, and deceptively undependable, rotten and friable rock. This presents different problems from what one encounters in most areas, including the northern Cascades. For this reason the Guide might well have given a more pointed warning about the climbing characteristics of the rock in the Cascades areas and some suggestions for those not accustomed to dealing with it. With some knowledge and experience with Oregon rock, it is quite enjoyable, however. The few comments here made from the point of view of the out-of-state climber detract little from the fact that A Climber’s Guide to Oregon is a book which anyone climbing in the state will be delighted to own and use. Because of its quality and the NCCS ratings, it is a better and more useful book than a number of the current guide books for other areas.
Carmie R. Dafoe, Jr.