Tyler Adams reports from the field. While everyone in Oregon is out there just clipping bolts and climbing basalt splitters, most don't know that Oregon is home to hundreds of rock spires. Think of it as the Utah desert but covered in trees, and then instead of sandstone spires, in Oregon it's volcanic choss with quality ranging from the most decrepit looking spires, to some awesome bullet hard stone.
With Summer finally here, it's prime time for tagging rock spires in the Oregon Cascades. One of my favorites is Horse Cock Rock or HCR named so due to it's phallic nature. Don't let the name deter you because the summit of this one is hard to beat, it's right up there with other classic Oregon spires such as the Turkey Monster or Steins Pillar. Located just a little bit east of Sweet Home HCR has only one route to the summit, almost all on bolts, so it makes for a relatively stress free day in the hills. First attempted by Bob Eckstrand and Steve Knutson back in 1967. After climbing the first free pitch and reaching the blank upper section they retreated. Pete Pollard and Darryl Gotwald returned in April of 1980 to make the first ascent. My hero Jim Anglin and Mike Hartley made the second ascent later that year. When Brian Gilbert and I climbed it in 2008 with a tiny bit of beta from Jim Anglin, we found no evidence of a recent ascent except for some new bolts on the 1st pitch and a bail sling. There was no visable summit anchor, so we drilled a new two bolt anchor wich makes it easy to make one rappel with two ropes that puts you right back at your packs. Originally climbed in three pitches it makes more sense to do it in only two pitches, and avoid an uncomfortable hanging belay. I returned last week with Kiwi hardman Steve Elder to fix up a couple bolts, and made this beauty good to go for another hundred years. I wound up talking to Pete Pollard eventually, and he recalls the summit tree having a little bit more life in it when they did it. They rappeled off of the tree and to the top of their second pitch and then to the ground. Pete had absolutly no objections to our added rappel bolts. So don't miss this classic Oregon summit! HCR - Soft Space - 5.8 A2 FA: Pete Pollard & Darryl Gotwauld, April 1980 Pitch 1 (5.8): From the uphill saddle climb up the obvious wide crack system using some bolts and larger sized cams for protection. Some bolts were added to this pitch, most likely by the "Lebanon Bolt Cowboy". Natural protection is available so it's possible they may be removed at somepoint. The crux is located just below the belay ledge. Mind some loose blocks on the pitch. Pitch 2 (5.7 A2): Begin with two bolts off of the belay to a short nailing crux, using RURPs or knifeblade's. Continue past more bolts and a couple of rivets, with a hook move or two. When the bolts end, nail a couple more pins or just start free climbing to a trough to the right. Climb past a hangerless 1/4" bolt and continue to the flat and spacious summit with a single bolt and tree anchor. The free climbing is quite runout, but the rock is super solid. Rappel with two ropes from two bolts on the uphill side of the spire. Protection: A couple of cams to 4", a small selection on thin pitons from RUPS to Lost Arrow, a medium sized hook and some wire rivet hangers.