• Kelley Bayern

Toxic 2.0

A few weekends ago my friends and I set off for our first Smith climbing trip of the spring season. This trip felt just the same as all the ones we'd taken last fall. The sun was shining down the long stretch of US-97 as we wound through the grass fields. I was third wheeling my best friend, Elise, and her boyfriend, Bradley, per usual (lol). We were the Tres Amigos. The vibes were good. Our plan that day was to head into Bend and shop and eat some fiery foods downtown. We headed to a park first to do some yoga, toss a frisbee, and stretch the legs. Elise and I also did some acroyoga, which is a new favorite of mine. Photo above of Elise flying. We fell many times too. We finished the night at a trendy restaurant downtown where we inhaled Paella and then headed into the park to camp.

One of the best things about Smith Rock is the campsite (bivy). We came ready with our hibachi grill and steaks and cooked up amazing foods all weekend long. The sun rose and we flipped our gluten-free pancakes with a side of eggs, and then headed into the park for our first sends. The weather was perfect. In terms of climbing, we all came a little more familiar with specific crags and goals to climb certain routes. I, of course, wanted to hit Toxic again at some point that weekend. Toxic is a devilish 5.11b bouldery route set high up a gully that I have blogged about before. We set out towards the Pleasure Palace crag the first day, which has a nice set of 5.10 level climbs. I had been training hard all winter long, so I was curious to put my training to the test. I ended up leading a couple 5.10's and top roped the 11's. Photo below: Me on Honey Pots 5.10a, Sunshine Wall. I was able to pull the strenuous and technical moves on those hard routes, but lacked the energy to do them one after another. Climbing "hard" takes an incredible level of endurance, which I simply don't have yet. I train 2x a week and watch the pros train everyday, all day long. I know if I were able to train like that too, I'd be crushing 5.12's on a more regular basis. The dreams still continue though, and one day, I'll get my first 5.12. But for now, I'm happy with how far I've come.

The following morning we set out into the Aggro Gully towards my route, Toxic. Bradley, the NICEST guy ever, bulldozed his way up to the chains to set up a top rope for me. Picture this, the guy hadn't climbed much through winter, but was able to lead the climb, one that I was just hoping to finally top rope. It was truly impressive. Not only is this route hard, it's set on an incline the entire way up AND is about 300 feet up the gully wall. It's incredibly exposed, which adds to the fear factor. It was finally my turn to hop on the route and after many failed attempts on the crux, I thought about giving up. But we'd all hiked up this far and still had an hour to kill so I struggled on. I finally found balance on a razor chip and launched myself towards a mega jug. Sorry, for the climbing slang. I basically pushed passed the hardest move and muscled my way to the top. It's laced with jugs, but extremely pumpy. But it felt good to send each portion of the route. Something I wasn't able to do last fall. I plan to set a new route at our rock wall in town that replicates Toxic as best I can. I'll call it Toxic 2.0 and include the bouldery start, a dyno through the crux, and very very pumpy moves. It also feels good to have another goal on my mind. Next time I will try to lead it. Photo below: Steve and Bradley sending Bop Till You Drop 5.11a and Little Wicked Thing 5.10a.

Next weekend, some friends and I are heading up Flyboys, a brand new 5.9 rated, 18-pitch route in Mazama, WA. It's tall! We have a group of six with three teams of two going up. Lots of planning and prep ahead this week. Will update after that adventure!


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Follow my thoughts, ideas, and adventures as I prepare to summit the tallest peaks in the Pacific Northwest.

Hello. I'm Kelley and I'm a bear.
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