Logo Alan Watts Interview Spank the Monkey
Alan Watts on Spank the
Monkey (5.12a R) in 1985.

If you stand back, or move from
the main area, or if you go over to
the west side there are very few
changes. If you go to outlying areas
it's just the same as it ever was. What about the
types of climbers at Smith Rock,
has that changed?

Alan: Yeah. It has. There weren't
a whole lot of climbers back in the
early 80's and everybody kind of
knew each other; it was a real
comfortable scene just because we
were all friends. In the late 80's it
became a real competitive scene
where all the best climbers from the
country -- and the world -- were

coming to do the routes, and trying
to put up new routes and trying to do
the existing routes faster than their
rival had done them, or whatever. So
it became a scene that was very top-
heavy with really top-level climbers.
It was like where doing Churning In
The Wake would just be a warm-up.
You'd be kind of embarrassed to
even get on the thing.

And then, as other areas started to
become more popular, the percentage
of really good climbers decreased,
and the percentage of casual climbers increased. And that's the biggest
change. For the most part, it's an
area where -- because there are so
many good, easy and moderate

routes -- casual climber are the
majority. There are some good
climbers, but in the late 80's a lot
of time fifty to sixty percent of the
climbers would be climbing 5.12 or
5.13. And now, there might be ten
percent of the people out there on
any given day that are climbing at
the real hard grades. There are still
people doing it, and there are
climbers that are better than ever,
but back then there wasn't much
for the 5.8, 5.9, 5.10 climber. Now
there's a huge amount of stuff for
them to do.

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