Photos: Tackling Oregon's Turkey Monster

In the Oregon forest hides a climbing route few have chance to attempt. Ben Herndon takes us there.
By Ben Herndon

Towering over nearby evergreens, the 107m (350 ft) Turkey Monster lies nestled in a wooded valley in the central Oregon Menagerie Wilderness. The monolith seems strangely out of place amidst trickling streams, lush foliage, and old-growth trees.

So myself, Cascades climbing-pioneer Wayne Wallace, as well as rock climber (and also my wife) Bekah Herndon, meandered our way through old logging roads into the backwoods of the Oregon wilderness in search of the mythical creature.

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A towering Turkey
Overview of the Turkey Monster in central Oregon.
A towering Turkey The Turkey Monster, a 350+ foot four-pitch spire at the Menagerie in central Oregon. © Ben Herndon
To take on the Turkey...
Looking over to the Turkey Monster rock.
To take on the Turkey... Towering over nearby evergreens, the 350-foot plus Turkey Monster lies nestled in a wooded valley in the central Oregon Menagerie Wilderness. After some steep downhill bushwhacking during the approach we arrived to a rocky outcropping overlooking the Turkey Monster. © Ben Herndon/TandemStock.com
Herndon making the last few moves before finishing
Herndon making the last few moves before finishing
Herndon making the last few moves before finishing Herndon making the last few moves before finishing the 5.11 crux pitch. After topping out flushed with adrenaline, Herndon yelled "I love climbing!" proceeded by a double fist pump, possibly one of the most universally enthusiastic gestures known to man. © Ben Herndon
Climb and snap
Wallace taking pictures of Bekah Herndon while climbing
Climb and snap Bekah Herndon follows up the third (and most sustained) pitch while Wallace belays from above and takes pictures (since Wallace is using an auto-locking belay device, Herndon is safe from a fall even while Wallace takes blog photos). © Ben Herndon
Inching to the top
Wallace and Herndon climbing on pitch 3 of Turkey Monster
Inching to the top Wallace and Herndon on pitch three, a sustained overhanging section but with fixed bolts to protect falls, as there was little scope for natural protection. The route Wallace and Herndon climbed, the Dod Route, is normally an aid climbing route because of the volatile nature of the rock. © Ben Herndon
Loosey-goosey
Wallace moving into some of the looser rock of Turkey Monster.
Loosey-goosey But even veterans can get rattled at times. Wallace, a seasoned climber and alpinist, called the rock on the monster "perhaps the loosest of my career", a powerful statement considering the hundreds of challenging climbs Wallace has logged over the years. © Ben Herndon
Handing the crack
Wallace climbing the Turkey Monster rock.
Handing the crack The Turkey Monster formation is a free-standing remnant of ancient lava tubes and is climbed usually only once a year because of the loose rock. Not something a climber likes to worry about. Here, after a heady first pitch, Wallace climbs above the treeline into the steep and chossy 5.10c crack. © Ben Herndon
A heck of a view...
Wallace coiling the climbing rope after summiting.
A heck of a view... Wallace coils the climbing rope after summiting the route while a blue haze from area forest fires fills the valley, almost enough haze to smoke a turkey. © Ben Herndon
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