Friday, May 15, 2009

West Bluff - Smooth Operator/Bud White

I figured this would be a good second area to post up since people always ask me where these problems are!

I first saw Smooth Operator and Bud White on Todd's Birthday Challenge. He finished up his circuit with both of these classic, fun and scary problems. Smooth Operator is the original stand start to the boulder and climbs up a wide arete feature to a sloping, polished mantle. You finish above the very edge of a landing that stands atop another talus field. The fall is safe, but can be pretty intimidating. I spotted Huston on his attempts and he took a relatively famous fall where his eyes may have actually been larger than dinner plates when he came off. All of that and it checks in at V4. Full value problem.

Bud White is the super sit start to Smooth Operator and goes at about V6. I need to get a hold of Todd for exact start beta but this was Todd's lone FA contribution to Devil's Lake. As far as I know it starts a couple moves down to the right. I'll get more info soon though...

For the approach, starting at Ski Hi Apple Orchard, take a right and go to the T intersection. Take a left(thanks brian!), past the fire road and follow the signs for the North Shore. You'll take another right past some log cabin homes and come to a stop sign with the entrance to Devil's Lake on your right and a putt putt golf course on your left. Go right. Follow that down the hill but look on the right for a parking area. It'll look like this:

Park there. Again you are in the park so make sure you have a park sticker! On the right side of the lot will be a large trail that looks a lot like this:

Walk down that and look for a smaller trail on the far side of the walkway. You'll basically head up into the talus now though. In early spring and late fall you can actually see Smooth Operator from the parking lot. It's not too far away, really. Look for the boulder below. It's at the bottom of the talus field and you need to go up into the talus when you see it.

Walk up and left into the talus going towards a grouping of boulders. It'll become more obvious as you go and you'll see a huge roof. Keep walking up and you'll hit the boulder. Here's a couple of pictures. They don't really do it justice though.

Smooth Operator starts on the small roof in the left of the photo.  Bud White starts near the big sloper in the bottom right and climbs into Smooth Operator.

I've got a few pictures of me and a couple others actually trying Smooth Operator and I'll try to find those soon and post them. Let me know if you have any other questions about either!


  1. Take a left at the T intersection after leaving the orchard?

  2. This is a fantastic boulder that should not be missed!

  3. Looks cool. Now V4 I suppose I might be able to pull off, but then again I've thought that before and been handed my ego on a silver platter... ce

  4. Don't forget that Todd also ran 30 miles and drank 16 whiskeys after that session at the lake.
    Huston's fall is definitly famous but Emerson's off The Zipper and down the talus field the same day was the most spectacular save I've ever seen.
    Good times!

  5. Oh man Rhoads, I totally forgot about Emerson's fall! Hmmm, I was spotting on both of those though. Not a great record.