Kristin Yurdin: Chemical Ali (5.14a)

posted by dpm on 04/24/2013


Smith Rock Oregon local Kristin Yurdin has ticked her hardest route to date with an ascent of Chemical Ali (5.14a). This is likely the first female ascent of the route and Kristin's first of the grade.

Victory on Chemical Ali (5.14a). Photo: Ian Yurdin

Yurdin has been climbing for nearly 20 years, starting out in the San Francisco Bay area during medical school. She moved to Smith Rock, Oregon in 2001 and immediately started ticking away at some of Smith's hardest including Aggro Monkey (5.13b), Lucky Pigeon (5.13c), Vicious Fish (5.13c/d), and in 2003, White Wedding (5.13d).

In true Smith fashion, Kristin picked off a challenging project about three years ago and set to work. Over the past three spring seasons she projected Chemical Ali but because of work was only able to dedicate smaller amounts of time until this season. Her husband Ian says that she, "came pretty close last spring but temps got warm. The low crux proved to be the most difficult section with a dynamic foot move off of two very bad holds. She basically went an entire season without being able to get through that section. She trained harder and added a weighted pull-up routine post climbing session which consisted of working up to three sets of three pull-ups with 42 lbs of weight. She claims that this routine helped her with the power required to do the different cruxes. Once she was strong enough to get through the bottom crux the route went fairly quickly, around a month."

Chemical Ali ascends a blank-looking wall of Smith Rock tuff. Photo: Ian Yurdin

If you've climbed at Smith Rock, you may have seen Kristin and her husband Ian at the crag where they are fixtures in the local scene. You may also have enjoyed some delicious post-climb food at Kristin's restaurant, the Terrebonne Depot. After realizing that the medical field wasn't for her, Yurdin opened the climber-friendly restaurant in 2006 with the goal of providing the climbing community a place to hang out and eat great food. It was built in a renovated train depot located minutes from the crag. A stop at the Depot has become tradition for many visiting climbers that enjoy the food and beer from the back deck, taking in views of Smith Rock and the surrounding Cascade mountains.  

Chemical Ali. Photo: Ian Yurdin

Ian describes a crucial part of Kristin's training program as finger-boarding, tread-walling, cutting stuff, grilling things, lifting heavy French fry baskets and carrying cases of wine up 12-foot ladders. Kristin and the Depot are committed to supporting the community through contributions to the Spring Thing crag clean-up as well as utilizing local farmers and produce suppliers for the restaurant. The dedication of the local community is part of what makes the Smith Rock climbing experience so unique and wonderful. 

Kristin is also a 5.14 baker and chef. Photo: Ian Yurdin

It's been 10 years since Yurdin sent her previous hardest route, White Wedding (5.13d). It's refreshing to see that progression toward 5.14 has no bounds. Despite the years of sometimes 60-hour work weeks to get her business up and running, she was able to climb her hardest route at the age of 42. Stop in the Terrebonne Depot and give her a high-five sometime.  

Click the image for some good footage of Smith Rock climbing including Ryan Palo on Chemical Ali (5.14a).