Bishop: land of droughts, extreme temps, amazing climbing and injuries

 View enroute to Bishop from Yosemite 
Here’s some food for thought: imagine the area you lived in shrivelled up of all bodies of water. Some things that are so essential to life, seem so easily taken for granted. The first thing we noticed once we crossed the Oregon-California border, was how lake areas we passed by seemed as if they had shrunk in size. We passed by areas that were both majestic and haunting. Majestic because of how beautiful they were, yet haunting, as seeing the shrinking lakes were a reminder of how fragile our natural resources are and how through over usage, it could amount to not being able to replenish itself for future use.

California is currently going through a severe drought, and from the looks of it, it’s worse than previous years. My first encounter with this occurred at our first state-run campsite. We enquired about showers before registering and were told that they had showers- the catch, you had to pay to use the facilities, even after paying $35 per night for a campsite. We weren’t told about this and were both shocked upon discovering this as neither of us had experience with having to pay at a site for showers.

The way it worked: meter style. At our first site, we inserted $.75 for a seven minute shower. At our current site in Bishop, it was $2 per shower token, also for seven minutes. Needless to say, I am incredibly grateful for where I live. It sometimes takes certain scenarios to put everything else into perspective. This was our first taste of camping in the state of California. To further emphasize how bad the drought was, we were exposed to many highway signs warning of the water shortage and of using water sparingly. This point was further displayed with our dining experience at a Mexican restaurant, in which there were signs greeting us upon arrival of water only being served upon request due to water restrictions. Welcome to California.

Bishop is a world renowned destination for bouldering. However, seeing as we were primarily sport climbers, our first taste of climbing was had at an area known as the Owens River Gorge. This area is known for routes and is fairly difficult to get to. It is located within the properties of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. The gorge is a water source for the city of LA. It took approximately 20 or so minutes to get to the parking area from our campsite. The approach into the crags was….interesting. It consisted of an incredibly deep descent through second and third grade rocks and loose rocks (scree). 


Ohhh the things climbers do to get to amazing crags, quality rock and beautiful scenery. The start of our descent down to the Owens River Gorge. Reposted via Instagram @celinash__

Owens River Gorge  Sampling the rock at the Gorge   It ain’t a sport unless you’re bleeding. End product of a day at the Gorge.

The intense hike up and down that approach was worth every minute as the quality of the rock was amazing. The routes were all very different from Smith Rocks and fun. It required a different climbing style compared to Smith, along the lines of being gymnastic-like with larger crimps, whereas Smith was more so vertical, technical face climbing on crimps. The crags were all very quiet which surprised me as there was at least one day where we had the had place to ourselves! Definitely worth coming for.

We decided that no trip to Bishop was complete without checking out the Buttermilks. This was a test piece area in which many pro boulderers come to flex their climbing muscles. It was obvious to us why Bishop was world renowned: the number of highball boulders (climbs that are incredibly high in nature-think 20 feet high- usually containing a “no fall” zone), in combination with good rock, blue skies and breath taking scenery made it a bouldering paradise. It was also here that we were humbled (again) in terms of our climbing abilities. The bouldering here was tough! The guidebook had warned us to “season” our fingertips (work them enough to develop callouses) as the rock here was fairly sharp. That didn’t quite work for us, as we were only at the Buttermilks for a day. That was quite alright, as we took in the scenery. It was beathtaking…

Grandma and Grandpa Peabody! Buttermilks, Bishop. Reposted via Instagram @celinash__  
These boulders were massive! Once you reach a certain point on the Boulder…you’ll hit a “no fall” zone. There comes a point when it doesn’t matter how many spotters or crash pads you have, the fall can be met with dire consequences.

Meeting of Grandma and Grandpa Peabody and the Canuck. Reposted via Instagram @celinash__  

At the Green Wall. Buttermilks, Bishop.  


Im no stranger to bouldering outdoors, however Laura was. For me, it was a good reminder of just how hard bouldering is. For Laura, it was an introduction to the world of bouldering outside. Unfortunately for her, it was also a reminder of how dangerous the sport of climbing can be. Climbing, like many extreme sports, is one that is filled with many inherent risks. We’re reminded of this constantly- whether it’s a guide book warning us, or hearing friend’s close brushes with serious injury or death. It’s all around us and yet we sometimes still forget. While we were climbing in the Buttermilks, we were both reminded of this.

Laura took a bad fall on the crash pads and turned her ankle. Initially, it sounded and looked a lot worse then we now know. However, it immediately swelled up to the size of a baseball. She’s okay now, after lots of rest and ice, but the swelling and pain are still there. We’ve taken another rest day in the hopes that the swelling and pain can be reduced. For now, there will be no climbing, it’s a waiting game. We have one more climbing day scheduled here in Bishop, before we take off Sunday morning for Nevada, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens. Wishing and hoping for the best.

The climbing here in Bishop has been amazing and we’ve only had a taste of it. The overall experience thus far has not been the most positive. However, after saying that, it’s also a good reminder that whilst travelling, especially while doing an “extreme” sport, anything goes. It’s how we rebound from it that counts. We have two day left before we’re vagabond towards the city that never sleeps. Cheers to the last nine days on the road before we hit Vancouver.

  We’re just a couple of dreamers chasing the sunset. Reposted via Instagram @celinash__

 I had always wondered what rain in the desert would look like. We had our answer…Somehow lucky enough to encounter a desert storm, even though Bishop normally sees sun 250 days out of the year. Our “kitchen area” under the tarp, where we cooked and experienced the Bishop storm.


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