Ed and Paul’s big adventure for 2012 is a trip to Bishop California to test ourselves on some world class boulder problems, and stuff ourself silly on american food. After a 36 hour journey for Ed and a 12 hour journey for Paul we met up at Los Angeles airport. We picked up the hire car and set off on the five hour journey north to Bishop. Ed had managed to get some sleep on his flight and so was reasonably fresh, which was handy as he was driving. We checked into our hotel, got some food a few beers at the whisky creek and slept like kings.
DAY 1 – 9/12/12
We decided to break ourselves in gently and so headed to an area called the catacombs, this had a long drive on dirt roads, into the wilds. The area was very beautiful and the rock was full of pockets. It was like the pockets on the climb Navy Way at High Rocks but the whole rock was covered in pockets. The rock is volcanic tuff and is grippier than granite and gritstone. It is amazing to climb on but some of the holds are very sharp. We both climbed harder than we planned (as always) and Ed climbed a V2 and Paul a V4. We stopped at Toms Place for a few beers and then it was back to Bishop for huge pizzas and more beers.
Day 2 – 10/12/12
Breakfast is included at the hotel and consists of diced chilli potatoes, scrambled eggs, beefburgers and sausage gravy. Now sausage gravy is like cream of mushroom soup but thicker with lumps of sausage in, this is destined to be the fuel that powers the team on this trip. Today we were off to the happy boulders, more volcanic tuff, but different to yesterday, less pockets and a wider range of holds. Many of the boulders are higher with some the height of the isolated boulder at Harrisons, your boulder mat looks quite small as you reach the top. Paul did battle with a tricky V4 called solarium and lost, but he’ll be back for another round in a few days. Ed did battle with a V2, Up your skirt left and after 6 attempts he latched the jug at the top. The views of the mountains on both sides was spectacular especially as the sun set. Fish and chips for Paul, and a Pie filled with soup for ed and a few beers rounded off a great day. On thursday a storm is forecast so we are going to try to climb for another two days, and have a rest of thursday. This assumes our skin and our bodies allow.
Day 3 – 11/12/12
Again we woke to sunshine and a clear blue sky. After more sausage gravy we popped into Erick’s to get our lunch. Did I mention Erick Schatts bakery? How remiss of me. Erick Schatts bakery is one of the 7 wonders of the world, they have been baking since 1903 and produce the world famous sheepherder bread. They also have weird concotions, such as chocolate strawberry jam, and wasabi mustard! After picking up our handmade gourmet sandwiches we are off to the buttermilks. The buttermiks are different to the other places we have climbed so far, instead of being volcanic tuff they are granite. That means, no holds and sharp crystals digging into your fingertips. They are high as well, some of the boulders are higher than the tallest sections at high rocks and they are all at an elevation of 6400ft. This leaves you struggling for breath after a 20ft boulder problem! This is where we found the serious boulderers, the men that don’t own a house and sleep in the back of their van. The climbing is super technical and some climbs don’t have any holds on at all! We climbed some amazing problems with the backdrop of amazing snow covered mountains and crisp mountain air, it is the most inspiring place to climb. Jacks provided the evening meal tonight, and full to the brim we settled down to watch the good, the bad and the ugly.
Day 4 – 12/12/12
What’s going on, there’s a cloud in the sky and the temperature has dropped. So the sensible course would be to climb at one of the lower more sheltered crags. But the bashing the bishop tour doesn’t do sensible. So with a forecast of a storm coming in we head for one of the highest crags. Pocketopia is at 7300ft and 3 miles down dirt tracks from where the tarmac ends. A great place to be when snow is forecast. As we drove up to the crag the temperature dropped and settled at about 4 degrees centigrade, but because the air is dry its ok, as long as you wrap up between attempts. This was the fourth day climbing in a row and we were both feeling a bit tired but we still got some good problems done. After climbing we checked out a couple more crags, down more dirt tracks. To finish the day we headed towards Mammoth ski resort until the biggest snowplow and gritter came the other way and it started snowing. At that point we turned round and dropped the 3000ft back to Bishop. Tonight we’re off to the Holy Smoke Teaxan BBQ, its going to be a meat fest!
Day 5 – 13/12/12
Well the holy smoke texan BBQ was an experience. You ordered at the desk, you were given your beer in a bottle, no glass and told to get your cutlery round the corner and sit down. The cutlery was plastic and you sat down at a bench with a wobbly table with a plastic tablecloth, the condiments were held in a carry out cardboard beer carton. 2 minutes later our food arrived on a plastic tray with a sheet of paper on it. The meat was plonked on the paper and the beans and potato salad came in polystyrene bowls. We realised this was a no washing-up establishment. But the meat was amazing and so were the beans, 10 out of 10 for food, 2 out of 10 for the rest! Our rest day started with a wander round Bishop the highlight was a visit to Gallen Powell’s photography gallery. Gallen Powell was an amazing climber and photographer with first ascents from Yosemite to Patagonia and the most amazing photography. After lunch at Schatts bakery the most amazing deli close to a climbing crag in the world we headed up to the Buttermilks to check out some problems and get some photos at sunset. We checked out the Grandma and Grandpa Peabody boulders, they are between 60 and 70 ft high, this isn’t bouldering this is free soloing. Dinner was at the imperial chineese, mmm damn good, and our waiter was a boulderer!
Day 6 – 14/12/12
We started the day with a trip to mammoth ski resort to book a ski lesson for Monday. At the lodge at the bottom of the mountain at 11am it was -7C + windchill! 45 minutes later we were back in Bishop and it was +10C, that’s better. Lunch at Schatts again, mmm nice, then it was off to the Happy Boulders for an afternoon of cranking. Ed did a very nice V2 and I did a real pumpy V3. The Whisky Creek provided dinner with some mighty fine steaks and Mccoys amber ale.
Day 7 – 15/12/12
Half way through the trip and the mountaineers of the club might finally be proud of us! Today we climbed at the Druid Stones, they are at 6200ft and you park the car at 5000ft. So we had a proper walk-in, 1200ft of ascent, with bouldering pads and rucksacks. When we got to the bouldering the temperature was about 0-1C with some snow on the ground. We were the only ones there, the locals were down at the happy boulders at 4500ft in the warm! But we managed about 7 problems each, coping with ice in some of the pockets and very sharp granite crystals. The evening meal was at Jacks, where Ed had an amazing meatloaf and I had a rather large steak. The walk had done wonders for Ed’s appetite so he demolished a huge peice of blueberry pie with ice-cream.
Day 8 – 16/12/12
It was another freezing cold day, so we decided to do a bit of sigthseeing etc. We visited native american petroglyphs and then headed to Benton for the hot springs. We were directed to a 5ft diameter wooden tub that was about 4ft deep. The air temperature was zero, and the water was frisking scalding, after 10 minutes in the tub, you could get out for 5 minutes without feeling cold! To see the photos you’ll need to come to the club social when we talk about the trip, watch the calendar for details.
Day 9 – 17/12/12
A day full of epicness, Paul and Ed go skiing for the first time. Do you want defensive or aggressive skis said the guy in rentals, do what you think is best we said, somehow I ended up with longer skis than Ed, and with my need for speed this was going to get spicy. For the full details, you’ll need to come to the talk, but it includes, thrills, spills, getting on the wrong lift and ending up on the hard stuff, skiing in a whiteout etc. etc. The biggest trouble was walking in ski boots, thats why people snowboard.
After the skiing we had more excitement, Ed’s guts exploded, so I tucked him up in bed and went to dinner on my own, when I got back he was still alive so I went back to the bar.
Day 10 – 18/12/12
Ed was still spending more time on the thrown than anywhere else, so off I went to the happy boulders on my own. It was another chilly day with a biting wind, but the cold seemed to do the trick and I got up several hard problems, and scoped out somemore boulders for the next few days. Ed was still not himself, but we got some peptobismol and then got some pasta down him and he started to feel better.
Day 11 – 19/12/12
Ed was back in action, but he was still making strange gurgling sounds, so it was off to the happy boulders for some bouldering that should take his mind off things. So the first problem he picks is a highball, surely the last thing you need with loose bowels. I spent most of the day falling off a V4 before doing a great V2. Ed cruised some good lines, and got close to the V2, we’ll be back tomorrow. Normal eating resumed for dinner,but Ed was still off the beer, so he can’t be quite right.
Day 12 – 20/12/12
Ed still wasn’t drinking beer, and the cocktail of immodium and peptobismol he was taking wasn’t fully effective, and I was feeling tired after 2 days of climbing so we decided after a leisurely start to drive over to Death Valley and have a look around. We set off down Highway 395 and stopped for lunch in Lone Pine where we found a great little Cafe which was a quaint little jazz cafe that had been transported from Paris and landed in the redneck wild west! The drive to Death Valley was taking a little longer than expected, it was only half a page of the map, oh the map is 1:700,000! Death valley itself is the lowest place in North America at -86m below sea level, and suprisingly is very unspoilt, and has more to do than we expected. Then it was back in the car and off home, and after a round trip of 368 miles we were back in Bishop, and Ed had a beer, things were looking up!
Day 13 – 21/12/12
The last climbing day of the trip, we got to the Crag early and the temperature was only 2C, but the sun was out so it didn’t feel too cold. Today was the day to send, we didn’t need to save any energy, or skin. I completed 13 problems, including my first outdoor V5 and nearly got another V5. Ed completed 9 problems, plus a mammoth 15 goes at a problem that eluded him. We got back to the car as dark descended and the temperature was now -2C. Ed’s cocktail of drugs was now working fully, and I was thinking I may have to ring Aliceto get some midwifery advice for what was going to be some delivery.
Day 14 – 22/12/12
packed, checked out, and on the road for the 5 hour drive back to Los Angeles, this was going to be a relaxing day, however nothing goes completely to plan. We were crusing down the 2 lane highway, a toyota landruiser glides past us, and we follow it, on dead straight roads with desert on each side. The toyota infront drifts towards the edge of the road, and then it is off in the dirt, the driver wakes-up, corrects veers back on spins, and heads off backwards across the two lanes of trafffic coming the other way, and goes backwards off the road down a bank rolling twice. Luckily the road was quiet and we stop along with two other cars and dash over expecting the worse. Of the 4 people in the car, 3 were unhurt bar a few scratches and the fourth while trapped, was conscious and his injuries were to one leg and one arm. We left the scene after about an hour once police, Fire Brigade and Ambulance had arrived and we had given statements. The rest of the journey and the flight home was uneventful.
This was a superb trip, the climbing was great, although we only bouldered there is also good sport climbing and trad climbing, and for those with alpine inclinations there is a wealth of snowy peaks to climb. It is defintely somewhere I’ll be returning too. This is only a taster, I’ll show some pics and video and tell you more at one of the club social meets in the next few months.
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