Bishop Bouldering and L.A.’s Reservoir
The eastern Sierras offer an abundance of outdoor activities and climbing was our main goal for this leg of the trip. Bishop bouldering and climbing is some of the best in the world, and the town was a great home base for exploring the area. We Couchsurfed with a very nice guy named Doug who showed us around town then left for work for four days. It was very generous of him to let us take over his house for that time. Gotta love Couchsurfing! Having just climbed Mt. Whitney, Doug’s house was a perfect place for us to rest our tired bones. I set up my solar panel out back and we made nice meals. Life was grand.
Before leaving on his work adventure hauling oil from the Nevada desert to Long Beach in southern California, Doug drove us around the small town telling us interesting facts. He told us about the Lone Pine earthquake around the turn of the 19th century that left the whole valley to the south 30 feet lower. He also told us about how Bishop could never expand because of the fact that all the land around the town is owned by Los Angeles County. Great amounts of water flow in from the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the spring and summer, accumulating in the lakes and rivers around Bishop. This water is collected and diverted into aqueducts that carry it more than 250 miles to the dry metropolis of L.A. It seemed wrong to us, but what do we know.
After Doug left for work we drove north towards Mammoth and checked out a few hot springs near the Mammoth Airport. First we found Wild Willy’s, which was awesome at first but then a van full of adolescent French kids interrupted our scenic soak. But there were more springs down the road and we found a cool group of people at Hilltop Hotsprings, a small pool with an amazing view. Everyone soon left except a guy who owned a ski shop in Mammoth Lakes. We talked about forest fires, as one had ignited nearby. He explained his idea to drop giant fireproof tarps over the fires to extinguish them. Sure, dude.
On our second day in Bishop we headed back towards the north looking for a recommended climbing crag called Clark Canyon. We got off road for a long time then realized we went the wrong way in. Around the other side of the hills the road got bad and we took our rock-crawling Prius to its offroading limits. The area was remote and probably a lot prettier before recent wildfires had blackened most of the trees. Just when I though we could go no further, about six miles and an hour through dirt, we came to the parking spot and geared up. The rock was fun volcanic tuff and we climbed a few routes. Several ways up I found some sketchy bolts and had to downclimb, but in general the area was great and we soon found ourselves worn out and headed home.
For our third day we headed to the famous Happy Boulders near Bishop. Bishop bouldering is extremely hot in the summer, so we got out there around 8 to avoid the heat and quickly found lots of fun rocks. There were hundreds, if not thousands of problems and we hung out for a few hours sending a few popular routes such as Heavenly Path, a great rock with a scary 20+ foot top out. We wore ourselves out early again and relaxed through the hot afternoon, making dinner and catching up on some TV shows. It sure was great having our own house.
Our last day in town we wanted to do some more climbing but all the spots around Bishop had some kind of issues, so we got up in the dark and drove south to try to tackle more routes in the Alabama Hills area near Lone Pine. We wanted to send the Shark Fin rock around sunrise to capture the classic picture of the climb with Mt. Whitney in the background. It was a fun climb and we got the perfect shot. Afterwards we went to the Tall Wall near the Meat Loaf Campsite. This was my first 100+ foot lead climb– super nerve racking but the adrenaline was well worth it. We climbed a little more nearby then went and found a fun chimney but it was nearing 100 degrees and we were tired so we hit up the Pizza Factory lunch buffet in Lone Pine and drove home to nap. We were finally feeling safer climbing and it was great. If only we had a few more months to bum around the States we might actually be good! But this would not be the trip that we became climbing pros, Alex Honnold your title is safe for now.