Bye bye Bishop

The end of December is nearing and it is time again to hit the road. We have loved every moment of the experience in our first destination, and are definitely psyched to return.

Our route to Bishop, California
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First, a quick update on our van home. The Millenium FalcVan has been great for us, and we have all the room we need. It’s a wee bit cluttered at the moment, but here are its primary features….

The shelf that holds many of our random bits. Books on hand, first aid kits, muscle/tip/dry skin equipments, etc etc. Yoga mats for essential stretching times.

Our kitchen area! Many more essential things (food!) are stored in these cupboards. The counter is just the right size for prepping cold meals late at night, or storing delicious 35 cent loaves of bread from Erick Schat’s bakery

The front area, behind the curtains. This tends to be the hardest to keep organized, mostly because of the constant turnover of hiking shoes/flip flops/climbing shoes/camp slippers, and the (many) very inexpensive cases of beer… Our plug-in cooler, which has been working GREAT as powered off our solar panel, fits perfectly between the seats.

The bed has turned out to be plenty big enough and nice and cozy. We have a thermometer in the van, and so far mornings have been between about 3 and 6 degrees when we wake up – so the hardest part about the bed seems to be getting out of it!

Finally, we have started a memory wall on our sliding door. So far we have put up some photos from home, but we’re planning to keep adding as the trip goes on.

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The bouldering in Bishop has been outstanding, but one of the coolest things has been the chance to climb with so many great friends. In a culmination of vans and climbing psych, we spent nearly three wonderful weeks with Julie, Dan, Mika and Tristan, and also had the pleasure of connecting with the lovely Aussie’s, Ali and Jordan. We had the joy and pleasure of meeting Sam and Steph (check out their roadtrip and blog here), Josh, and Matt as well many other lovely human beings. Great bouldering, great Shanghai Rummy, great Sleepytime tea. I don’t think I managed any true group shots, but a number of moments do capture some of the good times

There are several areas to boulder in Bishop, and we focused most of our attention on three of them: The Happy Boulders, the Sad Boulders, and the Buttermilks. The Happies and the Sads are small canyons packed to the brim with volcanic tuff boulders. Pockets, crimps, jugs – steep overhangs and technical slabs – basically lots of fun movement and sequencing potential. The Milks are well spaced, impressively huge monzonite boulders. Skin robbers, but lots of fun.

Graham and I tried to climb as much as we could in these three areas. We wrapped up with G topping 190 problems (VB to V11), and me finishing 88 (VB to V5). Our time in Bishop is the longest period completely dedicated to bouldering that Graham and I have now experienced….and our bodies are feeling it. As much as we didn’t anticipate saying this, we are looking forward to the few days of rest before we make it to our next destination. Raw and bleeding tips, aching wrists/tendons/joints, sore muscles to the point of feeling bruised all over, and plenty of surface scrapes and bruises to top it all off. Yet – this is all part of the game, part of the joy of working projects and making progress and experiencing new lines. This is what we love.

A few of the problems we climbed were memorable enough to occupy our day dreams and night dreams, and keep us focused and ambitious. These were projects that shut us down, kept us trying, kept us fighting. Heartbreaks (some of them which are STILL heartbreaks), and those that ended in celebration. Here were some of our favourites:

Acid Wash (V10).
First V10 of the trip. This was one of two problems Graham had his sights set on before heading out to Bishop. Over the course of two days he worked out the moves, with the last move giving him the most trouble. After countless attempts going to the last hold, Julie suggested, “why don’t you grab the good part?” So smart… following her great advice, Graham sent first go next day!

Sucker Punch (V5).
I spent four days over the course of nearly three weeks working this climb. The line is beautiful, powerful, short, crimpy, and fun. Each day ended with a little bit of progress, hence the desire to continue. Unfortunately it is also a climb that demands a lot of skin, and with a tough right-hand full crimp at the crux, it is rough on the tendons as well. After a session on the fourth day of working it, I left it for another day. A few hours later though, we walked past and I decided to have one. more. go. A send!

Morning Dove White (V7).
A beautiful problem on the rim, visible from much of the canyon. The problem moves from pockets to crimps with core intensive changes in body position along the way, and a spookily high top out that keeps the heart going at the finish. This problem frustrated Graham beyond belief. He made it to the hold just before the horizontal break on his first go, but despite days of trying, was unable to latch the good holds that lead to the top. Eventually, Graham switched the beta for the last move and topped out second go with the new beta! Hurrah!

Molly (V5). 
Definitely my favourite problem so far in Bishop. A hard, beautiful line that climbs with big yet technical moves on small holds, up a tall and slightly overhanging face – with the business up high. Super proud of this climb, it was super fun every time I was on it, and one that I felt provided measurable success each day.

Beefcake (V10) / Beefy Gecko (V11).
Beefcake was the other climb (along with Acid Wash) that Graham had his sights set on in Bishop. This was until he went and actually tried it one afternoon following a long day of climbing…. moves that felt way too hard for him to do. After those few tries he had essentially given up on the problem, but the niggling ambition eventually encouraged him to return to try again. We went one afternoon (where we met Sam and Josh!) and he was able to figure out the crux moves in isolation. We went back the next day and after a few attempts Graham topped the problem out! On Dan’s recommendation, he decided to try Beefy Gecko, a problem that does the crux moves of Beefcake then proceeds right to do one more hard move before a jug finish. A send next day marked his first V11!! Wooooo!

Fly Boy Arete (V5).

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Photo by Tristan Ploughman

We are off to Joshua Tree now for Christmas, but much of Bishop remains on our radar… we’ll be back.