Bishop: People and Pebbles

It is the people that really make or break an experience.

After an anxiety-inducing clicking noise started in the FalcVan on our drive down to Bishop in March, advice from two mechanics led us to park the van for several days. No driving? In Bishop?! But we only had nine days! Our good friend Hana immediately stepped forward with her van. She drove us to climbing areas, to and from camp, and around town. She lent the van to Graham while we were at the Women’s Climbing Festival. This woman is a gem.

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FalcVan bum and snowy mountains. Bliss.

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Hana cruising Big Cobble Left (V3)

The Women’s Climbing Festival is another example of a congregation of wonderful people and moments. Each year is like a reunion; a chance to reconnect with strong, powerful, badass women who are climbing hard, doing rad things for the community, and having a blast at the same time.

We spent a lot more time with Shelma this year, which was so great. Shelma is a caring friend, a fierce voice calling for representation of women, POC, marginalized groups, LGBTQ+ folks, and more in our climbing community. She is a giver and a visionary.

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Shelma making moves on the mega-endurance line, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice (V5)

Reconnecting and catching up with Tammy and Tucker is always a highlight for us. This year, Tucker picked us up at the bottom of the grade and brought us to Mammoth for the first time ever! I can’t believe we’ve spent so much time in Bishop but never experienced this mountain town.

Bishop wouldn’t feel like Bishop without Mel and Danny. These two know more about the ins and outs of obscure Bishop boulders than anyone we climb with, which is always a blast. Mel and I both celebrated birthdays over the time we were there too! She slam-dunked an awesome birthday challenge, and inspired me to do one too.

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Mel bearing down on the tiny crimps of Malibu Ken (V6/7). Danny with the spot.

We made new friends in Steve and Nico, who after a few days felt like longtime friends. We reconnected with old friends like Julie, Vikki, Taylor, Madison, Matt, Josh and Paulina, and made new connections with people like Vicky and Erika and Blake and Zack and Michelle. We hung out and reflected on the joys of climbing life with fellow #mecstaffer Kay.

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FRIENDS!!!! Graham, Steve and Hana in Dale’s Camp

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Kay on her send of Junior’s Achievement (V8)

It is hard to decide where to devote energy with only six climbing days. Unlike our last trip to Bishop, this year we spent most of our time in the Buttermilks. Turns out we missed these big rocks more than we’d expected. We even spent our rest days in the Milks, hiking around, snapping photos, and sharing beers and laughs.

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Rest days are for sunshine, cuddling next to boulders, cheering on our friends, and belly laughs

Neither Graham nor I were able to take on any BIG objectives on this trip, but we did share some nice accomplishments. I quickly finished off two projects from previous trips, Perfectly Chicken (V5) and Cindy Swank (V7), and went on to send Cocktail Sauce (V8)! Graham climbed SIX V9s in our short time, and sent Bubba Gump (V10).

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The big move on Cocktail Sauce (V8ish)

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Graham on Bubba Gump (V10). Photo credit: Danny

We both climbed the classic and spooky Jedi Mind Tricks (V4), first try this year.

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Kim topping out Jedi Mind Tricks (V4). Photo credit: Blake

….and we put some time into bigger projects. I believe this kind of effort is super valuable. It touches deeply on the root of motivation, and teaches us hard lessons about letting go. I came agonizingly close on Finders Fee (V9) and put time (for the third year in a row…) into Water Hazard (V10). Graham worked on Rorschach Test (V11), Shizaam Sit (V11) and Maze of Death (V12). There is so much to come back for…

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Eyeing the slot on Finders Fee (V9)

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Graham getting contorted on Maze of Death (V12)

Then on our last day, the day before my 30th birthday, I climbed 30 new-to-me V points, finishing up with the 3-star problem, Birthday Skyline (V3).

These moments are fleeting. But Bishop, we’ll be back.

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Our trusty home-on-wheels, Millennium FalcVan, and endless starlight.

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