2019 was a year of bouldering for me. I did clip some blots and plugged some cams, but it was stacking pads that got me stoked in the morning, and those flailed attempts that kept me awake at night.
So, rounding off the year with a trip to Bishop was a nice finishing touch. The most exciting part of trip, however, was not the actual climbing itself, but rather getting there. We chose to drive from Vancouver to Bishop, and driving across the isolated stretches of national forests in Oregon in super ice conditions – black ice on the tarmac – was nerve-wracking to say the least. But, since that is not the topic I want to rant on today, I will leave it to rest by saying that I did see a lot of crash in the ditch by the side of the road and we could have easily been amongst them!
Coming back to the bouldering part of this trip, Bishop is a place that I will always want to come back to. It was my first bouldering trip there and it was a stellar one. I explored a lot more without getting hung up on a single project. I guess that works well for a first trip there! I managed to send a few and got shut down on a lot more, ending up 100+ V-points over the course of skin-scouring two weeks of climbing there.
One problem that I enjoyed in particular was Stained Glass – it ripped my fingertips. I did not send it. I tried hard and screamed in the cold burns I experienced during my failed attempts. And I want to go back for it. Strangely, I am happy that I did not send it, and was no where close to sending it. I just enjoyed the process of trying it.
Some other problems that managed to etch themselves in my memories are Heavenly path (V1), Buttermilk stem (V1), Kling and Smirk (V2+ hardest V2 I have come across in my limited experience so far), Carrot top (V3), Birthday Direct (V3), Solarium (V4), Ketron Classic (V4), The Fang (V4), Perfectly Chicken (V5), Molly (V5), Sucker Punch (V5), Green wall center (V6 – Favourite V6 ever, if not ‘the’ favourite problem), Mister Witty (V6), Grotesque old woman (V7), Morning Dove White (V7/8), Junior’s Achievement (V8), Cocktail sauce (V9).
Irrespective of the number grades attached, most of these problems are really fun, except for Cocktail Sauce may be, which is more like a one move wonder really.
I had to work hard for Morning Dove white, Cocktail Sauce came easy (hardest, but least memorable send of the trip) and Green wall centre was really fun and exacting.
Quick notes on some of the problems –
Mister Witty (V6) – Fun, delicate moves on a blank face with barely there edges and slots – another classic at the Happies. This one gets all the attention, but the one just to the left of this on the same face, Grotesque Old Woman (V7), is equally fun and an enjoyable problem.
It was my last day in Bishop before our long drive back to Vancouver. The list of problems that I wanted to get on, but couldn’t, was long! I probably had like 30 minutes before it got dark, and so I decided to peel off from the group and try a couple of problems on my own. As I later found out, doing this one without a spotter and a single crash pad would have been spicy.. especially with a committing move at the top. But, fortunately there was a group trying this one and they graciously allowed me to join them.. three pads and a couple of spotters was a luxury; couldn’t have asked for more.
Morning Dove White (V7/8) – I had to work hard for this one. This is the only problem that I tried, was shut down and had enough appeal that made be back for another session. The wind was crazy and I could barely feel my fingers and toes, everything was uncomfortably numb! I got attached and was happy to send, which is something that I don’t usually do with most of my climbs.
Junior’s achievement (V8) – Buttermilk boulder problems overall are stellar. However, this was one of the climbs (other than Stained Glass) that I really wanted to try out there; probably because I thought that this one would fit me well! I was mistaken. Although this was a single session send, it took a lot out of me in terms of being aware and focused on the positions. It is a delicate climb, with poor crimps and tenuous moves. The climb down was even more involved.