Thursday, December 17, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
It was a throw back to the days where everything was new. I climbed all new routes at the Owens River George and sat in new hot springs at the Crab Cooker and Benton Hot Springs. With the bulk of my trips to Bishop being trips to boulder (at the Buttermilks, Happies, Sads) and going to the same ol' hot springs (not dissing them-they are amazing) it was nice to do something fresh and new. Just like my first visits there over 14 years ago.
Below are some images and notes about some of our trip.
The first three days were all about climbing at the Owens River George, just north of town. The gorge is an "old school" area with some run outs and really long routes (many routes were 100+ feet). It definitely kept us on our toes, as leading was quite the adventure sometimes. I definitely didn't push my technical limit. I stayed to the 10's and 11's and tried to tick off as many 4 and 5 star routes as I could. Great place...we will definitely have to visit again sometime and climb some more of the classics. Maybe even sample some harder routes.
The super popular, Great Wall of China. Check out the little climbers standing at the base and climbing on the wall to get perspective of the size of the routes.
Many nicely built bridges got you across the creek to the climbs. This was the bridge for The Great Wall Of China.
Ready for beers after a long day of climbing.
After the first two days of climbing we were lucky to get a free Thanksgiving Dinner at a friends house in Bishop and after much procrastination we decided to go up north to the Mammoth area to soak at the Crab Cooker. An excellent hot spring that's a little off the beaten path and doesn't get as much traffic even though it's really close to the most popular tubs.
Great view, waking up in the parking lot at the Crab Cooker.
The Crab Cooker.
This was build right next to the tub. It, I would assume, was built to capture the hot water and send to the tub. The water in the concrete was bubbling! Now that's hot water!
Photos above are Susan and I climbing a great 5.10 on The Pub Wall.
We climbed at The Pub Wall our third day. This wall was stacked with 4 and 5 star jug hauls. pretty much all the routes were overhanging and long but most of the grades were in the 5.9 to 5.11 range. Amazing fun.
This was our last day climbing because that night it snowed in the mountains and rained a bit in Bishop. No matter, we were tired from climbing for 3 days straight anyway.
Snow off in the distance. Viewed from where we camped.
After a lazy start at Schat's, we went up to the Buttermilks to watch some friends climb and socialize. Mad props to the people climbing up there because (as you can see from the above photo) the weather was not good. It was cold, snowing and generally not where I would want to find myself trying to squeeze into a tight pair of climbing shoes and trying to get psyched. Maybe in the old days...I must be getting older.
It was worth going up to the Buttermilks though. Very beautiful to be up there in the snow.
After freezing our tails off, we decided to screw around at a lower elevation. I remembered going to some petroglyphs many years back that were really cool on one of my exploratory days in Bishop. Susan and I didn't have anything else to do so we wandered up there to check 'em out.
Trail to petroglyphs is in right side of photo, leading up the hill.
Now I remember why I thought they were cool. Because they were!!! It was a big table top of petroglyphs. Very impressive. Side note...the boulders up there were really impressive too. I guess that no one goes there to boulder because of the sensitive nature of the area, I guess no suprise there. Weird, though, that less than 1/2 a mile away is one of the most traveled and popular bouldering areas in the world (The Happy Boulders) and this pile of rocks is completely left alone (except for the odd local that goes up there...).
To finish the trip, that night we went with friends to the Benton Hot Springs
The Benton Hot Springs are 45 minutes north of Bishop in a remote, scenic mountain valley near the impressive Border Peak (over 13,000 ft. tall). The springs are located in a pay campground with each site having a private tub that you can park your car right next to and camp. Luxury.
Tub in Site 1.
Tub Site 7
We started in Tub 1, but after realizing that our group was going to be to big for the tub, we moved over to the larger Tub 7. Good choice for the amount of people...bad choice because of the temperature of the tubs. Tip: Get just about any tub except for Tub 7 unless it is warm out and the wind isn't moving. The tub is out in the open and large so it lost to much heat when we were there. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't super hot. We had a great time hanging out in it, even though, and probably spent too much time in it! We probably logged over 6 hours in the tub and woke up the next day feeling like crap. That's what you get for not going to hot springs for a while and then freaking out and staying in to long!
Awesome view from the hot springs. Border Peak in the background.
Excellent trip in the end. We got some sweet climbing in and some great soaking. It felt like a road trip of old. It is really nice to get out for more than just a couple days. To really loose yourself in a place for a while. Especially when life seems to get faster and more demanding. Makes trips like this mean a lot more than they used to.
I'm looking forward to continuing the trend and going somewhere over the Christmas break to climb. Gotta love the climbing road trip!
How do you get to the wall? Here's how...From Flagstaff, drive most the way down to Sedona, on 89a, though Oak Creek Canyon. As the canyon opens up (a couple miles from Sedona) you will see a sign for Grasshopper Point (a popular swimming hole). Don't drive down into the Grasshopper Point parking lot. Instead, turn back around and drive back toward Flagstaff on 89a. In a very short distance (keep your eyes peeled) you will see a pull off on the right (east side of the road) with a closed gate (south side of the pull off). Park here. Walk through the closed gate and follow the trail down to the bottom of the canyon. Continue downstream on the trail until a obvious long overhanging wall is found on the right side of the trail (there is an old ruin in one part of the wall (more like an old hobo dwelling)). This is the wall. If you get to some big boulders along the trail you have gone to far. Hike time is short-less than 10 minutes. NOTE: Even though the old ruin has been jacked up by decades of parties, fires and hobos, try not to disturb it. A few of the problems climb on the edge of it and one goes right out the front door but you don't need to mess with it in the process of climbing. Gently lay your pads on the edges of the walls if needed. Don't push over walls for a better landing. Let's keep this wall open to climbing. Thanks.