The first time I rolled into Bishop California it felt eerily like home. The desert landscape with the Sierra backdrop reminded me of everything I love about Moab, where I call home. Plus, there is a lot, I mean A LOT, of climbing. With over 300 days of sun and enough elevation change to climb year round, how can you go wrong? I’ve always appreciated the grit and formidable nature of the desert, while in the same breath, the tranquility and solitude that can be found ten minutes from my front door. I see a lot of that in Bishop.
My girlfriend, Heidi, and I spent close to a week in Bishop on our way to Redding, CA to visit family recently, and we were able to spend a few days bouldering in the Happy’s and Buttermilks. We were both blown away by the beauty that the Sierra Mountains provided. Heidi, being a photographer, was all too willing to take some stunning scenic and climbing photos. With that kind of backdrop, it’s almost too easy.
We spent two days in the Buttermilks and a day and a half in the Happy’s. I was almost glad to be done after all that. Climbing the “smooth” sandstone of the desert doesn’t really prepare your fingertips for the course granite of the Sierra’s. I’ve often wondered what the ‘pro ‘climbers were doing filing the tips of their fingers. Well, after a couple of days I questioned no more and soon enough, both a file and some Climb On Salve, were part of my permanent bouldering arsenal!
What climbing I did get done at the Buttermilks I kept pretty moderate since a lot of the boulders are HIGH! The one downfall to having a girlfriend being a photographer is she is rarely there to spot me. Being 30 feet up with my pad not quite under me can be a bit unnerving. We had great weather the whole time so it was calming to go on a mellow bouldering trip, instead of some fright-fest in the Black Canyon, which is what I was custom to.
My girlfriend and I tend to avoid the crowds so we found ourselves a wonderful camping spot just down the road from the Buttermilks.
Although it was a little cold, we had the whole place to ourselves and enjoyed a couple nights in the back of our teardrop trailer. We made sure to get up early and snap some beautiful pictures in the early Sierra light.
All in all, I was very impressed with Bishop. Definitely a town I could see myself spending a lot of time in the future. I’d almost go so far to say that it may be a cooler version of Moab (gasp!). Maybe not quite, but the California Breweries and the Sierra Mountains sure make an impressive opponent!