Hump Day and Beyond

April 15th roughly marked the mid-point of our stay in Bishop, as well as our larger three-month trip. After six weeks on the road, and a particularly rough ‘hump day’, we have settled in to the practical aspects of living out of our van and have built up some great callouses. This means that while some days we are sore, we can reliably get out and climb confidently. Slowing down, enjoying the view, and entering the mental headspace required for hard and/or tall climbing is slowly coming more easily. Frequent trips to free hot springs in the area have helped considerably! The time has come for getting after some of the harder problems that have been lurking in our minds, and in the next two weeks we will be trying to push towards some of our personal goals.

Taking time to reflect on the progress we have made since our last trip three years ago has been helpful in this regard. Merissa has made a point of trying at least one hard problem (V6 or above) every day, usually a few in the end, and making great progress on pretty much everything when she isn’t just crushing them. This not only exposes us to a wide variety of problems outside of ‘the classics’, it pushes us to get used to trying hard consistently and thinking about progress in terms other than just sending a specific line. While the problems marked out in guidebooks as ‘classic’ are undoubtedly so, we have had a lot of fun on more obscure lines. It is worth keeping in mind that most guides are written and compiled with grade and quality consensus by the majority demographic of the sport: taller guys. While the composition of climbing is increasingly diverse, Merissa, especially, often finds that ‘three-star’ ultra-classics cater towards the particular strengths of those sort of bodies, and that obscure lines that the guidebook author found awkward, cramped, sharp, etc. are not so for her (I believe she will be writing about this at greater length in a future post).

A great thing about this trip has been that our focus has broadened outside of just getting to climbing destinations and climbing. We have done a lot of hiking, and taken the time to enjoy the areas we had passed through quickly the last time around. However, in this short post I’d like to satisfy the climbers back home with some photos of actual bouldering and more spray-down than usual. Enjoy!

Merissa on Rheinstor; quintessential Happy Boulders pocket-pulling action! That next move takes strength and precision.

Green Wall Centre at the Buttermilks. Top notch technical bouldering.

At the top of Monkey Dihedral, one of our favourite problems so far. Highly recommended. Not pictured: three hand-foot matches.

Pressing up to the miserable sidepull on Mister Witty. Thin, thin, thin!

Tricky beta on Every Colour You Are. This problem has everything: pockets, crimps, handjams, heelhooks, toehooks, and highsteps and can be done dynamically or completely static. So Good.

Reaching over the bulge on Heavenly Path. This entire boulder is covered in outstanding vertical and slab climbs. Topping out after about ~25 feet of perfect patina; sublime for the experienced, gripping for the neophyte.

Merissa starts up Soul Slinger. Probably at (or beyond) our limit, we are definitely coming back to this striking line.

Exfoliating the fingertips on Pain Grain.

Kredulf on the Thunder Wall. Even better than it looks. Harder too.

Starting up Skye Dance at Waganobee/The Druid Stones. The hike up was well worth it!

Hulking out on some slab. Nearly every problem on this boulder, Hall of the Mountain Queen gets three stars in the guidebook. Unreal rock; engaging, technical climbing; what a view!

In case you are wondering, these were not taken on the same day. The thing is, I rarely change my clothes!

-K and M

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