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