Words & Photos by Sonnie
Old Man Winter is a mixed bag of emotions for many Canadian climbers. We wait all summer for fall to come, and try to maximize the perfect conditions it brings. However, the temperatures keep dropping, week after week, and eventually the skies darken and the snow falls. It’s quite enchanting and magical at first. Most climbers move indoors by this point, some diehards squeeze in a few extra days, but denying the inevitable is futile. Winter is amongst us.
But there is a place, where winter is much more like our fall. It’s called, Bishop, California. Sure, it gets cold at night, and yes, it’s been known to snow from time to time – but Bishop is located on the east side of the Sierra Mountains which means, it’s in a rain shadow. Most of the precipitation falls in the high mountains to the west, leaving the majority of the town and its World class bouldering dry and untouched.
It’s harder to get to than you might think, but it’s always worth the trip. Less than a 20 hour drive from Vancouver will deliver you under sunny California skies for as long as you wish to stay. There once was a group from New York City who spent 6 days of driving (there and back), for 4 days of climbing. Yes, it’s that good.
Hundreds of pilgrims migrate each winter, and not just for the diverse and high quality stone, but also for the sheer beauty of the surrounding environment. Ringed by pearly white fourteen thousand foot peaks, orange granite monoliths, black volcanic canyons, and a sky that consistently pumps out purple and pink sunrises and sunsets, Bishop is one of the most stunning locations imaginable. Suddenly, winter isn’t so bad after all.