While the big boys like Nalle, Woods and Ondra have all been busy warming up on V14 flashes around the world, (which is absolutely mind crushing to think about), I’ve been eeeeeezzing my way back into bouldering in California. The weather has been absolutely dreamy in Bishop, like 50 degree’s on average, but sunny every day with a slight breeze. One could hardly ask for more. Bishop was our first stop since leaving Yosemite, and it was also our last. What was supposed to be a 2 week trip, kept magically extending itself. Suddenly, 4 weeks passed and I just began to ‘feel’ it again.
Not going into it much, (because I’ve already written about it on the BD Journal), but basically, El Cap took a lot out of me, the long days stacked on top of each other, the lack of sleep and the long drive as well, when I arrived in Bishop for the first week, I felt like a Zombie. Only after the second week did I start to remember how to climb rocks again. And only after the third week did I feel ready to climb them.
Since I lack the firepower to climb anything hard, I focused on the beautiful. Bishop as far as I can tell is probably the WORLDS BEST climbing area for BIG. I’d include BOLD in that statement, but bold is relative. As you may know, there’s been a flurry of activity in the last 5-10 years in Bishop and climbers like Kevin Jorgeson, Ethan Pringle and Shawn Diamond have all been adding there signature routes on the hillsides. Whenever I think of Bishop, I think of the Buttermilks, naturally, they’re some of the most inspiring blocks I’ve ever seen. We may as well be on the moon up there.
Which only reminds me of how silly climbing really is, ha ha ha. Basically, we drive all the way from wherever we live, sometimes up to 20 hours, to drive up a bumpy corduroy road, to hike into the desert, to climb up some obscure friable rock that someone actually gave a name to, via a path of holds that someone else named something differently. They’re sort of like Pet Rocks. Pictured above is the Grandpa Peabody Boulder. Home to Ambrosia, probably the biggest, baddest ass highball in Bishop. Below is the road to the boulders with the high Sierra’s that surround them in the background. It’s a land of stunning and drastic contrast.
Lydia crushed a slew of V5’s showing that she continues to be the strongest, sexiest off the couch climber I know.
The relatively unknown Alex Honnold came out as well, to climb some big rocks with me, offer moral support, two mondo pads, and steroidal levels of psyche. Pictured below I tie my shoelaces underneath the Golden Boulder. Above me is a 20 foot tall, 8 move sequence, stunning line of chicken-heads we called, “On the Shoulders of Giants”. It clocks in around a “supple” V9, but is unique in the sense that it actually requires an Old Alpine technique where you stand on the shoulders of your climbing partner. Hence the name. It’s absolutely classic:)
There’s a very obvious starting hold for both hands about 10 feet up the wall, and a savage opening sequence from the start that still remains a project. I’ve seen V14’s before, and this thing looks harder to me, not to mention, painful. But shit, they are only rocks, and we are only PLAYING around – so why not see it as a glass half full? Instead of thinking, “oh damn, it’s too bad those incredible holds are so high up the wall”, why not say, “OH damn, look at those incredible holds, lets go up there and climb on them”. And so we did.
‘On the Shoulders of Giants’ is one of the best problems I have ever done, even with the contrived yet hilarious start. I managed the climb on my first try after a solid TR session from last week. Alex, intrigued, stepped up, ground up, and climbed perfectly. He sort of jumped off the crux, proving that the landing is perfectly safe and flat. Then, under the watchful eye’s of curious bystanders, he sent beautifully on his second try! Nice job Hondo. I’ll see if I can upload some video of that one.
And below, a photograph sent to me by a new friend, Julien Lecorps, just after the crux on Giants.
We also sent the amazing Luminance that day, V9 and the day before that, I pulled my emotions together for a rope free ascent of Ambrosia V11. Which I personally think that after the giant foothold broke last year is now possibly, a mushy V12, since I think it’s considerably harder than all the other V11’s I’ve done in Bishop. But maybe it’s the nature of highballs, maybe they all get inflated grades because they are scary. I don’t know. I’m not a great boulderer. I’m just glad I did it and nothing broke and I didn’t fall. It was really a dream of mine since watching Kevin’s first ascent. A BIG dream. I have never linked to the dreaded Hueco before, but as soon as I did, I knew I didn’t want to do it again. Keep calm and carry on, says a friend of mine…I just breathed my way to the top.
On the last day before I left, Alex convinced me to rally up for “Transporter Room” V5/6 on the same boulder. He called it Ambrosia’s little brother. Which it thankfully was, but the rock was not perfect up there and to be honest, I’ll never do either of them again. ha ha ha.