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Climb Stuff in Owens River Gorge

The overall plan: To head to Bishop, California and climb all over this premiere sport climbing destination with its 544 spectacularly great routes in the 5.5 to 13c range, and 158 gear routes from 5.4 to 12d.

Top rope or lead, multi, beginners, intermediate, advanced, all are welcome whether you've been outdoors before or not. Come for however long you can manage.

I'm flying into Ontario, CA, grabbing a car rental and then driving to Bishop.

Flying into Reno is also an option but it's a bit more cash, but it does save half an hour or so of driving and probably some air time. There's plenty of motels in town to choose from (Days Inn, Super 8 etc) as well as oodles of climbing gear stores in case you forget something (and many of them will still have their Labor sale on).

We're heading straight to the Central Gorge with 166 sport climbs and 51 gear.

Getting there: Jump on US 395, take the Paradise/Swall Meadows Exit east, drive up a hill for 0.7 miles to reach Gorge Rd. Turn left (north) and drive 4.8 miles.

Turn right onto a dirt road where a powerline drops into the gorge. (the wooden power pole at the side of the turnoff to the road should be marked PG-2).

When you reach point 'B' on the above link, take that left turn and follow it to the parking area. It's an awesome hike down into the gorge, so make sure you have decent footwear on. There's toilets down there but that's it, so you'll need to bring everything you'll require for the day (water/food).

There's a sign that marks the trailhead (it seems no one enforces the 'no posing' rule).
As you can see, there's plenty to do (and there's a lot more that the website doesn't cover, but there's a few routes on here that are new, have had bolts added, have been extended, or have been upgraded from gear to pure sport).

If you haven't followed us or met us at the parking lot, finding us will be easy as we'll be on either...

Pub Wall (to the right at the bottom of the trail) with highlights that include a warmup 5:7 and 5:9, and four star rated 10's and 11's and a five star 10c

Negress Wall (to the left next to the toilet) with 2 four star rated 5.6's, a three star 5.9 and four star 10b

WarmUp Wall (just round the corner from Negress) with four star rated 5:6, 7, 8, and a couple of 9's and 10b's.
Then we can stroll over and check Alien Wall (3 star 8's, 9's, 10's)

Banana Belt (a four star 5.7 that is really fun, a four star 9, 10c and an 11a) plus this spot is great for lunch because it has trees and a stream to lounge by.

There are tons more climbs of every grade and many more areas as well.
Afterwards we can treat those weary muscles to a volcanic soak at Keough hot springs:
Or we can seek out the more remote and free springs and swimming holes that abound in the area.

Back into Central and we can head upstream to Solarium and Great Wall of China. Also the Inner Gorge climbs (138 sport, 26 gear) located around the ruins of a power plant from the 1900's. This is also the location of the spectacular Eldorado Roof with a five pitch called Towering Inferno. The first pitch (11a) of which is a five star rated traverse-fest marvel.
There's also great four star rated 7's, 8's, 9's, 10's and 11's all around at Fun House, Dillethium, Weird Corner and many more.

Another soak in toasty waters may well be in order afterwards.

Either back to do all the stuff we missed or didn't get round to, or a trip to the Upper Gorge with an abandoned trestle from the 1800's and 164 sport and 50 gear to explore. Some highlights are All You Can Eat Wall, Elbow Room, Triple Play Cliff, Flavin Haven, Joe's garage and the Gorgeous Towers with a route actually named as follows '"You have been nothing but trouble since the day I laid eyes on you; You’re like a thorn in my side; I don’t know from one day to the next what stupid lame brain stunt you’re gonna pull; Now get out of here, get out of my office, get out of my life, once and for all get out, out, out!". If you plan on coming to the Upper Gorge, bring stuff to treat brushes with stinging nettles (jewelweed, aloa vera, calamine lotion). The things are epidemic up there.

Time to pack up and bid it farewell until next time.

I'll email all the rsvp-ers nearer the date and we can trade numbers to ensure late arrivals or lostee's (it happens) can locate us or catch up or get directions (if I don't reply immediately give it a little while, I might be climbing, belaying someone, out of breath from hiking, or have no reception at all).
At the crags look for the 'Union Jack' painted climbing helmet and cammo trousers.

Stuff to Bring

Essentials: Harness, shoes, sunblock (although because the gorge winds, you can chase shade all day and the place is in total shade by the afternoon).

Would be handy if you have them: Rope (60m would be great for almost everything, but if you have a 70/80m it would be advisable to bring it as some routes are 35m or so), quickdrawers, ATC/grigri, personal anchor, cams, chalk, slings and such. Almost every route has a Mussy Hook (like the anchors you'll find on lead routes at Vertical World Seattle) so bringing your own anchor is generally irrelevant.

A guidebook might also be handy so you can narrow down what you want to do here because there's a LOT :) This is the one I grabbed and it's an excellent purchase

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  • Bruce M.

    Best climbing ever. What more can be said. Great mates, fun town, hot springs (both commercial and natural), holy Texan bbq, snoozing on hay bales, penguin warfare, dutch bakers in the witness protection program, old cute cats, vampire priests, crow/pterodactyl hybrids and mini markets that exist outside of this dimension. We are so doing this one again, same time, same place, next year. Put this one on your calendars!

    September 19, 2014

  • Erin H

    Good morning all! If anyone is looking for us today, we'll be starting the morning in the Great Wall of China area, as planned in the event description.

    September 6, 2014

  • Midori

    Just as an fyi, you can also fly into Mammoth Lakes on Alaska Air and then drive about 45 min to Bishop.

    August 27, 2014

    • Stephen Y.

      Great to know for next time!

      August 27, 2014

    • Bruce M.

      Flights are more than twice as much money, you have a 2-3 hour layover in LAX and not as much car rental options though.

      August 28, 2014

  • Nicolas

    It's tempting and I haven't been to a meet-up for a while! But I don't have any vacation days left
    Next Banks Lake or Leavenworth! :)

    August 20, 2014

  • Andrea Z.

    merp gonna sit this one out :(. excited to see the pics though!

    August 9, 2014

    • Andrea Z.

      plus I want to goto Squamish and send my project...

      August 15, 2014

    • Stephen Y.

      Alright - better not skip out on Puerto Rico though :)

      August 18, 2014

  • dre

    Bruce I can fly to Ontario that Thursday evening. Is your rental car full? Or do you have space for a Colombian.

    July 29, 2014

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