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Bouldering in Bishop Part 3

Sunday! My last day at the festival. I get up, get ready, and head back to the brewery for breakfast. There we can sign-up to volunteer for stewardship projects near the area. It’s recommended to us to pick one near where our clinics were to help with carpooling and getting back to them.

As I was deciding, I’m torn between doing a project near the Happies or the Buttermilks. The Buttermilks are in another popular bouldering area near Bishop. However, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get a ride back to the Happies for my clinic. (Found out later from my friends Kris and Rachel, it would have worked). So, I stuck with that.

Painting with a Purpose

Painting golden flowers on a library donation box.

My group with the Eastern Sierra Conservation Corps carpooled out to the PV Pit Campground before you drive to the Happies. Our project was to paint a free book library locker and a food locker. They were looking shabby and needed a new look. It was the most fun and easiest service project I’ve ever done.

My idea was to paint golden poppies because I remember from growing up in California, that was the state flower. However, I couldn’t get Internet service, so I couldn’t look them up and have a better picture of them for my painting. It wasn’t my best work but granted, I haven’t painted in forever, but I tried. The lockers turned out great! Afterward, I carpooled with a few others who had clinics in the Happies as well, so that worked out.

Pushing Farther

My next clinic was “Pushing Farther: How to Choose Your Next Challenge” with Nina Williams. She’s my favorite climber! We gathered around her Tacoma truck and introduced ourselves when it was time to start.

Now leading up to this, I was nervous about the clinic because the prerequisite was that the participants were to be V5 climbers and up. I’m nowhere near that. So, during my introduction, I confessed my concerns and Nina said it was ok. She admitted that she had to put something down for the prerequisite because there were issues in the past where they had participants who had never climbed before, and they didn’t want that happening again. I was so relieved to hear that from her.

We discussed where we were at in our climbing and what goals we wanted to achieve. I talked about my fear of falling while bouldering and I found out I wasn’t the only one. Nina offered exercises and tidbits we could use to help us reach our goals and how to break them down into smaller and more achievable bites. Nina’s very levelheaded and insightful but funny as well.

After discussions were over, we headed to the Happies. We scoped out some easy problems to practice falling. Our guide Anouk enforced height restrictions so no one would get significantly hurt. So, that meant no highballs.

Testing the Fear

We would climb a bit and focus on the fall before doing it. Control our breathing, relax our bodies, look ahead with soft eyes then down and see where we’ll land. Land feet first, tuck your arms in and roll onto our backs. Climb higher and then do the same. We would make sure we would all have at least one spotter with us.

We practice for a while, and some of the climbers went to other problems to climb on. I stayed a little longer to practice, and Nina came over and offered to spot me. I commented, “It’s not too often one gets spotted by the great Nina Williams.” She thanked me for my compliment, and I meant it. I wished I got a picture of her spotting me, but that’s ok. She was supportive and a good teacher.

Me bouldering on an unnamed to me boulder problem.

Then I moved on to an overhanging problem (couldn’t find its name in the guidebook) that looked like fun. It had some fun footwork, and I was surprised by how everything clicked and flowed for me. I thought I got up to the top of the problem when I declared myself done and jumped off. I thought it was great. Then someone got to the top; then I thought “forget about it.”

I met up with my friends Rachel and Kris from the photography clinic, and they were working on “Vision Aréte.” It was one of the problems I worked on Friday. I tried it again, and I did get a little bit farther up but no send.

I played around on a few other problems and practiced falling. There was a fun low traverse problem I hopped on but also never got the name of it as well. It was kind of hard, so I wasn’t expecting to get very far, but I had a good slap on the rock in my moment of desperation trying to stay on before falling off.

Selfie with professional climber and all-around badass Nina Williams

At some point, our clinic and a few others met together for a recap and Q & A session with the athletes. It was good to sit and listen from other womxn about training, goal making, and other topics. After the group dispersed, I did get a selfie with Nina! I wish the lighting was better in the picture, so it wasn’t so blown out and soft, but after some photo editing, I improved it.

Eventually, we headed back to Bishop. I changed at my hotel then head back the brewery for dinner. I highly recommend eating there, the beer and food there is so good!

The festival was doing a slide show presentation about Josie McKee’s expedition in India. McKee is a big wall and alpine climber. One moment I remember well was she showed a short video of her and her crew trying to cross this river to get to the mountain. The river ran fast, and they’re struggled to get through.

Rachel who sat next to me leaned over and said, “at least you didn’t fall into something like that.” I said, “no shit.” Thanks, Rachel. However, I did enjoy the presentation overall.

I stayed for a little longer then headed back to my hotel. I wanted to get good sleep, and it was a long but enjoyable day. I woke up the next day and checked out one of the local gear shops before heading back to Reno. I ran into Erynne, one of the panelists from yesterday and thanked her for her talk. She was neat to chat with and wished I could stay longer and talk. But I had to meet up with Carolyn and drive back.

As we traveled towards Nevada, I knew I left a little piece of my heart in Bishop. It will stay there until I return someday. If you want to read how the first couple days of the festival went, click here for the first day and here for the second. So, until next time, happy bouldering!