After my week in Lyon I picked up my rental car and made the four hour drive to Fontainebleau, France. David had introduced me to fellow climber Guillaume who graciously offered me the spare room in his La Vaudoue home and became a dear friend.
Fontainebleau (or simply Bleau) was by far my favorite destination on this trip (expect to see a couple posts about this destination). I didn’t send any new projects, but I loved this area because…
Climbing was a family event. It was very common to see entire families out picnicking while the climber in the family would do a circuit.
Climbers were of all ages. Everyone from little kids to 60-year-old+ crushers could be seen on the rock. One day I saw an older lady, I would guess late 50′s to 60′s, by herself and carrying a pad out of the forest. It made me smile and I went out of my way to say “Bonjour”.
Everyday I met someone from a different country and culture. Over my time in Bleau I climbed with the French, Germans, Dutch, Belgiums, Finnish, British and two Americans.
The sloping rock sandstone was unique. Sure HorsePens40 looks similar, but HP40 doesn’t even come close to comparing to the quantity in Bleau.
The quantity of boulders is mind boggling.
The scene was perfect, with people simply enjoying the sun and having a good time. I only saw one person, a girl, get upset and throw a wobbler. It was as if people remembered that climbing is a hobby.
Paris was only an hour away!
Me using toe hook beta to top out a traverse problem at Le Diplodocus.
Jussi topping out ‘L’auriculaire – Toit aux frelons’ at La Roche aux Sabots. Every problem on this boulder was excellent and tricky.
Me working into the crux of ‘Le Tiroir’ at La Roche aux Sabots.
Guillaume on an excellent traverse (Rouge 13) at Canche Aux Mercier. The red circuit at this crag was fabulous.
Tuomo on a three star traverse (Rouge 22) at Franchard Isatis.
Juho trying to grab the crux hold on ‘Surplomb de la Coquille’. The move looks so easy, but is amazingly tricky as it is necessary to make the move dynamically yet is hard to hold if going dynamically.
Me on classic line ‘La Marie Rose’. The climb was so enjoyable, whereas the down climb was sheer agony.
Me on the start moves of ‘Druxmanie’ at Bas Cuvier.
One of my British friends on the ‘Cul de Chien Roof’. This line was extremely excellent including a mono pocket and an extremely high, committing heel hook followed by an extremely long reach.
Emiel trying to catch the crux hold on ‘Jet Set’ at Roche aux Sabots.
Svilen on ‘L’helicoptre’. I really loved this problem, but the dynamic move, which Svilen is getting ready to do, is high up and often results on the climber flying off spinning. We padded the landing with 10+ pads in all directions because every climber would fall in a different location.
Me working into the dual underclings on another great sloper problem at Franchard Isatis.
Jussi so incredibly close to sticking Vin Rouge, a 7a dyno.
Guillaume at 91.1. I was so exhausted by this day, as this was our sixth consecutive day of climbing and my bicep was throbbing, that I just took pictures of Guillaume all day long. =)
Svilen on ‘Holey Moley’ at Bas Cuvier. This was on the Bicep Mou boulder and housed at least 5 good lines. ‘Holey Moley’ included a long reach, double toe jams (like Svilen is doing), a swing and a heel hook.
Me on ‘Graviton’ at Roche aux Sabot. Another fabulous line with yet another fabulously hard sloping top-out.
My friend Melissa and I volunteering with No More Homeless Pets in Utah.
I am an avid volunteer, but to date have published few blog posts concerning my weekly service. I have decided to start posting where I volunteer each week in hopes of spreading the organization’s mission and encouraging others to get involved. Previously any volunteer entries were put on this blog, but I have decided to transition the majority of my future posts to my Wasatchgirl blog. If interested in these volunteer posts, please stop by and read about this week’s service at No More Homeless Pets in Utah.
After my time in Bishop, I stopped in Salt Lake City for a week (Week 34) to quickly visit friends, pack up my belongings, and drop CB at the dogsitter’s house. By week 35 I had taken the direct Salt Lake City to Paris flight followed by a train to Lyon. Lyon was a bit of a hard destination for me, but (of course) there were still plenty of positive aspects. The city truly was amazing with fabulous architecture and excellent food (I tried my first snails and frog legs, loving both of them immensely). And the stop in Lyon forced me to take a week break from climbing, a much needed rest period.
I stopped by Lyon because it was a mere couple hours from Fontainebleau and wanted to visit my friend, David, who I had meet in the Red River Gorge. Here is David on the day I arrived. We stopped by his favorite bar for a couple drinks prior to catching a fabulous meal at a neighboring restaurant.
I hadn’t visited Europe since 2003. I truly love Europe… with it’s history, architecture, culture and wide spread use of bikes. =)
This building, La Fresque Des Lyonnais, was fabulous. I saw this painting on a walk during the day, but completely missed the other side of the building, the side that holds the main beauty. David was actually excited I had missed it so that he could personally take me there that evening. The whole building was painted from top to bottom with a popular figures from Lyon history either walking down the street or peering out each window. On my last evening in Lyon I spent a good amount of time simply enjoying this piece of artwork as the sun set.
The bridge over the Saone river at night.
We ended up playing a lot of cards in Lyon. Pierre, on the left, really loved Texas Hold ‘Em. I actually love the game as well, but hadn’t played for years. One night we watched the football game (soccer for us Americans) at Pierre’s house while playing poker and drinking wine and champagne. It was one of my best nights in Lyon.
Surprisingly, my favorite thing about Lyon was the graffiti. I loved it! It seems most of the graffiti I have seen in the States are scribbled letters. But the graffiti in Lyon were mainly of characters, simply etched on the wall… almost adding to the atmosphere.
I really liked this character, exclaiming his love for Lyon while marching on the bridge.
And yet another one. I seriously have more pictures of graffiti than anything else in Lyon. =) I spent a lot of time walking around and simply enjoyed stumbling across the vivid paintings.
In the original Best Car for the Road post, I mentioned my friend Prairie and her van. At the time of the post I didn’t have any pics of her van, so thought I would simply create this additional post as an addendum.
In my opinion, Prairie’s set up is a type of Dream Vehicle for the road. It might not be as great on gas as a small car, but it definitely is more comfortable and provides some privacy.
The mini-van provides plenty of space, yet isn’t a huge beast. Prairie had it arranged so all her belongings were organized in stacks, creating a true home atmosphere.
The other side of the car, from the packed point of view.
Her bed was at the very back creating an open “room” where she could move around.
Another view of the inside. Yep, her vehicle definitely looks a lot moe cozy than my Honda civic set-up. =)
What about you readers? Have you done a long trip where you lived in your vehicle? If so, what do you suggest?
Nouvelle Vague is a French group focused solely on song covers, adding their own unique sounds to transform the original song into a completely different creation. “Their name is a play on words, meaning “new wave” in French. This refers simultaneously to “their “Frenchness” and “artiness” (the ’60s new wave of cult French cinema), the source of their songs (all covers of punk rock, post-punk, and New Wave songs), and their use of ’60s Bossa nova-style arrangements (“bossa nova” being Portuguese for “new wave”).” (source)
I own their original album, named simply Nouvelle Vague, finding it to be consistently good, song after song. My personal favorites on this album include their cover of Depeche Mode’s “Just Can’t Get Enough” and The Clash’s “Guns of Brixton”. The have released three albums, “Nouvelle Vague”, “Bande a Part” and “Late Night Tales: Nouvelle Vague” and are expected to release a fourth album in June 2009.
Bishop was the last U.S. bouldering destination I visited before heading over to Europe.It was also my favorite bouldering destination due to the superb rock quality, the immense amount of problems, but also the enjoyable and chill climber “scene”.
Best Time to Visit
Bishop is similar to most bouldering destinations where the best time to go is when temps are in the 50 ‘s.I believe people winter here, but it definitely gets a bit cold during the true winter months.I think the optimal months are fall and spring.
Length of Stay
I was in Bishop for 5 weeks, albeit one week was nursing a sprained ankle. I felt like I had explored the area well, yet still hadn’t even seen ½ of the areas.For instance I only visited the Buttermilks, Happies and Sads, missing out on the other three areas covered in the book.A visit could easily consist of a couple months, if not longer.
How To Get There
Directions to the city of Bishop are quite straightforward.Further directions are needed to find the crags, but the guidebook includes sufficient instructions.If still lost, stop in at Wilsons (on Main street) for directions.
The Bishop guidebook, similar to the Hueco and Red River Gorge books, is phenomenal.It is called Bishop Bouldering and is written by Wills Young.The only downside, and it is a HUGE downside, is the lack of an index.You can either reference page numbers or download an index from here.
There are numerous are classics in Bishop, which I have already written up here.
There are two main places to camp.
The Buttermilks – It is free to camp in the Buttermilks plus, depending on your camp site, it is possible to be walking distance from the climbing. Note that the Buttermilks are located higher than town and The Pit, meaning it will definitely be cooler at night. The downside to camping here is town is 30 minutes away.
The Pit – Cost to camp is $2 per car per campsite. It is located 15 minutes from town and is the main climber hangout. The downside is it will be louder than the Buttermilks.
Pat’s tent in the Buttermilks. Photo by Pat Lionais.
Food / Drink
There are two markets in town. Vons is definitely the bigger of the two with the selection allowing you to find most anything you might want. The other is the Manor Market that sells some organic foods, has a very good wine selection, sells delicious dried bananas and supposedly has cheap sushi on Friday afternoons. If wanting to eat out, check out the following:
Yamatani – Surprisingly good sushi place, with the best items being off menu. My favorite (off menu, of course) was Mt. Fuji which is a Mexican inspired dish with a mixture of fish, avacado and sriracha served on a fried wonton. Hmmmmmm…. delicious.
The Bowling Alley – The bowling alley has the best and cheapest burgers in town.
Whisky Creek – Good food but a titch over priced. Best to go there at Happy Hour which is daily between 5 – 6.
Las Palmas – The Mexican place behind the Black Sheep, located on Line Street.
Bishop Grill – Wanting a typical American breakfast of bacon and eggs? The Bishop Grill is the place to go.
Schatz Bakery – A must stop! Definitely try the chili cheese bread.
Great Basin Bakery – This bakery is an easy stop on the way to the Buttermilks and is where the locals stop.
There are two laundromats in town, both of which have showers. The one located closest to The Looney Bean, Sierra Suds, has a bit nicer shower facility. Showers are also available at Kenough Hot Springs.
There are two main coffee shops in town, The Looney Bean and The Black Sheep. Both have free wireless, but The Black Sheep’s is exponentially better! Both coffee shops are main climber hangouts, but the scene at The Black Sheep is definitely better mostly because of the setting and folks running the counter. The Black Sheep is located at the back of Spell Binder books.
Rest Day Activities
Keough Hot Springs – The hot springs are actually a perfect after climbing treat. There are two options at the same approximate location. The resort of Kenough Hot Springs is a paid service where the springs are cemented off and showers are accessible. However, most climbers go after 7:30 when the resort closes and releases all the hot water to the down stream to the free area. Note: As a female I would not go to the free area alone.
Mammoth – Mammoth is quite closeby. I actually wished I had my snowboarding gear as Mammoth resort was having a good ski year.
Mono Lake Tufa Reserver – I didn’t know about this area until after I left Bishop. From the pictures I saw, I think this is a must see on a rest day.
Injuries – I’ve noticed each area has its own type of injuries, but the sprained and broken ankle is definitely the demise of Bishop due to the high-ball problems. It wouldn’t hurt to take pre-emptive measures and tape up your ankles if you have had past injuries.
My friend Lil’ Chicka is a strong advocate of pet adoption and volunteers regularly with No More Homeless Pets in Utah. She truly inspires me with her devotion to the cause and so I wanted to re-post an entry she recently wrote:
Hello faithful readers! Please take less than 10 seconds out of your busy days to vote for No More Homeless Pets on the rescuesite.com’s Shelter Challenge.
Go here, and then type in No More Homeless Pets in Utah- 1 click, and Voile! you’re done. No registration required.
Thanks for supporting our local awesome no kill program! We will receive a $20000 grant if we win.
I initially had a couple hiccups when trying to vote, but noticed that the shelter name should be “No More Homeless Pets” and the State needs to be Utah. (I was trying to enter “No More Homeless Pets in Utah” as the Shelter.) If you did it correctly you will see the following box.
I currently have two friends (Ben Grubb and Ben Sales) on a road trip in the U.S. with their current destination being Bishop, CA. I thought I would keep up my recent tradition (started with the Hueco list) of listing my favorite problems per area as sometimes my favorites vary from the listed area classics. (Listed problems that are crossed out mean it is an area classic according to the guidebook, but I think it is one to definitely skip.)
A climber on Pope’s Prow. Photo by Frank Wu.
Unnamed on the Sunshine Boulder – (Buttermilks) This climb actually gets a v0- rating, but it is pretty scary because of the height. It is a great warmup for the Buttermilks as it gets the head thinking for the day.
Hero’s Roof – (Buttermilks) Enjoyable.
China Doll – (Sads) Highball that looks like a spine.
Unnamed on the Small Boulder next to Leary / Bard Boulder – (Buttermilks) It is actually a v0-, but it still managed to toss me off 4 times… making me love the problem even more. =)
A Birthing Experience – (Buttermilks) The hardest v1 you will ever try because it doesn’t take “usual” climbing techniques. Instead you will have to start perfectly laying down and implement elbow scums. So fun… I tried and DID NOT send. Ha ha! Perfect climb when you need to take a break and have some good laughs.
Buttermilk Stem – (Buttermilk) A hard v1 but another good intro to the Buttermilks.
One Pull – (Happies) Actually has a bit of a committing move.
Immigration in The Media – (Happies)
The Great Dominions – (Sads)
The Black Stuff – (Sads) Awesome! Bring pads.
60 foot Woman Traverse – (Happies) Surprisingly hard because it is so long.
InterSactum – (Bishop) A little tricky. It unfortunately doesn’t top out, but good.
Still Life – (Sads)
Doug doing a high step on Birthday Direct. Photo by Frank Wu.
Birthday Direct – (Buttermilks) Perhaps the hardest v3 I have ever seen. I attempted it 10 times and did not send (no matter what Steve H. claims. Thanks for your optimism, Steve.) =)
Slap Happy – (Happies) Reachy, but good.
Solarium – (Happies) This is one HARD v3. Wouldn’t call it a classic per se. Don’t feel badly skipping it.
Ironman Traverse - (Buttermilks) This is the problem you often see photographed from Bishop. Great line.
Sucker Punch – (Happies) One move wonder, yet still quite fun.
Me on Serengetti, being spotted by Pang. Photo by Frank Wu.
Strength in Numbers – (Sads) Tall problem, but the holds are surprisingly good.
Go Granny Go – (Buttermilks)
Go Granny Go Variation – (Buttermilks) The direct version of this problem probably has a harder move in it, but I liked the flow of the variation better.
Serengetti – (Happies)
Pain Grain – (Buttermilks) Hurts and quite scary, but you feel like a rockstar when you send. =) There is a v7 sit as well.
Mr. Happy – (Happies) Sharp, but a good example of Bishop pocketed line.
Son of Claudius Rufus – (Happies) Fun traverse. Perfect problem if nursing a sprained ankle because it is close to the ground.
Molly – This is listed as a classic. I hate it. Skip this problem!
Rio’s Crack – (Sads) This was an excellent climb. Definitely in my top 3 of favorite Bishop climbs.
Pope’s Prow – (Buttermilks) Technical line. Make sure to pad up the bottom, even though it isn’t “too” high. I did see someone rip off and really mess up their ankles while trying to do the last mantel.
Unnamed on the Leary / Bard Boulder – (Buttermilks) Not sure why this problem doesn’t get a name because it is great. The last move of going to the patina flake is reachy for the short person, which feels quite scary.
Milk the Milks – (Buttermilks) This line has a biggish throw, crimp traverse and then finishes up on slab. Perfect!
Atari – (Happies) I did not get to climb this problem due to the sprained ankle. But it looks so stunningly beautiful sitting up on the hillside. Someone please go send this one for me. =)
Strength in Numbers Variation – (Sads)
Every Color You Are - (Happies) Fun!
Fly Boy Stand – (Buttermilks) Core intensive! Yes, you start at the big jug… and yes, it is still hard.
Green Wall Center- (Buttermilks) The moves were just ok, but the face of the climb is gorgeous.
High Plains Drifter – (Buttermilks) This problem really does not need any description. Just do it! Or, in my case, attempt to send it… but hopefully it doesn’t also give you fellow readers a sprained ankle. =) The line is so great, that it was worth the sprained ankle.
Morning Dove White – (Happies) I loved this line because it was beautiful. Unfortunately I was sick the day I stopped by and then I sprained my ankle. I must admit that I was incredibly sad that I never got to properly work this line. =(
Junior’s Achievement – (Buttermilks) Extremely sharp, but I still liked it.
Travis on Checkerboard.
Fly Boy Sit – (Buttermilks) This was my all time favorite climb in Bishop! Great line that flows nicely and still has a heart flutter finish. Definitely try, but make sure to have a lot of pads. It isn’t called Fly Boy without reason.
PowPow – (Sads) – simply excellent!
Checkerboard – (Buttermilks) Very aesthetic line, though quite difficult for the short person. I was struggling to get through the middle section and the real reachy area is near the end.
Moon Raker – (Buttermilks) I loved this line because it includes movement that just seems improbable to find on a route. Technique needed includes heel hooks, heel-toe cam and the ability to stop the massive swing.
Soul Slinger – (Buttermilks) This seems to be a favorite of most people. You shouldn’t have too hard of a time finding a sea of pads underneath it.
As I mentioned in the previous post, after Hueco Tanks I made the 15 hour trek to Bishop, California. I did stop in Joshua Tree, but only for a couple days and rather to rest up and enjoy the scenery than to really climb.
I was excited to roll into Bishop. I had been there years ago, when I had first started to climb, and it was nice to come back with a little bit of climbing knowledge. Pictured are The Buttermilks. Photo by Frank Wu.
During the time I was in Bishop, I saw a handful of SLC’ers who had come out for a long weekend. It had been a long time since I had seen the SLC crew! One weekend Travis and Wen made the drive and we spent all weekend climbing and laughing. It was fabulous! Here is Travis working the moves of “Saigon”.
Both “FlyBoy” problems, the stand and the sit, are absolute must do’s. The sit for sure was my all time favorite problem in Bishop. It truly was fantastic!
A lot happened on this particular day. Tim and I sent the “FlyBoy Sit”, while poor Steve fell from the lip and broke one ankle and horribly sprained the other. Two days later I sprained my ankle on High Plains Drifter. The result? Steve and I had plenty of time to hang out, sip tea and become excellent friends. I am off to visit him and Tim in Leeds tomorrow. =)
Another fabulous line, “Morning Dove White”, that starts in a sequence of pockets then finishes on what I hear is a heart fluttery top out. Unfortunately I sprained my ankle before I could properly work this one… bummer, as I really liked the line. Pictured is Jason. Photo by Frank Wu.
Me on “Disco Diva”. I didn’t make it much farther than where I am pictured. Ha ha! Photo by Frank Wu.
My two favorite shots from my road trip were both taken by Frank Wu. The boulder in the picture above also has a v10 dyno line on the right side. This guy climber was consistently trying it, finally sticking the line at the moment that Frank captured this shot. Unbelievable! Can my dog be any more unimpressed? Thanks for the photo, Frank.
Me on a tall v1 (I am currently forgetting the name). Photo by Merrick Ales.
“High Plains Drifter” was one of my favorite problems. The problem ends about 20+ feet up, but most people top out the whole boulder, down climbing the crack on the right side. I loved this problem, but did not send (falling from the start of the crux). I instead just took away the below sprained ankle. Photo by Frank Wu.
I thought the sprain was quite mild, this picture being taken the morning after it happened. Yet as I write this blog post it has been 7 weeks and my ankle remains a cankle.
This boulder isn’t in the book but houses a handful of excellent problems. Here is Sunset Head working the crux of the most right problem.
MP on “Checkerboard”. Aesthetic line, but quite reachy for us short folks.
Me working the moves on “Devoted”. Picture by Dan Brayack.
Fellow climber (whose name I did not catch) working Moonraker. I really loved this problem because it required all these fancy moves plus the crux was the ability to slow down this epic swing. One of my most fun days in Bishop was with a crew of friends, all working this problem and jamming out to old-school hits like ‘YMCA’ and ‘Come on Eileen’.
And of course, a blog post about Bishop must include a picture of the Ironman Traverse. A tricky v4 regardless if you know the sequence. Picture by Dan Brayack.
My Bishop “office” and fellow co-workers. =) Steve, on the left, is home in Leeds and I am off to see him tomorrow. Aaron, on the right and closest to the camera, is back in Kentucky for a few weeks longer before hitting the road again. And I am not sure where Dave, sitting behind Aaron, is currently located.
I met this crazy kid, Michael Pang, on my last few days in Bishop. He was hilarious! A climber, fellow working professional, who still loves to sleep in his car and happened to be camped in the same parking lot that I was in. Ha ha. I’m hoping to catch up with him when I get home.
I met a lot of great people in Bishop. On this particular day I was supposed to be resting, but went out climbing solely for the reason that Prairie was in town. Prairie and I ended up never catching up, but I made friends with an awesome group and ended up having one of my best climbing days. Best of all, at the end of the day my cheeks hurt more from laughing than my fingertips from climbing. Photo by Jeff Fox.
After 8 months on the road and 5 weeks in Bishop, the fingers started to look quite gruesome. I like to pretend like guys find this attractive.