It was a climbing trip with great food. Or maybe it was a food trip with great climbing.
More likely an album titled, BISHOP: A food trip with some great naps (feat. Climbing).
For me, there are two main factors to planning a successful climbing trip: finding the right climbing partner and maintaining flexibility.
Sometimes it’s difficult to know how a climbing trip will go. Not in the unknown ways of adventure climbing or alpinism, but more to the fickleness of circumstance and motivation.
The trip started, as any new adventure should, with airport lines, customer service phone calls, and a 6-hour flight delay. When Julie and I finally arrived in the LA airport, after midnight, we had long overshot our van pickup time.
One over-priced and sketchy airport motel later, we picked up our van: The Mandala.
Aptly named, we thought, because surely it’s a sign of all the double-digit boulders soon to go down. So we renamed it: ThemandalaV12.
Herein lies the importance of a compatible travel partner. For me, it is someone who always brings snacks. As for Julie, I hope it was someone who could provide comic relief in the form of bathroom humor.
So armed with both these equally endearing qualities, we merged our way onto the road towards Bishop.
Climbing began with plenty of sunshine and too little sunscreen. As any first-timer to Bishop, we embraced the hot, sunny day and headed straight for the classic Iron Man Traverse.
For the next two days we attempted all the things. We tried things that were too hard, too scary, too hot and too cold. We fueled our motivation with Great Basin baked goods along with donuts and other foods sandwiched in between.
We had 5 days and at this steady rate of croissant consumption and half days of climbing, we were going to climb them all!!
Except after our first two days of climbing we had absolutely wrecked ourselves. Slowly, our days of climbing were turning into days of scenic napping. It was already time for a rest day, and admittedly a nice reprieve from the sun. We were tired and beat up, so what a better way to relax our “themandalav12” muscles than a hot spring soak. We may have been more excited about this single opportunity than any rock climb.
To prepare for our “spa day” we made our daily stop at the bakery then headed to Keogh’s hot springs. We slid into the warm water, and then 30 seconds later, we were in a scene from Caddyshack.
Sure enough, a kid had dropped his pants in the middle of our pool and taken a deuce. Now we were sitting in poop water.
“ABORT MISSION,” I yelled.*
“IT BURRRRRNS,” yelled Julie.
*Quotes may have been edited (or completely made up) due to the dramatic nature of the author’s memory.
Remember what I said about staying flexible with plans?
The next thing we knew we were shivering outside of a hot spring covered in poo water. Not a part of the plan. We took cold showers in the Keogh locker rooms then made a break for the brewery.
At the brewery we played Cards Against Humanity with the blue light special crowd, and regaled our best, worst and most entertaining poop stories with little mention of rock climbing.
You see the thing is, and maybe you’ve already figured this out, that we may be climbers (or skiers or runners or whichever flavor of outdoorist)—objective and performance oriented—but when it comes to meaningful travel with friends, the poop stories are the ones that really stick with you.