We’ve been in Bishop on and off since Thanksgiving and I have sent ONE of my projects. I’ll also admit that the single project came very easily. I know I’m not supposed to care about sending specific problems, but I do. I’m also going to be honest about the fact that it totally sucks feeling like you’ve not progressed. I had big plans for Bishop. I thought I would be sending everything. Well, at least everything in the V5 to V7 range.
After our two week trip to the Bay Area, I was ready to come back with renewed vigor, but I arrived back in Bishop unenthusiastic and unmotivated. Then our visitors from Indiana arrived: Byron and Matt to the psych rescue, right? Wrong. Don’t get me wrong, Matt and Byron were not lacking in motivation. I was. Maybe I needed a new project to work on?
As I fell off the second move to Milk the Milks repeatedly while cursing the slick foot that I was unable to make proper use of, Max’s advice from our trip to Red Rocks in January burst into my mind. The advice that had made so much sense to me at the time, but that I had promptly forgotten about. I needed to create a base. How did I expect to be able to use a tiny glassy nubbin on a V6 move, when I was not comfortable using glassy feet on the V2s in the Buttermilks?
Suddenly, I felt quite silly. I had been desperately trying to cheat the system, but climbing is not a system I want to cheat. The point is not to find the hard problems that ‘fit my style’ just so I can send them. I want to be better at climbing. I have an incredible training ground right in my backyard that I have not been using to its full potential.
I decided to forget about my projects for the moment and sit down and write a Buttermilks circuit for myself. In December, I had sat down with Bishop Bouldering guide with completely different intentions- I wanted to write down all the problems at my peak that I wanted to try, or at least check out. This time, I was opening the guidebook with fresh eyes: to find all the V0-V3 problems in the Buttermilks that I needed to complete.
As I drove from The Black Sheep to meet Sarah and Josh for some “easy” bouldering this morning, I was really excited. The kind of excited you only get when blaring Rihanna’s “We Found Love” at full volume while fishtailing it back and forth down the washboard bumps of Buttermilk Road.
TODAY WAS SO FUN. Bouldering without any expectations. Exploring boulders that I’ve never looked twice at. Exploring the ‘other side’ of boulders that I’ve been on many times.
The circuit included a line of really great unnamed V0s on the Fit Homeless Boulder. Then a few spectacular V0-V1s on the Five and Dime Boulder behind the well-traveled Stained Glass Boulder. Another fantastic unnamed V-Easy climb ended up with me saying, “Shit, I forgot rule #1, where’s the downclimb?” as I topped out. Josh laughed as he informed me I was actually on top of the Fly Boy boulder…let’s just say, I know the downclimb from this boulder very well. I hadn’t even noticed we were climbing on the backside of it!
I saw the Buttermilks in a new light today. I’ve always been intimidated by the climbing there. Now I feel like I’ve seen a less harsh side to the boulders I thought I knew. I also feel like I have a lot more to learn. I’ve been missing out on a ton of fun, less-committing climbing (caution: bringing your friend or significant other climbing outside for the first time in the Buttermilks is still not recommended).
With exactly a month left in Bishop, I’m still going to keep my projects in mind. I want to complete High Plains Drifter, Green Wall Center, Seven Spanish Angels, and Milk the Milks. Lofty aspirations, to say the least. Maybe I’ll end up sending a project (or two). Maybe I’ll at least hone my small-glassy-feet footwork. Or, maybe I’ll just know all the best warm-ups at the Buttermilks. No matter what, I feel better about my climbing in Buttermilk Country already, so that’s an improvement.
In other news, tonight Spenser and I move our lil’ green & white trailer to the (more-tame-than-the-name-implies) Zoo across from Manor Market. Paul and the gang have welcomed us into their home, which we are incredibly thankful for. This will be a vast improvement upon waking up in the Vons parking lot… Score. Also, we’re almost done with the ZAP video! That should be up in the next week or so, yippee!