9:00am in Fallon, Nevada and I want to hit the road but my car is covered in snow. Luckily it doesn’t look like heavy snow. It looks like the kind my windshield wipers can handle. It’s not that cold out.
Going over Montgomery Pass the full-on blizzard conditions start. There’s a truck in front of me gong 20mph and I downshift into second so I won’t skid into him from behind. When I got off 95 the road started to climb, mile after mile of climbing, and I kept thinking, “How are we still climbing? How is this possible? We must be at 8,000 feet by now.” Then we merged with highway 6 and we were still climbing. I prayed that the Subee would hold it together, and she did, getting me over the pass. Once we were in California there was no snow at all. They asked me if I had any fruits or vegetables and then I was on to Bishop.
I planned to stay three nights in Bishop, but when I got there and went to the Von’s to fill up gas I thought, “Fuck this place. I’m getting out of here.” Everything about Bishop reminds me of the last time I was there, under much different circumstances, on a much different road trip. Things already feel like they’ve changed light years since then, but the memories are also still fresh. Pretty sure I wasn’t going to stay, I got a sandwich and a matcha latte at Schatz’s bakery, then made my way up to the Peabody Boulders.
If you’re new to this blog, let me tell you that last year about this time I became obsessed with the discipline of bouldering. It just so happens that Bishop is one of the best bouldering places on the planet, and it also just so happens that the Peabody Boulders, in the Buttermilk area, are some of the most famous boulders on the planet. Specifically the boulder pictured on the right side of the photo above, the Grandpa Peabody boulder. I figured if I wasn’t going to stay in Bishop I at least needed to see this bloc. I needed to touch the holds of Lucid Dreaming V15 and see The Process V16. I also wanted to check out Ambrosia V11, the 50-foot highball I’d seen Nina Williams send in a video.
The washboard road up to the Buttermilks was wretched. I kept thinking the wheels were going to fall of the Subee. Once I got there I parked in the completely wrong spot and didn’t take the trail up to the boulder because I didn’t know there was a trail. And then I was standing in front of it, looking at the lines, not thinking, “I’ll never be strong enough for this,” but rather, “I feel like I could pull on some of these crimps.” The main thing that impressed me about the Buttermilks, though, was the silence. There was no one there. It was cold and clear and you could see the Sierras in the background, looming over everything. I wanted to sit and appreciate the silence, but I also wanted to get out of there. I felt like I didn’t really belong there. I felt like it wasn’t my moment to be there. So I walked back down to the car, this time on the trail, and just as I was leaving two cars came ripping up the dirt road, disturbing the silence.
After Bishop I got on the 395 south, not knowing where I’d end up. I ended up in a town called Lone Pine, about 40 miles south of Bishop, in The Portal Motel. It was great. I watched Hulu. I chatted with friends. I spent way too much money on a black olive pizza from The Pizza Factory, and then spent several minutes stewing over the fact that I spent so much money when there was a special they didn’t tell me about over the phone that would’ve saved me a bunch of said money. And then, right before bed, I went out for a walk. The Sierras were glowing to the west, and the stars glowing in the sky. Orion’s belt was throbbing. I chilled at the skatepark for a bit, in the dark, but it was so cold that I was quickly forced back to the room. Right before bed I wanted to read and realized the only books I’d brought into the room were a psychology book by James Hillman and The Bishop Bouldering Guide. This presente a bit of a conundrum, as I wanted to read neither. But in the end I opted for the bouldering guidebook. I read the descriptions of some of the problems and also an essay on the development of The Process V16. To dedicate your life to bouldering, I thought, What must that be like? Finally around 11:30pm I turned off the light and tried to sleep but mostly just lay there, thinking. Thinking about what, I don’t remember.