Words: Faith E. Briggs
Images: Shelby Michelle, Sarah Klintworth, Eliza Earle
After 12 hours of driving, a quick stop to pick up a friend’s brother, a few hours in a motel in Reno, and a squirrely icy pass, we made it to Bishop, California – a place best known for it’s craggy boulders, a dusty valley surrounded by snowy peaks.
My girl Sara and I rolled into the Mountain Rambler Brewery, which was kindly hosting the Hey Flash Foxy Women’s Climbing Festival participants for early morning coffee. We caffeinated, said goodbye to our male compatriots, met some dope women who advised us on the relationship between granite boulders and losing the skin on your hands and decided to head to “The Happies” aka Happy Boulders. Moments later I was part of a caravan of crashpads with legs, walking up a sandy trail - a chain of women excited to climb on rocks.
So what do you need for a day of bouldering? Here are notes from a beginner:
I’ll argue coffee first and I even think I could advocate for bringing a jetboil out to the crag, but we are coffee enthusiasts here so there’s a chance that’s excessive…it’s hard for me to tell sometimes. Anyway, I definitely took our new flashy Tigre Athletic Coffee Cup Camp Mug with me as my good luck and stay awake charm.
Depending on the weather and start time, you guessed it: cozy socks and lightweight approach shoes. I love our Wool Hikers and Deadstock Collection when I’m looking for some coziness.
Then you’ve got you climbing gear: shoes, chalk, chalk bag, crash pads. Snacks are very important and lots of water. A portable radio could be included depending on the habits of climbing partners and the desires of other climbers with whom you are sharing the crag. There’s a lot of crag etiquette, which is a good thing because safety is key and if you bring your dog and they aren’t well behaved, you’re going to end up with fetch sticks on a crash pad…so crag train your pup, please. ☺
I learned from the pros to just stuff your bag of snacks, water, first aid kit etc, in between crash pads so you only have one thing to carry on your back. Oh yea…forgot to mention that we utilized a few of Band-Aids and some athletic tape to help stretch the day out when we were losing skin. Someone should definitely have a first aid kit with them, especially when you’re a hike from a car.
Sunglasses were a clutch thing to have so I was glad I’d just gotten a new pair of our Sunskis and I was pretty happy to have a hat too and was glad I brought our Black Cotton Velcro Patch Cap. Smart layers are key, it warms up fast and drops just as quickly in the desert, we had one pretty windy afternoon when I was very glad to have what I’m very scientifically calling the softest warmest sweatshirt in the world based on feel. The Tigre Time is seriously insane, I don’t get how it can be so thin and easy to pack yet so warm!
For three days I got to climb with an incredibly diverse group of women, have workshops with Olivia Hsu, Abbey Smith and Jules Jimreivat all of which were amazing, and I took my first big fall, which has made me a much more confident climber since. Big thank you to the Women’s Climbing Festival and Hey Flash Foxy Founder Shelma Jun.
I’m becoming a climbing enthusiast; it’s a fun way to cross train and fuels more reasons to get outside to cool places. More on that and some local climbing collabs coming soon!
Big thank you to the Payahuunadu Alliance for welcoming us into the Paiute territory. The Alliance is collecting gently used climbing gear to help in their work to encourage indigenous communities whose ancestral lands are in Bishop to get into climbing. We’ll be sending a package their way at the end of June and are collecting gear for that, so email us or send us a note on Instagram or message Faith if you have anything to donate!