Climbing: May 24-26, 2014 (Mule Days)

May 24-26, 2014: Bishop Area, California, USA

Top photo: Owens River Gorge. Second row: Dong on Pratt’s Crack; John E on Pratt’s Crack. Third row: Mule Days “rodeo;” John relaxing with Lumi after leading Pratt’s Crack, mule at Mule Days. Fourth row: Jeff teaching John how to fish.

Our friend John E. is obsessed with the annual festival celebrating the mule, a female horse and male donkey hybrid, called Mule Days. Every Memorial Day weekend in Bishop people from all over the U.S. come to buy and sell mules as well as appreciate them. It’s a quirky festival that recalls the old west without being cheesy at all, except for the various mule themed t-shirts and sweater women were often sporting. It also host the largest non-motorized parade in the United States. This being John E.’s favorite event when we were invited we had to go… plus there was climbing and Kori promised us funnel cake.

Saturday May 24, 2014

After a lesuirely breakfast in our secret camp with our group of 10 we headed down to Owens River Gorge for a few hours of climbing before driving down to Bishop for the Mule Days “rodeo.” We stopped at the Gorgeous Towers and pretty much spent the entire afternoon there cragging and having fun in the blessed shade. Some of the pitches were surprisingly slick and rather tricky!

On our way out Jeff W. taught John to cast a fishing lure. John didn’t catch anything but I think he had fun trying something new.

We drove to Bishop to the Mule Days festival in search of food and completely failed to find any funnel cake. We did find some delicious frybread tacos!

The rodeo was an amazing events in which mules compete in various events including a chariot race and mule slalom. There was an even a barefoot children’s race from one end of the dirty race field (ewww!) to the other. The winner received a pair of cowboy boots!

Sunday May 25, 2014

The next morning the 10 of us drove out to Pine Creek and climbed at Mustache Wall and Pratt’s Crack Gully. Jeff R. put in quite the impressive effort to climb Flame Thrower 5.11c. Everyone took turns on Flame Thrower while those who were waiting noodled around on nearby routes. It was nearly my turn on the overhanging 5.11c but by that time John was ready to head over to Pratt’s Gully to climb Pratt’s Crack. When I was faced between climbing an overhang and an offwidth, I chose offwidth.

Pratt’s Crack is a rather notorious 160’ offwidth climb but John lead it with ease. Even I cruised to the top with only minimal grunting. You might even say were having fun on Pratt’s Crack. After a climbing a couple more routes in Pratt’s Gully, the group wanted to head back to camp. Since there was still plenty of daylight left, John and I climbed up a slab route on our way out wearing only our approach shoes.

Monday May 26, 2014

For our last day in the Eastern Sierras, we drove to the Mammoth area to Clark Canyon. It’s a good thing we were in a big group because I don’t think the Subaru would have been able to drive down the somewhat steep but very rocky section of the forest service road that takes you to the crag. We left the car and took Jeff W. and Amelia’s Jeep which had no problems getting down, and up, the rough road.

The challenge of the day was going to be finding shade. At The Alcove we were mostly in the sun baking away. Sometimes the climber could be climbing in the shade but it was very sunny for the belayer. John and I headed off the Potato Patch and climbed a couple fun routes including the steepest, most juggy 5.8 I’ve never climbed!

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