Mammoth/Owens River Gorge


Just returned from a nice 3-day trip to Mammoth.  Eileen arranged the lodging, and we stayed at Seasons 4, the same condos where Jasmine and I stayed in 2002, during our engagement trip.  Hard to believe that was so long ago.

Snowing on our final day

Snow on our final morning

The weather was surprisingly warm, and it was nice to spend the day boarding under a sunny blue sky.  It was t-shirt weather at the base of the mountain, and I might have seen some girls boarding in bikini tops.  But I can’t remember, as I have wisely purged that memory from my head.

Jasmine, Eileen, Nadia

Jasmine, Eileen, Nadia

Nadia took a hard spill on the first day.  The comfy gel seat cushion that I use in my Subaru is now covered with Steve’s back sweat.  It’s a long story.

Mt. Williamson

Mt. Williamson, as viewed from the Owens River Gorge

We decided to climb on our second day, since the weather was so nice.  It took us about 30 minutes to drive to the Owens River Gorge, which is just a few miles north of Bishop.  Since Nadia was dealing with a shattered coccyx, we chose the easiest approach and hiked down to the Lower Gorge.  We almost lost Steve on the descent, but he managed to pull through.  Nadia negotiated the river crossing with minimal effort, but maximal time.

Steve is exhausted

Steve collapses from exhaustion.  He survived.

Crossing the Owens River

Crossing the Owens River using a mostly dead tree

A party of 6 were already climbing the two routes that I had earmarked in the book, so that didn’t leave us many options.  We found an unidentified bolted route on the west side of the river that looked doable, but the climb was tall and I worried that it might call for a 70 meter rope.  I wasn’t enthusiastic about attempting an unknown route, but it also felt like an exciting challenge.  I tied in, and asked Steve to alert me should the middle mark of the rope pass through his belay device.

Steve discovers a rock anus

Steve discovers a rock anus

He moves forward to investigate

He moves forward to investigate

He invites others to share in his discovery

He invites others to share in his discovery

The climb went fine, and it turned out to be easier than expected.  Some nice stem moves up a broken corner, big holds and ledges, and a fun finish up an exposed arete.  Based on the length of rope we used, it was about 95 feet high.


Jason leading an unidentified 5.6

Jasmine prepares to send

Jasmine prepares to climb, Elmo hanging from her harness

Funny story: My son Zane is 18 months old and, like most kids his age, a big Elmo fan.  The other day, we were hanging out in the garage and he spotted Jasmine’s fuzzy red chalk bag.  “Elmo!” He proudly proclaimed.  “Elmo. Elmo. Elmo.”  I started to explain that it wasn’t Elmo, and he stared at me with a blank expression on his face, holding this manky chalk bag as if it were his long lost friend.  So, I joined the Elmo chanting and he spent the next 20 minutes having a blast.  Apparently, it is extremely delightful when your friend spews chalky white dust into the air, each time you slam his head into the ground.

Bubble bath goatee

Zane and his bubble bath goatee


Jasmine approaching the anchor

Jasmine and Steve top-roped the route and then I flipped the rope over to an adjacent climb that looked a little more difficult, and TR’d that myself.  It was a less appealing line that featured the same easy face climbing, save the crux which involved a strenuous move or two.  A one move wonder, as they say.



By then the other party had moved on, so we crossed the river and set up for a quick run up Coming Attractions (5.8).  It looked pretty mellow and the bolt spacing was conservative, so I figured it would be a good opportunity to show Jasmine how to lead belay.  She used the GriGri and did well.  I called “Take!” and took a short fall at the second bolt (the clip was at waist level, so I only fell a couple of feet) to see how she would handle it.  That went fine, so I suggested that I try taking a bigger fall, but she wasn’t keen on that idea.  The rest of the climb went smoothly, though she did short rope me pretty bad a couple of times.  These things take practice, and I jokingly told everyone that the climb felt like an emotional 5.9, with my wife belaying.

Nadia, Steve, Jasmine

Nadia, Steve, Jasmine

Jason & Jasmine

End of another good day






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