Owens River Gorge

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Owens River Gorge is located just North of the town of Bishop. The Gorge is composed of many walls of volcanic rock. There are approximately 1,000 sport routes here, and maybe 100 of these would be considered local classics. There is much to love about the Gorge. For one, the highest concentration of routes are graded 5.10 to 5.11, such that the Gorge is a good place for the beginning or intermediate sport climber. Second, the approaches are not long and involve following trails. Fit people will find these trails and the approaches a breeze. Out of shape people will complain that while the approach is short, the trails are very steep and burdensome. Third, many of the routes in the Gorge can be described as endurance routes. In other words, success on many of the routes here depend on your ability to hang on for 60 to 100 feet of pump-fest climbing. This is an advantage, in my opinion, because in general, So Cal really lacks good climbing areas for endurance training, such that if you are heading to enduro areas like the Red River Gorge, The Owens River Gorge may be your only comparable training ground. Of course, there are a couple of down-sides too. The biggest that I see is that the nature of the climbing in the Gorge can be somewhat repetitive, namely grab obvious holds/pockets and work your way up without expending much brain power. That said, there are exceptions to every rule, so the 5.12/V5 climber will find challenging routes here that climb anything like a ladder.

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