|The image of perfection|
Day 1 - Leeds to Heathrow
The anticipation, it's finally here. You spent ages, planning, preparing and training, then you get to the airport so excited to neck two pints of ale before your flight boards and throw in a couple of bags of crisps and nuts for good measure. Or least that's how this "rock athletes" adventure started.
Lets roll back a couple of hours, packing, re packing, double checking, got the shoes and chalk, check, check, check and we are good to go. The anticipation, we really don't know how things are going to go when we are out there. It dawned on me whilst we were en route to the airport that this isn't the usual Euro trip where, even if you have never been before, you still have an idea of what you are going to be faced with. This is a different continent, when we land, we have no idea where we will be and there are any number of things which could go wrong and we are not a stones throw away from the bubble we call home.
Off to the airport, which is 5 miles away, only we didn't really know where the airport actually was. Sure, we've seen the planes fly over Caley but we had never actually been to this airport. Cue checking into the wrong car park. We find the right one, have a bit of an idiot moment trying to get in and finally we are at the airport. People staring at the pads, " are they mattress?" of course we drone. Check in, sigh of relief.
That is how this whole adventure started...
Day 2 Heathrow to LAX
Lets not get a hotel we said, it would be OK we said, it's only a few hours and we've got pads. Don't do it! DO NOT DO IT. Despite 24 hour drinking licenses being available in the real world, here in the terminal things go into lock down. What followed was 6 hours of guarding our stuff whilst security moved suspicious looking folk on. I must say, we get extra points for being well prepared for our little sleep out, the police were impressed!
Onward and upwards a mere 11 hours and we'll land in sunny California.
|Miles and miles of nothing|
|View of the mountains from the plane|
We had to be out of LAX pretty quick to go and pick up the RV before it closed. Rushing through to passport control and we came to a harsh stop. Damn. Two people they had on the desks for international arrivals. Outrageous, as were my mutterings for the next hour. We were tired and getting to the cut of time for picking up the RV.
Finally it was our turn.
I can only apologise to those waiting in the queue behind us who had to listen to "but where are you staying? We need an address?" "I have no idea, we don't have a fixed address". This went on and on until it hit stale mate. Lobbing the guidebook on the desk trying to control my northern sarcastic mouth was hard and it didn't go down well. The US Border Control folk have NO sense of humor. I began to think we were going to be in a little bit of hot water. Marco with one guy me with another, we just looked at each other .. uh oh. Eventually, the woman shouted she wasn't going to waste her time with us, wrote down some campground address and then STAMP! We were in.
What came next was the most terrifying taxi ride I've ever been on. After taking a number of wrong turns and almost crashing a few times, the taxi driver decided to put his glasses on so he could actually read his sat nav and what was going on in front of him! We made it to the RV rental place just in time and picked up Minni Winney...who is not mini!
|The not so mini winnie|
Day 3 Bishop - Buttermilks
We arrived in Bishop at 3am and were at the Buttermilks by 0930am. Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow. Words cannot describe how amazing this place is, the view, the rock, the people - it's beautiful.
|You have to take some time to take it in|
I've seen so many photo's and video's of the milks and always thought it was this mystical land I'd never go to. Yet we were here, and I really couldn't take it all in, this place does something to you and I don't want to leave.
The rock is perfect, clean, crisp and just the most perfect lines. We spent the morning just going from bloc to bloc and just climbing anything we liked the look of - which was alot. The skies were clear, the sun was out, it was just perfect.
The climbers here are so nice, they are such positive people and happy to climb with you, it's so different to England, in a very good way. The other thing that struck me about the Milks, is there is ZERO litter. Not a smither of tape lying around, nothing, its super clean. It shows how much the climbers here value their crags and I just wish England had the same ethic.
After a couple of hours, something started to feel odd, I started burning up, sweating, which totally mullerd my skin and I had to stop play early as I was about to split a tip. Something was not right....
Day 4 - The feeling of death and no where near perfection
We knew the rain was coming so had a lie in today...but I woke up totally gunked up. SH*T! I had a cold, more than that, shakes, shivers, fever the lot. I lost it, I could barely walk for two minutes before feeling like I was going to pass out. I thought I'd got away with it, but whenever I spent time in an air conditioned space I always get ill. I tried to shake it off, it got worse.
We went back up to the Milks as it was snowing, and we had the place to ourselves, although it was snowing, the rock as still dry, so I was on spotting duty whilst Marco did this classic...
|Soul Slinger - Buttermilks|
I'm gutted, I'm in the most beautiful place, with limited time and it's now that I get ill. I can't help but get totally bummed out by it....
Day 5 - The snow rarely hits the town...
Of course, until we arrive. I'm sat here in the Black Sheep Cafe watching the snow fall as it has been for hours. Roads are closing up North again and we've just got to sit it out. It's not a bad thing, as I'm still on deaths door, exaggeration I hear you say, yes, but try being here and feeling like I do right now and then tell me how you feel.
I'm still in awe of this place, its perfection...so now its time to rest up and get better, because I'm starting to think this could be a nightmare of a trip for me and there is a big potential I could be ill for the next week, leaving two weeks to climb, with rest needed in between for skin days....there is a chance I'll walk away with nothing...try dealing with that.
Day 6 - It's all become a blur!
So the good news is the snow has melted, in most places, and I'm almost fighting fit again! The bad news is, or maybe it's good news, it just depends on how you feel about it...is that from Day 6 onwards, I have no idea what we've done! We've climbed mainly in the happies and sads due to the milks being wet. We've had pizza, burgers, even gone to the cinema! I think its safe to say I'm going to be leaving a little bit of my soul in this place. We've just climbed loads of stuff, so I'll leave the photo's to do the talking.
|Molly - great line!|
|Strength in Numbers, probably one of the best lines I've done so far|
|Morning Dove White -|
|Cheesy "happy that is over" shot after Morning Dove White|
|Snow is still sticking around but the skies are endless.|
We were planning on heading over to Yosemite, but the pass is still closed with the snow, so we'll leave that one for next time, as we will be coming back. There is just so much to do, Death Valley, Pine Creek...I don't think I'll come back!