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Intro

The Owens River Gorge is a massive collection of some of the finest sport climbing that California has to offer. With over 300 routes ranging from 5.6 to 5.13, this crag has something for everyone. The rock in the Owens River Gorge is a type of volcanic tuff local to the region, which makes for a hard, compressed rock that has settled in a variety of formations. You’ll find everything from pockets to flakes, and even a few chimneys thrown in for good measure. The majority of the routes in the gorge are near-vertical, with some notable steeper selections such as the Eldorado Roof which hosts five classic routes (rated 5.11 and higher).

What Makes It Great

In order to best navigate the gorge, we’ve divided it into three sections with some classic route options for each.

The Lower Gorge: Despite the easier approach, this area sees less traffic than other parts of the gorge. Although some would argue that the presence of the power plant detract from the atmosphere somewhat, there is a good selection of routes here.
– Watch for Rocks, 5.8, Warning Signs
– Director’s Cut, 5.10a, Big Tower
– Timeless, 5.10d, Warning Signs
– Warning Signs, 5.10d, Warning Signs
– Flashflood, 5.12b, Penstock Rock

The Central Gorge: This is one of the most well-trafficked areas, and can occasionally feel crowded. However, this area also boasts a ton of great routes from 5.8-5.11, most of which are closely set, so if you’re looking to get a lot of laps done, this will be the place for you. Highly popular areas include The Warm Up Wall, The Social Platform, and The Pub Wall.
– Babushka, 5.8, Warm Up Wall
– Abitarot, 5.9, Pub Wall
– Hardly Wallbanger, 5.10c, Pub Wall
– Sendero Luminoso, 5.10b R, Solarium
– Expressway, 5.11b, Social Platform

Upper Gorge: The upper gorge is a little narrower and more winding than the lower sections, and offers a good selection of moderate climbs. However, for the hard charging climbers, this section of the gorge offers a large selection of 5.11 and 5.12 climbing. Another benefit of this gorge is that the winding narrow walls face all different directions, making it possible to chase shade all day long.
– For Patricia 5.7+ PG13, Upper Elbow Room
– Slip n’ Slide, 5.9, Lower Elbow Room
– Lava Haul, 5.10a, Flavin Haven
– Wacked Scenario, 5.10b, Gorgeous Towers
– Flex Your Head, 5.11c, Gotham City

Who is Going to Love It

If you’re looking for a climbing area that’s well-bolted, and offers a climbs for a wide range of abilities, then this might just be your crag. The close proximity to town, as well as the potential for year-round climbing, might convince you to give up the climber dirtbag lifestyle and set up permanent residence in Bishop.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

Leave Bishop, head north on Highway 395 for 12 miles, then turn right onto Gorge Rd and follow this to a T intersection. To stay on Gorge Rd turn left, follow this road until you reach the parking area where you want to start climbing.

There are three options when it comes to starting your day, the first parking area is 3.3 miles down the road at a fork, park there and head left, following the paved road about a mile. The middle area is 4.8 miles down the road, where climbers will approach through a steep gully, requiring some class 2-3 scrambling. Finally, the third and final parking area, commonly known as the Upper Gorge, is 6.4 miles from the 395 intersection on upper Power Plant Rd, and like the middle pull-out requires climbers to scramble down a 3rd class gully.

Featured image provided by Jonathan Fox

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1 day ago

Enjoy this bird's eye view of Mt. Whitney!

Visit California
Just an average weekend soaring through the skies of Inyo County and getting a front-row seat view of Mount Whitney, California's tallest mountain. 😉 http://bit.ly/2E0A7dl
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Comment on Facebook

That looks so cool! Thanks for sharing.

It's one way to get to or over the summit. Would still like to do it the old fashioned way. Will be sharing. Thanks. :-)

Bamos

Letsgo

Ann Craig

Marcela Sedano-Jensen

Bree McNamara...you hiked that monster!! It's beautiful :)

Joe Shermer can see you doing this

Roger Klein lookie here.

I wouldn’t even fly a small plane into that area. Death wish.

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3 days ago

Should be a good week for wildflowers! Stop by the Visitors Center to pick up a copy of our guide to the eastern Sierra wildflowers and be sure to tag @visitbishop and #trackthebloom in your photo posts. Happy wildflower hunting!The wildflower bloom moves both northward and higher in elevation as Spring progresses. During the past week flowers were spotted as high as 5,000 feet in the eastern Sierra footslopes. Several wilderness areas west of Ridgecrest offer great wildflower viewing opportunities. Several canyons offer access points for hiking and flower viewing as visitors climb the footslopes. Thank you to all public lands visitors practicing #LeaveNoTrace principles while you #TracktheBloom! ... See MoreSee Less

Should be a good week for wildflowers! Stop by the Visitors Center to pick up a copy of our guide to the eastern Sierra wildflowers and be sure to tag @visitbishop and #trackthebloom in your photo posts. Happy wildflower hunting!

4 days ago

Great news - and if you haven’t been to Bishop during the High School Rodeo Finals - you are missing out! Come watch the finest California high school horsemen and women compete in June! We’ll post the dates and more very soon.If you haven’t heard yet, the CHSRA State Finals will be held at the Eastern Sierra Tri-County Fairgrounds through 2022! 🤠 ... See MoreSee Less

Great news - and if you haven’t been to Bishop during the High School Rodeo Finals - you are missing out! Come watch the finest California high school horsemen and women compete in June! We’ll post the dates and more very soon.

 

Comment on Facebook

Cool

All the best to those who still believe in that really old school horse power.

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