In the beginning, there was nothing. The rocks went untouched. Crimpers went uncrimped. Slopers went unslapped. But even with nothing, there was always the possibility of something. Sit back as I regale you with the now infamous tale of how on April 10th, 2004, a loosely organized group of amateur climbers, like a phoenix rising from the dry, barren desert, began their lives anew as The Timber Bandits.
Although they had all climbed many times before, and usually in the presence of one another, none of the 5 founding members could have guessed the effect a simple weekend trip to Bishop would have upon their infatuation with climbing, and their bonds with each other.
The trip began with a bang when, 20 minutes outside of Los Angeles, Jeremy realized that he had forgotten his sleeping pad. Although slightly annoyed, he knew that this omission was nothing but a mere bump in the road, one easily soothed by the crisp mountain air. Another 10 minutes passed, and Jeremy made another discovery, one that would most certainly not be soothed by the mountain air. His sleeping bag had decided not to make the trip. With evening temperatures expected to drop below 50, each climber secretly wondered who, should the need arise, would offer their spooning services to a forgetful fellow climber.
The Sin Bin arrived at the Pit (an aptly named local campground) around 2am. Under the light of a brilliant full moon, the weary travelers began setting up tents and laying out sleeping pads. Everyone that is, except for Jeremy, who set out emptying the van and borrowing every bit of extra clothing he could get his hands on.
Despite the anxiety, everyone slept well, except of course, for Jeremy, who had been shivering in the fetal position all night. Coffee was made, muffins were consumed, and bouldering guides perused. And so it began…to the Buttermilks!
The Birthday Boulders were chosen to serve as Saturday’s “Warm up”. After duck taping my left toe (it had worn completely through my shoe) for protection from the rock, I started things off on an interesting note. A mere 30 seconds into the trip, I lost my footing halfway up a route, ripping a huge piece of skin off of my middle finger. It was the deepest I had ever gouged myself while climbing, and began bleeding immediately. (Pause for cries of sympathy). But climbers are tough, and barely experience pain – just ask Susan. The real tragedy is how the injury will affect your climbing…
The rest of the day was spent enjoying the plethora of excellent granite bouldering to be had outside of this small mountain town. Although ccasionally distracted by the beautiful snow capped peaks amongst which the Buttermilks lies, the climbers managed to make some serious progress on many classic problems. Damon and Jason nearly finished a tricky V5 which starts off completely horizontal and works it’s way around a corner up a thin face.
The Ironman traverse captivated all with its obvious line, but less than obvious sequence. We moved from boulder to boulder, succeeding, failing, ascending, and flailing. Then, like the Beta Monkies we are, in an almost obligatory display of homage and awe, gazed upon Chris Sharma’s masterpiece, the Mandala. We trudged back to the Sin Bin, but not without Kip sending his first V4, the Buttermilk Stem.
After getting back into town, and much deliberation over dietary needs and preferences, we gorged ourselves on a hearty meal. Everyone except me, that is, as the so-called-pancakes left me weary and disillusioned. Jeremy hit up the local Kmart for a sleeping bag, which he returned the next day complaining that it was not his size. (Craftiness inspired by his year long stint in France, no doubt).