Owens River Gorge
The Owens River Gorge is a world class sport climbing area located a quick 15 minute drive north of Bishop. While climbing there is possible year round, the best seasons are spring and fall. The angle of the Gorge makes it possible to climb in sun or shade practically all day. With 700 routes ranging from 5.5 to 5.13c this volcanic tuff area offers something for everyone. There is an excellent guide to the area "Owens River Gorge Climbs" by Marty Lewis which we always have in stock. This area requires you to lead all the routes, there is no walk up toprope access. One long rope and 12-15 quickdraws will allow you to climb most of the routes. The Owens River now runs through the gorge allowing you to cool off on hot summer days. Because of the type of rock, it dries quickly after storms allowing you to get back on the rock quickly. Please help to keep this DWP owned area clean. Pack out all trash. There is a toilet in the Gorge that was installed by a combined effort of local climbers, Access Fund and LADWP. Please help to keep it clean and in good repair.
Below is a quote from Marty Lewis's book giving a brief climbers history of the Owen's Gorge:
In 1985 Kevin Calder and I had briefly visited the Gorge. We climbed a fortyfoot crack, looked around, and decided that it wasn’t a very good place for climbing. The rock seemed too steep, too loose, and devoid of clean cracks. During the summer of 1989, I heard that people were putting up routes in the Gorge. I was skeptical; I thought I knew what was down there. Soon after, Gary Slate talked me into returning. After a twenty-minute scramble, we came upon a vertical arete with a slight bulge at the top. Anguish came over me, but Gary assured me the arete was only 5.9+. And the route was sprinkled with shiny new 3/8” bolts. Having completed “Gorgeous” with quite a pump, I immediately became obsessed with the positive-hold, endurance climbing that makes up the Owens River Gorge. In the fall of 1989, Mike Strassman and Scott Ayers put together a “Rock & Ice Guide” to the 120 routes in the Gorge. New routes were being completed at a furious pace; so almost as soon as the guide came out, it was in need of an update. I decided to put my computer to use, compiling a list of the routes for friends and local climbers. From that point on, the whole project snowballed. After hundreds of hours, tons of feedback, and personally field testing over six hundred routes, you now have it: the “Owens River Gorge Climbs” guidebook. It has been absolutely amazing to see the fifteen-year transition of the Gorge: from a rarely visited, bone dry, semi-industrial area-—to the return of the river, a riparian environment and people; from bushwacking to buffed-out trails; from a small obscure climbing area to a world-class sport climbing area. I’m damn proud of what we’ve done to this place. Over the years I’ve climbed at quite a few of the best crags around the West. So I know it’s easy to come up with negatives when comparing the Owens River Gorge. But, even after logging more than a thousand days in that ditch—when I just want to have a good time cragging with good company—the Gorge is simply my favorite place. I would like to thank all the people who have invested so much time, sweat, and money, making the Owens River Gorge a climbers’ paradise. I would also like to thank Mono County District Attorneys George Booth and Stan Eller along with the L.A.D.W.P. for their diligent efforts in returning water to the Gorge. And I’d like to thank the Access Fund, Dean Rosnau, James Wilson, Tony Puppo and the L.A.D.W.P. for their efforts establishing the toilets.