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Locals Angry Over 300 Cars in Bishop During Health Crisis

"While every gym in America took down their shingle and schools shuttered to keep their neighbors safe, a disappointing throng of climbers used the public health crisis to plan a road trip... I’m really disappointed in the climbing community right now.”

Dave McAllister published a story on March 17 on the site thundercling.com about the increase of climbers in Bishop during the coronavirus outbreak. The gist of it is that Bishop is not prepared to handle injured climbers during the coronavirus outbreak.

Below are a few excerpts from the article, which is titled: The Pandemic Comes to Bishop: A Small Climbing Community Struggles Beneath the Weight of COVID-19.

Rock climbing in France, Spain and Italy has been declared illegal. If climbers continue to put pressure on small towns and group together, it might only be a matter of time before accessing our favourite outdoor areas is temporarily put on hold.

It’s recommended for everyone to stay home, don’t go on any road trips and follow the guidelines set out by your local health officials. Read the full article here.

Excerpts From McAllister’s Article:

… This is the reality we exist in today, struggling to manage and mitigate the novel coronavirus. We’re all potential vectors, at least partly due to the fumbling ineptitude of our governmental response. But I’m not here to point fingers at the government. That doesn’t do any good anymore. I’m here to point my finger at you. At me. At the entire climbing community.

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… Despite mass outreach and the desperate warnings from physicians and health care workers worldwide, climbers from around the country have descended upon Bishop as though a global pandemic were some sort of hall pass from responsibility and magnanimity. These climbers, many of whom laud social services and universal health care and employ progressive social media messaging, have willed themselves to rise above distress and summarily jettisoned the very meaning of community in favor of sending some random V8 on volcanic tuft.

… While every gym in America took down their shingle and schools shuttered to keep their neighbors safe, a disappointing throng of climbers used the public health crisis to plan a road trip. Bishop locals pointed to around 300 cars “parked” on Chalk Bluff Road, at the mouth of the Happy Boulders, last weekend. This is a staggering number on the best of days. During a pandemic, where COVID-19 remains on rock surfaces for hours (at least) and travels through the air via cough and sneeze, it’s patently dangerous.

… “The traveling climbing community just doesn’t seem to be taking this seriously,” said Trevor Markel, a former Evolv athlete and Bishop local. “Today we had a shitty weather day and the parking lot at Black Sheep [the local coffee hang] was packed with vans. There are traveling climbers everywhere.”

… Wilson, echoing everyone I spoke with, added, “Resources are limited. There are zero specialists in the area. We all deal with risk mitigation as climbers, so mitigate risk and please don’t come up here. Stay closer to somewhere that has a more modern ICU.”

… And yet, the boulders are packed. Flash Foxy cancelled their popular Women’s Climbing Festival, while the Bishop Climber’s Coalition sent out warnings (though not nearly forceful enough). And yet, not a seat remains at Black Sheep, still open as of their most recent Facebook post, March 14th.

… “People from many different places are congregating and mashing their filthy hands onto the same holds that someone just mashed theirs on 30 seconds previously,” said Flakser. “Then those people are flooding coffee shops and restaurants on days like today when the weather is bad. 300 cars at the Happies? Let’s say that’s 600 people in a small canyon. You do the math.”

… The locals are frustrated, taking to social media to warn potential visitors away. Markel is despondent. “A lot of locals are pissed at the influx of climbers. People have been trying to instigate some sort of action to address the issue of large groups still congregating. Its shit weather and we have a ton of travelers in town. What does that mean? Climbers are in close quarters to share shelter and anywhere that is still open is flooded. It fucking sucks driving around town seeing a complete disregard for the public health emergency we are experiencing just because people would rather go bouldering. I’m really disappointed in the climbing community right now.”

Stay Home.

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Across America, businesses – including ski resorts and climbing gyms – are closing or significantly scaling back on operations. Sporting events, festivals, meetings, and social gatherings are being postponed and cancelled. On Sunday, CA Governor Newsom advised the closure of bars, brewpubs, and distilleries and the scaling back of restaurants statewide. In the Eastern Sierra, we are also scaling back. Many events, including the Women’s Climbing Festival, have been cancelled in our region. The Mountain Rambler has closed until further notice. The Bishop Unified School District has taken precautionary measures and have closed schools. The Mammoth Mountain ski area has suspended operations and Bishop’s neighbor, Mono County, has declared a Local Health Emergency. All of these actions are aimed to help flatten the curve of the highly communicative COVID-19 virus. Before you decide to take a planned or impromptu trip to the Eastside, please take a moment to read the Center for Disease Control’s guidelines on travel and the latest guidance from the California Department of Public Health. In addition, please keep informed of local updates from Inyo County and Mono County. Use these guidelines to make sure that you are making the most responsible travel decisions for both your own health and for people who may be impacted in the communities you are visiting. If you do decide that a trip to the Eastern Sierra is unavoidable, please plan ahead and bring enough food, water, and sanitary supplies for your entire trip as the region has been in short supply of several items.

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