Dump-Diving in Bishop, California
Have you ever found yourself at a dump, digging through a mountainous pile of sharp, discarded metal objects, looking for a pair of crutches? Of course not, who the hell has? Sadly, this is an experience I now have and one I hope to never repeat.
It was spring break of 2016 and a few girlfriends and I had decided to go climb in Bishop for a week. I live a few hours from Boise, Idaho where they live so I drove to town, picked them up, and started the 10-hour drive to Bishop. Somewhere along the way, our friend T had called and said she would be interested in joining us from Ashland so she began the drive too. I expressed some skepticism about T coming since, as I understood, she had pretty much no climbing experience at all. But with a sense of resignation, we all met up late at night in Bishop and headed to BLM land at the Buttermilks to crash.
Our first day, we decided to do some bouldering at the Happys. The first problem we decided on was a pretty straightforward V0, about 10-12 feet tall. My friend K and I are both avid climbers so we sailed up the problem easily. We warned M and T, the one from Ashland, about only trying to commit to the top of the problem if they felt really comfortable and we had a solid spot for them as neither climbs very often. They both made several attempts while we spotted (with two crash pads there to catch them as well) but neither felt comfortable committing to the top out. While we all took a snack break and chatted, T began to mess around with the problem but didn’t indicate she was making a real attempt so we all continued doing other things. Suddenly, she’s falling from about eight feet up and during that time the crash pads had come apart a few inches. As luck would have it, she fell and landed with one of her ankles right between the pads. Her ankle immediately swelled up and was very obviously badly sprained. Thus would begin our day-long saga.
First, we had to get her back to the car. Anyone who has been to Bishop and the Happys, in particular, knows it’s a short trek from the car but an uphill one none the less. M decided it would be easiest just to give T a piggyback ride while K and I carried the crash pads and T’s stuff. Next, we needed to get some ibuprofen and something to wrap her ankle. We went to the local grocery store, Von’s, but T was insistent that she pick out the products herself. So we loaded her into a grocery cart with limbs spilling out, grabbed a bag of ice on the way in, and plopped her ankle on it while we wheeled her about to pick out her stuff.
It being a weekend, the chances of getting into a doctor were slim although I pointed out that going to a doctor with a sprained ankle is pointless anyway. If T were to try to make it through the rest of the trip, she reasoned that she needed crutches. So we went to one thrift store after another, seeing if anyone had crutches until we were given a lead that someone had seen several pairs at the Salvation Army; to the Salvation Army!
We arrived at the Salvation Army and poked around the many small rooms throughout, but didn’t find any crutches. We asked the guy in charge and he told us that, wouldn’t you know it, he JUST brought several pairs of crutches to the dump, not more than an hour ago. To the dump!
We arrive at the dump and all four of us girls spill out of the car, looking for someone who could point us in the direction of the crutches. The guy in the office trailer looked at us skeptically but pointed out where metal is collected; a big, shiny pile of sharp, rusted metal. To the metal pile!
We attempted to sift through it as best we could, but didn’t find any crutches. What we did didfind was a walker in fairly good shape and decided that this would probably do. We loaded the walker into their car and went on our way, eager to drink some beers after this long, dump day saga.