Top reasons to rock climb in Owens River Gorge
Over 300 world-class sport climbs ideal for upgrading your skills on
Dry climate and warm temperatures make winter climbing a treat
Reliable rock and well-bolted lines guarantee a safe learning environment
Sierra Nevada’s deep and vast Owens River Gorge boasts the highest concentration of sport climbs in California. With over 300 routes ranging from 5.6 to 5.13 and year-round accessibility, this crag truly has something for everyone. The rock is a hard and compressed volcanic tuff filled with flakes, edges, pockets, and cracks, resulting in varied climbs guaranteed to keep you engaged! Most of the routes are near vertical and higher than 150 feet (45 m), providing panoramic views of the Bishop area’s landscapes. Owens River Gorge may just be the Golden State’s best-hidden climbing gem—come and see why! Learn more about climbing in the Sierra Nevada from Cody Bradford, AMGA-certified rock guide and 57hours ambassador.
Reno, NV, is 4 hours away
Beginner to advanced
Choose how you spend your days
Private Intro to Outdoor Climbing
Master the fundamentals of outdoor rock climbing on a two-day course fit for newcomers and gym climbers alike! Learn everything you need to get started on the rocks, such as knot and hitch fundamentals, rappelling, and safe and basic climbing commands, under the guidance of an AMGA-certified climbing instructor.
Prerequisites: No prior experience necessary!
Private Sport Climbing Course
For a comprehensive introduction to the world of leading sport climbs, look no further! Set in Owens River Gorge, California’s sport climbing mecca, this course will have you learning outdoor sport leading skills, such as safe top rope belaying and sport-specific anchor building, from a seasoned AMGA-certified climbing instructor.
Prerequisites: Must have prior experience top-roping 5.7 outside or 5.9 in the gym.
Private Multi-Pitch Sport Climbing Course
If you’re looking to start leading multi-pitch sport climbs, head to Owens River Gorge’s fantastic sport routes for a comprehensive day course. From efficient multi-pitch transitions to belaying methods and considerations, you’ll learn to lead climbs with skill and confidence. An AMGA-certified climbing instructor will accompany you and make sure your lessons go by productively and without a hitch.
Prerequisites: Must have taken a sport climbing course or have experience leading sport climbs at a grade of 5.6 or higher.
Private Trad Climbing Course
Looking to get into trad climbing? This detailed two-day course led by a seasoned AMGA-certified climbing instructor is just what you need. Learn everything you need to know to start safely and efficiently leading outside trad climbs. Owens River Gorge’s high-quality volcanic tuff and generously bolted lines will provide the perfect classroom!
Prerequisites: Must have taken a previous sport climbing course or have experience top roping outside at a grade of 5.7 or higher and leading inside at a grade of 5.8 or higher.
Private Big Wall and Aid Climbing Course
Build up the skill and courage needed to face some of the biggest challenges in climbing with this four-day big wall climbing course. With hundreds of 150+ ft (45+ m) routes, Owens River Gorge makes for an ideal learning environment. Master big wall essentials, such as transitions, setting up port-a-ledges, assessing pitons, and much more with the help of an AMGA-certified instructor!
Prerequisites: Must have taken a trad multi-pitch climbing course or have experience leading trad multi-pitch climbs at a grade of 5.8 or higher.
Private Technical Self Rescue Course
Join an AMGA-certified climbing instructor for a two-day technical self-rescue course in Owens River Gorge. From rappelling with a pull cord and proper belay escapes to tips for getting into the rescue mindset, these potentially life-saving skills are sure to help you stay safe on the rocks.
Prerequisites: Must have previous experience climbing multi-pitch climbs.
Intro to Outdoor Climbing
This course is meant to teach you the fundamentals of outdoor climbing, such as:
- Knots and hitches including figure 8 follow-through, overhand on a bight, fisherman’s
- Safe top rope belaying techniques
- Outdoor climbing movement and climbing commands
- Anchor building and cleaning bolted anchors
Sport Climbing Course
This course is meant for climbers looking to learn how to lead sport climbs outside. As such, you’ll learn outdoors sport climbing skills such as:
- Knots and hitches including figure 8 followthrough, overhand on a bight, flat overhand, fisherman’s, double fisherman’s, bowline, munter, clove, prusik, autoblock, Klemheist
- Appropriate gear selection
- Anchor building and cleaning for a sport climbing setting
- Rope management for leaders
- Safe leading techniques for sport climbing
- Safe lead and top rope belaying techniques with an assisted braking device
- Safe falling techniques
- Face climbing and sport climbing movement
- Mental techniques for leading
Multi-Pitch Sport Climbing Course
After a short review of your sport climbing skills, you’ll learn everything you need to know to successfully lead multi-pitch routes with bolts, such as:
- Appropriate gear selection
- Anchor building for multi-pitch climbing with bolted anchors
- Methods to belaying a follower
- Efficient multi-pitch transitions
- Efficient rope management
- Considerations for belaying a leader on a multi-pitch climb, including fall factors
- How to rappel a multi-pitch climb
- Basic multi-pitch self-rescue techniques
Trad Climbing Course
After a brief review of your previous sport climbing knowledge, you’ll spend the following 2 days learning skills such as:
- Appropriate gear selection
- Traditional gear placement
- Anchor building and evaluation using traditional gear
- Anchor building and evaluation using natural anchors or terrain features
- Safe leading techniques for trad climbing
- Safe lead belaying techniques and falling techniques
- Basic crack climbing technique
- Mental techniques for leading, route finding and topos
Big Wall and Aid Climbing Course
This 4-day course will teach you everything there is to know about taking on massive rock walls, such as:
- Appropriate gear selection
- Aid leading with trad gear and bolts
- Discussion of aid ratings
- Fixing a line and ascending a fixed line
- Following an aid pitch (passing gear, lower outs)
- Big wall transitions
- Hauling and docking a haul bag, rappelling with a haul bag
- Assessing pitons and other fixed gear
- Setting up a port-a-ledge and a comfortable bivy
- Route finding and topos
Technical Self Rescue Course
Following a review of fundamental knots and an introduction to less common knots, bends, and hitches, you’ll go through:
- An introduction to load releasable systems, the munter mule and block-and-tackle
- Belay escapes, knot passes, and improvised hauling
- Simple, compound, and complex pulley systems
- Lowering systems with an ATC, assisted braking device, and munter hitch
- Improvised lowering with an ATC in “guide” mode
- Improvised rappelling devices and techniques
- Rappelling with a pull cord and managing a stuck rope on rappel
- Tandem and counterbalance rappelling with an unconscious partner
- Rope ascending techniques
- Single pitch pick off techniques
- Rescue mindset for climbers
Meet your guide
The Climbing School
Things to know
Covid measures in Owens River Gorge, California
57hours is committed to providing safe outdoor adventure experiences. We require all guides using our platform to have a COVID-19 safety plan and to make the details of that plan accessible to travelers. In most cases, group sizes will be reduced, guides will avoid overcrowded locations, and other safety measures will be met depending on the location and activity.
We also expect clients to respect local regulations and take measures to protect themselves, their guides, and the communities they’re traveling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures in Owens River Gorge, CA, please refer to the US Government’s international travel guidelines and California’s official COVID-19 travel advice.
Please contact us if you have any questions or require further information. We are happy to provide you with the most up-to-date information!
What you get on this adventure:
- An experienced climbing instructor with extensive knowledge of the area
- One, two or four days of climbing courses depending on your chosen itinerary
What’s not included:
- Food and snacks
- Technical rock climbing equipment
How fit do I need to be?
If you can climb a ladder, you’re good to go. Being in good shape is always a plus but far from necessary. Rock climbing is all about using good movement technique rather than muscling up a cliff using brute strength. To ensure you have a fun day, your guide will choose routes that best suit your skill and fitness level.
Intro to Outdoor Climbing: No prior climbing experience necessary!
Sport Climbing Course: Participants in this course must have prior experience top-roping 5.7 outside or 5.9 in the gym.
Multi-Pitch Sport Climbing Course: Before participating in this course, you’re expected to have taken a sport climbing course or have experience leading sport climbs at a grade of 5.6 or higher.
Trad Climbing Course: To participate in this course, you must have taken a previous sport climbing course or have experience top roping outside at a grade of 5.7 or higher and leading inside at a grade of 5.8 or higher.
Big Wall and Aid Climbing Course: Before participating in this course, you’re expected to have taken a trad multi-pitch climbing course or have experience leading trad multi-pitch climbs at a grade of 5.8 or higher.
Technical Self Rescue Course: Participants are expected to have previous experience climbing multi-pitch climbs.
What if I’ve never climbed before?
Owens River Gorge has plenty of options for beginner climbers. Whether you’ve never climbed before or are transitioning from the gym to outdoor climbing, the Private Intro to Outdoor Climbing is perfect for you. With a guide by your side, you’ll learn something new, stay safe on the rocks, and most importantly, have fun!
For intermediate to advanced climbers, Owens River Gorge has loads of routes to spend the day on. Let your guide plan the day so you can focus on developing your skills while climbing the classic routes or best hidden gems the area has to offer.
What about required equipment?
When it comes to technical climbing equipment, you’ll need:
- Harness with a locking carabiner, belay device, and chalk bag
- Climbing shoes
- Cord — 7 mm, 15 feet
- Prusik cord
- Sling — 120 cm
- Climbing hardware (quickdraws, cam devices, stoppers, etc.)
Here’s a list of the equipment we suggest you bring:
- Day pack large enough to carry all the items listed (around a 40L bag)
- Water bottle
- Food you can eat on-the-go
- Hiking or approach shoes
- Toiletries (sunscreen, bug spray, toilet paper, etc.)
- Camera — optional
You will be provided with a more detailed equipment list upon booking your desired course.
Some additional equipment, such as the assisted braking belay device, quickdraws, alpine draws, and micro-traction style device, can be provided by your guide.
Dress comfortably and for the weather in clothes you can move in. We suggest bringing clothing appropriate for the season. Layers are best and don’t wear jeans.
Group sizes and age requirements
Group sizes and prices:
- The max guest-to-guide ratio for the Intro to Outdoor Climbing, Sport Climbing Course, Trad Climbing Course, and the Technical Self Rescue Course is 4:1.
- The max guest-to-guide ratio for the Multi-Pitch Sport Climbing Course is 3:1.
- The max guest-to-guide ratio for the Big Wall and Aid Climbing Course is 2:1.
- For these private courses, costs per person decrease as the group grows, so it’s the perfect opportunity to climb with friends and family.
Climbing courses in Owens River Gorge can be arranged for bigger groups. Contact us prior to booking.
Min. age requirements:
- If you are older than 18, you’re good to go.
- Minors younger than 18 may be permitted to climb on a case-by-case basis, but must be in the presence of a parent or legal guardian.
If your group has climbers under the age of 18, contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.
Getting there and meeting location
To get to the Owens River Gorge, most people fly into Reno Tahoe International Airport 4 hours away. From there, you can rent a car or take a bus.
Once you and your guide agree on the details of your itinerary, your guide will suggest the best place to meet, whether that’s at the guide shop or a predetermined location. The guide will choose the appropriate terrain dependent on conditions and the ability of the group.