Overwhelmed Climbing Destination Bishop, CA Asking People NOT to Visit and to Stay Home

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Buttermilk Boulders, Bishop, CA

Climbers ignoring calls for social distancing, and no mass gatherings, descended en-mass on Bishop, CA last week risking the health of the local population. Locals in the town counted around 300 cars on Chalk Bluff Road, at the mouth of the Happy Boulders, last weekend, reported Rock and Ice.

Bishop is home to some of the best bouldering in the world but as the coronavirus pandemic swept the globe, the town struggled to limit the visiting climbers.

 “The current scene feels like people are on winter or spring break,” said Tammy Wilson, a local climber.

The town has had to take steps to prevent people from visiting them by issuing the following statement:

Bishop is a small town with a big backyard … and a small hospital! We all love the Owens Valley for the large outdoor playground it is. The sparseness and remoteness of the area can be a much-needed break from Big City life. Yet in times of crisis, this remoteness can also be a liability — we do not have access to the abundance of supplies present in bigger cities; our infrastructure is not set up to handle a large influx of people; and of particular concern at present times, our health care infrastructure for the entire Owens Valley is designed for a population smaller than the individual neighborhoods in most cities.

The Governor has prohibited all non-essential travel. We understand our small town with a Big Back Yard is a lovely place to recreate, and further recognize that while trips here can be seen as “needed”, they do qualify as “non-essential”. For those of you who have decided to heed the prohibition from the Executive Order of the Governor and have postponed your travel plans, we firstly want to thank you for considering visiting us in the first place, and further thank you for making a decision that is right for our community’s health and hope to see you soon when we have all gotten through this.

This is a difficult message for us to send, as we know how many of you cherish Bishop and our big backyard, but we ask you to respect our community and this request to stay home for now. If we all work together to do the right thing during this public health crisis, we’ll all be able to enjoy the Bishop area in a responsible and respectful way sooner rather than later.

Mandating all residents to stay home, California Governor Gavin Newsom said, “You can still take your kids outside, practicing common sense and social distancing. You can still walk your dog.”

Inyo County Sheriff’s Office also asked people not to participate in high-risk outdoor activities:

The Inyo County Sheriff’s Office, on behalf of Inyo County Search and Rescue (SAR), requests that people do not take part in high-risk outdoor activities at this time. Activities include backpacking, climbing, peak bagging, backcountry skiing, or anything that puts you at risk for potential rescue.

If you get sick, lost or injured and require SAR assistance, the responding team of volunteers will have to break social distancing and State mandated isolation by sharing rescue equipment, radios, and vehicles. You will be potentially taking those rescuers out of service for weeks due to post-mission quarantine protocols. In addition, many SAR teams, including ours, are operating at diminished capacity due to many members self-isolating and not responding to operations due to age or other risk factors.

Your preventable backcountry injury will also stress ambulance and emergency room services. It is highly unlikely helicopters are available to assist in your rescue. Inyo County Sheriff’s Office DOES NOT own or operate any air assets, and our allied agency helicopters are currently operating at a very limited capacity.

The public can access the complete Inyo County Order, issued March 20, 2020, at: https://www.inyocounty.us/…/fil…/2020-03/ORDER_3.20.20_0.pdf.

Please visit http://inyosar.com/ for additional information about the Inyo SAR team, or to donate.

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