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Areas in Buttermilk Country

Beehive Area 0 / 0 / 2 / 15 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 15
Buttermilk Crags 37 / 9 / 3 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 49
Buttermilks Main 5 / 0 / 1 / 208 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 210
Checkerboard Area 0 / 0 / 0 / 11 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 11
Dale's Camp 0 / 0 / 0 / 12 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 12
Get Carter Boulder 0 / 0 / 0 / 12 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 12
Glass House, The 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0
Hall of Mirrors 0 / 0 / 0 / 2 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 2
Painted Cave Area 0 / 0 / 0 / 14 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 14
Pollen Grains / Lidija Boulders 0 / 0 / 0 / 28 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 28
Sherman Acres 0 / 0 / 0 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 1
Solitaire Boulder 0 / 0 / 0 / 4 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 4

Description

The scenic and awe-inspiring Buttermilk Country has long been one of California's premier bouldering destinations with a long history of ground-breaking ascents and some of the proudest, boldest, and most aesthetic lines in the world. These massive glacial erratic boulders sit in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada under an impressive backdrop of high peaks just a mere four miles to the west. Quartz monzonite makes up the boulders featuring sweeping blank faces, polished patina crimps/plates and sharp slopers and edges. Fingers tend to get torn up quickly on the large grain so bring tape if your callouses aren't sufficient. Included here are the iconic problems The Mandala, Evilution, Saigon, and High Plains Drifter as some well-known classics.

Buttermilks bouldering is BIG, literally. Some of the larger stones rival the largest erratics known anywhere. Many problems here feature reachy standing or jumping starts with huge moves, so on many routes you'll soon find your feet well above a height you'd want to drop off. Don't leave any pads at home because alot of the classics top out at 20+ feet, luckily most of the landings are flat and uniformed. Before you hop on a boulder scout the down-climb first, as many require some techy down-climbing and/or a big jump to the ground.

If you need a rest day there is some fun roped climbing on a handful of small crags not far to the north, or you might want to explore the wacky chasms and rock formations of Buttermilk Dome.

* * * * * * DO NOT CAMP or BUILD FIRES at the BIRTHDAY BOULDERS PARKING AREA * * * * * *




Please respect the designated footpaths in the Buttermilks Main area and avoid tromping through the vegetation. A restoration effort is in effect marked by small green and tan signs about a foot high. PLEASE AVOID THESE AREAS. Do NOT place crash pads on any sort of vegetation. Let's leave as little trace as possible in this amazing gift of an area. Consider yourself fortunate to be climbing here.

Dog Owners: Rattlesnakes are fairly common in warmer months so take precautions and know the risks if you have a furry friend. My dog had a close call and I've heard of a few other run-ins. Most dogs know to avoid them, just be careful. A bite to your pup's face could ruin your trip. Don't let this deter you though, as rattlers usually give plenty of warning that you're getting too close. Also, and obviously, please clean up after them.

Please do not camp at the Peabody Boulders or The Birthday Boulders parking areas. There's plenty of free camping before and after the Buttermilks Main Area.

DO NOT SPEED ON BUTTERMILK ROAD, THE SPEED LIMIT IS 25 MPH
Many locals walk and bike on this road, and it's easy to stir up dust if you're driving too fast. Be respectful and slow down. Speeding also causes the painfully annoying washboard ruts you'll find on the way in, so do your part, drive slowly and enjoy the views.

Getting There

From downtown Bishop, take W. Line Street/Highway 168 west towards the Sierras. After eight miles or so, turn right onto Buttermilk Road. Follow this bumpy, washboard road for approximately 3.5 miles to the main area on your right. The boulders are incredibly obvious on the right (north) side of the road. Park in designated areas.

For more complete information and great color photographs, refer to: "Bishop Bouldering", by Wills Young and Mick Ryan. Pick up a copy at Wilson's Eastside Sports for $36, a small price to pay for perhaps the best bouldering guide out there and a great addition to your book collection.

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Classic Climbing Routes at Buttermilk Country

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Greg Brown
Ireland
Greg Brown   Ireland
There is a less frequented sport climbing area to the west of the Birthday boulders called Jabba's Party Barge. I helped bolt two routes there and trying to raise awareness. Sep 20, 2017
Hey guys, I heard buttermilk road is currently closed and this area is inaccessible. Could somebody please confirm/deny this? I have never been and I am planning a trip in the coming weeks. Also, if the road is closed how is accessibility at the happies/sads? Feb 28, 2017
It's never okay to shit in the Buttermilks! Use the toilet at the parking lot, it is so gross to use the back of an amazing boulder to shallow bury your excrement! Pick up after your dogs, there is dogshit everywhere and it's totally disgusting! Feb 27, 2017
Paul Hutton
Dirtbaggin
Paul Hutton   Dirtbaggin
I soloed up a chimney opposite the creek from Buttermilks Main. Any idea what it is? Does it already have a FA? I was soloing around on that formation that the chimney is a part of and was cleaning off a lot of crust. Doesn't look like it's had many people on it. Apr 7, 2016
If you were climbing at Checkerboard on Sunday, 3/13, and lost your Nikon camera, we have it! It was left at the boulder, so we grabbed it thinking we'd run into you later. It's a pretty nice one, too! Please get in touch and we'll find a way to get it to you. Damon, 970-371-7663. Mar 15, 2016
JohnWesely
Red River Gorge
JohnWesely   Red River Gorge
Dog owners, if at all possible, please leave your dog off leash and let it do whatever it wants. It really helps the ambiance on those busy weekends. Jan 30, 2016
Ula
Ula  
Hello! I'm hoping to get in touch with someone who was involved in the restoration effort at the buttermilks. I'm writing a blog post on the importance of staying on trails as it relates to ecological effects (soil erosion, vegetation loss, etc.). Would be great to interview someone! If you would like to share your experience, please contact me! Thanks.

-Ula Jul 10, 2015
Bishop Classics Video Aug 20, 2013
Wil Sterner
Topanga, California
Wil Sterner   Topanga, California
Where is the good camping at? I don't mind driving. Dec 10, 2012
Jason Chinchen
Bend, Oregon
Jason Chinchen   Bend, Oregon
Stop camping and building fire rings at the end of the Birthday Boulders parking area! One of you yahoos is going to burn out the Milks one of these days. It detracts greatly from the experience of others, especially locals who pick up your trash and clean up your fire rings.
Thanks. Sep 27, 2011
LeeAB Brinckerhoff   ABQ, NM  
Hey Flo,
I see that you are checking here as well for info, good move getting an early start on gathering info.

Euan is correct, Bishop regularly tops 100 degrees farenhiet (37' C) in the summer months. I have bouldered at the Buttermilks in August but only as a rest day activity between doing routes in the High Sierras. Too many 25 km days of hiking will get to you.

Though apparently Chris S. managed to reclimb the Buttermilker this past summer over 2 days which would have to be about the worst hard problem to try and do in hot conditions but then again he just is not normal. Jan 18, 2009
Euan Cameron
Mammoth Lakes
Euan Cameron   Mammoth Lakes  
You can climb there in the summer, but don't plan on sending anything too hard, and don't plan on climbing there all day.

Early morning, or late afternoon / evening can provide conditions for you to sample the delights of the Buttermilks.

Also if you think that it is too hot, there is plenty more great climbing closeby which will be cooler. Way Lake is a relatively new area which has many great problems and will almost certainly be cooler and climbable in August. For more info just google "way lake bouldering". Jan 18, 2009
Hi, is summer a good period to climb at the Buttermilk? I plan to climb during august.
Thank you.
Flo, a Belgian climber. Jan 17, 2009
Marc Seidenstein
Jackson, NJ
Marc Seidenstein   Jackson, NJ
I must agree with the administrator's advice to DRIVE SLOWLY on Buttermilk Rd. I rolled my Dodge Dakota a few years back being a dumb kid and taking a corner way too fast. Nov 14, 2008

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