REI Community
Buttermilk Country

Select Area...
Beehive Area 
Buttermilk Crags 
Buttermilks Main 
Checkerboard Area 
Dale's Camp 
Get Carter Boulder 
Glass House, The 
Hall of Mirrors 
Painted Cave Area 
Pollen Grains / Lidija Boulders 
Sherman Acres 
Solitaire Boulder 

Buttermilk Country Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 6,400'
Location: 37.3291, -118.5771 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 313,989
Administrators: Aron Quiter, Euan Cameron, AWinters, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: AWinters on Oct 21, 2006


62° | 38°

69° | 41°

73° | 42°

74° | 47°

73° | 46°
You & This Area
Best climbs for YOU in this area
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [1 person likes this page.]
Buttermilk Country


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.


Rock Climbing Photo: Opening moves.
Opening moves.

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.

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.

Rock Climbing Photo: Some heavy-hitter boulders in the Buttermilks
Some heavy-hitter boulders in the Buttermilks

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.

Rock Climbing Photo: Andrew Thomas working 'This Side of Paradise' v9-1...
Andrew Thomas working 'This Side of Paradise' v9-10, Buttermilks

Climbing Season

Weather station 5.5 miles from here

358 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',49],['3 Stars',145],['2 Stars',116],['1 Star',42],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Buttermilk Country

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Buttermilk Country:
Hero Roof   V0 4     Boulder, 14'   Iron Man Area : Hero Roof Boulder
Birthday Left   V1 5     Boulder, 10'   Buttermilks Main : Birthday Boulders
Buttermilk Stem   V1 5     Boulder, 15'   Buttermilk Stem Area : Buttermilk Stem Boulder
Good Morning Sunshine   V1 5 PG13     Boulder, 22'   Buttermilks Main : Sunshine Boulder
The Prow   V2 5+     Boulder, 16'   Buttermilks Main : Birthday Boulders
Green Wall Essential   V2 5+     Boulder, 20'   Buttermilks Main : Green Wall Boulder
The Hunk   V2 5+     Boulder, 20'   Buttermilks Main : The Hunk
Birthday Direct   V3 6A     Boulder, 12'   Buttermilks Main : Birthday Boulders
King Tut   V3 6A     Boulder, 17'   Buttermilks Main : Tut Boulder
Funky Tut   V3 6A     Boulder, 15'   Buttermilks Main : Tut Boulder
Bowling Pin   V4 6B     Boulder   Buttermilks Main : Bowling Pin Boulder
Jedi Mind Tricks   V4 6B PG13     Boulder, 25'   Pollen Grains / Lidija Boul... : Jedi Boulder
Iron Man Traverse   V4 6B     Boulder   Iron Man Area : Iron Man Boulder
Flyboy Arete   V5 6C     Boulder   Buttermilks Main : Stained Glass/Flyboy Area
Go Granny Go   V5 6C     Boulder, 15'   Peabody Boulders : Grandma Peabody Boulder
Saigon   V6 7A     Boulder, 22'   Buttermilks Main : Saigon Boulder
Seven Spanish Angels (aka The Ruckus)   V6 7A     Boulder, 14'   Get Carter Boulder
High Plains Drifter   V7 7A+     Boulder, 35'   Buttermilks Main : Drifter/Smoking Boulder
Soul Slinger   V9 7C     Boulder, 14'   Cave Area : Soul Slinger Boulder
Southwest Arete   5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c     Trad, TR, 1 pitch, 50'   Peabody Boulders : Grandma Peabody Boulder
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Buttermilk Country

Featured Route For Buttermilk Country
Rock Climbing Photo: Highball bouldering in the buttermilks

Southwest Arete 5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c  California : Sierra Eastside : ... : Grandma Peabody Boulder
This often photographed arete ascends one of the tallest boulders in the country, and is a classic buttermilking experience not to be missed.Start on the face about 10 feet right of the arete, then trend left to the arete and up to an airy perch. Move right following the lip patina to a memorable rock-over with about 35 feet of air under you.Now find your way down the backside (more or less North east). ...[more]   Browse More Classics in California

Photos of Buttermilk Country Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: View from the old mine at Buttermilks, CA
View from the old mine at Buttermilks, CA
Rock Climbing Photo: Buttermilking
Rock Climbing Photo: Snack time at The Buttermilks. Photo by Blitzo.
Snack time at The Buttermilks. Photo by Blitzo.
Rock Climbing Photo: Buttermilks Panorama
Buttermilks Panorama
Rock Climbing Photo: Mount Humphreys (left) and Basin Mountain, a coupl...
Mount Humphreys (left) and Basin Mountain, a coupl...
Rock Climbing Photo: Paintbrush. Photo by Blitzo.
Paintbrush. Photo by Blitzo.
Rock Climbing Photo: Buttermilk morning. Photo by Blitzo.
Buttermilk morning. Photo by Blitzo.
Rock Climbing Photo: View from atop Buttermilk Dome
View from atop Buttermilk Dome
Rock Climbing Photo: Andrew Thomas on 'This Side of Paradise' v10, Bard...
Andrew Thomas on 'This Side of Paradise' v10, Bard...
Rock Climbing Photo: AW on an amazing unnamed highball...
AW on an amazing unnamed highball...
Rock Climbing Photo: Buttermilks Overview Photo
BETA PHOTO: Buttermilks Overview Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Tut Boulder. Photo: Blitzo collection.
Tut Boulder. Photo: Blitzo collection.
Rock Climbing Photo: Cool Sky. Photo by Blitzo.
Cool Sky. Photo by Blitzo.
Rock Climbing Photo: Buttermilk Road, January '06
Buttermilk Road, January '06
Rock Climbing Photo: Highway to the Buttermilks
Highway to the Buttermilks
Rock Climbing Photo: Buttermilk
Rock Climbing Photo: Grandpa Peabody
Grandpa Peabody
Rock Climbing Photo: Entrance to the Buttermilks
Entrance to the Buttermilks
Rock Climbing Photo: Mt. Tom at sunrise
Mt. Tom at sunrise
Rock Climbing Photo: 2nd ascent of "Wake of the Basilisk"  V4...
2nd ascent of "Wake of the Basilisk" V4...
Rock Climbing Photo: Some heavy-hitter boulders in the Buttermilks
Some heavy-hitter boulders in the Buttermilks
Rock Climbing Photo: Mt. Tom and the Buttermilks. Photo by Blitzo.
Mt. Tom and the Buttermilks. Photo by Blitzo.
Rock Climbing Photo: Buttermilks Main from Dale's Camp
Buttermilks Main from Dale's Camp
Rock Climbing Photo: BHhb in the Buttermilks, photo: Bob Horan Collecti...
BHhb in the Buttermilks, photo: Bob Horan Collecti...

Show All 70 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on Buttermilk Country Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Sep 20, 2017
By Marc Seidenstein
From: Jackson, NJ
Nov 14, 2008
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.
By Florian Castagne
Jan 17, 2009
Hi, is summer a good period to climb at the Buttermilk? I plan to climb during august.
Thank you.
Flo, a Belgian climber.
By Euan Cameron
From: Mammoth Lakes
Jan 18, 2009
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".
By LeeAB Brinckerhoff
From: ABQ, NM
Jan 18, 2009
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.
By Jason Chinchen
From: Bend, Oregon
Sep 27, 2011
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.
By Adam Stackhouse
Nov 15, 2011
By Wil Sterner
From: Topanga, California
Dec 10, 2012
Where is the good camping at? I don't mind driving.
By gabriel cisneros
Aug 20, 2013
Bishop Classics Video
By Ula
Jul 10, 2015
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.

By JohnWesely
From: Red River Gorge
Jan 30, 2016
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.
By Damon Vaughan
Mar 15, 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.
By Paul Hutton
From: Dirtbaggin' western US
Apr 7, 2016
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.
By Neil Kauffman
Feb 27, 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!
By BoulderNerd
Feb 28, 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?
By Greg Brown
From: Ireland
Sep 20, 2017
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.

Mountain Project

The Definitive Climbing Resource

MTB Project

Next Generation MTB Trail Maps

Powder Project

Backcountry Ski Maps & Secret Stashes
FREE Stickers · Gyms · RSS · School of Rock · Contact · About