The Best Beginner Boulders in the Buttermilks, Bishop, CA

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The Best Beginner Boulders in the Buttermilks

If you’re a climber and you don’t visit Payahüünadü (Bishop), do you really even climb? Located in the high desert between the Sierra and the White Mountains, Bishop is a world-class climbing destination with a little bit of something for everyone: bouldering, sport climbing, trad climbing, and more. Bishop has some of the best bouldering in the country, and possibly the world: the Buttermilks. The rock is sharp. The feet are glassy. The views are unbeatable. Take any newer climber here and they’ll definitely be shut down on the technical climbing that the Milks require. To make their lives easier, here’s a guide to the best beginner boulders in the Buttermilks.

1. Hero Roof, V0

Hero Roof, Best Beginner Boulders in the Buttermilks, Bishop
Mac on the crux of Hero Roof

Hero Roof is a climb every newbie should hit. It moves most similarly to a gym problem, making it the perfect start for someone new to climbing. Follow a line of bomber jugs to a slightly committing topout.

The landing has a boulder beneath it, but get a spotter on top of it and you’ll be fine.

BoulderHero Roof
LandingOne large boulder beneath the apex/topout
Getting off the boulderDown climb to the right of Hero Roof, down the slab.
Pads2-3
SpottersYes
Mountain ProjectYes

2. Robinson’s Rubber Tester, V0

Robinson's Rubber Tester, Best Beginner Boulders in Bishop
Maddy dancing through the delicate slab

If you thought V0 was supposed to be easy, you thought wrong. This seemingly blank slab has a lot to teach you about finesse and footwork. Wait for it to be out of direct sun before trying, otherwise, you’ll be blinded.

Robinson’s Rubber Tester has a flat landing, perfect for anyone transitioning from the gym to the crag.

BoulderRobinson’s Rubber Tester
LandingFlat
Getting off the boulderWalk off to the left
Pads1-2
SpottersNo
Mountain ProjectYes

3. Birthday Left, V0

Birthday Left is a great intro to the Buttermilks’ glassy, crimp lines, so it’s on our list of best beginner boulders in the Buttermilks. Use your feet, and make a big move to jugs at the top.

Only one pad? No problem. One pad is enough for this climb. Walk off and jump off the back of the boulder.

BoulderBirthday
LandingFlat
Getting off the boulderDown climb off the back
Pads1-2
SpottersNo
Mountain ProjectYes

4. Sunshine Slab, V0

Sunshine Slab, Best Beginner Boulders in the Buttermilks
Mac waking up with a morning lap on Sunshine.

Sunshine Slab is home to a few easy, but tall problems. It’s a great intro to Buttermilk highball climbing! The climbs on the left are the easiest. Bonus points for climbing during sunrise. The alpenglow is unbeatable.

The landing here is flat, but be warned, after a certain point, you really cannot fall.

BoulderSunshine
LandingFlat, but it’s a highball
Getting off the boulderDown climb off the back
Pads1-2
SpottersNo
Mountain ProjectYes

5. Five and Dime Boulder, V0-V1

Five and Dime Boulder in the Buttermilks
Dao crimping her way to the top of Five and Dime.

Five and Dime is home to a number of low grade climbs without crowds. This face seems blank, but upon closer inspection, there’s a good number of crimps to style your way to the top.

One or two pads needed. A spotter might be helpful to calm the nerves for a few of the topouts.

BoulderFive and Dime
LandingFlat
Getting off the boulderWalk off
Pads1-2
SpottersYes. Some of the problems to the right of the boulder have sketchy landings, but otherwise, relatively flat.
Mountain ProjectYes

6. Flakes, V1

Dao floating her way up the jugs of Flakes.

The Buttocks or Smooth Shrimp boulder is home to Flakes, a fun, very chalked up, jug haul. The Buttocks boulder is a great boulder for climbers of all abilities to be honest. There’s a little bit of something for everyone on this lowball (by Buttermilks standards).

This climb is also the down climb. You’ll need a pad or two. If heights aren’t your favorite, a spotter may give you peace of mind.

BoulderButtocks (Shrimp)
LandingFlat
Getting off the boulderSame way you went up
Pads1-2
SpottersYes, for the down climb, which happens to be the same as the climb
Mountain ProjectYes

6. Birthing Experience, V1

Birthing Experience V1 in the Buttermilks
Star figuring her way out of the Womb.

Rumor has it your Buttermilks sends don’t actually count until you’ve ticked this bizarro climb off. This climb is less about finesse and skill, and more about grunting and contorting your way out of the womb. High value, and high laughs.

You’ll only need one or two pads on this lowball. Most of your falls will be rolling out of the womb. It’s one of the most perfect beginner boulders in the Buttermilks. For extra fun, try Yo! Basecamp to the right. Slab has never felt harder.

BoulderWomb
LandingFlat
Getting off the boulderDown climb/jump off the back
Pads1-2
SpottersNo
Mountain ProjectYes

7. Buttermilk Stem, V1

Buttermilk Stem V1 in the Buttermilks
Pressing through the lower moves of Buttermilk Stem.

Competition climbing aficionados, Buttermilk Stem will be one of your favorite beginner boulders in Bishop. Press up off the ground and grovel your way to the top. This climb favors the vertically inclined, but vertically challenged folks should try it too.

One or two pads are needed for this. A spotter is helpful.

BoulderButtermilk Stem
LandingFlat
Getting off the boulderDown climb an easy slab
Pads1-2
SpottersYes
Mountain ProjectYes

8. America’s Fit Homeless Boulder, VB-V2

America's Fit Homeless, Best Beginner Boulders in the Buttermilks
Christine powering through the one hard move of Problem E, V2.

Don’t let the namesake of this boulder fool you. America’s Fit Homeless is home to many quality warmups between VB-V2. Tick off routes in the book, or just traverse across jugs until you feel like topping out. It receives less traffic than other lower-grade boulders in the area, so the holds are only slightly glassy. Perfect for those who get nervous with crowds, like me. The easiest climb up is also the down climb.

A spotter is nice to shuffle your pad as you traverse, or to move your pad to the down climb.

BoulderAmerica’s Fit Homeless
LandingFlat
Getting off the boulderDown climb Problem A, V0-
Pads1-2
SpottersYes, to shuffle pads
Mountain ProjectYes

9. Green Wall Essential, V2

Green Wall Essential in the Buttermilk Boulders
Pulling through the glassy crimps of this Buttermilks V2 test piece.

With the previous climbs under your belt, up the ante with Green Wall Essential. This V2 test piece shuts down even the strongest of climbers with its small crimps and smeary feet.

Only one pad is necessary. The landing is flat, and the fall is straight. You may not even need a pad, this problem always has people trying it.

BoulderGreen Wall
LandingFlat
Getting off the boulderDown climb to the right of the problems
Pads1-2
SpottersNo
Mountain ProjectYes

10. Birthday Direct, V3

Birthday Direct is an ultra-classic Bishop and Buttermilks line. If you can do this, you’ll have a good understanding of what climbing in the Buttermilks require. Finger strength, footwork, and finesse will see you to the top of this boulder problem.

Don’t be intimidated by the crowds. There are always pads under this problem. This is a damn good line.

One or two pads are nice if there isn’t a gym floor already. The landing is flat. Bring some psych.

BoulderBirthday
LandingFlat
Getting off the boulderDown climb off the back
Pads1-2
SpottersNo
Mountain ProjectYes

What’s next now that you’ve finished all the beginner boulders at the Buttermilks? To stay psyched, here are your bouldering essentials, and luxury items that will make you the coziest (and most envied) person at the crag.

If you need a rest day, check out the Volcanic Tablelands, relax in the Mammoth Lakes hot springs, or take a roadtrip along the Eastern Sierra.

Did I miss any good beginner boulders? Let me know in the comments!

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