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Climbing in the Bishop Area

There is an abundance of challenging routes to be found on the peaks above Bishop. There is also an abundance of steep hikes and low-angle mountaineering routes, as well. It is up to you to choose your path, considering all the risks that might be present in the High Sierra. If you are a solid mountaineer, well versed in high alpine climbing, then you will find endless cliffs as yet unclimbed in this remote local. There are many guide books available which detail all recorded climbs in the Sierra. The visiting climber would be well advised to consult these before venturing out.

The opportunities are endless. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

The Buttermilks
This is the main bouldering area. There are many other remote places to boulder, but this is the most popular. Only 10 miles outside of Bishop, it is easily accessible by going west on Hwy. 168 toward South Lake and turning right at Buttermilk road, approximately 7 miles outside of town. Continue west on the well-graded, main dirt road for another 3 miles to the bright rock formations on the right. These are the Buttermilk Boulders and the road continues around the rocky boulder country to the Windy Wall and the Why Boulder.

The Gorge
This is one of the most popular sport climbing area in the state! Difficult routes abound. These are sport climbs, so they are generally well-protected, requiring a rack of quickdraws and some nerve. There are thousands of routes and there is a guidebook available at climbing shops everywhere. Head north on Hwy. 395 for 9 miles and turn right at Lower Rock Creek road. After 1 mile, this road goes right toward the Pleasant Valley reservoir. Head Left and follow the Pipeline Road for access. The Gorge is on your right as you head up the grade and your desired route will dictate where you park. Consult the guidebook for more info.

Mt. Agassiz (13,893 ft.)
West Face / class 2

This the easiest peak to climb in the Palisades Group. The Palisades are the largest group of peaks in the Sierra that exceed 14,000 elevation. Another unique quality of this region is the lack of gently sloping access from the west side. This is the most extreme section of the High Sierra Crest. The Palisades region is considered to hold some of the finest alpine climbing opportunities in the entire range.

To access the easiest route, up the easiest peak in the Palisades, one must first hike to Bishop Pass. From there, the route is obvious amongst the vertical cliffs of this area. The climb/hike to the summit is rated class 2, which is considered steep hiking, off trail. The route can go many different ways up the west slope, but generally holds to the spur, which rises from the pass directly to the summit. The views are spectacular from this peak.

Mt. Tom Ross (13,253 ft.)
Southeast Face / class 2

North Ridge / class 3
This peak is named for local climber/photographer Tom Ross of Bishop. The northeast face has an excellent couloir. The southeast face is class 2 and the north ridge is class 3. This peak is best accessed from the Sabrina Basin. Norman Clyde first climbed this peak in 1925.

This peak can also be accessed from Lamark Col (12,880+ ft.) and the Darwin Basin.

Bear Creek Spire(13,720 ft.)
Northeast Ridge / class 4 (exposed)

This peak has some of the highest-quality granite to be found anywhere. Wildly convoluted and weathered granite affords the climber a wealth of hand and footholds. The classic line up to the summit follows the northeast ridge to the summit ridge. The summit is difficult to reach and the airy setting will freak even the toughest mountaineer. This could be just what you are looking for. The northeast ridge route offers an escape option at the summit ridge down to the west, then around to the north and Dade Lake.

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