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:
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.
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 ft.in 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
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.