10 of My Favorite Bouldering Problems in Bishop, California for the V0-V3 Boulderer

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It's Bishop Season! Or that's what every local boulderer in California will start saying around this time of the year. What's Bishop season you may ask? Why, it's the most wonderful time of the year! Bishop Season tis the season to be jolly! When Bishop Clause gives you gifts in the form of sent projects and perfect sending temperatures! Oh Come all ye, Bishop-ers! 

But really, it is one of my favorite times of the year, and I hope all climbers who have skin to spare on their fingertips make sure to have a Bishop trip planned this winter. 

If you've always wanted to make a trip out there, but have been intimidated by the grades, or you don't know where to start (the whole Bishop area has over 2,300 bouldering problems!), then this post is for you. I'd like to highlight 10 of my favorite "beginner" (V0-V3) Bouldering Problems in Bishop, California. Some of these boulder problems are the first problems I ever tried in Bishop, and some I enjoy repeating over and over again. Either way, there isn't a shortage of them, and don't be fooled by the grades. There are V0 problems in Bishop that have given me heartburn, time after time (ahem Hero Roof ahem).

A few terms to clear up (for the non-climber):

  • V# - The V#'s are a difficulty scale ranging from V0 (easier) to V16 (fucking hard). This scale is used as a guide to climbers to rate different bouldering "problems"
  • Classic - A climb that is considered a "must-do" for the area. Best in its class. A+ for the "grade"
  • "Send" - When you have reached the top of a particular boulder problem! Woo hoo! You are a rock star. Used in a sentence, "I can't wait to send my problem this year", "I feel a send in my future", "May the send be with you"...
  • Highball - A really fucking high boulder that you climb. Takes balls? I'm not sure, but we call it a highball.
  • Spotter - A friend or stranger who willingly sacrifices their hands in the air to catch your body in a fall... or one hand, if nursing a beer. Either way, it's a good idea to have one of these.
  • Crash Pad - like a mattress, that you carry on your back and place under your climbs to cushion potential falls
  • Slabby, stemmy, juggy, balancy - essential bouldering descriptive words
  • Kneebar - Foot on rock, knee on rock.. at the same time.. calf wedged in the middle. Hope that makes sense.

Without further ado:

1) Hero Roof, The Buttermilk Boulders, V0+

A classic V0 in the Buttermilks. Don't take it's V0 title lightly, for "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet?" (Shakespeare). Such is Hero Roof. Don't get caught up on the low grade of this climb. It's a beautiful struggle and a test piece for any new/beginner climber in the Buttermilks, and an epic view to boot.

Hero Roof, V0+, Photo by Michael Auffant

Hero Roof, V0+, Photo by Michael Auffant

2) Corner, The Happy Boulders, V0

Another classic, but highball, Bishop problem. It is in a nice warm-up area. The route climbs the corner. Exciting little V0, slightly more complicated than it appears. Best to have a spotter or two spotting you.

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3) Celestial Trail, The Happy Boulders, V0-

This slabby V0- is a great introduction into highball bouldering in Bishop. It's not as well known as its neighbor (V1 climb to the left called Heavenly Path), but I think it is great for warmup and testing out your nerves on highball boulder problems. All the holds are there, just take your time and breathe. As an added plus, the down climb is easy on the backside of this boulder. This is my go-to boulder for warming up for my project, Solarium V4, which is only a few feet away.

*This probably goes without saying, but make sure to have a spotter and a crashpad for highball bouldering problems if you aren't confident in your skills, or practice on something not as high before this. Falling consequences can cause serious injury at these heights.

Celestial Trail, V0-, Photo by Michael Auffant

Celestial Trail, V0-, Photo by Michael Auffant

4) Birthday Left, The Buttermilk Boulders, V0

Another fun V0 in the Buttermilks! You can tell where I like to spend a lot of my time huh? The route starts with a stand start and climbs the left of the boulder. It's slabby and with a throw, always a fun one to warm up on. A classic.

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5) Smiths, The Sad Boulders, V0+

Sadly, I don't have a cool photo of this one, and I don't think the climb is very well known. In the book, this climb doesn't get any stars, but I really dug this climb. It climbs on the same pockets as the popular Molly Problems (V6-V7), but finishes up and right with a throw to the arete (noted in the book as a "flying finish"). Short but fun, in my opinion. 

6) Monkey Dihedral, The Buttermilk Boulders, V2

Ok, maybe I just like slabby weird problems, but this one struck my fancy from the first time i tried it. The guide book even notes it as "intriguing". Its got a lot of fun elements. It's stemmy, it's balancy, there's a tiny thumb catch, it tops out over a corner crack, and the down climb is "slightly" spicy. I loved working this problem, and even though only a V2, I felt really proud when I finally sent it. 

Monkey Dihedral, V2, Photo by Michael Auffant

Monkey Dihedral, V2, Photo by Michael Auffant

7) Green Wall Essential, The Buttermilk Boulders, V2

Another one I'm proud of. This wall is hard to ignore if you are walking around in the Buttermilks. It's got this epic cracked face and beautiful green lichen all over it. This V2 is another "highball" climb that is trickier than it looks and takes a delicate balance to finish. Definitely worth the challenge. A classic.

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8) Funky Tut, The Buttermilk Boulders, V3

I might be a little biased, but this is still one of my favorite climbs in Bishop. It was also the first V3 I ever sent in Bishop. Balance your way to the right across the boulder, put all your faith in one tiny right foothold and fly to a jug hold finish. It's beautiful, and so, so satisfying. 

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9) King Tut, The Buttermilk Boulders, V3

After you send Funky Tut, consider trying its equally exciting counter-part, King Tut. Another fun V3 in the Buttermilks. Instead of going right, you go straight up on this problem. The ending is slabby, and there are no glory jugs at the top, so mind your balance! Another gratifying send.

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10) Space Suit, The Sad Boulders, V3

I'm getting a little ahead of myself, because I actually haven't sent this problem yet, but I felt it was too good to leave out. The route starts deep down in a cave with a funky little knee bar and finishes out on jugs on the face. I'm sensing a send on this one this year. I've had a ton of fun just trying this problem. 

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As you can see, there are a bunch of great V0-V3 problems in Bishop, and these are only touching the surface. Hope you get a chance to check some of them out if you haven't already.

See you in Bishop! Happy Bouldering!

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