Night time in The Pit. Photo by Ken Haller.
Bishop was the last U.S. bouldering destination I visited before heading over to Europe. It was also my favorite bouldering destination due to the superb rock quality, the immense amount of problems, but also the enjoyable and chill climber “scene”.
Best Time to Visit
Bishop is similar to most bouldering destinations where the best time to go is when temps are in the 50 ‘s. I believe people winter here, but it definitely gets a bit cold during the true winter months. I think the optimal months are fall and spring.
Length of Stay
I was in Bishop for 5 weeks, albeit one week was nursing a sprained ankle. I felt like I had explored the area well, yet still hadn’t even seen ½ of the areas. For instance I only visited the Buttermilks, Happies and Sads, missing out on the other three areas covered in the book. A visit could easily consist of a couple months, if not longer.
How To Get There
Directions to the city of Bishop are quite straightforward. Further directions are needed to find the crags, but the guidebook includes sufficient instructions. If still lost, stop in at Wilsons (on Main street) for directions.
The Bishop guidebook, similar to the Hueco and Red River Gorge books, is phenomenal. It is called Bishop Bouldering and is written by Wills Young. The only downside, and it is a HUGE downside, is the lack of an index. You can either reference page numbers or download an index from here.
There are numerous are classics in Bishop, which I have already written up here.
There are two main places to camp.
- The Buttermilks – It is free to camp in the Buttermilks plus, depending on your camp site, it is possible to be walking distance from the climbing. Note that the Buttermilks are located higher than town and The Pit, meaning it will definitely be cooler at night. The downside to camping here is town is 30 minutes away.
- The Pit – Cost to camp is $2 per car per campsite. It is located 15 minutes from town and is the main climber hangout. The downside is it will be louder than the Buttermilks.
- Yamatani – Surprisingly good sushi place, with the best items being off menu. My favorite (off menu, of course) was Mt. Fuji which is a Mexican inspired dish with a mixture of fish, avacado and sriracha served on a fried wonton. Hmmmmmm…. delicious.
- The Bowling Alley – The bowling alley has the best and cheapest burgers in town.
- Whisky Creek – Good food but a titch over priced. Best to go there at Happy Hour which is daily between 5 – 6.
- Las Palmas – The Mexican place behind the Black Sheep, located on Line Street.
- Bishop Grill – Wanting a typical American breakfast of bacon and eggs? The Bishop Grill is the place to go.
- Schatz Bakery – A must stop! Definitely try the chili cheese bread.
- Great Basin Bakery – This bakery is an easy stop on the way to the Buttermilks and is where the locals stop.
Rest Day Activities
- Keough Hot Springs – The hot springs are actually a perfect after climbing treat. There are two options at the same approximate location. The resort of Kenough Hot Springs is a paid service where the springs are cemented off and showers are accessible. However, most climbers go after 7:30 when the resort closes and releases all the hot water to the down stream to the free area. Note: As a female I would not go to the free area alone.
- Mammoth – Mammoth is quite closeby. I actually wished I had my snowboarding gear as Mammoth resort was having a good ski year.
- Mono Lake Tufa Reserver – I didn’t know about this area until after I left Bishop. From the pictures I saw, I think this is a must see on a rest day.
- Injuries – I’ve noticed each area has its own type of injuries, but the sprained and broken ankle is definitely the demise of Bishop due to the high-ball problems. It wouldn’t hurt to take pre-emptive measures and tape up your ankles if you have had past injuries.