Climbing in Bishop: The Happy Boulders

Andrew Messick with the undercling on Heavenly Path V1 in the Happy Boulders of Bishop CaliforniaThe Happy Boulders sit on the Volcanic Tablelands just 5 miles north of Bishop, California. Home to tuff cutouts, Huecos packed boulders, crimpy air pockets and hundreds of problems see why the Happy boulders is a place to smile while climbing in Bishop!

Nicholas Hernandez on top of the Serengeti Boulder Climbing in Bishop This volcanic plateau was created by ash & pumice produced from the eruptions of the Long Valley caldera over 700,000 years ago. Over thousands of years, erosion has carved out the rock and huge blocks of volcanic stone from the sides of the plateau creating these magnificent boulders.

Happy Boulders sign at Chalk bluff road Bouldering in BishopThe Happy Boulders are located down Chalk Bluff Rd inside of a canyon wash out in the southern section of the Volcanic Tablelands.

**IMPORTANT NOTE** – Drive slowly down this road!

This helps reduce the dust erosion. This road also has a number of blind turns on it so take it slowly, the boulders aren’t going anywhere anytime soon 😉

Climbing in bishop the parking lot at the Happy BouldersYou will go down for a few miles, pass the Sad Boulders parking lot and then come up on the Happy Boulders parking lot where there will be most likely a number of cars parked nose in toward the fence with a beautiful view of the Owen’s Valley in front of you.

Hiking up to the Happy Boulders while climbing in Bishop**STAY ON THE TRAIL**

There is an obvious and distinct trail that winds up the hill to the Happy Boulders from the parking lot. Please stay on the trails while hiking throughout the boulders, there are many beautiful desert plants that live throughout the rocks that have seen a considerable amount of damage due to negligence of hikers and climbers not paying attention. The climbing coalition along with other groups has spent many hours building and marking trails throughout the boulders to help mitigate this going forward. Please support and respect their efforts to keep a healthy balance of climbing and land conservation going!

Melvin Rivera long distance shot on Heavenly Path V1 in the Happy Boulders of Bishop CaliforniaThese large blocks of volcanic rock making up the Happy Boulders are anywhere from 10 to 30+ feet tall! When hiking in, they may not appear to be that large until you realize what looks to be ants are actually people climbing up the sides of them! The Heavenly Path Boulder seen in the photo above is a perfect example and a distinct landmark when navigating through the Happy Boulders.

Ann Marie at the top of Celestrial Trail V0 in the Happy Boulders in Bishop California - MDVThe Heavenly Path boulder stands roughly 25-30 feet tall in the center of the canyon and has 2 super classic problems: Celestial Path V0 & Heavenly Path V1.

No matter what grade you are bouldering at, these two problems are an excellent chance to get your head game in order and a feel for the style of climbing you will find within the Happy’s. These problems should be on everyone’s tick list when climbing in Bishop.

Nicholas Hernandez on Monkey Hang V3 at the Hapy Boulders in Bishop CaliforniaAnother problem that should be taken into consideration when climbing in the Happy Boulders is the V3 problem “Monkey Hang”. This problem has you boulder through a predominant overhung roof requiring you to get creative with your body positioning.

Melvin Rivera on Monkey Hang V3 at the Happy Boulders in Bishop CaliforniaHeel-hooks and toe-hooks become very handy when working this problem. It is primarily in the shade which makes it a great mid-day climb to work on when you want to get out of the sun for a bit.

Brendan going for the grab on Monkey Swing V3 at the Happy Boulders in Bishop CaliforniaJust be prepared to cut feet, hang on and commit because you can definitely find yourself taking a swing when making moves on this problem! Monkey Hang is a ton of fun to climb and recommended for anyone’s tick list!

Melvin Rivera falling on Solarium V4 at the Happy Boulders in Bishop CaliforniaAnn marie climbing in Bishop on the Serengeti Boulder while being spottedOne thing that can not be stress enough when climbing in Bishop is the need to bring a sufficient number of crashpads, proper pad placement and to diligently spot one another while bouldering! Take the time to properly scout out where the problem goes up the boulder, have a game plan on which spotter will move the pads and where they need to go!

Ann Marie on the top of the Saerengti boulder at the Happy Boulders in Bishop CaliforniaAs you can see the boulders here are VERY HIGH! Everyone loves to on-sight a problem when given the chance but make sure it is not at the risk of breaking an ankle or suffering a much worse injury! You and your climbing group’s safety is your own responsibility! Communicate with your team & make a plan before every climb! The best trips are the ones where everyone goes home safe!

skyline of mountains from the Happy Boulders fullWhen you finish climbing for the day or stopping for lunch, we highly recommend taking a hike up out of the canyon and onto the plateau. The view of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range from the top of the Tablelands is indescribable and simply jaw dropping! If you are a photographer the landscape shots here are spectacular!

Check out the Bishop Area Climbers Coalition – Facebook Page

For more information on bouldering the Happy Boulders – Mountain Project

front view of the Hostel California Shout out to the Matt Myers & the Hostel California for the hospitality & stay while climbing in Bishop and letting us borrow the crash-pads!

Check this article about an awesome bouldering spot in the Northeast!

Beat the Heat: Bouldering in Smuggler’s Notch

Andrew Messick giving a shout while going for it on Dojo V6 bouldering in Smuggler's Notch, Vermont


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