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Bishop Visitor's Center

Intro

The Happy and Sad Boulders offer hundreds of boulder problems that will delight and challenge climbers who come to Bishop to test their skills. With everything from jugs to crimps to pockets, you can find just about anything here. There are caves and cracks, and while some of the rock might not look that secure, it’s pretty solid. The landings are usually flat, the top outs are flat—what more could you ask for?

What Makes It Great

The Happy and Sad Boulders are located in the Volcanic Tableland, just north of Bishop in an (almost) mile long canyon. The volcanic rock in this area created channels, cracks and underhangs that draws climbers from all over the world to experience the Bishop Tuff for themselves. A little bit easier on the hands than the rock over at the nearby Buttermilks, the Happy and Sad Boulders offer more of a challenge for your muscles rather than your skin.

The Happy Boulders are a little more accessible for a less experienced climber, and, as the name suggests, it’s hard to have a bad day out here. Most of the problems here range from V0 (Pursuit of Wow, Corner Route) to V8 (Disco Diva), but there are a few tougher ones, like Toxic Avenger (V9/10) and Acid Wash (V10). If you want to get your heart pumping, jump on the not-t0-difficult highball Heavenly Path (V1). The Happys are a great place to go out with a crew of varying abilities because of the range of problems, and the high concentration of them. It’s very easy for multiple people to work on their projects within a stone’s throw of each other.

The Sad Boulders, on the other hand, offer up some much more challenging problems. While there are some classics in the V0-V3 range (like China Doll and Still Life), you’ll also find some trickier V10s, like Beefcake, a low and steep climb inside a catacomb-like cave. The Sads are also usually cooler thanks to these caves and less direct sunlight on the rock.

The flora and fauna in this area are fragile, so leave no trace and pack out anything you bring in to ensure it stays beautiful for generations to come. Combined with the epic climbing and the stunning backdrop of the Eastern Sierra, including incredible peaks like Mt. Tom and the Wheeler Crest, it’s easy to see what makes this area so popular.

Who is Going to Love It

Between the two spots there is something for every type of climber. There is an abundance of low traverses and link-ups, plenty of overhangs with friendly handholds, crimpy routes, cracks, and a tons of finger pockets. The landings are flat and there’s a pretty wide range of difficulties here too.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

Head north from Bishop on Highway 395 and make a right onto Pleasant Valley Road. Turn right again onto Chalk Bluff Road after passing by the Pleasant Valley Campground. On your left hand side is a cliff band, continue for about two miles until you hit the parking and access area for Happy Boulders. The pit toilet is located here as well. Continue on to the second kiosk area to access the Sads.

Featured image provided by Friends of the Inyo

About the Author: Roots Rated

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What is RootsRated? RootsRated is a media platform that connects users with the best outdoor experiences, hand-picked by local outdoor retailers and their networks of local experts. We are NOT another website full of crowd-sourced trail reviews.
We harness the collective expertise of high-level local runners, skiers, riders, paddlers, and climbers. Then we share it through exclusive stories and destination reviews—curated city by city—about the best trails, runs, routes, crags, and more. RootsRated brings people who love the outdoors together, through insights from locals who are most in the know.

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