Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 37.33960°N / 118.5825°W
Activities Activities: Trad Climbing, Sport Climbing, Toprope
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Elevation: 6200 ft / 1890 m
Sign the Climber's Log


Moon over Mount EmersonMount Emerson seen from The Buttermilks

Y-Boulder is small rock formation in the Buttermilks region of the eastern Sierras directly west of the city of Bishop California.


Y-Boulder may have a name that indicates a small stature; in reality, Y-Boulder is large enough to climb with a rope and technical gear. The name “Y-Boulder” may have to do with a two-crack system that split this rock into a shape that resembles the letter Y. This distinct rock formation sits singularly at the base of a much steeper hillside that embodies much larger formations such as Windy Wall, Wavelength and countless other boulders.
South face of Y-Boulder

In the old times Y-Boulder was the scene of local crowds’ weekend beer drinking parties. Gone are the days of discarded trash, strewn-about beer cans and shot up plastic soda bottles on the base of Y-Boulder. The area surrounding this beautiful rock are now clean and pleasant to visit. As it is with all the Buttermilks Crags, the views of the Eastern Sierras visible from Y-Boulder are breathtaking. Since Y-Boulder sits low in the Buttermilks basin, being there gives you a feeling of being cradled by Mount Tom. What more can a visitor ask for?

Views of the sierras...
Views of the sierras...
Views of the sierras...
Views of the sierras

Climbs of Y-Boulder

Routes of Y-Boulder
West face of Y-BoulderWest face of Y-Boulder
No one really knows how far back the history of climbing on Y-Boulder goes. I have no doubt locals scrambled to the top via a fourth class route on the north side long before rock climbers came onto the scene. It is safe to assume that the first technical climbs must have been the two prominent cracks on the south face of this rock. The right crack, rated 5.8, was, without a doubt, the first climb done. Wide cracks such as the Right Crack, even at lower grades, present a special challenge. They are too wide for your hands and fists to get a solid jam. Protecting such cracks was accomplished by extra wide aluminium pitons, known as “Bongs.” At the present time, of course, extra wide, spring-loaded caming devices are used to protect such wide cracks.

The west face of Y-Boulder is a seemingly featureless vertical face. This lack of larger features did not stop a hard man like Tom Herbert from establishing a four bolt climb on this face. I guess it was pure faith, or self confidence, that resulted in “Faith, 12c.”

Climbs of Y-Boulder
AWhy left, 10c, bolts and gear
BLeft Y-Crack, 5.9, wide crack, come prepared for off-width climbing, gear protection up to 6 inches
CRight Y-Crack, 5.8, standard rack up to 3 inches
DWhy Center, 10a, not well protected, runout
EWhy Right, 10b, bolts


Band of Gold across Mount TomMount Tom, another beautiful mountain view from The Buttermilks
camping at The Buttermilks...camping in bad style

With a huge flux of climbers from out of town, I have noticed many tents and unsightly campsites in the parking areas. This practice has been tolerated by locals and authorities, so far. These climbers use the surounding areas, and sometimes the base of boulder problems, for going to the bathroom. I am afraid this kind of abuse will eventually impact this beautiful area. In addition it may result in restriction on access.

There are many campgrounds nearby that can be used. Do your best to use the campgrounds, at least for extended stays. In addition to the nearby campgrounds, there are many unofficial campsites, some near running creeks, that can be used. In any event, camping in the parking areas is the worst to choose.

The following links should help finding a good campsite

Horton Creek Campground

Rock Creek Canyon

Inyo National Forest

Bishop Creek and vicinity camping

How to get there

From the town of Bishop California drive seven miles on Highway 168, also known as Line Street, to its intersection with Buttermilk Road. Take this dirt road for 3.5 miles to a broken gate. To your right you will see many boulders of all sizes. These are the famous Buttermilks Boulders. Turn right after the gate and soon you will see a large clearing to your right. This is known as the “Back Parking.” From here drive another 1/4 of a mile to to a fork. Take the left fork and drive another .3 miles to another fork. Take the right one for a short distance. You cannot miss it.



Parents refers to a larger category under which an object falls. For example, theAconcagua mountain page has the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits' asparents and is a parent itself to many routes, photos, and Trip Reports.