You’ve heard it before: our outdoor spaces are getting loved to death. From erosion and social trails to littering and illegal fires, it’s a simple fact that the more people visit a place, the higher impact our presence will be.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in Bishop, the small Eastern Sierra town with world-class bouldering in its backyard. Thousands of climbers travel to this bouldering mecca every winter, some staying through the whole season while others make the trip as often as they can to accommodate work schedules and PTO. The Buttermilks are especially well-loved—sometimes the main area looks more like a theme park with the number of climbers gathering there.
We all love the outdoors and want to take care of these precious spaces, and with the right education we can all do our part to lessen our impact. But how do we get that information to the people who need to see it most?
The Buttermilks Boulders Info Kiosk
Ryan Moon, Touchstone’s Programs Director and Event Coordinator, has been climbing in the ‘Milks since 2003. He’s seen firsthand how increased climber impact has changed the landscape, and has wanted to find ways to encourage people to take care of this special place.
In February 2018, Ryan initiated a conversation with the U.S. Forest Service, which manages the Buttermilks area, to propose ways that Touchstone could help inform the public about best stewardship practices. Using the info kiosk at the Happy Boulders as an example, he asked if we could take on the task of designing and funding a kiosk for the ‘Milks. With enough persistence, the project was eventually approved with an end-of-year deadline, and we got to work.
Design and Installation
We installed two kiosks on November 30th and December 4th, one at the Birthday Boulders parking area and another at the entrance by the Peabody Boulders. Using the Happies kiosk by the Bureau of Land Management as a rough template, we designed the look of the kiosk from scratch.
The majority of the text was also developed in-house, borrowed from countless gym-to-crag classes over the years. Through collaboration efforts with Matt Ulery, founder of the Bay Area Climbers Coalition and now a Bishop local, Jolie Varela of Indigenous Women Hike, the Payahuunadü Alliance, and the Bishop Paiute-Shoshone Tribe, and others including Friends of the Inyo, Bishop Area Climbers Coalition, and Access Fund, we developed what we hope is an informative and attractive place for climbers to begin their education about The Buttermilks.
Looking to the Future
Recreating in beautiful areas like the Buttermilks is an immense privilege. We are all responsible for maintaining this land and respecting the communities who have lived here long before “bouldering” was even a word. Stay on top of your Access Fund membership, support Friends of the Inyo and the Bishop Area Climbers Coalition, and be sure to visit the Bishop Paiute-Shoshone Tribe Cultural Center to learn about the cultural history of the land and the people who still call it home.
The Buttermilks Boulders info kiosk is a part of the perpetual process that is stewardship, and we hope that you’ll join us in taking care of this place for generations to come.