New Guidebook: Mammoth Bouldering

by dpm | 10/01/2012

New Guidebook: Mammoth Bouldering


Guidebooks have always been a controversial topic in my book. Whenever you are visiting a new place they are always the first thing you look to in order to help orientate you with the area you will be visiting.  However, after picking up a new guide book, many times I wish I could have immediately asked for a refund.  Guidebook authors seem to be a dime a dozen now a days and therein lies the problem.  Authors figure they will make a quick buck by pimping out their local areas to a publisher or attempt to self-publish because the local guide book has not been updated in the last 50 years.  But, when I flip through the pages and spend a weekend getting lost and staring blankly at the “obvious start holds” I begin to lament the person who is credited as the author.

Beth Rodden on Green Mamba (V7) at Way Lake.

So when Charlie Barrett, a Mammoth local, released his latest guidebook I should have immediately remembered my past bad experiences wandering down the wrong trail and climbing mislabeled lines, but I didn’t. Why? Because, I met Charlie last year when he was circuiting a new area for his guidebook and I caught the V13 climber making sure that the V1 listed in his guide was just that, V1.  This continued for the next two days with Charlie showing up to the all the areas I was being toured through looking to ensure a consensus in his guidebook from climbers of every ability. Some may say this is over-kill, but to be honest, the effort is a breath of fresh air.

Courtney Hemphill on Hose Monster (V8). 

When I got to check out Charlie’s new book that just dropped, I found that all of his hard work I witnessed last fall was not in vain. The Mammoth guidebook is a self-published effort that offers 264 full color pages and about 1000+ bouldering problems. Self published guides sometimes pale in comparison to the new edge publishers, but this guide does in fact have it all, color photos, accurate topos, and great “local beta” well worth the $32.95 cost. Print is not dead and a “good guide book” is in fact worth its weight in gold! You can try and trust online sources but having the actual book in your hand as you are negotiating that next cluster of boulders in front of you is priceless.

Flipping through the guide, it does have moments when it feels rudimentary, it happens when you are doing it all yourself. But the topos are easy to read, the problem descriptions are spot on, and there are some great photos from local contributing photographers that offer some solid eye candy within the pages.

June Lake. Sample page from the guide.

If you are unfamiliar with the area, then just listen to the man himself John Sherman as he describes it within the index of the guide, “Forty miles north of Bishop is the ski resort town of Mammoth Lakes. Mammoth has a reputation as Los Angeles’s winter weekend snow-and-blow party spot. It also has a reputation as the Eastside’s best summer bouldering. Numerous toproping and bouldering areas pack the forest north of Mammoth.”

Lee Vining Canyon. Sample page from the guide.

 So on your trip through to Bishop make sure you pause and pick up the guidebook and do not miss Hartley Springs, June Lake and Way Lake, these are just some of the best crags that can be found inside of this book, they are well worth your time wandering through the forest.

To find a gear shop to purchase the guide or to order the guide online visit

-Anthony Lapomardo

Catrina Behling climbing at Deadman