Kaweah Run Amok At Alabama Hills

  • Updated: April 21, 2013
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

April 20th & 21st, 2013
Alabama Hills, CA

We're currently in the lull between the end of the 10 week Wilderness Travel Course (WTC) and the start of the 3 week Advanced Mountaineering Program (AMP) both of which I help out with and enthusiastically sacrifice weekends to.

Usually the unclaimed weekends between these two classes are spent in a series of mad dashes out to remote areas of the desert car camping and grabbing all manner of peaks raining from impressive and enjoyable to nondescript and painful with large blazing campfires and much fun had by all.

Every now and then I like to throw in something different and so this weekend was an open call weekend for anyone in Kaweah to come join us for a weekend of sport climbing out in Alabama Hills.

Alabama Hills is an area on the east side of the Sierra near Lone Pine along the road leading up to Whitney Portal.  It's well known for it's rock climbing routes and free camping opportunities all under a spectacular view of the Eastern Sierra.

To get there you drive west from Lone Pine along Whitney Portal Road until you come to Movie Road, a rather excellent dirt road that has numerous offshoots leading to primitive camps and climbing areas.  We stop here often to sleep for a few hours when driving north for various weekend adventures.

If you go a bit further up Whitney Portal Road you find Horseshoe Meadow Road heading off to the left and a short ways down this road you'll come to Tuttle Creek Campground where you can stay with the additional comfort of vault toilets and official fire rings.

4 vehicles converged on Alabama Hills Friday night and Saturday morning we kicked off the weekend in style at the Alabama Hills Cafe.

Located one block south of Whitney Portal Road it's popularly considered to be the best breakfast on the east side.  It's somewhat of a rare occurrence when I can actually stop here since most weekends Saturday mornings finds me stumbling around at first light at one trailhead or another.

The Southern California Mountaineers Association was having their annual (and highly recommended) Rock Climbing Safety Course graduation weekend and we ran in to Ron Campbell and several other familiar faces in addition to a large group that seemed to be a SMI outing on it's way out.

Properly fed and filled to the gills with coffee we headed for Alabama Hills proper.  We pulled up to Hoodgie Wall finding it mostly unoccupied and set about putting ropes on Leonosphere and Ankles Away.

We were soon joined by a large enthusiastic group of teenagers climbing with one of the local guide outfits.

We climbed here for several hours before heading over to The Cattle Pocket drawn by such climbs as Itty Bitty Titty Committee, Jackie's Rack, and Birthday Buttcrack finally finishing up on The Split.

We all had fun on the vertical and easy Jackie's Rack.  Itty Bitty proved to be a bit sketchier in the initial clip than we really wanted so we settled for just saying the name of the climb endlessly and proceeded over to Birthday Buttcrack.

As a special treat everyone's favorite Independence resident Stephanie Gylden dropped by for a bit to climb with us along with Tucker the mountain dog extroidinare.

We had fun at the end of the day with The Split due to an interesting overhanging start that required a bit of an awkward move to get around.

We climbed until dusk and then headed back to Tuttle Creek where we spent a pleasant night sitting out under the stars around a roaring campfire.

Sunday we woke up and again aviled ourselves of Alabama Hills Cafe before running out to Tall Wall where we spent half the day climbing and trying to find relief from the increasingly brutal sun.

Jen ran up and set ropes on Rotten Bananas and Bananarama Before she led up Spur and then set a top rope up on the fairly challenging Tall T.

Eventually the shade arrived and we spent a few more hours climbing away until everyone reached the pleasant combination of sore, tired, and scraped up that meant it was time to head for home.

We left sometime around 3 pm which gave us just enough time to get out to Boron California for everyones favorite east side Mexican food stop Domingos.  (As you can see we were really roughing it this weekend!)

One slightly questionable seating arrangement later it was back to OC to rest up for the next weekend.

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