The Alabama Hills
The Alabama Hills is truly a delightful place for crag climbing and if you are new to the sport a great place to learn rock climbing in general.
This mountain range buried in its own waste as the rocks shed their skin one layer at a time over centuries. It is thought that the Owens Valley is packed with about 10,000 feet of rock fill, the deepest part being just east of the Hills at near the city of Lone Pine.
The area is filled with course, orange and brown granite or quartz monzonite towers and outcrops much older but very similar to those of Joshua Tree another great climbing area. The rock quality ranges from solid brown patina to crumbling pebble flakes. The Alabama Hills is the ultimate lazy man's crag with routes found just feet from the car to at most, ten-minute scrambles. The climbs ratings range from 5.1 to 12c.When you want lunch after climbing, you are only 5 minutes away from the city of Lone Pine. There are at least 300+ routes that have been documented, the majority being bolted in the 90s for sport climbing.
All year climbing is possible but early mornings are recommended in the summer as temperatures can exceed 100 degrees but there are also plenty of shaded climbs. The busy season is in October through December when temperatures are more moderate. We climbed all summer from sunrise to 11am moving to the shaded areas around 9 am and we were the only climbers there!
One of great thing about the Alabama Hills is the free dispersed camping. Many of the roads that lead to the different rock formations where you can climb also lead to excellent camp spots but be ready to be woken up early when the rock climbers show up! Because of the heavy use and the lack of folks not following “leave no trace” camping may be regulated in the near future so please practice strict “Leave No Trace” principles. Take your poop with you rather than burring it in the sand.
In springtime, the Alabama Hills hosts an astounding array of Mojave Desert wildflowers. The area also has appeared in many of the old westerns and some modern films. There is a cool movie museum in lone pine showcasing the movies filmed there.