Alabama Dome is a rock formation in the Alabama Hills
in the outskirts of Lone Pine Peak
, in the Sierra Nevada
Alabama Hills landscape seen from Alabama Dome Mount Williamson seen from Alabama Dome
You would be hard pressed to find another singular formation as impressive as Alabama Dome in the entire area. There are a few other formations, such as
, that stand out more, and only on the sheer virtue of their location. There are, however, none that offer such majesty, depth and breath as Alabama Dome. The hulk of this dome dominates the entire area and it’s recognizable from a mile away.
Long before so many formations in the Alabama Hills were bolted into submission, Alabama Dome was explored for its climbing potential. The only reason for that was the fact that this formation stood out and impressed climbers of the day more than any other formation here.
In the early 1990’s, a few friends and I were alerted to a route on Alabama Dome called “Blockade Runner.” When we went to the base of this seemingly impossible north face, we found a line of bolts, a bolt ladder, running up the middle of it. The bolts were rusty 1/4 inch stone age type indicating that they were there for some time. We aided up the rusty old bolts, some with missing hangers, and set up a top rope. We were all able to free climb the route on top rope, but none of us was willing to trust the old bolts to lead the route.
Some ten years later, I went back to the base of Alabama Dome with my wife. We found no trace of the old rusty bolts. Instead, we found three lines of lead bolts on that north face. Sufice to say, I have never had more fun climbing in the Alabama Hills before or after that morning.
List of the routes
Select Routes of Alabama Dome
|1||Blockade Runner, 10c, bolts, anchor |
|2||Dihedral Dance, 11a, bolts, anchor|
|3||Gone With The Wind, 10a, bolts, anchor|
|4||Southern Man, 5.9, bolts, anchor|
|5||Sherman's March, 10b, bolts, anchor|
Select Routes on Alabama Dome
West Face-Left Side
Select Routes of Alabama Dome West Face-Right Side Start of Gone With The Wind.
The routes on the north face of Alabama Dome from left to right are, Blockade Runner
, 10c, realigned and rebolted with much beefier bolts, then there is, Dihedral Dance
, 11a, and finally Gone With The Wind
, 10a. Gone With The Wind, in my humble opinion, is the best 10a in all of Alabama Hills. The route starts on great in-cut edges on the far right hand side of the north face. You soon find yourself climbing on the arete separating the north face from the west face. Clip seven bolts to the top and the anchor. :-)
One of the best ways to get a taste for an Alabama Hills 5.11 is to go left from the top of Gone With The Wind and set up a top rope for Dihedral Dance. Dihedral Dance is truly a fine route to lead or top rope. The route starts on small, some rounded, edges, about 10a/10b and is sustained to a steep dihedral and the crux. Past the crux, you are on easy ground to the top and another anchor.
The next climb to the left of Dihedral Dance is the original route on this formation, Blockade Runner, 10c. This climb looks thin, and it is, but everything you need is there. There are two cruxes. One is about twenty five feet up; the next one is closer to the top. Blockade Runner is defintiely a leadable route for a 5.10 climber.
From the base of Gone With The Wind scramble around the corner to the base of the west face. There are two great climbs here. The first one you come to is a bolted face, Southern Man, 5.9. Then to the right of an obvious crack, there is another bolted face/arete, Sherman’s March, rated 10b. The crack itself is a route, but it’s heavily grainy and not fun to climb.
How to get to Alabama Dome
From the town of Lone Pine on HWY 395 drive about three miles on Whitney Portal Road
to intersect Horseshoe Meadow Road. Turn left onto Horseshoe Meadow Road
and drive about one half a mile to a group of rock formations on the left side of the road. Alabama Dome is the largest and most obvious formation a five minute walk from the road. Park in the wide turn outs on either side of the road. Please do not park in the nearby dirt road with a gate. That road is for the use by the ranchers of the area. If you have driven as far as Ganga Din
area, you’ve gone too far.
Lone Pine Peak at dawn
Although many parties camp within the parking areas of the Alabama Hills, this practice is highly discouraged. The area suffers from mismanaged campsites and blackened caves. There are two campgrounds very close to the Alabama Hills. Lone Pine Campground
is further up the road on Whitney Portal Road
, and Tuttle Creek Campground
is within a few miles up Horseshoe Meadow Road.
If you don't mind driving another fifty miles, there are many campgrounds along Bishop Creek just to the west of Bishop. There are also many places in The Buttermilks are that are close to a creek that are suitable for camping. Please do not camp in The Buttermilks bouldering area. That area is very crowded and is suffering from the impact unregulated camping has caused.
The following links should help finding a good campsite
Horton Creek Campground
Rock Creek Canyon
Inyo National Forest
Bishop Creek and vicinity camping