Pillar of Thoth, 5.7-11a

Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 36.60574°N / 118.12968°W
Additional Information County: Inyo
Activities Activities: Sport Climbing
Seasons Season: Fall, Winter
Additional Information Elevation: 6000 ft / 1829 m
Sign the Climber's Log


Routes topo
Driving toward the Ghost areaView of the Sierras as driving toward the Ghost area and Pillar of Thoth.
Trojan Peak and Mt. Williamson...Mount Williamson seen from Alabama Hills

Pillar of Thoth is the name of a rock formation in the Ghost area of the The Alabama Hills on the outskirts of Mount Whitney in the Sierra Nevada Range., California.

Straight out of the Egyptian mythology, Thoth is depicted as the figure of a man with the head of an ibis holding a staff and a key. As an ancient deity, Thoth was believed to be God of knowledge and wisdom. Aside from myths and history, the area known as The Ghost is a gift that keeps on giving. There are famous formations here such as Elephant Rock, Leaning Tower of Pizza and Nice Tower. A very close neighbor of Schmaltz Rock, Pillar of Thoth stands alone and is prominent in its own right.

This grey colored granite pillar is not very high, but it is an impressive and intriguing looking formation. This pillar is so beautifully balanced as if it was placed there by a crane, but no doubt it's all a part of the many towering formations next to it. Except for one 5.11 route up the middle of the smoothest part, all of the remaining routes are moderate sport routes ranging from 5.7 to 10b. The approach to the base, however, is entirely a different story. Typical to this immediate area, the approach is not a pleasant one. Find your way around big boulders on the left side of the pillar, then go around the formation in a clockwise manner to reach the ledge leading to the base of the routes on the north face. Pillar of Thoth has suffered the same fate that effected Schmaltz Rock. This formation would have been much more popular rock to climb provided that the approach was simpler than it is.


Routes of Pillar of Thoth
AThe Crone, 5.7, Bolts, anchor
BThe Hermit, 10a, Bolts, Anchor
CThe Magus, 11a, Bolts, Anchor
DThe Empress, 5.9, Bolts, Anchor
EThe Hanged Man, 10b, Bolts, Anchor


Getting There

Ghost area

From the town of Lone Pine, California, on Highway 395 take Whitney Portal Road at the only traffic light in town. Drive 2.7 miles west on this road to intersect Movie Road. Turn right onto the Movie Road. This road is paved for a short distance then it turns into a dirt road. The first dirt road to intersect the Movie Road heads for Shark's Fin. Drive about a mile to where Movie Road makes a sweeping turn to the right. Just before reaching this turn you will see a dirt road intersecting from the left. Take this dirt road. Drive a short distance to another dirt road from the left. Go left on this one as well. If you end up by Tall Wall, The Western Wall and Nut Towers you have not taken the correct left turn on your way to the Ghosts area. Looking from the Movie Road, the Ghosts area is to the left of the Tall Wall and Western Wall area. You need to back track and take the correct left turn. There is a large parking area here and it's almost surrounded by rack formations. Looking across the wash, Elephant Rock is obvious. Please use the trails marked by small stones and rocks to reach to formations. Drop down the marked path to the base of Elephant Rock. Walk down the wash, east toward Owens Valley, passed Schmaltz and the left side of Pillar of Thoth. Then find your way around boulders to reach the Pillar. Scramble in a clockwise fashion around the pillar to reach the base of the north face and east face where the routes are located.


Mount WhitneyMount Whitney
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 area 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