Schmaltz Rock 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
The Ghost is an interesting area in that it's well-hidden in plain sight. Leaving the Movie Flat Road, you find yourself in a maze of narrow dirt roads, only one of which leads to this area. Upon entering The Ghost area you are struck by the number and complexity of rock formations and rock towers. Most of these rock towers are very difficult or, in many cases, impossible to access. Yet, a number of formations close to the road are developed for sport climbing.
Although still not exactly straight forward to approach, Schmaltz Rock is one of the first formations up this rocky canyon. The base is strewn with large boulders making the approach confusing and nearly impossible. In my humble opinion, the easiest approach seems to be from the base of Nice Tower
. Considering the moderate nature of the routes on Schmaltz, this formation could have been a lot more popular than it is. Days that you see crowds waiting for their turn on the base of Tall Wall or Hoodgie Wall
, not far from this formation, you would be hard-pressed to find two climbers on Schmaltz. For some climbers, that may be reason enough to give this rock a chance.
As mentioned before, the routes are all moderate in difficulty rating, between 5.7 to 10b, with majority falling in the 5.9 range. The most prominent feature on this rock, easily seen from the road, is a wide crack running up the middle of the rock and requiring some very large protection. This route, Schmaltie, named after the name of the formation. There is another crack on the left side of the formation and because of the difficulty in approaching it is not included in the page. The remaining routes are bolted and you will find adequate anchors on top to rappel off of.
Select Routes of Schmaltz Rock
|A||Schmendrick, 5.9, Bolts, anchor
|B||Schmaltz, 10b, bolts, anchor
|C||Schmaltzie, wide crack, wide pro, anchor
|D||Schmuck, 5.9, bolts, anchor
|E||Schmear, 5.8, bolts, anchor
Approach via the base of Nice Tower
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 and go left to reach Nice Tower. Crawl under, scramble up and over good size boulders to reach the base. Looking in the direction of Owens Valley, east, you will see Schmaltz from here. Walk around, scramble over and under more boulders to reach the base.
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