Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 36.48465°N / 118.11338°W
Additional Information County: Inyo
Activities Activities: Trad Climbing, Sport Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Elevation: 4660 ft / 1420 m
Sign the Climber's Log


Thug Wall
Flowers in the Alabama Hills
Sun sets on the Alabama Hills
Flowers on the base
Loose CattleI had seen coyotes and snakes in the Gunga Din area in the past, but never loose cattle!

Thug Wall is a rock formation in the Gunga Din area of the The Alabama Hills on the outskirts of Lone Pine Peak in the Sierra Nevada Range, California.

Thug Wall, much like its immediate neighbor Rocky Top and several other noteworthy formations is located in the Gunga Din area of the Alabama Hills. As it has been described in the past, the Gunga Din area is the location where the 1938 movie by this name was staged. Gunga Din is a flat area surrounded by towering granite rock formations such as Temple of Kali and Peter Gabriel Cliff. Immediately outside of Gunga Din area you will find Alabama Dome to the north, and The Candy Sore to the south.

I'm not entirely sure why this wall was named Thug Wall, but I probably would have called it by this name as well. The base is completely covered by broken beer bottles and when you make the approach to the wall the reason becomes very clear. The base of the wall is very narrow, about four feet wide. Across from the wall there is a narrow and flat ledge which looms about forty feet above a fire pit in the Gunga Din area. The next image that comes to my mind is a whole bunch of people sitting on the ledge guzzling beer after beer and throwing their bottles against the wall.


Routes of Thug Wall
Rocky TopRocy Top area

Unlike many of the approaches in the Alabama Hills, approach to the base of Thug Wall is a bit messy and unusual. From the flat area and the fire pit in the Gunga Din head south toward the rocks. Scramble between boulders going left, then go right inside tight corridors and crawl through a short tunnel to get to the base. Unless someone has taken the time to clean the base, expect lots of broken glass on the ground. Sorry, I ran out of time to do a bit of cleaning myself.

Despite the bad base and an unpleasant approach, climbing on Thug Wall can be fun. There are three routes on this face that, except for the middle one, are bolted. The main difficulty is to get past the first two bolts and overcome the small overhang/roof. After the overhang, there are plenty of dinner plate size holds leading to the bolt anchors.

List of the routes

Routes of Thug Wall
1Elephant Girl, 10b, bolts, anchor
2Bhisti, 10a, one bolt, gear, share anchor with Bengal Lancer
3Bengal Lancer, 10c, bolts, anchor

Getting there

How to get to Thug Wall

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 a mile to just before the last grouping of rocks where you will see a wide turnout into a wide and flat area. Turn left here and stop to read the history of the movie Gunga Din on a plaque. Drive down the bumpy dirt road for a few hundred feet to a much wider flat area surrounded by rock formations. This is the Gunga Din area. Look for a fire pit on the south side of the flat open area. Follow directions as indicated in the paragraph starting with "Unlike Many of the approaches in The Alabama Hills..."


Lone Pine PeakLone Pine Peak
Gunga Din seen from...Gunga Din
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