We wind up hanging out around Lone Pine. A. Lot. It’s the warmest and driest major climbing area on the Eastside.
The climbing at Alabama Hills is good (there’s choss, too, need to be selective), there’s good camping nearby, and we’ve found lots of rest day activities as well.
Getting there from San Jose via Lake Isabella: http://tinyurl.com/ho3bvx5
On the way to Lone Pine, I’ve added side trips to:
- Kern River Brewing Company – good beer, decent bar food. Beer favorites – Just Outstanding IPA, Dirty Hippie Imperial Red Ale
- Kern Canyon north of Kernville has some decent climbing on granite at the Kernville Slabs
- Black Planets has some decent bouldering problems on basalt. There’s some sheltered camping that’s especially nice when the wind is blowing hard.
- There’s a campground at Fossil Falls, and some good distributed camping further on down the road. A half day exploring Fossil Falls is pretty cool, too. And there’s climbing at Fossil Falls.
Rock climbing near Lone Pine:
- Alabama Hills – Lots of sport and some trad on “biotite monzogranite”. Translation – lots of flakes, patina, and some sharp crimps.
- Whitney Portal – Sierra Nevada granite at high altitude.
- There’s bouldering in the AH too. I haven’t seen – or looked for – a guidebook. As you come in on Movie Flat Road, the first significant set of boulders on the right have chalk all over them. Check out the downclimb, then pick your route.
- Tuttle Creek Campground is our favorite. New pit toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings. No potable water. Cell coverage (Verizon).
- Portagee Joe is OK. We often fill up with water here.
- Diaz Lake has a lot of sites. Looked like it caters to the RV crowd.
- In season, Lone Pine Campground is nice.
- Distributed camping is allowed, but not encouraged, in the Alabama Hills. It’s a fragile environment…
I Don’t Camp Options
Food, Fuel, Showers
- There’s a small grocery store in Lone Pine. Don’t expect anything exotic.
- There are several gas stations
- There are several restaurants. Alabama Hills Cafe is popular for breakfast. Large portions.
- Showers at the Whitney Portal Hostel are excellent. You get a towel and unlimited time.
- Eastern Sierra Visitor Center. Nice bathrooms, water, guide books, permits, helpful rangers and docents.
- Portagee Joe Campground
Rest Day Activities
- Some of the trails in the area.
- The Lone Pine Museum of Western Film History is pretty good.
- Mobius Arch is pretty cool. Morning or evening shots of Mt Whitney and the Sierra Crest are de rigueur.
- A trail is being built from Lone Pine to the Whitney Portal. The trail starts here. Work north to the creek crossing and follow the trail.
- We know where to find amazonite – fun scrambling and rockhounding. Directions here – scroll down and read about The Haystack.
- Mazourka Canyon has tons of fossils just lying around. One trick is actually finding the right drainage. Drive east from Independence on Mazourka Canyon road. You’ll pass a railroad crossing and an old mine truck loading site. Just as the road take a hard bend left, toward the north, look for the huge exposed limestone formations. Get searching.
- Manzanar National Historic Site, a few minutes north of Lone Pine, is a great visit. It will make you sad for what fear and racism can accomplish in the United States.