Alabama Hills-Trip Report

Vanessa Matt Walter Belaying at Pillar of Thoth
Dennis Belaying Clare on 44D Happy after "Onsight" of 44D The View-Priceless!!!

The Players: Vanessa, Matt, Walter, Dennis, and I
The Crags: DXM Wall & Pillar of Thoth
The Weather: Couldn’t ask for better
The Crowds: None
The Hours: ~7:30am to 6pm
The Eatery: Mt. Whitney Restaurant!!!

Dennis cleans The Crone Walter on The Crone Goofball at Thoth

The Routes: 44D (10a), The Ghost Dance (5.8), Dextromethorphan (5.8), Boodgie Boy (5.10b), The Crone (5.7), The Hermit (5.10a), Seven of Cups (5.8)

Walter Gets the Hermit Crux! Ropegun Runkle Redpoints Hermit

Climbergirl would like to thank W. Runkle for the use of his camera and for sharing his pics.

4 Responses to “Alabama Hills-Trip Report”

  1. Walter says:

    I’m glad you got my pictures, Clare. My Canon is in the shop for repairs (I broke a switch off while climbing White Punks on Dope) but the little Kodak still does okay.

    For me, Monday marked the start of the 2007 climbing season. I hadn’t done any bouldering or hard climbing since Tuolumne at the end of July although I still got out in August and early September on some moderate Sierra multi-pitch climbs. After resting my elbow for a good month it was time to get off the couch and start getting in shape for next summer. We got in 9 pitches at Alabama Hills, so it was a great climbing day.

    I was glad Matthew and Vanessa could join us for awhile at Alabama Hills. Vanessa is just getting started and she did a great job TR’ing Ghost Dance (5.8). A little hard and steep for someone just learning to climb. I would have liked to have got her over on some of the easier climbs on Leaning Tower of Pizza but she and Matthew had to leave after DXM wall. :-(

    This was my first time climbing with Matthew and he is a very strong climber. He is definitely ready to start leading some sport climbs at Alabama Hills and other places. He did great on 44D (10a) using a back step move to get through the crux. Looked pretty neat.

    I started out on Ghost Dance as a warm-up and then climbed it again to clean the anchor after Matthew and Vanessa TR’d it. Next, I led 44D (10a). 44D is rated 10a but can be made easier (5.8?) by going to the right. I tried to keep it honest this time by going up as straight up as possible. I think I got a 5.9 at least out of it. Matthew probably got the 5.10a because he didn’t use the foothold I did off to the left. A good climb either way. I also led Dextromethorphan (5.8) and Matthew TR’d it with no problem. Dexy is another fun climb, especially the start.

    Clare set up a TR on Boodgie Boy (10b) after climbing Dexy. This is one I need to lead next time. I found a way to get the stem up high enough that I could reach the little ledge and make a solid transition over to the wall. The last time I was there with Tim Veazy he made the moves without doing a stem and just using the face holds. It took him a few tries, but he got. It was very impressive. I’ll have to stick with the stem. :-)

    After DXM Wall Clare, Dennis and I went over to Pillar of Thoth (pronounced thĆ?th or tĆ?t).

    Thoth is a god from Egyptian Mythology and was the god of the moon and of wisdom and learning, whose scared bird was the ibis. He is represented with the head and neck of an ibis and carries a pen, tablet and palm branch. See and for some good pictures of what he looked like. One of the most popular and cited works on the Tarot was connected to this deity. Written by the occultist Aleister Crowley, The Book of Thoth is a philosophical text on the usage of Tarot. Aleister Crowley was also a mountaineer of some note and his house is currently owned and lived in by Jimmy Page, the guitarist for Led Zeppelin. :-)

    I started out on The Crone (5.7). The Crone is a contrived climb that goes around the arĂȘte. It has some funny moves and felt more 5.8 to me. Okay, for a warm-up but not that great a climb.

    I was going to TR The Hermit (5.10a) but Clare talked me into going for the on-sight because it is so well bolted. I’m glad she did even though I tried to make the crux move going straight up and had to hang. When I went right I got better hand and foot holds and completed the climb. After Clare got the Flash I was going to TR it, but Clare convinced me to go for the red point. Once again, I’m glad Clare pushed me, because I got the red point. The Hermit would be a GREAT climb if they had just added one more bolt on the face at the top and given it its own anchors. It shares the anchor with The Crone and so you have to go around the arĂȘte at the top.

    Finally we cooled down on Seven of Cups (5.8). This climb is every bit as chossy as the guide book says it is. It felt more like 5.7 to me but it was rated by the same folks who put up The Crone so go figure.

    We stopped at the Whitney Restaurant for our favorite burgers and enjoyed the beautiful lenticular clouds lit up by the setting sun as we drove home.

    – Walter (939-7161)

  2. Walter says:

    A slight correction. Jimmy Page no longer owns Aleister Crowley’s house. He sold it to some hoteliers in the 1980’s.

    But there’s more! I did a climb on pillar of Thoth called “The Hermit”. Turns out the Hermit was the favorite Tarot character of Jimmy Page. This is why the original vinyl album cover of Led Zeppelin’s hit album Led Zeppelin IV (as well as the liner notes for the CD release) contains a painted picture of the Hermit standing on top of a mountain peak looking down on a small village. See

    I think it’s pretty neat how my love for mountaineering and climbing ties in to my love for Led Zeppelin.

    I haven’t found a connection to the Chicago Bears yet, but I’m looking. (LOL) ;-D

  3. granite4brains says:

    Walter, if you don’t find something, you’ll just have to do an FA and name the climb after the Bears somehow!

    oh wait, there is that boulder problem at WW called Bear Hug … is that a connection? :)

  4. Walter Runkle says:

    Close enough. I’ll take it!