Saturday, May 12, 2012

Peakbagging in the Palisades

 Last week, with a splitter forecast and a very fun couple, Alan Best and Flora Waples, I headed into the Palisades to do some early season climbing.   Our intention was to climb the popular Thunderbolt to Sill section of the Palisade Traverse (IV 5.9), but heavy packs and a whole lot of snow on the approach over Bishop Pass to Thunderbolt Col tapped into the energy reserves and we opted instead to make a base camp at Thunderbolt Col and climb peaks from there.

Heading up the Chute next to camp.

After a chilly first night bivying out under the Super Moon, we strapped on crampons and began up the Southwest Chute on Thunderbolt Peak, which begins just a few hundred feet from our bivy site.  The climbing was pretty fun, and we took a short detour up some interesting 5th class rock before gaining the upper gully.  After a short pitch of climbing that led us out of the notch and up to the summit block, we lassoed the true summit, a tricky 5.9 boulder problem, and stood on top.

Alan is stoked!

Summit of Thunderbolt Peak, 14,003 ft.

Rapping off Thunderbolt

Not  bad view from our bivy site, eh?

It took us a while to decend back down to our camp, where we cooked up some delicious Mac and Cheese (anything tastes good after a hard day in the mountains!), and we geared up for our next climb.  We decided to go for the U-Notch analog, the Southwest Chute on North Palisade, and then from the notch, go south up the exciting and exposed technical pitches of Polemonium Peak (14,100ft.).   We had another tasty lunch on top with 360 degree views of the still snowcapped peaks of the Sierra and White Mountains before making a few rappels back into the notch to begin the long descent back down to the Palisade Basin. 

Flora and Alan just below the summit of Polemonium Peak

Alan finding good handjams on Polemonium.

We made great time on the hike out, finding snow conditions a lot more to our liking than on the way in, and Flora and Alan headed straight to Las Palmas for a dose of Bishop burritos!

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