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Thunderbolt Peak
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mini location map2015-09-05
23 by photographer avatarsbkelley
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Thunderbolt PeakSierra Nevada, CA
Sierra Nevada, CA
Climbing22.70 Miles 7,870 AEG
Climbing22.70 Miles
7,870 ft AEG
1st trip
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Thunderbolt Peak is one of the 14ers in California (out of 12? 15? Depends what you consider a separate "mountain" I guess...), but is definitely a great adventure. The trail from South Lake to Bishop Pass was jaw-dropping pretty. Lakes, valleys, creeks, dramatic granite faces, and even some fall colors! We followed the trail to Bishop Pass, then cut cross-country across Dusy Basin en-route to Palisade Basin. On the way in, we traversed low to Thunderbolt Pass. On the way out, we traversed high. If you're looking for the easier option, stay high - much quicker and easier route-finding!

Rock-hopped up to Thunderbolt Pass and dropped into Palisade Basin near a small lake, which became our chateau for 2 nights. Scenic when the smoke wasn't choking the skies. Woke up at 6 a.m. with a ringing headache and nausea, but took some Vitamin I and got some food down and felt better. Followed SW Chute #1. Route finding is very easy: follow the giant chute immediately to the east of Thunderbolt Pass. Had to traverse right around one chockstone, but other than that, just steady progress up the chute, turning right wherever a fork presented itself.

View from the Palisade crest was dramatic, and included a glacier! Class 3/4 moves with serious exposure brought us to the summit block. It's a short but airy 5.9 pitch. Eric led, and we had a couple back-up systems in place should he fall, but he didn't. I belayed him, then followed, getting up the nerve to stand up on the point! Richard, then Adam next. Not easy to delicately balance in the wind, but fun. Started feeling ill again, so decided to descend (Richard wanted to go down too) while Eric and Adam went over to Starlight. Smoke got bad that afternoon, and impacted everyone's breathing, but the mornings were generally good for that. Highly recommended climb!

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