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Palisade Traverse: The escape plan without using a shuttle

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Palisade Traverse: The escape plan without using a shuttle

Postby SKI » Thu Aug 12, 2010 1:10 pm

I need some expert opinions here,

I realize that a shuttle car system is the way to go about knocking out the Pal Traverse when one is approaching from South Lake, however if you only have one car, what descent route/pass should one take to head back to South Lake assuming the Thunderbolt-Polemonium component of the travese is completed?

Thanks in advance for any and all advice :)
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Postby bobpickering » Thu Aug 12, 2010 4:38 pm

I would drop back down into the U Notch and head down the chute to the west. Last summer, I went up that chute to North Palisade, traversed to Thunderbolt, down the chute to Thunderbolt Col, and back to South Lake.

It is nicer with a buddy and an extra car. I once came up the north fork of Big Pine Creek, bypassed the glacier by climbing Gaylee, did the Swiss Arete, Polemonium, the chimney route up North Palisade, Starlight, and traversed to Thunderbolt. I met some buddies with a rope on Thunderbolt, did the summit, and hiked back to South Lake with them. It was really nice having a stove, some food, and a sleeping bag waiting for me when I got there. One of the guys took me back to my car the next morning.
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Postby Diggler » Thu Aug 12, 2010 6:03 pm

You could always just try hitching. You'd probably have to try breaking it up from Glacier Pass-BIg PIne, Big Pine-BIshop, BIshop-S Lake, but as long as you're back during the day during regular hours, it seems like you'd have a pretty good shot at it.

Then again, why not just make it way easier on yourself & just do the Thunderbolt from Glacier Lodge, being able to return there afterwards, & avoiding all the headache to begin with? Seems like the most logical choice.
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Postby SKI » Thu Aug 12, 2010 9:35 pm

I really appreciate the advice guys, the clincher- why we are approaching via S Lake, is that we are going to ascend T-bolt via the NW Ridge. Hitchhiking may not be a bad idea... So, if I decided to descend via U-Notch and still needed to get to South Lake, which pass/col should I gain to cross the Cirque? Crampons mandatory?
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Postby ARosenthal » Thu Aug 12, 2010 9:51 pm

I believe the route from the U-notch (west side) is clear of snow, I was just there a few days ago. If we are talking about the same place, you'll want to cross Thunderbolt Pass on your way to Bishop Pass. T-bolt pass isn't marked on a lot of maps, but it's essentially the small ridge that comes out west from T-bolt peak, you'll know what I mean when you see it.


Last week some friends did the traverse from T-bolt to Polemonium with one car from the glacier lodge T/H. If you get an early enough start and are fast enough you can make it in and out in one day :D Of course this entails climbing a route on the east side, perhaps the underhill couloir, which isn't bad at all if you're comfortable with 4th class (and you obviously are if you're doing this traverse :shock: )

Hope this helps, maybe I misunderstood your question, in which case I apologize :P
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Postby SKI » Thu Aug 12, 2010 10:44 pm

Hey no it helps a lot, thank you!
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Postby kevin trieu » Thu Aug 12, 2010 10:48 pm

or go down the Southwest slope of Mt. Sill then cross country all the way back to Thunderbolt Pass. http://www.summitpost.org/route/157070/ ... slope.html
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Postby bobpickering » Thu Aug 12, 2010 10:49 pm

Clarifying my earlier post:

After descending from the U Notch down the couloir to the west, you more or less contour along the west (actually southwest) side of North palisade, Starlight, and Thunderbolt until you get back to Thunderbolt Col. From here, you retrace your steps back to South Lake.
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Postby ARosenthal » Thu Aug 12, 2010 11:38 pm

bobpickering wrote:Clarifying my earlier post:

After descending from the U Notch down the couloir to the west, you more or less contour along the west (actually southwest) side of North palisade, Starlight, and Thunderbolt until you get back to Thunderbolt Col. From here, you retrace your steps back to South Lake.



This is also what I was trying to describe. Just beware, in case you aren't already, that the terrain back there is rough and slow going - it will take quite a while to get from the U-notch back to Bishop Pass. I guess anyway you do the traverse it will be a long day, though :P
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Postby SKI » Fri Aug 13, 2010 2:00 am

Thanks a ton guys, I can now see the chute that you are talking about, Bob. It's gunna be one helluva day for sure
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Postby PellucidWombat » Fri Aug 13, 2010 4:17 am

the NW Ridge of Thunderbolt? When I did Thunderbolt last month I did the same route from the N Fork of Big Pine. It's no biggie. All you have to do is bring crampons and an ice axe for the glacier part, which is trivial (IMO), and carrying that extra weight should be nothing compared to the pain of circling back or rappelling to avoid a car shuttle.

The climb up to the notch finishes with about 30 ft of 35-40 degree neve (no sign of any bergschrund in the vicinity a month ago, so I suspect this isn't much of an issue), and then about 50 ft of cl. 3 scrambling. You can camp on the Palisade Glacial moraine, do the approach in the dark in about 1-1.5 hrs, and be at the notch at sunrise after cramponing on good snow (based on my experience of approaching from that side and the morning snow conditions on the Norman Clyde Glacier last weekend).
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Postby RickF » Sat Aug 14, 2010 10:01 pm

AlpineAffinity,

If you descend the west side from the U-notch I suggest that you consider a continued descent past Barret Lakes and exit through Knapsack Pass. There is less talus and boulder hoping and you'll re-connect with Bishop Pass trail sooner than going back through Thunderbolt Pass. I've done several approaches and exit hikes via Thunderbolt Pass and my feet get really unhappy between T-bolt Pass and Bishop Pass. Last summer we exited through Knapsack Pass. Not only did it seem easier, its greener and a nice change of scenery. Looking at a map in two dimensions, T-bolt Pass is the shorter distance between the U-notch and Bishop Pass.
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Re: Palisade Traverse: The escape plan without using a shutt

Postby pratyush » Thu Aug 11, 2011 8:45 pm

Ditto to "my feet get really unhappy between T-bolt Pass and Bishop Pass"!
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