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West Chute (U-Notch Southwest Side)

West Chute (U-Notch Southwest Side)

West Chute (U-Notch Southwest Side)

Page Type: Route

Location: California, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 37.09390°N / 118.5219°W

Object Title: West Chute (U-Notch Southwest Side)

Route Type: Mountaineering, Trad Climbing, Scrambling

Time Required: One to two days

Rock Difficulty: Class 4

Difficulty: "California Sierra Class 4

Grade: III

Route Quality: 
 - 4 Votes


Page By: darinchadwick

Created/Edited: Feb 9, 2003 / Jul 31, 2013

Object ID: 157706

Hits: 17934 

Page Score: 74.79%  - 5 Votes 

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Drive to Bishop. From Bishop, take West Line street, which is signed for the South Lake Recreational Area. Drive the 22 miles to South Lake. The trailhead begins here. The pass is reached after about 8 miles.
Descend from the pass to a small tarn, then leave the trail, and begin hiking cross country, above the lakes of Dusy Basin to Thunderbolt Pass which is obvious in the distance. Several small cliffs need to be circumnavigated, try not to get too low into the basin.
Once Thunderbolt pass is reached, head down easy ledges to a perfect little camp site nestled among huge boulders on flat sand.

Route Description

Westside chutes
Westside Chutes as seen from the Palisade Basin

From the campsite. locate a series of big white cliffs to the right. The biggest chute between the 2nd and 3rd cliffs is the route. Slog up sandy talus, then onto cleaner rock about halfway up the chute. When the chute above begins to narrow to an overhanging coulior STOP.

To the left is a cliff with a dainty, well marked catwalk. It's not over conspicious, but if it looks exposed, you found the right one. As of Sept. 2005, cairns clearly marked the beginning of the catwalk. Head out, and slightly down on this catwalk, until reaching the very outside of the chute, and around the corner of the cliff.

Climb up 3rd/4th class ledges and cracks, then scramble over a small hump and up into a second chute. This chute narrows with short sections of stemming or face climbing to get past, when in doubt, stick to the left side of the coulior.

The second coulior ends in the famous 'bowl', with the summit within reach. Following the natural line straight up and left ends in a drop-off. Instead head for the boulders of the summit ridge up and right. The boulders must be hopped over, squeezed between, edged around, and in general just figured out, until suddenly the summit is upon you.

Descent: It's faster to rappel from the summit to the bowl than to repeat the boulder antics, then it's a straight shot down the coulior. Two short rappels are required in the coulior. The catwalk is actually a little easier on the descent.

Essential Gear

A single 50 or 60 meter rope speeds up the descents, though competent parties shouldn't need it on the lead. The 4th class sections are surprisingly steep, but not sustained. Some extra webbing to replace the ratty anchors you might find is a good idea.

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.

Additions and Corrections

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Viewing: 1-4 of 4    
GlennGRoute Comment


Hasn't voted

Your "as of 2001" description of the cairns marking the 4th class ledge system is still correct as of September 4, 2005 if you want to change it. We descended that route after traversing from Starlight over to North Pal. It was well marked and made for a much nicer alternative than wrapping down some hairy looking sections.
Posted Sep 15, 2005 3:13 pm
darinchadwickRoute Comment


Hasn't voted

Made the update, but I left your comments about the descent for others who may find it useful. Thanks, Darin.
Posted Sep 21, 2005 2:20 pm
SimkinIncorrect coordinates


Hasn't voted

The coordinates 37.09390°N / 118.5219°W actually mark the chute named Southwest Chute #2 (

http://images.summitpost.org/original/857913.jpg ) , not U Notch Southwest side.

The directions "Once Thunderbolt pass is reached, head down easy ledges to a perfect little camp site nestled among huge boulders on flat sand."

are very unclear. And combined with incorrect GPS coordinates outright misleading.

Posted Dec 20, 2015 2:03 am
darinchadwickRe: Incorrect coordinates


Hasn't voted

Thanks. I'll look into it. Probably from an earlier version of Summitpost, and things havn't been corrected since. I'm sticking to the description of where to camp though, as there is really only one way to descend from the pass, and it's hard to miss. My point was that there is a place there to camp if you're looking to get a head start on the next day's climb. But yeah, for sure, gotta get the right coordinates in place. Thanks for catching the mistake.
Posted Dec 22, 2015 2:43 am

Viewing: 1-4 of 4    


Thunderbolt Peak ( left ) and...Mt Sill and Polemonium PkThe catwalk on the Southwest...Dirk grabbing a snack at the... The west side of North Pal &...Westside chutesLeConte Couloir
North Palisade West Chute Ledge SystemSeptember 2003 - Chocolate...North Palisade "Bowl"Summit Bowl of North Pal