Mt Sill Summit Via Bishop,Thunderbolt,Potluck Passes

Mt Sill Summit Via Bishop,Thunderbolt,Potluck Passes

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Aug 4, 2008
Activities Activities: Mountaineering
Seasons Season: Summer

Mount Sill with son Daniel and brother Rob

August 2-7, 2008 marked my son Daniel and my brother Rob's and my third Sierra adventure Together. Our first trip in 2006 (when Daniel was 15 yrs old) included the summit of Mt. Tyndall via the North rib (see trip report). After our 2007 week (no summits) we felt we wanted to bag a 14,000er on this trip.
Day 1 was long.... from the South Lake parking lot (full upon our arrival)
we travelled the 5.5 miles over Bishop pass, and then cross country towards Thunderbolt pass. The Dusy basin crossing is a pleasant hike... but the pass looms ahead as you reach the flanks of Isosceles Peak.
All reports that Thunderbolt on the Dusy side is easy are WRONG. The size of the boulders lead to dead ends that force downclimbing/reversals until the correct route is found. The pass itself is very cool.... only 30 or 40 feet in total width. The Palisade basin side of the pass is a lot easier as route finding is simpler. (We thought our return would be over Knapsack pass... but
later in this report it became clear that Thunderbolt AGAIN was faster)
Camp on night 1 in the Palisade Basin was at the lake marked 11,523 ft.

DAY 2
Our second day was planned as an easy one (Day 3 included Mt. Sill Summit) After a late departure from camp (9:30AM) we strolled across the
northern slopes of the Palisade basin towards Potluck pass. This is an easy hike. Descending Potluck pass is made easy with this information. STAY to the SOUTHERN (right) side of the cliffs and descend to a sandy/rocky scree slope-trail which begins after the rock ramps (about a quarter of the way down). Other routes will include removal of packs and some LEAPING!
The rest of our day was spent by the smaller (western) of the two lakes just east of Potluck Pass. Bathing -sleeping- eating. Early to Bed!

Mount Sill summit day Aug 4, 2008

Day 3 was a great day! Up and off by 6:10 AM after a hot brew and soup.
We ran into Brad the day before who said "I'll meet you on the Summit for photos" He was planning to leave later in the AM.
THE MT SILL approach hike is a LONG SLOG.
Up and over the first hump gets you back to 12,000 feet and even with the top of Potluck pass. A long boulder field brings you to the base of a long scree field that includes several snow fields as well - and is steep.
Mt Jepson is off to your right as you ascend this scree field. We got a bit too far to the NE side of the scree and had to down climb a bit to reach easier walking in the Polemonium glacial bowl. The hiking improves slightly as you now begin to focus on Mt. Sill's SW chutes that have appeared off to your right.
Picking a chute ---- The moment arrived and we chose the chute to the farthest west (left) as we faced Mt Sill. This chute is the closest one to the ridge between Sill and Polemonium. Going was steep but route finding is fairly easy. After 1.5 hours we were even with the top of 13,962- the summit directly across from Sill (south) and we knew we were close. The last few pitches near the top are hard. Don't let other trip reports fool you. These are class 3/4 moves-- one of which we discovered a backwards (tricep) move was required to get up and over.... but soon we summited at 12:30PM.
YES the view atop Mt. Sill is GREAT as many scholars have reported. We could clearly see Mt Whitney, Tyndall, Williamson etc. to the south.
The Summit Box hinge is broken, but it did include Xeroxes of 1920's trip reports by Norman Clyde etc. Very cool.
By 1:00 we saw weather coming in, and were ready to leave when who should appear, but Brad our friend from the previous day.... so photos were exchanged and then all four of us headed down.
WEAR canvas pants for the descent... as you are on your rear a lot. It is a long downclimb (6 hours to Ascend and 5.5 to Descend) back to camp but we returned to our camp by 6:30 to a BIG meal!!

Days 4,5,6 -- August 5,6&7 - 2008

The remainder of our trip was spent slowly heading back towards the South Lake trail head. We did decide as we crossed the Palisade basin to opt for Thunderbolt pass and not go SO FAR SW to Knapsack Pass... which IS MUCH EASIER than Thunderbolt (we went over Knapsack Pass in 2007) but we wanted to head to the biggest and most eastern of the Dusy Basin lakes for our evening campsite. Thunderbolt lived up to its name that afternoon as we left the Pass, storms were gathering, and thunder motivated us to make good time!
Our tents went up at our Dusy Basin spot in a fairly heavy rain storm... but soon all was dry/well and clearing skies were shortly upon us. (See photo of interesting post-storm clouds)
Day 5 was a "day off" and we lazed around camp doing laundry/ bathing at the beautiful beach (NE side of the lake) and looking forward to the evening show put on by leaping fish as the sun set... and then the attack of fleets of darting bats before dusk.(photo)
Day 6 we hiked out to the trailhead and towards the required cheeseburger.
We did enjoy a second visit with a group of 5 Bucks that we had encountered on Day 1 as we discovered their home in the area north of all the Dusy basin lakes.
Another stunning trip to the Sierra's !!!!


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Greenman

Greenman - Mar 31, 2018 10:12 pm - Voted 10/10

Nice trip report!

This looks like a perfect alpine ascent of a serious peak. Nice job finding your way through all those back country passes! My friend and I tried to do the same trip back in 2009 and we missed Mt. Sill and tried climbing up Mt Jepson by mistake. I got revenge a few years later when I returned and tagged Mt. Sill via the Swiss Arete. Route finding in the high country is not so easy as many of these trip reports might imply!

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