The route starts from the summit of theThatchtop
, to which you should refer for detailed descriptions of the routes. In summary, the Thatchtop can be easily (but not effortlessly) climbed from both the north and the south. In both cases one starts from the Glacier Gorge trailhead. The sourthern approach
leaves the Glacier Gorge trail to reach Shelf Lake and, shortly after, Solitude Lake
. From there, one climbs the talus slopes to the summit. The northern approach
leaves the Glacier Gorge trail shortly after the fork for Loch Vale and strikes up the north face, crossing the cliff band at the base of Thatchtop via two gullies. It then ascends talus and tundra to the summit.
The route follwows the evident ridge
that connects Thatchtop to Powell Peak. It can be divided in five sectors of comparable length.
- Class 2 hike along the broad, talus-covered west ridge of Thatchtop.
- Class 3 scramble. Here the ridge becomes narrower and blocky as it surmounts Point 12836. Difficulties are generally avoided on the left (south).
- Class 2 interlude.
- Class 4 climb on granite slabs. This is the steeper part of the ridge. Ascent is generally immediately to the right (north) of the ridge crest.
- Class 2/3 scramble along the upper part of the ridge along broken terrain. Once the west slopes of Powell Peak are reached, one turns left (south) and hikes for a few minutes to reach the summit cairn.
The Class 4 section
is extremely enjoyable thanks to its fantastic rock. Foreshortening makes it appear intimidating from below, and it is indeed exposed and steep at times. The quality of the fissured granite slabs, however, makes this a rather safe route for the experienced climber (when it is dry).
It is possible to downclimb the ridge, but it may be even better to descend via Andrews Pass
, or to proceed to McHenrys Peak via the the notch route
Standard climbing gear. Bring a rope if you or others in your party do not feel at ease with laybacks and smearing; bring a rope also if you expect snow or ice to be present.
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