Southfork Pass, Palisades

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obsidian

 
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Southfork Pass, Palisades

by obsidian » Wed Aug 28, 2013 7:15 pm

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The above photo is the view from the north side of the pass.

Question: Have any of you guys ever been over Southfork Pass, 12,560 feet (between The Thumb and Middle Palisade) ???

Secor rates this mountaineering route as a Class 3, requiring crampons, and ice axe, and a rope.
But, I was up there near the Thumb (South Fork of Big Pine Creek) in mid-June, and hiked to within a mile of the pass and had a careful look with a pair of cheap binoculars. The approach from the north is considerably more difficult than the southern slope (entering King's Canyon National Park). It consisted of steep snow, on top of a small glacier, and above that, a steep, scree and debris filled chute that looks quite hazardous.
The photo above was taken in early spring. By the time I visited, the upper parts of the visible chutes were just loose rock and debris, which formed long. ugly-looking avalanche paths across the lower snow and the glacier.
It does NOT look like much fun,...
Last edited by obsidian on Thu Aug 29, 2013 6:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Southfork Pass, Palisades

by lefty » Thu Aug 29, 2013 6:04 am

About two years ago I went over the pass in mid-summer without ice axe or crampons. I just had trekking poles. It was really sketchy doing it without proper tools though.

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Re: Southfork Pass, Palisades

by obsidian » Thu Aug 29, 2013 6:40 pm

LEFTY,
Hey, thanks for the intel.
The reason I asked is that I'm planning a long backpack across the Sierra,...and, I want to start by crossing the Crest from one of the Palisade cirques, and then, descend from the Upper Basin the length of the Middle Fork of the Kings River.
I have designated this the: Zen Route.
...But, of course, I'm doing it for fun,...and, I really don't want to die in the process,...

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Re: Southfork Pass, Palisades

by obsidian » Wed Sep 04, 2013 7:04 pm

Is there only one guy in the entire Western Hemisphere that has ever been over SouthFork Pass ??

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Re: Southfork Pass, Palisades

by seano » Wed Sep 04, 2013 7:42 pm

obsidian wrote:Is there only one guy in the entire Western Hemisphere that has ever been over SouthFork Pass ??

Some friends of mine used it last year and hated it -- ice and loose dirt, or loose 3rd class.
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Re: Southfork Pass, Palisades

by asmrz » Wed Sep 04, 2013 9:23 pm

Scrambled up the pass twice over the years. It is dirty, loose, in some years icy and snowy and not very interesting. But it gets you to the west side of the crest. In normal snow year, ice ax and crampons are needed. I bet there isn't anything resembling snow or ice on it, this year.

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Re: Southfork Pass, Palisades

by Bob Burd » Wed Sep 04, 2013 11:47 pm

^^^^What Alois said.^^^^
I last came over it in early Aug of 2007, no crampons or axe, used the moat to get down the steepest section then sort of winged it after that (embedded rocks and the like). Not a great pass, to be sure.

My last concern on the technical side was getting down from Southfork Pass. From the Thumb I could see considerable snow on the north side of the pass, steepening as it reached up towards the pass. Without proper gear I couldn't safely downclimb the snow, so I had to hope there were ways around on the side. Thankfully, there were. Southfork Pass has a few branches. The westernmost one is the main branch, but had the most snow. The eastern branch which I came upon first was narrower and steeper, but mostly free of snow until further down where the two branches merged. Careful downclimbing over terribly loose rock got me down to the snow. A large rockslide had been triggered sometime earlier in the season leaving a trail of debris bleeding down in a narrow ribbon on the steepest part of the snowfield. This was most fortuitous just when I needed it, allowing me to scramble down further to where the snow was both lower angled and softer. Careful plunge-stepping (with Fred Flinstone pointy rocks for emergency brakes) got me down the rest of the steep sections. Where the slope mellowed further I started jogging and bounding my way down.

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Re: Southfork Pass, Palisades

by Princess Buttercup » Thu Sep 05, 2013 4:18 am

Went over the right side of the pass in '11, 4-day pack, used microspikes and an axe without much trouble. Kind of sloppy and muddy towards the top but plenty of suncups. Waited for the sun to soften it in the morning (July 4th weekend).

Meh.

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Re: Southfork Pass, Palisades

by obsidian » Thu Sep 05, 2013 6:42 pm

THANKS EVERYONE FOR YOUR RESPONSES !!!
This is just the information I need,...I appreciate it.

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Re: Southfork Pass, Palisades

by Clydascope » Fri Sep 06, 2013 2:39 pm

In 1986 three of us crossed Southfork Pass on the last day of a nine day trip around the Palisades without axes or crampons. It was mid September and a rather spicy decent...

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Looking down towards the pass from Balcony Peak

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Looks like things have changed a bit over the years.

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Re: Southfork Pass, Palisades

by Princess Buttercup » Fri Sep 06, 2013 5:34 pm

You're killin' me, Chris... ;)

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Re: Southfork Pass, Palisades

by Bob Burd » Fri Sep 06, 2013 5:46 pm

Clydascope wrote:Looks like things have changed a bit over the years.


Yes, places like Yosemite Valley look quite different since the glaciers have receded. And all the mammoths are gone, too.

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Re: Southfork Pass, Palisades

by Clydascope » Sat Sep 07, 2013 3:44 am

Bob Burd wrote:Yes, places like Yosemite Valley look quite different since the glaciers have receded. And all the mammoths are gone, too.


Ah, the good old days!

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Re: Southfork Pass, Palisades

by chlavenka » Thu Aug 13, 2015 6:09 am

Do not do this pass unless it has snow in it and you have ice axe/crampons.
On Aug.7 2015 (major years of drought) there was just a small amount of hard blue ice left on the two north chutes. There were crevasses at the bottom of where one would fall. Immediately above the 35-40 degree ice/small glacier was 35-50 degree and occasionally vertical loose crumbling mud. I climbed the rotten rock on the west side (approached from Big Pine South Fork). Many class 4 moves on unstable crap. Definitely used one of my 9 lives.

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Re: Southfork Pass, Palisades

by pmhaas » Fri Mar 15, 2019 3:01 pm

I'm looking at doing SouthFork Pass a part of a Palisades loop - starting at Glacier Lodge, then south west over Southfork Pass, and then back to Sam Mack Lake and the Palisades via Aggasiz Col or Jigsaw Pass - in late August. Any advice?

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