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Knapsack-Potluck-Cirque Passes

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Knapsack-Potluck-Cirque Passes

Postby cherron » Fri Jan 30, 2009 10:09 am

Hello all,
Later this summer I am contemplating a trip from Bishop Pass over to Palisades Lakes via these passes, then picking up the JMT from Palisades south to Whitney. Can you point me to a trip report regarding these passes? I am particularly interested in Cirque Pass down to Palisades, if a belay or rope is advised for any portions. I've read the basic descriptions in various books (Secor/Roper) but would appreciate any other input.
Background = Sierra backpacking-established trails, JMT 3 times, rock-climbing - moderate skills, but its been a while, but could still negotiate basic safety precautions (belays, etc). Map/compass skills are good. I have done a bit of off-trail and was thinking this might be a good start to improving those skills.
Also is the fishing good in the lakes of the Palisades basin?(Sorry, I am all over the place)
Thanks for any help.



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Re: Knapsack-Potluck-Cirque Passes

Postby Trekker » Fri Jan 30, 2009 1:11 pm

Snow Nymph has a very complete report on her website. You'll have to go back a few years. She also has a report on a trip to Mt. Sill along the same route from Bishop pass from 2007, I believe. Can't remember if she used Knapsack or Thunderbolt for that segment. When I did Knapsack and Potluck I used Roper as well. I think you'll find that Snowy's description and pics are as complete as you will find anywhere.
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Re: Knapsack-Potluck-Cirque Passes

Postby cherron » Fri Jan 30, 2009 6:10 pm

Thanks, Trekker, for the referral. I think I found a few references in the trail reports you mentioned. The slabs coming down from Cirque Pass to Palisades Lakes were my concern and it reads like they were able to negotiate those areas.
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Re: Knapsack-Potluck-Cirque Passes

Postby hikerduane » Fri Jan 30, 2009 8:05 pm

I went that way except I went over Thunderbolt Pass, easier and you don't loose the elevation going over Knapsack. Once over Bishop Pass, leave the main trail about where the sign is, saying "Bishop Pass", stay high, some up and down. I tagged along with some climbers who were guided by an retired guy from Bishop. I still am not sure exactly, where Knapsack Pass trail takes off out of Dusy Basin. That looked like a good climb getting back up to go over Potluck Pass. Kinda daunting when looking down from the lake. Expect to scrape your pack up going down from Cirque to Palisade Lakes. Lots of back and forth going down, sliding on your butt, the last bit, stick to the extreme right, I was in the middle of sorts and had to make my way down some foot and toe hold stuff. You aren't down until you are almost to the JMT. Glad to have gotten down, as it would be easy to have had to retrace steps many places. Going down into Cirque Lake over Potluck, stay to the right and work it out, not real easy to make your way. If you don't like the possibility of sliding, it will be slow going. I had a report last summer under, Passed out in the Sierra, if you need more reading. maverick did the reverse sort of, look for his report. He had great photos.

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Re: Knapsack-Potluck-Cirque Passes

Postby quentinc » Fri Jan 30, 2009 10:04 pm

I must have been young and dumb when I did that route, because I don't remember anything particularly challenging, and I'm not all that skilled. It was a beautiful trip. You also don't get the usual hordes on the portion of the Muir Trail from Palisades Lakes south, until you approach Rae Lakes.
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Re: Knapsack-Potluck-Cirque Passes

Postby cherron » Sat Jan 31, 2009 8:33 am

Thank you to all who responded. From the reports I have read the comments on the forum, it sounds like it is doable, and routefinding will be the key to how difficult it could be. Even in my rock climbing days I was never too proud to do a little butt-scootin' boogie when necessary.
Thanks, again!
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Re: Knapsack-Potluck-Cirque Passes

Postby hikerduane » Sat Jan 31, 2009 9:57 am

Go for it! If I can figurate out the route you should be able to do. I guess you could call deciding on which rock to go around as route finding ability. Very surprised how many climbers were camped on or close to Thunderbolt Pass. Some of the group I attached to the first day, stayed high even after going over Thunderbolt Pass and contoured over to a small lake just before and below Potluck Pass. I spent the night at Upper Barrett Lakes. Thunderbolt and Potluck were easy to make out which way to go, at Cirque Lake, I took a rare break on the west end of the lake, along side the outlet to study the route up to Cirque Pass. I went just a little too far to the left on my way up, but it was ok, not like I missed the cut and had to go back down, just a little more walking and I was in no big hurry. After getting down to Palisade Lakes, you look back up and think, "I wouldn't want to go back up that way". When you leave Palisade Lakes, there is some good water crossing the trail on the way up to the pass, so if you don't fill up your water bottles, there are good opportunities a couple places before you top out. Great view toward the south. Break time on Mather Pass.
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Re: Knapsack-Potluck-Cirque Passes

Postby paul » Sat Jan 31, 2009 10:29 pm

Went that way in 1983. All of it pretty easy. The steeper parts are very shelfy - you have to work your way from one shelf down to the next by finding the easiest way. I think I scooted on my butt once or twice, but no real problems. Came over bishop pass and knapsack on the first day, camped at Barret Lakes, then over potluck, Cirque and Mather the next day, so the going is not too bad. I suspect Thunderbolt is easier than Knapsack because you don't have to drop down and then climb back up, but knapsack is very straighforward, had a use trail most of the way up out of Dusy when I was there.
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Re: Knapsack-Potluck-Cirque Passes

Postby Snow Nymph » Sun Feb 01, 2009 11:38 am

both ways are doable without rope. I'm 4'11", so if i can get down Cirque pass, anyone with long arms/legs can. That was a great trip!

my website was hacked and is disabled til we can fix it. (thx Trekker for letting me know) Pix are on webshots, 7 accounts so not sure where they are.

SmugMug is ok. Thunderbolt trip: http://snownymph.smugmug.com/gallery/2192698_2Gidq
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free . . . . Jim Morrison


http://snownymph.smugmug.com/
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Re: Knapsack-Potluck-Cirque Passes

Postby stevet » Sun Feb 01, 2009 8:43 pm

I've been this route twice, though it has been several years. From Dusy Basin the route over Knapsack, both up and down, is straightforward. Potluck pass up from Barrett Lakes take your time and spy out the best route. If you stay too low after rounding the easternmost lake then you end up scrambling though a boulder field. Seems best to climb high along the wall of north palisade and not tackle the pass head on. The descent is easy enough, follow the ramps to the right and then scramble down the scree slope.

Cirque pass up is easy route finding above the lake. Down is best following the ledge system and mostly bearing right. If you stay to far left you can still get down but lots of exposure.
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