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Chimney Pass vs. Cirque Pass

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Chimney Pass vs. Cirque Pass

Postby mr.kurt » Sun Aug 30, 2009 3:54 pm

Hey all.

I'm planning a solo trip from Bishop Pass to Road's End for the week after Labor Day. I'm interested in hiking cross-country from Dusy Basin to Palisade Lake. Thunderbolt Pass and Potluck Pass sound pretty straightforward, but I'm curious about Chimney Pass and Cirque Pass.

It seems like all my research points towards trips reports over Cirque Pass, but Secor's description seems to make Chimney Pass the easier and more straightforward. Can anyone help me with a little more information on this?

Also, is it reasonable to plan for this section to be done in a day or should I allow more time?

Any more information on this area in general would be much appreciated.

Thanks!
Kurt



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Re: Chimney Pass vs. Cirque Pass

Postby hikerduane » Sun Aug 30, 2009 5:18 pm

Unless you are some kind of hiking machine, I would give yourself a day and a half to get to Palisade Lakes out of South Lake. I will have to research Chimney Pass, I stayed my first night at Barrett Lake, then bagged Cirque and Potluck the second day, had lunch at lower Palisade then moved uptrail to a spot for the night. If going over Cirque, when you get almost to the bottom above Palisade Lakes, stay way to the right, I went to the left and had to work my way around boulders and brush. That last little bit was the toughest. I took a break at Cirque Lake and chose my route up, I shouldn't have gone so far to the left when I made it over the top, but I wasn't out of position by much. Enjoy your trip.
Piece of cake.
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Re: Chimney Pass vs. Cirque Pass

Postby paul » Sun Aug 30, 2009 7:19 pm

Cirque pass is quite easy, and chimney pass is higher by a couple hundred feet or so. When I wen through there, I came up form south lake to Barret Lakes the first day, then from Barret lakes over potluck, Cirque and Mather passes to the upper basin on the second day. so going form Dusy to palisade lakes should be no problem. I found the routefinding pretty straightforwardgoing up to Cirque pass, and going down to Palisade lakes I recall it being the giant steps sort of slabby stuff - just work your way from one shelf to the next. I think there was a little bit that was scrambly, but not much.
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Re: Chimney Pass vs. Cirque Pass

Postby markorr » Mon Aug 31, 2009 2:09 pm

we went Dusy -> Thunderbolt Pass -> Potluck Pass -> Cirque Pass -> Palisade in a day in mid July. we spent quite a while debating Cirque or Chimney and opted for Cirque b/c it was lower and had less snow. it was pretty easy, but definitely stay far to the right as you descend towards the JMT. we got into some cliffy areas that took a bit of route finding and pack lowering.
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Re: Chimney Pass vs. Cirque Pass

Postby MoonscapeInspector » Mon Aug 31, 2009 8:22 pm

I agree, Cirque Pass is the way to go, stay to the right to find the chute near the top, piece of cake. I was on it earlier this month and it was fine. I've only seen Thunderbolt Pass on the south side, where it is easy, and a bit down on the north side, where it is also pretty easy, but someone told me there is a tedious boulder field lower down on the north side, and they preferred Knapsack as a route from Palisade Basin to Bishop Pass. Obviously the Thunderbolt Pass route is shorter, so maybe some others can say whether it is worth the shortcut.
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Re: Chimney Pass vs. Cirque Pass

Postby quentinc » Tue Sep 01, 2009 12:20 pm

I just got back from a trip to that area. Day 1 was South Lake to the dip just before Potluck Pass (there's actually a sort of pass before you get to Potluck and I camped right after the first one). I was going to camp at the largest Barrett Lake, but there seemed to be a convention scheduled there, so I pushed on ahead for a little solitude. When you cross Thunderbolt, stay low until the very end in order to avoid some nasty talus. My guidebook said to stay as close to the faces of the peaks as possible, but that was bad advice.

As everyone has noted, Potluck is easy from the north. On the other hand, route finding is rather tricky coming from the south, since it is cliff-like if you don't find the "ramp" that leads up to the pass (which is not the low point, but actually a bit east of it). Cirque Pass itself is simple, but on the descent, there are a few class 3 moves near the bottom, just a bit before descending to the Palisade Lakes (you may be able to avoid them by staying to the extreme right, but that seemed like more trouble than it was worth). Nothing difficult, just a little bit awkward if you have a large pack.

On the return, I thought I was clever by taking Isosceles Pass instead of Thunderbolt, but it turned out to be rather unpleasant coming down the north side.
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Re: Chimney Pass vs. Cirque Pass

Postby maverick » Tue Sep 01, 2009 12:41 pm

Hi Q

I thought that Isosceles was over rated as a class 3, besides finding the correct
route down from the top it is just a whole lot of tedious boulders.
If I compare it to Millie's Foot Pass(3) or Echo Col(3) it does not even compare
nor does it to Frozen Lake Pass (2-3) which is more difficult.
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Re: Chimney Pass vs. Cirque Pass

Postby quentinc » Tue Sep 01, 2009 1:16 pm

Maverick -- funny, I just checked Secor and was amazed to see Isosceles as Class 3. Usually Secor makes things sound simpler than they are in my experience. You're right -- it is just endless, tedious, steep talus, but all Class 2. In addition to the ones you named, I found Lucy's Foot (which Secor has as Class 2) to be much more dificult.
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Re: Chimney Pass vs. Cirque Pass

Postby mr.kurt » Sun Sep 20, 2009 11:09 am

Hi everyone,

I'm back from my trip, and made it through this cross-country section with no problems at all. I went over Knapsack, as we ended up camping a bit lower in Dusy Basin. Potluck and Cirque were pretty straightforward from the north. I found Cirque a bit chaotic descending to Palisades Lakes; not difficult, just not always obvious. But in all, it was a great day and a fun route!

Thanks for all the help!
Kurt
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Re: Chimney Pass vs. Cirque Pass

Postby Mike M. » Mon Sep 21, 2009 3:13 pm

I did the same route a few weeks ago in reverse (from south to north). Cirque was easy from the south -- we avoided all Class 3 sections completely. It's a lot easier to to pick out a route coming up from Palisades Basin as opposed to coming down.

Potluck was harder -- instead of climbing the cliff on its west side and finding the ramp there, we attacked the right (east) side and found a nice route there that involved one class 3 move. It took us a while to figure this route out.

Mike
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