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Thunderbolt Col

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Thunderbolt Col

Postby RoguePhotonic » Sat Dec 19, 2015 3:37 pm

TITLE: Thunderbolt Col / Pass

Another pass which is not really a couloir.

GENERAL OVERVIEW: The pass crosses between Upper Dusy Basin and Upper Palisade Basin

CLASS/DIFFICULTY: Class 2

LOCATION: Kings Canyon National Park - the highest saddle against the Palisades branching Palisade Basin and Dusy Basin. HST Map

ELEVATION: 12,390

USGS TOPO MAP (7.5'): North Palisade

ROUTE DESCRIPTION: This pass is actually quite easy from either side. I have crossed it traveling both directions.

Probably the most complex route finding section of this pass involves leaving the upper most lake in Dusy Basin. There is a large section of granite that is a mess of shelves and micro cliffs. Many routes can be taken through it but I think one of the easiest is a large obvious cut the leads up which is mostly grass ramps. You can take this until much higher up and then cut over to the pass. Once on the top of this entire white section of granite will you cross onto the black rock up to the pass. Most of this rock is surprisingly stable. The last most difficult element is just before you reach the top. There are car sized boulders and there are very few options for climbing through them but it should not be difficult to find one of them.

The South side of the pass has a large ramp system that angles down which is quite easy. The crux of it is a steep slab of rock which I simply walk up or down while hugging the cliff wall. Follow most of the drainage route to the upper Barrett Lake.

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RoguePhotonic
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Re: Thunderbolt Col

Postby acvdmlac » Sat Jul 09, 2016 4:49 pm

I agree with Rogue Photonic's suggestion regarding the approach to pass from the north; we came from the south and found the traverse around the East shore of the lake more tiring and in some ways more challenging and potentially dangerous than the Col itself. Heading high to avoid the small cliffs along the lake edge seems like a good idea.

We ascended Thunderbolt from the South, which we found to be steep but easy mostly Class 1 with occasional Class 2 patches through talus and gullies. North side was a route-finding challenge to keep it Class 2, as the more obvious left-ward descent from the top lead quickly to an off-width crack in a 15-20’ cliff. Straight down the gully from the summit would have required negotiating hundreds of feet of very steep talus beyond the angle of repose.

So we choose to re-ascend to the summit and beyond, to climb and traverse north-east over sometimes unstable talus towards Thunderbolt Peak until the slope reduced somewhat. We then began a 1,000’+ descent of alternating scree-sliding and hopping over semi-stable talus, with many traverses needed to stay off the steeper sections, to reach the south-east point of Lake 11,393. The footing was tiring and we were glad to reach bottom without foot/ankle/knee sprains, but there were no technical or exposed sections requiring dynamic use of both hands, so Class 2 seems appropriate designation.
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