|This view never gets old.|
Anyway, we set out to tweak the standard guided Palisade Traverse itinerary. Inspired by our very own Peter Croft‘s interpretation of this mega-classic traverse, we set out to approach and exit on the east and connect Winchell Col and Mt. Sill via the crest. Measured on Google Earth (using my new favorite tech tool, USGS topo overlays available here) this section of ridge is a mile and a half. The “meat” of it is found between Thunderbolt and Polemonium. This section contains the best rock in the Palisades and the highest concentration of technical 14ers in the country. And this section is just a half-mile long. The often, and understandably, skipped NW ridge of Thunderbolt is a half-mile long on its own. The mathematician will quickly deduce that the section from Polemonium to Sill is a half-mile long also. In any case, we couldn’t let Jon settle for anything less than the whole beast.
Jon and I met in Bishop on Tuesday morning to talk logistics and gear, then headed out to the North Fork of Big Pine Creek. We busted in, as quickly as we could, to the Thunderbolt Glacier tarn camp. We napped on Yosemite-style glacier polish and grubbed on a big fat steak. That’s livin’.
We woke with the sun on the chilly first morning and strode over to Winchell Col. That NW ridge has rock that is a little looser than further along, but it is a totally worthy addition to the traverse. We found mainly dry Cali rock, but did have to do some icy PataLaska style tunneling.
|“This is just like Peak 11300, but different”|
I hate to say it, but the section from Thunderbolt to North Palisade was almost “routine”. What a joy to traverse very familiar terrain with a strong partner. I don’t pretend to think that Jon felt it was routine, nor do I mean any disrespect to this chunk of terrain. I was simply content to remember my first trip through that section a few years back and reflect on the accumulation of experiences there. Jon, in his way, will down-play his own performance. But, mark my words, the guy can move and tough it out. As much as he talks about enjoying suffering, I can only guess the misery this 100 mile runner can stand.
|The latter part of the day, up onto North Palisade. Smack in the
middle of the High Sierra’s own Circus Maximus.
|Sunset on North Palisade. Thankfully camp is just a single rappel away. Boo Yeah!|
|Morning lounging at 14k. That’s livin’. Or does livin’ mean steaks and glacier polish? Damn, what a trip!|
|Sun sets on a day past, looking to a day ahead.|