Ascent of Thunderbolt Peak on 2016-09-08

Climber: Dave Covill

Others in Party:James Graham
Jeff Graham
Jill Webster
Amy Jo Ness
Alex Barber
Date:Thursday, September 8, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Thunderbolt Peak
    Elevation:14003 ft / 4268 m

Ascent Trip Report

This was the start of a week long expedition to The Palisades. There were 6 of us, and we used 3 guides from Sierra Mountaineering International. We felt that having the guides would ensure being able to top out on T-Bolt and Starlight, and facilitate route-finding. We were very pleased with our guides, and the cooperation of owner Kurt Wedburg. See

We met on Tuesday Sep 6 2016, day after Labor Day, at Mammoth Lakes at James' Graham's condo. Group included friends from Colo Mtn Club Dave Pellegrini, Mike Zyzda, Jill Webster, James Graham (recently relocated back to L.A. area) and James brother Jeff from S.F. We drove down to Bishop CA Wed AM and met the guides at Jack's Diner for an early breakfast, having staged a vehicle on Tuesday for Dave P & I at the Taboose TH about 15 miles S of Bishop. More on that later.

We hiked in from South Lake USFS TH to Bishop Pass, then contoured S across Dusy Basin to Thunderbolt saddle a mile+ across talus then dropped down to our home for 4 nights at a high alpine tarn just under 12,000'. I had been there 7 years prior with fellow COHPer Jim Retemeyer, when we climbed N Pal.

We awoke early, like 4AM, and set up the Tbolt couloir gully. Not too bad. We roped up when we were high for some Class 3/4 terrain, and found ourselves at the base of the spire atop Tbolt. I should point out that Mike and Dave P went separately with guide Ross Hill to N Pal that day.

Guide Amy scampered up the spire and clipped her rope to the slings and biner that encircle the top. I should note that this is commonly rated as Class 5.9 or so..... She is a 5.12+ climber, one of the best in the Eastern Sierra, having put up many first ascent routes there as well as in Patagonia..

I went first after her, but kept slipping off of the initial first move to just get up and onto the spire. No holds..... Decades ago the first ascenders boosted the first guy up and onto it. Since Amy had fastened a fixed handline next to the toprope, I made use of it to get on, then free climbed the rest of the way up. Some day go to You Tube and view a movie of this; there are several on it.

The holds are decent higher up, and soon I reached the top and the register which hangs off of it. Cool. Big enough to get a butt cheek onto the top and sit. Sweet....

We all made it up, one way or another, and rapped down and headed over to Starlight.

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