Ascent of Polemonium Peak on 2016-09-10

Climber: Dave Covill

Date:Saturday, September 10, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Polemonium Peak
    Elevation:14080 ft / 4291 m

Ascent Trip Report

This was the second climbing day 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.

After a rest day spent first lounging around, then scouting my exit route across Potluck Pass with guide Ross, then all 9 of us at the Barrett Lake beach 400' below us for a cleanup dip in frigid waters, we set out for our final goals.

James, Jeff, and Jill ( J-Team! ) headed for N Pal with Alex, while Dave P, Mike & I ascended Polemonium with Amy and Ross. The 9 person gang split up at the 13,900' bowl just below the summit of N Pal. We utilized the standard V Notch gully and Ledges to Chockstone gully route. I had done this with Jim R years prior, and recalled it as we went up. Fond memories. Where Jim & I had rock climbed left around the chockstone, this gang simply muscled up and over them, low-mid 5th Class moves.

Our team moved right (S) to a notch to exit the bowl, and then rapped 3X down to the saddle to Pol. Pretty airy, and many loose rocks. We then climbed low-mid 5th Class up chutes and gullies to a final face below the summit. Very exposed, but not that hard. The summit has room for a fair number of people. After signing in, we rapped 3X off down to the saddle again. First rap was overhanging a bit.

The gully down is the one to the climbers right, skiers left of the N Pal couloir. Much easier than the Starlight Couloir, and probably easier than the initial gully up Tbolt too. We intersected the V-Notch gully, descended more, and came to the point to contour left onto the famous Ledges. Once out and down some more 3rd-4th Class talus, we were in easier terrain and used trekking poles to get down to the valley floor near 12,300'. A moderately long boulder field walk got us to camp about 7PM.

The others had made it up N Pal and back by 5PM. The next day we split up, with 7 headed back to Bishop Pass, while Dave P & I went the other way cross-country towards the JMT/PCT and Split Mtn. We made the easy decision to abandon all thoughts of Sill or Middle Pal. Hah! Talk about thinking big, and finding you would be biting off way more than you can chew....

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