Jan 30, 2013 at 8:29 pm #1298670
Im interested in tacking on a few 14ers to my JMT trip this august, and im wondering if anyone here has any info or first hand experience on getting North Palisade, Thunderbolt, Starlight, Polemonium, Sill, and Middle Palisade from the JMT (or sierra high route since that goes through the same area). Im hoping to find some maps and photos of the routes, and some info on what kind of gear i'll need to bring. i can climb 5.11 sport, however i would like to keep it at 4th class or lower to reduce the amount of technical gear i'll need.
Thanks!Jan 31, 2013 at 4:45 pm #1949444
Here's a link to an excellent article/trip report by Don Wilson and Alan Dixon that includes an ascent of Mt Sill from Lower Palisade Lake via Cirque and Potluck Passes on the SHR. It should get you started, not to mention a darn good read in its own right.Jan 31, 2013 at 4:50 pm #1949446
@feetfirstLocale: Northern Sierra Nevada
A good overview on Summit Post > Sierra Nevada > Palisades.Jan 31, 2013 at 7:43 pm #1949502
"Im interested in tacking on a few 14ers to my JMT trip this august,"
While we're on the subject, there are some good ones further south as well. I don't know if you're going SOBO or NOBO, but if it's SOBO and you've got a day or two to spare at the end, Tyndall, Williamson, and Russell would be excellent peaks to bag. Tyndall is about an hour east of the JMT, via the Shepherd Pass trail. It has at least one class 2 route and several class 3 routes on it. Another hour or less would put you in position to climb Mt Williamson via the West Face route(class 3). Williamson is a spectacular mountain and, at 14,375', the second highest peak in the Sierra. It would be a worthy addition to your agenda.
Russell would take you a day to get in position and climb it, followed by a half day to get back on the JMT. It goes at class 3 via the East Ridge, which is extremely exposed. It is situated in a gorgeous setting at the head of Wallace Lake Basin.
Anyway, just a couple of ideas for an area close to the JMT that you may not have considered.Jan 31, 2013 at 9:01 pm #1949527
lots of great peak to bag besides the 14ers.
The Citadel is in the general Palisade area and rises dramatically over the JMT.
but you need to cross the river to get to it. excellent views from the summit.Feb 2, 2013 at 11:37 am #1950071
@dansolLocale: So. Cal
Get your hands on "The High Sierra" by Secor.
A great resource for climbing in the Sierra.Feb 3, 2013 at 11:45 am #1950349
thanks for the responses so far. my plan is to hit the harder ones in the palisades first, then get a few more of them further south as time permits. im focusing on the 14ers since I've been doing a lot of them in colorado and i'd like to get a few of the California ones too. i know there are lots of great mountains under 14,000, and hopefully i'll get to them eventually, but i will only have so much time off work.
Tom, if i was to do Russell, wouldn't it make sense to do it from guitar/arctic lake on the west side. it looks like the west couloir is rated class 4. if i was to do the east ridge, what would the route look like to/from the JMT?Feb 3, 2013 at 4:45 pm #1950489
"Tom, if i was to do Russell, wouldn't it make sense to do it from guitar/arctic lake on the west side. it looks like the west couloir is rated class 4. if i was to do the east ridge, what would the route look like to/from the JMT?"
I'm not familiar with the west couloir, so I can't help you there. There are 2 ways to access the East Ridge, one via Upper Boy Scout Lake on the climbers approach to Whitney and one via Wallace Lake Basin. The latter is the one that would make more sense if you were SOBO on the JMT. You would leave the JMT where Wallace Creek crosses it and follow a way trail up Wallace Creek to Wallace Lake. From there pick your way up to Russell-Carillon Col above Tulainyo Lake and scramble the East Ridge to the summit. It is an ~4 mile hike up Wallace Creek to Wallace Lake, and less than an hour to get up to the col from there. The trail can be sketchy at times, but it is hard to get lost. just take what the terrain gives you and stay parallel to the creek. You will be well acclimated by then, and could do the hike and climb in one day, stay overnight, and retrace your steps the next morning. Wallace Lake Basin is drop dead beautiful and well worth the detour. I think it would be a much more aesthetic route to tell you the truth. Once you get up around Guitar Lake, the scenery is not all that much to write home about, IMO.Feb 4, 2013 at 11:54 pm #1950945
that route up to Wallace lake makes perfect sense now that i look at it. thanks for the info, i'd rather go up the more aesthetic way and its also rated a little easier too. after looking at the climb, the north ridge also seems like it would go at class three and is closer to wallace lake than the carillon-russell saddle and the east ridge.
the elevation change and the mileage looks like its within the daytrip relm for me, which is very appealing too. i figured the route from guitar lake would be a half day or so, where this is looking like something closer to a full day.
the thunderbolt to sill traverse and middle palisade still look like the biggest obstacles. has anyone done these as a part of their JMT thru hike?Feb 5, 2013 at 4:00 pm #1951135
"that route up to Wallace lake makes perfect sense now that i look at it. thanks for the info, i'd rather go up the more aesthetic way and its also rated a little easier too. after looking at the climb, the north ridge also seems like it would go at class three and is closer to wallace lake than the carillon-russell saddle and the east ridge.
the elevation change and the mileage looks like its within the daytrip relm for me, which is very appealing too. i figured the route from guitar lake would be a half day or so, where this is looking like something closer to a full day."
It sounds to me like you understand your options very well. Now all you have to do is figure out what works for you best and go for it. Best of luck and have a great trip, Ted.Mar 4, 2013 at 12:03 pm #1961287
This is not answering your question but I hoe you will find it useful. My parter, her brother, and I did a northbound hike on part of the SHR and found the south side of passes much easier to climb up than the north sides were to go down. The big difference is the south sides were much smother and more gradual due to the freeze thaw cycle while the north sides had rugged talus slopes which, when combined with the extra strain of heading down hill, made for some very strenuous, unpleasant, and uncomfortable descents. It was bad enough I had a mutiny on my hands and had to reroute us to JMT. I suspect, and my wife agrees, that if we had gone southbound, it would have been much more pleasant.
Also, depending on your acclimatization, southbound has the advantage that you generally are taking on higher and higher passes and campsites along the way. When I hiked the JMT I found this allowed me to largely avoid AMS.
My 2 cents worth answering an unasked question. ;)Mar 6, 2013 at 1:03 am #1962004
originally i had planned this as a southbound hike, however we did not get our permits through the lottery like i hoped, so we are going to be doing it as a northbound hike out of a different trailhead. Both me and my buddy are doing as many colorado 14ers as we can this year (I've done 15 since November, 25 since august) and we are both training for a sub 2hr half marathon in early august. so we will be very acclimatized and in great shape, so i don't think we'll have any issues with going south to north. considering many PCT guys go south to north every year, i imagine its just fine.
I actually have two new questions. one is how is the route from Whitney to Russell back to Whitney? i know its kinda silly, but i really want to get Russell while im in the area. I think the option would be to descend the mountaineers route of Whitney, then climb up the mount Russell from iceberg lake, then either climb back to the top of Whitney and descend the normal west route to crabtree meadows along the normal JMT route (which i would prefer), or climb down to the Wallace lakes area and follow wallace creek back to the JMT. If i did the Whitney-Russell-Whitney route, i could stash most of my gear near the top of Whitney, and then do the climbing between them with minimal gear.
My other question is if anyone knows of a way to do a food drop along the JMT inside of Kings Canyon NP? Preferably at Vidette meadows/Charlotte lake ranger stationMar 6, 2013 at 1:54 pm #1962248
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
"My other question is if anyone knows of a way to do a food drop along the JMT inside of Kings Canyon NP? Preferably at Vidette meadows/Charlotte lake ranger station"
Traditionally, the JMT junction to Charlotte Lake has been the popular spot for a food delivery. If you can get friends to hike over Kearsarge Pass, hand you a food bag, and then depart, then that works pretty good. Alternatively, some people have the local horse packer service do the delivery, although that is hugely expensive.
Last August I was passing that junction, and the Charlotte Lake ranger had notes stuck onto the trail junction signs. Apparently somebody had come over Kearsarge, left a food bag unattended inside one of the Charlotte Lake lockers, and then it was sitting there for days. That is against NPS rules, so the ranger enforced that by confiscating the food bag and tacking up the notes.
So, yes, that is the right spot, but you have to be careful about how you do it.
–B.G.–Apr 13, 2013 at 2:49 am #1976114
@talusterrapinLocale: Happily wandering
Hi Ted, California 14ers are different monsters than the Colorado variety and I say that with experience! I might recommend not attempting the Palisade Traverse from the JMT. The climbing isn't especially hard but the route finding is critical and the rock is not always pristine. You'd likely want some light climbing gear as well which I can't imagine you'd want to backpack with. Another problem with the Palisade traverse is that you'll want to finish it in a day, otherwise you'll need to bivy and water isn't readily available. If you are going to do the traverse, I'd set up a "base camp" at upper barrett lake then ascend to thunderbolt pass to start the traverse. The talus SLOG after Sill might very well be the hardest part of the traverse!
If you decide not to do the traverse and still want to hit a Palisade 14er I'd set my eyes on the southwest chute route on Sill. No technical gear required and the views are amazing… but you do have to contend with a hideous talus slog, both ways. You might also consider North Palisades West Chute or Clyde Variation of the West Chute.
Middle Palisade isn't a reasonable option from the west side as a JMT peak-bag. The rock is very loose and the climbing is precarious. You'd want gear, a helmet, and probably a partner.
A little bit further south you have Split Mountain which you should absolutely run up. Not technical in any sense but it's a very nice peak to bag with a good view.
Further south are Tyndall and Williamson. These are both easily attainable from the JMT and both could be done in one day if your route finding is solid and you're quick on your feet. Start with Williamson (it's more technical/committing) and go up the west face. The chute on the way up the west face is a scree/talus slog but once you get to the head wall you're met with some fun sierra 3.11a to the summit plateau. Tyndall is a little bit less committing and takes considerably less time. Go up either the Northwest Ridge (less technical, but longer) or the North Rib (more technical, faster). The North Rib has some very interesting climbing. Highly recommended!
Russell should also be considered. Going from the wallace lakes (stop here if you like to fish… was passing by here on the Sierra Crest Route last year and the fish were HUGE) your options are the North Ridge or East Ridge. Both are wonderful Class 3 climbs. The east ridge is a little slabby at points and throws some impressive exposure your direction but is not very technical. From the summit you could either descend back to the wallace lakes or descend the South Face Right Side chute which tops out between the summit ridge boulder crux and the east summit. You might also consider ascending the South Face Right Side Chute from Guitar Lake. Full disclosure, I've never down climbed the south face chute, only ascended.
Whitney is pretty obvious! Also hit Muir since it's right off the trail. Start where the cairns are. It takes all of 15 minutes.
For spice you could even include Langley if you're willing to walk along the PCT a few extra miles. Downside is no warm burger to welcome your return to civilization. Langley could also easily be ascended in one day via the Cottonwood Lakes/Army Pass trail.
If you do the Thunderbolt to Sill Traverse, Split, Williamson, Langley, Russel, Whitney, and Langley… that's all but one Sierra 14er! Throw in White Mountain Peak as a post JMT "warm-down" and you'll only have two California 14ers to go!
Hopefully some of that was helpful!Apr 13, 2013 at 3:11 am #1976116
@talusterrapinLocale: Happily wandering
I read your post a little further and I felt obliged to comment on this idea.
Don't do it! It's not worth it!
Okay, maybe that's a little bit harsh but I think you have much better options for tagging Russell.
Time-wise, I think you'd spend FAR more time descending Whitney's Mountaineers route and ascending Russell's east ridge then descending Russell's South Face Chute Right Side then the long and tedious slog back up to Whitney via the west side trail from Guitar Lake than you would if you just yoyo'd Russell from Guitar lake via the South Chute Right side. Or alternatively, take the longer option and hit Russell from Wallace Lake.
The Whitney/Russell/Whitney option you describe would require some seriously fast moving and you're at the whim of the weather. If things went south you're out of luck because you left your gear on top of Whitney. Additionally, cross country travel like you're describing takes a lot of time even if you have just a day pack. Also consider the hoards of people who frequent Whitney every day and the subsequent security of your gear. That's not a position you want to put yourself into.
A slightly more direct route between Whitney and Russell is Whitney's North Face but, The North Face of Whitney is nothing short of a cliff and slab-tacular route finders nightmare. It's incredibly slabby and you quickly run into frequent "nope that's definitely not climb-able" moments.
My three cents…YMMV
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