Elevation: 14,003 ft
GPS: 37.098, -118.518 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
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Shared By: karl wilcox on Feb 1, 2007
Admins: Chris Owen, Lurker, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes
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The last fourteener in the Sierra to be climbed, Thunderbolt Peak is the next peak northwest of North Palisade, it too is on the main Sierra crest. It's summit monolith if often the crux of the climb - a 5.9 move over and onto a slab. It's safer if the monolith is draped with a rope first. As such it's one of the hardest summits in the Sierra to get to.

The name "Thunderbolt Peak" commemorates an incident during the first descent, when a nearby lightning strike gave Jules Eichorn cause for concern.

Getting There

The eastern approach:

From Big Pine on 395 drive up the road to Glacier Lodge; trailhead is signed on the right.

Hike up the North Fork of Big Pine Creek past Cienega Mirth, Lon Chaney's old cabin, and First, Second, and Third (spectacular views of Temple Crag) Lakes, then instead of continuing on to Fourth Lake turn south and up into Sam Mack Meadow. This is where I usually camp (6 miles, 3,400 ft of elevation gain). People staying more than a couple of days may want to cross the creek and head up the glacier trail to primitive sites either below the Palisade Glacier Moraine, or on the Moraine (1.25 miles, 1,100 more feet of gain).

6 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Thunderbolt Peak

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
4th 1 2 I 2 M 1b Mod. Snow
North Couloir
Trad, Snow, Alpine
Easy 5th 1+ 3 I 5 M 1c
Southwest Chute 1
Trad, Alpine
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b PG13
Austrian Arete
Trad, Alpine 6 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Easy Snow
Thunderbolt to Sill Traverse
Trad, Snow, Alpine
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
North Couloir
4th 1 2 I 2 M 1b Mod. Snow Trad, Snow, Alpine
Southwest Chute 1
Easy 5th 1+ 3 I 5 M 1c Trad, Alpine
Austrian Arete
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b PG13 Trad, Alpine 6 pitches
Thunderbolt to Sill Traverse
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Easy Snow Trad, Snow, Alpine
More Classic Climbs in Thunderbolt Peak »

Sun & Shade

Weather Averages

Days w Precip
Prime Climbing Season
John Korfmacher
Fort Collins, CO
John Korfmacher   Fort Collins, CO
You can also approach T-bolt from the west. Hike up over Bishop Pass, then boulder-hop southeast behind the Palisades. It's possible to camp at a prominent saddle a couple miles from Bishop Pass. I strongly recommend bringing a six-pack of the beverage of your choice and stashing it in a handy snowfield near camp.

Ascent is via an obvious scree gully (usually pretty dusty in the summer). One 5.easy pitch (rope optional) will put you at the foot of the summit boulder problem. Jun 9, 2008
PumpkinEater   Sacramento
My friend and I did the traverse from Winchel Col to Mt.Sill 3 or 4 years ago climbing T-Bolt along the way. Probably one of the best climbs I've ever done in the Sierra. Climbing onto the summit pinnacle really only involves a move or two and is mellow for 5.9. Clip into the summit bolt with your daisy, stand up and......WhhooooooooWEEE! Mar 1, 2009
Geoff Unger
Moab, UT
Geoff Unger   Moab, UT
FOUND! Iphone 5 near the summit of Thunderbolt Peak. PM me or email info@extremealpine.com and I will return it to you. Jun 11, 2016