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Thunderbolt to Sill traverse without descending to Sam Mack Meadow

Original Post
David S. · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 10

Title pretty much says it all. I have a permit for Bishop Pass later in the season but won't have a second car to park down at Glacier Lodge. Thus I am looking to hike in to Dusy Basin, ascend Thunderbolt via the SW chute, do the traverse, and then come back to Dusy Basin from Mt Sill in a marathon day. 

I am wondering if one can get back to Dusy Basin (or Thunderbolt Pass) from Sill without going over technical terrain ('technical' = class 4 or greater). Anyone have an experience or knowledge they can proffer forth about this?

Thanks ahead of time!

Eli Stein · · Soulthern Caliswag · Joined Aug 2008 · Points: 10

Yes - i did this ~5 years ago and it's a cruiser traverse. You go over knapsack pass (if I'm remembering the name correctly). Class 3 max. ~3 hours from where you get dropped off after descending from Sill to being back in Dusy.

David S. · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 10

Thanks Eli! Do you possibly mean Potluck Pass, then? (just from looking at the topo now in a new light)

max schoenlein · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2017 · Points: 0

David- any word about snow conditions for the approach to the traverse... were crampons and Ice axe needed?

David S. · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 10


I'm heading out over Labor Day weekend ("later in the season"). I can't help ya out now, but I'll be sure to post up after that trip.

I was on the northeast side of Conness last weekend and there are still mighty amounts of snow above 10-11,000' in the northern and eastern facing sections. I felt pretty uncomfortable without snow gear (at least an ax), and I'd assume the Palisades are no different, esp. in the couloirs. 

JaredG · · Tucson, AZ · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 0

This might give you an idea of recent conditions:

Ryan Huetter · · Mammoth Lakes, CA · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 255

Regardless of how short it looks on the map, it is WAY faster to simply return to Polemonium, rap back down to the U Notch and then descend west back to Palisade Basin. 3rd class and goes quick. The Potluck Pass exit is not a good strategy for those doing the Traverse wanting to get back to their camp at T-Bolt Col.

As of right now you could get up the SW Chute 1 with a short ax and without spikes (only snow up to ledge traverse next to chockstone).

David S. · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 10

Thanks Ryan. That's hella (judge me) useful beta.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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