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Thunderbolt Ridge 

YDS: 5.4 French: 4a Ewbanks: 12 UIAA: IV ZA: 10 British: VD 3c

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 3 pitches, 800', Grade II
Original:  YDS: 5.4 French: 4a Ewbanks: 12 UIAA: IV ZA: 10 British: VD 3c [details]
FA: Cado Avenali et al, 1972
Season: Summer, or brave winters
Page Views: 3,262
Submitted By: Arie on Jul 6, 2008

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Ridge from camp

Gate Buttress Area Recreational Lease: Climbs on Church Buttress above vault remain closed MORE INFO >>>


Thunderbolt Ridge is rooted in the heart of the Lone Peak Wilderness dividing the middle and west basins of Hogum Fork. Its moderate spine provides some aesthetic vertical en route to South Thunder or along one of the areas many scrambling traverses. Thunderbolt is the first ridge west of the imposing buttress housing Hogum's Heroes and has a broken, shattered look from the east. From the west, the ridge is much cleaner with a steep west aspect and a cool sawtooth horizon. Thunderbolt is fairly short, but the lanky approach makes up for its brief height. Overall the ridge runs for at least a quarter mile gaining about 800 feet, but only a few sections muster a fifth class rating.

Catch the ridge where it rises out of a broad shoulder and enjoy several hundred feet of initial beautiful scrambling. After gaining some elevation the ridge steepens for a step at a short slab split by a couple off-hands cracks (fun). More elevation gains mellower terrain and then another step. Numerous traverses, straddles, death-block scares ($#*%), and the increasing relief keep things interesting. The ridge seems to be exfoliating giant slabs westward; often you are climbing these teetering columns hoping something is welding them in place. There are countless variations as you gain elevation, avoid obstacles, and climb others. Most of the climbing is a mix of steep scrambling and sections of easy fifth class- but expect a few sections up to 5.6.

As Thunderbolt Ridge merges with the larger Lightning Ridge the climbing returns to scrambling- albeit much more loose and dangerous than the initial section. Top out on Lightning Ridge and enjoy the fantastic views south to Box Elder and Timp. Overall the ridge is pretty mellow with just a few technical sections. Several areas are incredibly loose and are just waiting to trundle. But generally the rock is solid, beautiful, and the setting is definitely wilderness.


About 300-400 meters west of Hogum's Heroes. The obvious ridge splitting the west and middle basins of Hogum Fork.


Super light alpine rack or extra butterfingers.

Photos of Thunderbolt Ridge Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Summit block
Summit block
Rock Climbing Photo: Half way up the ridge line looking up at the summi...
Half way up the ridge line looking up at the summi...
Rock Climbing Photo: Half way up the ridge line looking down the ridge
Half way up the ridge line looking down the ridge
Rock Climbing Photo: Thunderbolt Ridge from the west bowl of Hogum Fork...
BETA PHOTO: Thunderbolt Ridge from the west bowl of Hogum Fork...

Comments on Thunderbolt Ridge Add Comment
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By Spencer Weiler
From: Salt Lake city
Aug 19, 2013

I would highly recommend trying to do this ridge before the snow melts for access issues. It is an endless talus scramble that takes hours from whatever access point you choose, whether from Hogum proper, the traverse from white pine, or up and over the Pfief and Airplane then down. I've tried all 3 and none are any more pleasant than the next. Likely one of the most inaccessible ridge climbs in the Wasatch.
By Michele Evans
Jul 8, 2014

What a beautiful way to spend the 4th of July! Camped at Chipman saddle with my husband, John Evans, & hiked down to the low point in the ridge line with UNWOP. Easy scramble down to snow that we followed around to a slightly lower angle and followed snow over to where the ridge basically started. We simul climbed the ridge, what a blast!!! Huge blocks and fins making a spine of rock with exciting exposure. Weaving our way up the ridge was SO MUCH FUN!!! I found it very solid with very little loose rock until we got towards the top & we shifted to the left, patches of dirty rock there. Enjoyed chillin' at the top with my honey, then we walked back to to camp at Chipman. This was part of an uber 4 day ridge romp, our 20th anniversary trip.
By John Evans
Jul 8, 2014

My wife, Michele, and I climbed this 7/4/14 and had a great time. We agree that the approach is best made when some snow is still in the cirque. The route itself was fantastic! We took just a set of nuts without the largest one, four slings, and a 20m rope. In general, the rock was really good quality, and we didn't find that much loose stuff to deal with. The top was more broken up, so we stepped left for the last 100' to get a bit more roped climbing in, and come off the climb right next to the "summit".
By Andrew Brodhead
From: SLC
Jul 29, 2017

Fun solo day in the BC. Surprising high quality rock on the bulk of the ridge. You can make this ridge as hard or easy as you would like. Rock deteriorates a bit in the last 100-200 feet. Still a worthy day out in the mountains. After the summit, i continued behind the Pfeifferhorn and dropped down into Red Pine Lake.

The approach is about a 3-3 1/2 hr with a light day pack, taking ones time.

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