Sierra Mountain Center

California’s premier mountaineering school and guide service – Bishop, CA

North Palisade, Starlight & Thunderbolt with Joe Maher and Dan Gelinas. 8.13-15.09

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We have done lots of trips with Joe over the years and Dan was on the Mini Mountain Camp with Eric earlier in the year.
Both guys were in great shape and knew what they were up for so guide SP PArker and apprentice Gonzalo Montenegro were happy to be able to move quickly and smoothly with them for three days.
We hiked in over Bishop Pass on day one and made camp in the upper reaches of Palisade Basin at the small tarn we use for our Fourteeners trip .
The goal of the trip was to traverse three peaks in one day so we were off before daylight and were on top of North Pal three hours after starting. We took the so called “Secor Variation” to the Le Conte Route. This provides an easy traverse onto North Pal above the difficulties of the Le Conte Route and is the fastest way to the summit.
The descent into the notch between North Pal and Starlight is tricky and involves a couple of rappels and downclimbing. More time consuming than difficult and it was lunchtime when we got to Starlight.
Gonzalo lead the no protection 5.7 to the top of the Milkbottle and Joe and Dan sweated their way up.
Then on to Thunderbolt, descending into the Underhill Couloir Notch and then up the South Ridge to the summit block. This is best done by tossing a rope over and top roping the block.
Unfortunately the trend of removing summit registers has reached here and it was gone last year. No reason for this. If someone does not like the registers, then just don’t sign in and leave it for others who do!
A final rappel to the chute north of Thunderbolt and a long talus descent back to camp for a nap.
We were up early the next morning for the hike back down from Bishop Pass and we were out having Joe’s crackers, lox and champagne by early afternoon. A perfect way to finish!

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Written by SP Parker

August 26, 2009 at 2:18 am

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