Palisade Traverse Southfork Pass to Jigsaw Pass

Big Pine, California

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The Sierra Crest in the Palisades region is the highest continuous ridge in the range, averaging nearly 14,000 feet for almost 9 miles. The first traverse of this jagged section of the crest was highly coveted and attempted many times over the years, beginning in the 1930s. The Underhill Camp crew traversed between North Palisade and Starlight Peak in 1931 following their first ascent of Thunderbolt Peak. Jules Eichorn and Glen Dawson returned to traverse the wild ridge between Middle Palisade and Norman Clyde Peak in 1933. John Fischer noted that the first attempt at a complete traverse of the crest was in 1969. Fischer and his client Gerry Adams finally managed the entire traverse over seven days in 1979, having previously cached their food along the crest. This was their second try; the first had ended in a snowstorm on Clyde Peak. Fischer described their effort. “The situation is fantastic and the quality of the climbing is outstanding. The rock varies from the finest High Sierra granite to teetering stacks of shattered diorite. The traverse we did was several miles longer than any other technical traverse yet done in the Sierra. I suppose the complete Palisade traverse would be from Taboose Pass to Bishop Pass, although I can’t imagine anyone sustaining that level of energy for that long.” The pair found the traverse of the jagged Palisade Crest to be the crux.

Palisade Traverse: Southfork Pass to Jigsaw Pass Professional Review and Guide

"The Sierra Crest in the Palisades region is the highest continuous ridge in the range, averaging nearly 14,000 feet for almost 9 miles. The first traverse of this jagged section of the crest was highly coveted and attempted many times over the years, beginning in the 1930s. The Underhill Camp crew traversed between North Palisade and Starlight Peak in 1931 following their first ascent of Thunderbolt Peak. Jules Eichorn and Glen Dawson returned to traverse the wild ridge between Middle Palisade and Norman Clyde Peak in 1933. John Fischer noted that the first attempt at a complete traverse of the crest was in 1969. Fischer and his client Gerry Adams finally managed the entire traverse over seven days in 1979, having previously cached their food along the crest. This was their second try; the first had ended in a snowstorm on Clyde Peak. Fischer described their effort. “The situation is fantastic and the quality of the climbing is outstanding. The rock varies from the finest High Sierra granite to teetering stacks of shattered diorite. The traverse we did was several miles longer than any other technical traverse yet done in the Sierra. I suppose the complete Palisade traverse would be from Taboose Pass to Bishop Pass, although I can’t imagine anyone sustaining that level of energy for that long.” The pair found the traverse of the jagged Palisade Crest to be the crux."

Activity Type: Climbing
Nearby City: Big Pine
Class: Class 5.9 and above
Local Contacts: John Muir Wilderness; Kings Canyon National Park
Local Maps: USGS Split Mountain, North Palisade, Coyote Flat
Grade: Grade IV
Driving Directions: Directions to Palisade Traverse: Southfork Pass to Jigsaw Pass

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May 2018