Mount Thompson North Couloir

Bishop, California

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Mt. Thompson is named for Almon Harris Thompson, a geographer with the USGS who accompanied Major John Wesley Powell on his explorations of the Colorado plateau and Colorado River in the late 1800s. The next peak to the west on the crest is named for Major Powell. Their trip down the Grand Canyon is one of the most gripping tales in American history and certainly one of the bravest adventures ever done in the name of surveying the American West. Norman Clyde made four of the first seven ascents of this peak and climbed Mt. Thompson more than 50 times. On the left side of the northeast face is a trio of moderate ice gullies. These gullies attracted local climbers and skiers in the early 1980s, but no one is sure whether Clyde had climbed them. Clyde described his first ascent of the peak. “Up the precipitous face of the mountain I rapidly picked my way, now following narrow ledges, now hoisting myself up over pitches intervening between them, gradually veering toward the crest of a rib leading towards the summit of the mountain. Eventually after some clambering up narrow chimneys and escalades over steep walls, I reached the broken crest. For several hundred feet I followed this, encountering rather aerial, but not especially difficult, climbing. To the left, the arete fell away precipitously in couloirs with ribs between them; to the right, however, it fell away sheer to a large, snowfilled chute. The [climb was] less difficult than anticipated, a comparatively easy escalade of about a hundred feet bringing me to the rim of the mesa-like summit of the mountain.”
Climbing California's High Sierra

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Climbing California's High Sierra

by John Moynier & Claude Fiddler (Falcon Guides)

Mt. Thompson is named for Almon Harris Thompson, a geographer with the USGS who accompanied Major John Wesley Powell on his explorations of the Colorado plateau and Colorado River in the late 1800s. The next peak to the west on the crest is named for Major Powell. Their trip down the Grand Canyon is one of the most gripping tales in American history and certainly one of the bravest adventures ever done in the name of surveying the American West. Norman Clyde made four of the first seven ascents of this peak and climbed Mt. Thompson more than 50 times. On the left side of the northeast face is a trio of moderate ice gullies. These gullies attracted local climbers and skiers in the early 1980s, but no one is sure whether Clyde had climbed them. Clyde described his first ascent of the peak. “Up the precipitous face of the mountain I rapidly picked my way, now following narrow ledges, now hoisting myself up over pitches intervening between them, gradually veering toward the crest of a rib leading towards the summit of the mountain. Eventually after some clambering up narrow chimneys and escalades over steep walls, I reached the broken crest. For several hundred feet I followed this, encountering rather aerial, but not especially difficult, climbing. To the left, the arete fell away precipitously in couloirs with ribs between them; to the right, however, it fell away sheer to a large, snowfilled chute. The [climb was] less difficult than anticipated, a comparatively easy escalade of about a hundred feet bringing me to the rim of the mesa-like summit of the mountain.”

©  John Moynier & Claude Fiddler/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Climbing
Nearby City: Bishop
Class: Class 5 - 5.5
Local Contacts: Kings Canyon National Park
Local Maps: USGS Mt. Thompson
Driving Directions: Directions to Mount Thompson: North Couloir

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