• Activities:

    Backpacking

  • Skill Level:

    Advanced

  • Season:

    Summer

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    18 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    4000 Feet

Lake
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

This hike is extremely challenging but extremely fun. Good weather is a must have for a safe trip! Beautiful Alpine views.

Drive up to the trailhead near South Lake from the town of Bishop (you can get directions at the Ranger Station when you get a permit). The hike goes from approximately 9,000 ft. to 13,000 ft. over the course of 9 miles.

The first approximately 6 miles are on trail to the top of Bishop Pass. From here you go cross country, staying around 12,000 ft., over talus fields, finally climbing another 1,000 ft. to the Thunderbolt Pass, and into the Palisade Basin. You can camp here, dropping back down to about 12,000 ft.

You will leave the trail at the summit of the Bishop Pass, skirting the bottom of the peaks to your left, staying above the small lake above the Dusy Basin. Once crossing what seems to be commonly called "Thunderbolt Pass" you will realize that you are overlooking the Dusy Basin, and need to cross another 2+ miles of technical talus fields to cross the real Thunderbolt Pass, another 1,000ft. above. This hike is not for the faint of heart, and the talus is small and difficult. The views, alpenglow, peacefulness, and wilderness make it worth every second of scary steps around the talus.

You will come back the way you came :)

There is good beta available for the climb from the Palisade Basin to the Thunderbolt Peak on summitpost.org if you choose to go for the peak. This does require technical climbing and ropes, grade 5.7+

Note: the notch above the brown rock in the picture with the talus field and Palisades is Thunderbolt Pass.

Pack List

  • Permit
  • Back packing gear
  • Head lamps
  • Compass
  • Topo Map
  • Warm clothing
  • Water purifier
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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