Fun and Failure on The Thumb (photo TR)


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Mountain climber
Northern NV
Topic Author's Original Post - Jul 21, 2008 - 01:45pm PT
Its said that time heals all wounds. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to prevent re-occurance. A solo CTC trip up the Venusian blind arete a couple weeks ago had me near in tears by the time I reached my car due to the ache from multiple past ankle injuries.

So as the pain faded and memory erased the remainder, I found myself perusing the book for something a bit obscure, do-able as a car to car trip. Eventually The NW corner of The Thumb floated to the top.

4am saw me hiking up the S Fork of Big Pine cr on approach. As I got higher the first rays of the morning sun touched the summit of The Thumb.

Beautiful alpine tarns greeted me above Brainard Lk.

Higher yet, I studied the NW aspect of the mountain from the huge moraine fields north of the peak.

I entered the loose chute left of the line I was to attempt. I later dubbed this chute the 'hellishly loose bail gully'. I wound up around a large and obvious orange and green dihedral and climbed very loose .6ish rock to the crest of the arete. A couple hundred feet of easy cl3 around towers and views led to the harder upper ridge.

Lots of .7 and .8 climbing followed until I finally bailed some 200 ft or so from the summit. It was a tough bail but I had the distinct feeling I was soloing into a box and I was carrying a short rope and limited gear. I rapped and down climbed into the above mentioned gully and started down. Bail point was above and left of the large slab on the ridge crest.

Looking back across the ridge from the gully.

The gulley was pretty miserable but eventually I made it out and down to the green meadows again.

Back on the trail at Brainard all that remained was the inevitable foot and ankle pain of the hike out. Thankfully my memory is short cuz I'm looking for next weeks adventure.
Russ Walling

Social climber
Out on the sand.... man.....
Jul 21, 2008 - 02:22pm PT

Ice climber
Jul 21, 2008 - 02:23pm PT
Beautiful pics Doug :)

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Jul 21, 2008 - 02:30pm PT
Too Bad, Oh TOO BAD!

(That's what R.E. Lee said after a bad loss, I'm not sure if
it was Gettysburg or what). . .

Lamenting on your lack of summit.

But a fine climb it appears to be, and your photos are

Oakland: what's not to love?
Jul 21, 2008 - 02:51pm PT

Yes! Love that first pic - really captures the feeling.

Social climber
Boulder, Colorado!
Jul 21, 2008 - 02:55pm PT
Beautiful photos - thanks!
F10 Climber F11 Drinker

Trad climber
medicated and flat on my back
Jul 21, 2008 - 05:45pm PT

Cool pic's, makes me wish I were up there !

Thanks for the TR, next time

Trad climber
Jul 21, 2008 - 06:50pm PT
Very Nice!
Thanks for posting.

Social climber
So Cal
Jul 21, 2008 - 07:16pm PT
Really like the shot of Middle and the gendarme.

Standing Strong

Trad climber
hopping on a moonshadow
Jul 21, 2008 - 08:06pm PT
" Thankfully my memory is short cuz I'm looking for next weeks adventure. "

hahaha! that's great. thanks for the write up!
Danielle Winters

Trad climber
Jul 21, 2008 - 08:30pm PT
Nice Trip Report . What a cool place to climb.
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Oakville, Ontario, Canada, eh?
Jul 21, 2008 - 09:03pm PT
Beauty! My ankle hurts just looking at the pix. Where is it?

Mountain climber
Northern NV
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 24, 2008 - 07:39am PT
Thanks all, twas somewhat maginally good climb. But very beautiful. Its been 33 years since I first climbed the Thumb.
The Thumb is in the Palisades region of the Sierra, Cali.

Social climber
Berkeley, CA
Jul 24, 2008 - 01:41pm PT

Trad climber
Jul 24, 2008 - 08:57pm PT
Hey climblight,
Here's a picture I took a few years ago.

I can't tell if this is the Thumb or if the Thumb is just off pic to the right. Notice the crack that cuts right through the face. Maybe a first ascent chance?
There are a lot of first ascents available around there I think.

Mountain climber
Northern NV
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 25, 2008 - 03:43am PT
That is the thumb. And yes I noticed that face. I believe the left line in your photo is a dike. The right line I guess I couldn't or didn't see. May call for another look. I was on the arete on the sun/shadow line.

Trad climber
boulder, co
Jul 25, 2008 - 05:12am PT
Sweet Views!!!!

Trad climber
Monrovia, Ca
Jul 25, 2008 - 11:54am PT

Always a shame to be turned back so near to the top. I had a similar experience winter before last on the E ridge of Russell, had to give it up about one or two hundred feet short.

But in the wise words of Ed Viesturs, "Getting to the top is optional, but getting down is mandatory. A lot of people get focused on the summit and forget that."

Trad climber
Woodside, CA
Jul 25, 2008 - 12:06pm PT
I would not call this a failure at all. You are just taking longer road to success!

Nice job and pics, Doug
dee ee

Mountain climber
citizen of planet Earth
Jul 26, 2008 - 04:52pm PT
Wow Doug, that was bold, sorry you didn't make the summit. The Thumb is very high on my list of "to dos." That "crack" is actually the "Black Dike" climbed by Eve and Herb Laeger and Dick Saum (IV 5.9 in 1979). I think it was pretty dicey on the FA.
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