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Polemonium Peak - including Aerial Views of key climbing sections               
Polemonium Peak -  has been included in the North Palisade section because the both peaks share so
much of the same approach. As a matter of fact, the only difference between the two is that once you reach
the top of the U-Notch, you turn southeast and climb 180 vertical feet to an elevation of 14,080 vs turning
northwest and climbing 342 vertical feet to the top of North Palisade (14,242 Ft).  Therefore, by studying the
other Links on this page such as the Approach, High Camp, etc, you will essentially be reading about climbing
Polemonium Peak at the same time. Above is an image showing (from left to right) Mike Koerner, Matt
Milner, and Sean French atop Polemonium Peak with North Palisade and
Starlight Peak in the background.

Also note the summit register in the foreground. Most Sierra Peaks used to have
these nice aluminum boxes that were engraved with the name of the peak, but
most have been either removed by the forest service, or stolen. Polemonium
Peak is one of the few summits left that I have seen that still has one of these
nice registries. I hope it stays put, and more are restored to other Sierra summits.
They provide a nice touch to culminate all your hard work in obtaining the peak.

Below, I have added a few photos and details that pertain just to Polemonium Peak, and a few more details
that will pertain to both peaks. Many consider Polemonium Peak to be just a bump in the ridge (and therefore
not worthy of being called a peak at all), but Polemonium, nevertheless is listed by several sources as one of
California's 14ers. We found it to be a climb worth doing, and would recommend it as a worthy goal for the
The approach to the base of
Polemonium Peak as mentioned
above is the same as if you are
going to climb North Palisade.
The mountain can be approached
from either the North Fork of Big
Pine Creek, or Using the Bishop
Pass Trail, and accessing the peak
from the Southwest side going
over Thunderbolt Pass. You
could even use the South Fork of
Big Pine Creek, but this would
involve quite a bit of rock
scrambling in order to reach
Glacier Notch on the Mt Sill side,
and then climbing close to Sill's
summit and accessing
Polemonium via it's glacier side.
We found it easiest to use the
North Fork of Big Pine Creek.
Above, climbers
working their way up
the snow fields leading
to Palisade Glacier. The
time of year is late May,
and there is still plenty
of snow making it far
easier to negotiate the
otherwise rocky terrain
in latter season.

The enormous open
book known as the
"Doors of Perception" is
the most striking feature
of the northeast face of
the mountain. It contains
3 pitches of class 5.8
crack climbing until
easier ground is reached
above. The Aerial Photo
to the left shows this
To the right, you see us exiting
above the bergschrund section of
the U-Notch couloir. From here,
you climb approximately 900 feet of
45 degree ice and snow. Normally
we rope up while crossing the
glacier and going up this section of
the climb. While climbing
Polemonium Peak we ascended
unroped because of the excellent
condition of the snow. But looking
back, we should have roped up. It is
always best to be on the safe side,
even when you think the climbing is
easy. If the aforementioned bridge
would have collapsed, my son
would have disappeared into the
crevice at the base of this slope. So
I would always recommend roping
up on this type of terrain.

Below you see a photo that was taken from the summit of
Polemonium Peak. The Polemonium Glacier at over 13,000
feet is the highest glacier in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It
also has the distinction of being the only southeast facing glacier
in the entire range. Mt Sill can also be clearly seen in this photo.
Mt Sill is also one of the California 14ers, and sports a very fine
unobstructed view down into the Owens Valley.

To the right, you see Mike on his way down from the summit
of Polemonium Peak. On my way up I dead ended into this
wall and decided to descend about 30 feet and traverse to the
south and get back on the traditional class 5 route to the
summit. But the wall makes for excellent rappelling!
To the left you can see an
aerial image showing all the
key climbing areas of both
North Palisade and
Polemonium Peak. The photo
was taken on June 30, 2007
and you can see that most of
the snow has already melted
due to lower than normal
snow fall during the above
year. We used the U-Notch
Couloir to climb Polemonium
Peak, and a few years earlier,
we used the same chute to
climb North Palisade.

Some climbers use the
V-Notch Couloir to climb
Polemonium. But this chute is
a bit steeper logging in at a 50
to 60 degree angle rather than
the 45 degree angle of the
U-Notch. Protection can be
well placed in both couloirs by
staying to the right and using
the rock to anchor ones
climbing rope if needed.
Several anchors are already in
place (left behind by previous
climbers) but always double
check their condition before
trusting them.

When descending this section
of the climb, you can either
use the above mentioned
anchors and rappel the snow
and ice part of the climb, or
carefully descend by kicking
steps in the softer afternoon
snow. But if you do this,
make sure your ice ax self
arrest technique is in prime
operating order, so you do not
slip and fall and slide all the
way down the chute and
disappear into the crevase
To the right you can see
a photo taken by Mike
Korner who descended
a bit down the eastern
side of Polemonium
Peak to get a photo of
my backside while
eating a few snacks on
the summit.
Polemonium Peak is a
super summit, and the
views from the top are
outstanding. I have to
say that the Palisade
Peaks (Thunderbolt,
Starlight, North
Palisade, Polemonium,
Mt Sill, Middle Palisade,
and Split Mountain) are
my favorite summits in
all the Sierra Nevada

So in conclusion, Polemonium Peak is well worth the effort to climb. And even though many do not consider it to be worthy to
be called a peak on it's own, it does have it's highlights for the mountaineer to enjoy. There is no easy route to the summit, and
as mentioned above, the views from it's summit are spectacular. The final three pitches that begin from the top of the U-Notch
have been rated anywhere from class 5.2 to 5.6, and are on fairly solid rock.

The peak is named for the small blue flower found throughout the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and contains the highest glacier in
the range on it's southeast slopes. As with the North Palisade, the climbing is mixed and highly enjoyable if you have the training
and skills to take on this type of adventure.  
predominate feature. Also note the large
crevice known as the bergschrund. The
Palisade Glacier is the largest glacier out
of approximately 60 glaciers that are
part of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

To the left you will see a section taken
out of the photo above showing more
detail of what many consider to be the
crux of the snow and ice climb that is
required to reach the top of the U-Notch
couloir. In early season the bergschrund
is much easier to cross. (Bergschrund is
a mountaineering term that is used to
explain the large crevice that is formed
where the glacier separates from the
rock of a mountain peak.)  This Aerial
Photo was taken June 30, 2007 and you
can see that the labeled snow bridge is
in fairly poor condition. We used that
very bridge in late May of 2007 and my
climbing partner Mike Koerner told me
he could feel it vibrate as my son Sean
kicked in a couple of steps while
crossing the bridge.