THIMBLE PEAK (9,805') CLASS 4
Location: 1.5 miles SSW of Kirkwood, CA
Drive: Take Highway 88 to the Kirkwood Road junction, used for the approach to the ski resort, and drive 1.4 miles south on the main Kirkwood Road to the main complex with the Post Office and General Store. Parking shouldn't be a real problem during the off-ski season, if no events are taking place.
Climb: Behind the "Lodge," a dirt road takes off from the vicinity of "Wagon Wheel 2" ski lift. Follow this main dirt road south, through a gate, to "Caples Crest" ski lift. Take the road left and over a dip, along the lift towers.
There are two ways to go here. One can take an unsigned equestrian trail right about 100 feet past the dip, and at about the first bend. Follow this to its highpoint, then head cross-country up steep, grassy slopes to the main Kirkwood crest.
For an easier alternative, stay on the dirt road, past the dip with the equestrian trail. This dirt road switchbacks up with nice views of the resort area. Take a fork right, following the local crest, and ignore signed "Shep's Trail," which goes indistinctly to the left. The main road heads back south to a prominently lift-serviced hill. Follow a use trail up over the next hill southwest and continue along the crest, heading cross-country past warning signs about the cliffs to the right (north). After a dip, you will see the summit crags of Thimble Peak far up ahead and above. About here, the route using the equestrian trail comes up from the right.
Hike cross-country and ascend to the ridge that leads west to the peak. Skiing warning signs mark the right side of this route. A rubbly hill appears to be at the juncture of three ridges. Climb this small bump, and, from its top, you will see the final highpoint to the south about 25 feet away. A rock horn makes for a good belay anchor here. Descend to a small ledge which leads to a sharp notch. Climb the knife-edged, very exposed, narrow arete, taking care with the holds, and up two large, rock "steps." A large horn about 7 feet below the top makes a good place for a large sling for protection. Ahead, a steep mantle brings one quickly to the highpoint. There are no great anchors, but a large crack may offer a placement opportunity for a large chock or two. There is room for a few people on top.
Drive: Take Highway 88 to an unsigned, gravel road, which is 0.5 mile east from Silver Lake Campground or 5.5 miles west from Kirkwood Inn. This dirt road south leads in a few feet to primitive parking. A sign here states, "Horse Canyon Trail 17E21." and "Scout Carson Lake 5 Summit City Creek 9."
Climb: Take the trail heading southeast which traverses under the spectacular southwest face of Thunder Mountain. Climb steadily along the trail, and after 3-4 miles, head left at a junction. Climb to a saddle to the southeast of Thimble Peak. Climb cross-country left and up, traversing to the hill just north of the summit spire, and join Route A.
WINTER SKI ASCENT: Routes A or B will do. A Kirkwood ski lift rises to the ridge to the north, allowing for a short winter ascent, if permission to "ski out-of-bounds" is granted.
TRIP STATS: Route A, 2,000 feet gain, 3 miles one way by the dirt road, or 2 miles one way heading by the equestrian trail; Route B, 2,600 feet gain, 5 miles one way; winter ski ascent, same via both routes.
Notes: The volcanic, knobby
agglomerate does not inspire confidence, but it has been climbed
by many parties. Bob Miller, a Sierra Club member, placed the
register, and climbs the entire route unroped. The summit crag
seems to overhang on both sides of the arete, so a rope is highly
It appears that the ridge traverse from Thunder Mountain is mainly, if not all, class 1, except for the final class 4 climb. It seems that the Thimble Peak summit crag can also be reached by heading east or northeast cross-country from several other points along the Horse Canyon ORV trail, which runs further to the west, than going by the suggested Route B.