Understanding uplift and exhumation in orogenesis requires integrating the effects of both climatic and tectonic forcing. Punctuated thrust activity is widely documented from field studies in a range of mountain belts. The potential for climatic forcing of thrust activity has been a subject of recent debate. Here we use a modeling approach to analyze the behavior of individual thrust units in the context of asymmetric doubly vergent thrust wedges. The model predicts that rates of surface uplift, frontal accretion, and exhumation should be punctuated on a time scale linked to thrust sheet geometry and convergence rates. This time scale ranges from 0.1 to 5 m.y. for various settings, and should be calculated before external forcings such as climate are invoked.