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Northcutt-Carter 

YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b

   
Type:  Trad, Alpine, 8 pitches, 900', Grade III
Consensus:  YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c [details]
FA: R. Northcutt, Carter
Page Views: 8,077
Submitted By: Leo Paik on Apr 25, 2007

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (12)
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Harvey Carter's notes on the climb written the day...

Description 

Odd, wasn't this in the database?

Note, this route is now probably 5.10R unless someone has figured out an easier start.

This was originally a 50 Classic Climbs route. There has been much history about this route. Once, it carried a somber reputation of a fear-inducing North Wall. However, a couple Californians came to erase that reputation with an afternoon ascent. In its former state, it provided a great, moderate line up the 3rd buttress. With the rock fall which changed the first 2 pitches in the late 1990s, this route's start increased in difficulty to the 5.10 R range. Still, some loose rock exists in the section between the 2nd and 3rd buttresses which runs across the start of this line. Route finding still is a bit challenging, as evidenced by bits of scattered gear along the route.

Per BDergay: alternatively you can: "start this route by going up the wide crack/squeeze chimney on the Kor-Van Tongeren route just to the right of the scar. Head up as if you're starting the Kor-Van Tongeren, then after emerging from the squeeze chimney (5.8ish) you do a pitch left (75-80 feet), staying essentially level and you'll come to the old anchors/slings that were the original Northcutt-Carter 3rd pitch start."

The approach takes about 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 hours.

P1. Ascend a corner to a chimney about 1/2 a rope length, move left, pass a smooth section and belay at a reasonable stance. ~110'.

New line - Ascend somewhat fractured rock.

P2. Ascend a dihedral, move left into another dihedral, pass pins, then move left again into another dihedral, and belay at a ledge. ~150'.

New line - TBA.

P3. This can be a route-finding challenge. Move up ~20' then move left to a smaller-than-you-think right-facing dihedral (~80' out) that is the right side of a subtle pillar. You'll likely pass 3 pins. You'll be drawn further left than you think, if you don't look carefully. ~160'.

P4. Go up a crack above this pillar in a R-facing dihedral. Continue up a left-facing dihedral and belay in nook. You'll likely pass some pins & fixed nut. ~150'.

P5. Pass a bulge on its right side, then move left, pass a ledge, fade right, go up to a 2nd ledge with a pin. ~160'.

P6. Continue up a shallow dihedral up and right with a pin past a bulge. Continue up left past fixed pins into a chimney. The belay seemed semi-hanging. ~165'.

P7. Climb up and right, then undercling left, pass a bulge, and continue up somewhat a chimney with pins at the top. ~140'.

P8. Move slight down to a gully, continue to the top of the wall.

Descent: hike uphill/right into the gully bordering the right side of the third buttress. This is loose in spots and can provide some excitement. Near the bottom of the gully, you must trend a bit uphill, climber's right, to keep the descent mellow.

Location 

This is on the third/rightmost buttress of Hallett Peak.

Protection 

Wires, cams to #4 Friend, some hexes.


Photos of Northcutt-Carter Slideshow Add Photo
P6. Mikey Tenant. 1996.
P6. Mikey Tenant. 1996.
Alternate start for Northcutt-Carter.
BETA PHOTO: Alternate start for Northcutt-Carter.

Comments on Northcutt-Carter Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jul 23, 2012
By Monomaniac
Administrator
From: Morrison, CO
Jun 15, 2007

I did this route after the rock fall, but it was ~5 years ago, so I unfortunately don't remember many details. I seem to recall one of the replacement pitches climbing a dihedral that arches right-wards to form a roof, and placing a 0 TCU at the exit of the roof. The crux was getting established above the roof. When the rockfall first occurred, there was a great deal of speculation that the route was "destroyed", but I found it to be still quite enjoyable, and not terribly dangerous. I believe the "new" route is described in Gillett's guidebook.
By George Bell
From: Boulder, CO
Jun 25, 2007

I don't see any reason to retain the "traditional rating" if the first two pitches have fallen off! Why not list it at 5.10?
By Leo Paik
Administrator
From: Westminster, Colorado
Jun 27, 2007

George, I just haven't been back to try the new version...maybe waiting for loose rock to get pulled off. I've got to get back & try it. I don't like putting in information without direct knowledge...it's like copying a guidebook. If someone has more modern info, let me know, and I'll add it to the description & change the rating.
By BDergay
From: Eldorado
Sep 21, 2009

You can start this route by going up the wide crack/squeeze chimney on the Kor-Van Tongeren Route just to the right of the scar. Head up as if you're starting the Kor-Van Tongeren, then after emerging from the squeeze chimney (5.8ish) you do a pitch left (75-80 feet), staying essentially level and you'll come to the old anchors/slings that were the original Northcutt-Carter 3rd pitch start. From there, follow the above description.

I did this route a few weeks ago- AMAZING! Do this route!! The fact that this wall was climbed in 1956 is astounding! Kudos to Ray Northcutt and Harvey Carter!
By Ross
From: Pinewood Springs
Jul 19, 2010

18JUL10
We tried BobDergay suggestion, but it did not pan out. We may have started to far left? Then again maybe NOT. As in directions to Kor-VanT we followed a ramp above the slab to a 5.8ish chimney. The traverse directly after the chimney was about 40m (marginal pro) which brought us to broken ledges and a fixed pin. There is a large 2m obelisk we later rapped from.
Anyway, we continued the traverse for another 6-5m (with marginal pro) to a stunning 50m, left-facing corner capped by a small roof which I was very happy to enter and go up with good pro 5.9ish. From the top of this, my partner did easy traverse 10m to a dihedral capped by a roof chockstone from which he returned saying it was dirty and loose, so we did 3 clean raps to ground.
--Ross
By Captain America
From: Longmont, CO
Jul 19, 2010

18JUL10
I should have noted this point... 'Kor-Van Tongeren' is listed to start 300ft right of Northcutt-Carter. How could we traverse "75-80 ft" left as suggested and make it all the way back to Northcutt-Carter?? Dergay must have been referring to another start just to the right Northcutt-Carter. The dihedral mentioned above lead into the Black Chimney which is surely Kor-Van T. The dihedral we climbed below this (if also Kor-Van T. seemed harder than the listed 5.7)
By BDergay
From: Eldorado
Jul 30, 2010

Hey, guys - regarding the start: I went back to my photos from the day I was there -- Here's a beta pic where I outlined the course I took. The red dot is the start of the original 3rd pitch. Looking back...yeah, maybe not a 75-80 foot traverse (sorry, didn't have a rope that day. So, the distance might be a tad attenuated in my memory) - but I remember traversing, with a slight ramp I went up and back down, to get to the 3rd pitch belay...from that belay, I remember the route-finding a little weird for a few feet, but you'll pass one or two pins past the belay as head to the 3rd pitches' dihedral out left....
By Ben Collett
Aug 22, 2010

I did this route today with a minor variation to Bob's suggested approach to the third pitch. We climbed the steep dihedral just left of the wide crack that he describes. We figured it would be more fun and better protected. It turned out to be rather pleasant with excellent protection. This route should see more traffic than it is currently getting. It is really nice Hallett climbing.
By Rodger Raubach
Apr 10, 2011
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

I've only climbed this route once, BITD. It was 23 July 1961. Layton Kor was my partner. It took just a hair over 3 1/2 hours to do the climb using pitons, driving, and removing. I don't recall that the climb was all that enjoyable, and certainly surprised me when Steck and Roper included it in their book. There is some brittle or friable rock towards the top, and a friend of mine took a pretty big leader fall on the next-to-last lead in 1960.
By quinndalina
From: Estes Park
Jun 29, 2011

Climbed this today. Description is fair and wording is slightly confusing. Like most Hallett routes, look around and don't be afraid to wander.
We also did the right-facing roof/dihedral, left of the big slot, that Ben mentions. Excellent hand jams through a roof with great gneiss edges for feet! The traverse pitch can just go straight across rather than up and back down.
We did the route in 6 long pitches. Descent is a bit snowy still, June 28th, we took an alternate route to the snow and glissaded.
By Doug Fulford
Aug 8, 2011

Climbed it yesterday Aug. 7 2011. Started via the Kor Van Tongeren. P1 5.7 55m to bottom of prominent "V"
P2 5.9 50m took left hand option of V. Short but fierce crux then easy.
P3 5.0 30m climb down and left past loose blocks and flakes to the top of P2 of the Northcutt Carter. There are a couple of old pins and some old tat to mark this belay.
We then followed the Northcutt Carter route to the top.

The above description exactly matches Bob Dergay's beta photo. We found the entire route to be really fun on steep, featured, mostly solid rock. Expect tricky routefinding and sometimes widely spaced protection.

There is still a large snowpatch to cross to get to the start of the route and another small but steep one right below the summit of Hallett. We didn't use our ice axe, but you would have to if the sun hadn't softened the snow.
By Camster (Rhymes with Hamster)
Mar 25, 2012

Ray Northcutt in a 2009 interview:

"Beautiful wall, beautiful setting."
By Julius Beres
From: Boulder, CO
Jul 21, 2012
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

This thing is a choss pile. I will give it 1 star for the setting, but it is not only the worst route I've climbed on Hallet, but also the worst route I've done in RMNP. I don't understand how this ever made the 50 classics list (were the first 2 pitches that fell off incredible?!)

The route is dirty as hell and it doesn't seem like many people climb it... lichen everywhere. The holds are really brittle and tons of death blocks on the route. The gear is spaced, and though most of the climbing is easy, the crap nature of the rock makes it sketchy. I also thought the crux moves on this were harder than anything on Culp-Bossier.

The route description here is excellent for those wanting to do it. BDergay photo is perfect for starting on KVT, and from there on, you follow the description here starting with P3. We actually did the KVT start in 3 pitches (one to the base of the squeeze chimney, the chimney, and then the traverse).
By Monomaniac
Administrator
From: Morrison, CO
Jul 22, 2012

Julius,

I think your critique is fair. I've enjoyed climbing the routes on that list as much as anyone, but to be fair, many of the selections have not withstood the test of time. But to answer your question, I believe the route was included in 50 Classics because of its "historical significance". Northcutt declared it the hardest in CO, and perhaps the hardest route in America when he did the FA in 1956. Chouinard & Ken Weeks casually fired it in half a day for the 2d ascent. Needles to say the two CA authors of 50CC couldn't pass on the chance to stick it CO climbers by including this history in the book.

That said, it is one of the more impressive looking lines on Hallet, it was also the first line on the N Face, and Hallet is one of the more recognizable features in RMNP. I think it makes sense to include a route on Hallet, and clearly Culp-Bossier has become the true classic, but Northcutt-Carter is far more significant historically. There are plenty of other routes in the book that look good and have an interesting history, but offer mediocre climbing at best.
By slim
Administrator
Jul 23, 2012

i think the rockfall really beat it up. when i did it (maybe '94 or so) it was a decent route and the rock quality was fairly good (for an alpine route). my main memory is coming up to my partner's 4 RP hanging belay. he was a really good aid climber, and i think he was trying to freak me out. that, combined with the typical black clouds rolling in, made me anxious to get to the top.