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The first route to be climbed in the Trapps, this is a popular beginner's route. The first pitch is often taken up by guides and their clients (it's on the Guide's Wall), but there are a couple variations to the first pitch so you can generally get around. The three pitches include three completely different climbing styles: the first pitch is facey and balancy, the second pitch is jug-bashing, and the last pitch is a classic Gunks dihedral.
The original P1 of Northern Pillar went up the gully just to the right of the huge, orange Madame Grunnebaum's Wulst buttress, then up the clean face above approximately 20 feet to the right on the large ledge. Some people still do it that way, but 1) there's not much gear, 2) you're in the rappel line, and 3) it goes at a true 5.1. Most people now-a-days go up the medium-angle face just to the right of the big tree, angling up and right at the top. Anchor either there, or walk right to the big pine tree and rappel station.
P2 goes up the face between the two bushes you'll see above, to another tree with a (currently blue webbing, brand new, with a steel rap ring)) rap station.
P3 is the money pitch, and the reason this route gets a 5.4 rating -- climb the dihedral above to just under the big roof. Escape right to get to the very top of the cliff (uninspired class 3 terrain) or escape left through a horizontal squeeze to reach the top of Madame Grunnebaum's Wulst.
Rappelling off Madame Grunnebaum's Wulst is the best way down -- two bolted rap stations, or one rappel with doubles.
Protection is generally more than adequate, with the exception of the start of P2: there's very little gear for the first 15-20 feet. The climbing, however, is fairly easy. There are rap slings at the top of the first and second pitches; the very top rap sling is very manky and not in a good place -- people usually end up using the Madame G rappel instead.
"Old" start of Northern Pillar, most climbers now ...
|Comments on Northern Pillar
|By Tim Schafstall|
From: Newark, DE
Apr 11, 2008
rating: 5.2 3 8 II D 2c
No way this climb is 5.4, unless you get off route. There are some scary loose blocks near the top that you must negotiate to get to the GT ledge rap station.
Climbing all the way to the cliff top from the GT ledge height is dirty, boring, and not recommended. Do it only if you're one of those people who need to top out.
From: Wayne, PA
Jun 18, 2010
P3 is very nice, not a 5.4 Don't go to the top, it's a chossy dirt pile to a bad tree wiht a crappy rap. Better off heading left to the Madame G's rap. It's a very nice lead for a new leader, reasonable gear, easy climbing.
Aug 16, 2010
Let me third the recommendation to skip the 3rd pitch!
From: Pittsford, New York
Aug 5, 2012
If you're an experienced climber comfortable at this grade and not lookin for the easiest climb out there I'd skip this one. and the last pitch is pointless. Way better climbs out there in this grade.
|By Heather Selitrennikoff|
From: East Coast
Aug 6, 2012
Great route for the beginning leader. Each pitch is fun varied and fun. The last dihedral section has two pins on left wall to clip at short, fun crux. Head up to ledge on left at rap for Madame G.
|By Ian Dibbs|
May 20, 2013
First and second pitch can be linked with a 70 meter rope ... if you wish to save time. The belay spot before the final 50 foot pitch is spacious with a big tree, but has lots of loose gravel. To finish, I went up 30 feet then made a "blind" (from the belay spot), left turn to get to the Madame G's rappel.
One of the easiest, as well as "least scary", climbs at the Gunks.