The Notch Couloir
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This is another classic mountaineering/alpine route on Long's. It climbs the cool, windy couloir that splits the East Face from the prominent Notch to Broadway It is a bit more difficult than the Kiener's Route, and requires a larger amount of skills. I think that it is a more asthetic line than Kiener's, though, and is more of an accomplishment to get to the top of.
As opposed to Kiener's, which can be climbed in almost any condition, this route needs to be in condition to climb. It is notorious for sending huge amounts of snow rocketing down between its narrow walls and shooting out over the Diagonal Wall below. The main danger time is in spring and early summer when the snow is melting and sluffing. The winter can also be dangerous because it is on the leeward side of the mountain, windloading can easily occur. Be very aware of the conditions of the snow before you commit to the couloir and climb Kiener's or something if conditions look dangerous.
To get to the bottom of the route hike to Chasm Lake and climb the Lamb's Slide to Broadway. Traverse across Broadway to the bottom of the couloir. See the Kiener's Route for a more thorough description. The couloir is above and climbs for about 1000 feet to the Notch. To break this up pitch by pitch would take forever and result in probably about 10 pitches. It is quicker to simul-climb. Place pro early in the first lead to safegaurd against falling and sliding over the edge of the Diagonal Wall.
About halfway up the couloir narrows and then doglegs to the right. In full condition this section will be snow and ice, but in late summer could be rock. From here traverse up and right to another rock bulge that is also sometimes covered in ice and then straight up to the top. From the Notch you can drop down the back side by rappelling and then meet up with the Loft route, or climb to the summit.
To get to the summit, traverse across rock on the east side of the ridge to the bottom of a chimney. This chimney, the Staircase, is the rock crux, especially in mountain boots. It is about 100 feet tall and weighs in at 5.4 or so. Climb this to the ridge and then scramble 4th class to the summit.
This route can be done in summer and winter, but always beware of conditions. This route takes quite a bit longer than Kiener's because of the amount of roped climbing, so if a winter ascent is done, be prepared to benighted on route. This is the best Alpine ice route on Long's and is a classic anywhere. Enjoy!
Per Clayton Laramie The Notch Couloir is impossible to miss when looking at a picture of Long's from the east or north. It is the big notch to the east of the summit and Diamond.
The Notch starts from Broadway, left of the Diamond. Approach via Lamb's Slide, Alexander's, or something similar.
This is an alpine ice and rock route. Take ice screw for the ice and cams/nuts for the rock. Some pickets might be helpful. I would also recommend bringing one Alpine Tool (for Lamb's Slide and the parts that aren't too steep), and one technical ice tool for when the going gets a little tougher. So, 1 set nuts, 6 middle sized cams, 3-6 ice screws, 2 pickets, runners and draws.
Leader Mike Goldin, Denver, CO. Photo by Dmitry Er...
"Staircase" - yes, it's 5.4 but not a happy climb ...
View of the Diamond and the Notch Couloir from Cha...
Rodger Poage on the exposed traverse onto Broadway...
Brian entering the Couloir. What a stud!
A view of the couloir from Chasm Lake. Take on Oct...
Mike Ivy, Damon Brandt (in the back), Mike Wangner...
The first rock band.
Looking down the couloir at Chasm Lake.
Phil Sabet experiencing pristine ice conditions in...
Joe Leonhard traversing Broadway Feb. '06 (photo T...
Joe Leonhard in the Notch, Feb '06 (photo Tom Hain...
Third pitch in excellent conditions, 10/2/06.
Phil Kerwin, halfway home.
Some friends scambling to the summit through the '...
Ski conditions on May 30, 2008.
Perfect snow on May 30, 2008.
Skiing back across Broadway to Lamb's Slide on May...
On the route.
Rick and Glen in the couloir.
Rick heading up.
Me belaying my friend Dave...although nothing woul...
Crossing Broadway en route to the Notch Couloir. ...
On Broadway on a attempt of a winter ascent of the...
1st pitch above Broadway.
Almost to The Notch.
Skiing on belay.
Approaching the choke.
BETA PHOTO: Beta photo. Locate the notch left of the summit. T...
Erin Newton on Broadway in July.
Two climbers at the bottom of the photo - heading ...
Starting the pitch into Notch Couloir, January 197...
|Comments on The Notch Couloir
From: Boulder, CO
Nov 12, 2013
The top of this is sugar snow over steep kitty litter right now. I'd wait for a little more snow before doing it.
|By Anonymous Coward|
Jan 1, 2001
Andrew gives a good description. I soloed this route up to the summit once after biking up from Boulder in July of 1996. At that time, there was a melting stalagmite iceicle/blob at the top of the dogleg Andrew mentions that I estimated to be 500 lbs in weight (hmmm 10 feet high, 4 feet in diameter) yet the base was only about 10 " in diameter! (It was melting rapidly.) I shuddered thinking what a bowling bowl that would have been comin down that alley. Beware of falling rock & ice while on this route at all times! Cheers!
|By Jim Amidon|
Jun 12, 2001
Great route, I've done it four times. Once solo. Nice Alpine route for those wishing to venture up there. Bring two ice tools, you can get creative with drytooling, and don't go on a lean year as we did once in late October. The ice evaporates and we were left with kitty litter on the upper pitch that usually is ice.
|By George Bell|
From: Boulder, CO
Jul 17, 2001
When you get to the top of the Notch Couloir, it is not necessary to rappel to go down the west side. The easiest way to get to the summit from the top of the couloir (the notch) is simply to scramble down to the west, and then do an ascending traverse to the northwest until you hit the homestretch (final section of the trail). I would recommend doing the route in spring or early summer, as the more rubble is showing the more unpleasant it is. I have never seen much real ice in it.
|By Jason Carter|
From: Monument, CO
Jul 24, 2001
I think the traverse that George talks about is called Clark's Arrow, and if you go west through the Notch then climb north via an ascending traverse you hit the homestretch slabs, I also think that from the Notch you can ascend the south ridge of Long's by scrambling back onto the face a bit and then picking your way up, I've scouted it from the summit and it looks like a good alternative....
|By Jason Carter|
From: Monument, CO
Jul 31, 2001
Just climbed a North Chimney/Eclipse variation to Broadway then south along Broadway to the Notch (full of wet, loose muck). Went just to the right of Kieners 1st pitch straight up to the south ridge, then to summit and down north face. A sweet alpine scramble with a few good pitches of rock here and there!!
|By Brice W|
Aug 2, 2001
It is a good idea to check on conditions before heading out to do this route. My wife and I climbed the Notch this year in early July. Even then, much of the snow in the couloir had melted. We did get some alpine ice higher up, though it was mixed with kitty litter in a narrow chimney. Though we bivyed below Mill's Glacier and started early, the snow that was there was quite soft. We actually traversed out to the right (North) of the couloir before the top and climbed up some nice, 4th class rock to the summit ridge. Great climb!
|By Leo Paik|
From: Westminster, Colorado
Apr 1, 2002
Did this 7/5/96 and found Lamb's Slide in great conditions but The Notch was all grueling postholing. Arrived at the top in threatening conditions. Went down into the Wild Basin drainage via Keplinger's Class 3 to dump altitude and avoid lightning. It's a long way out but you can follow/ bushwhack the drainage all the way out if you must. Long day!
|By chad pranger|
May 6, 2002
Late June was a good time, lots of snow. We third classed Lamb's Slide, went pitch by pitch across Broadway then continued stretch the rope, to the summit. Found some wet and icey 5.5 rock to the right of the Notch. Summited later than planned. Glisaded over 900 feet down the backside of Long's in the moonlight, passed the Keyhole route and ended up bivying under large talus blocks. In the a.m. hiked up to Keyhole and past the Camel's nose to a glisade into Mill's Glacier. This May we will save time by simul-climbing the majority of the route and ignoring others' tracks. Good rock pro for the whole climb.
|By Chris Weidner|
Jun 25, 2003
6-23-03. The route is in very good condition and probably will be for at least a few more weeks. It consists mainly of steep snow with a few short rock steps that are protectable with small-medium cams and nuts. My partner and I carried crampons but didn't use them, although they would have made several short sections more secure. I also did not need my second tool or ice screws but it is likely that the second tool will come in handy any day now. I wouldn't bother bringing screws as rock gear is readily available. We descended the north face which is currently running with water but provides a quick way down. All the rappel bolts are exposed and easy to find.
|By Jason Spellberg|
Jul 20, 2003
Chris' comments are right on--ice screws aren't currently (as of July 19) needed for this route since the couloir is so narrow rock pro works fine. The snow is still mushy in late morning, but it covers sheer ice. As such, crampons are very helpful now, as there are several sections of sheer ice near and around the two rock plugs. A second tool, however, is still not needed, but might be useful in a week or two. Try to minimize your time and exposure in this couloir, as it is deeply inset into the face, and as the huge wall to the west sheds rocks continuously on warm days. We dodged several missiles in this couloir, many of which had enough momentum to kill us. Once past the second rock obstacle, you will no longer need your crampons, since the snow leading to the Notch (ie, the final section of couloir) is currently melted out. Instead, we climbed the rock ledges just to the right (north) of the couloir to reach the Notch--this entailed maybe 150 feet of low-angle class 3/4 climbing with a class 5.2 crux move at the very top. From here, we did not go west to the Homestretch, we instead scrambled maybe 100 feet horizontally right (north) to the start of the chimney pitch, which is an elegant and obvious line leading up to Long's blocky south ridge. The hardest moves in this broad chimney are 5.3 when dry, maybe 5.5 when wet. It is a fun climb. From the top of the pitch, climb north maybe 150 vertical feet up class 4 blocks to the summit. The North face makes a quick but currently wet descent.
|By Kurt Bittner|
Jul 21, 2003
Did this a really long time ago (1979) in late August. We were a couple of college students out from the midwest with little (me) or no (my partner) real ice experience. Snow was gone after the first pitch, leaving dirty alpine ice in the upper coulior, with two distinct rock steps. 3rd-classed up Lamb's Slide and across Broadway (roped up for the traverse around a big boulder). The exposure on the first pitch is a little unnerving especially since the snow was slushy and like a giant snow-cone with ice underneath. Just below the first rock step we hit good quality ice (about 2 rope lengths up), and the step provided a good sheltered belay spot from which to avoid missiles. Crux felt to be where the ice steeped and went into a narrow chimney-like section about 4 rope lengths up. A short low-5th class step followed this, then slabs and steeper ice up to the Notch. There was an interesting "scottish chimney"-like feature filled with ice on the left side of the final section leading up to the notch that I wish we had done - anyone have any recollection of this? As for taking two tools - a single alpine axe should be sufficient. The ice rarely gets steep except in the narrow section and in there the rock walls are close enough for hands if you need it. As for pro, rock pro is sufficient but I do recall placing a couple of long ice screws (really ancient Salewa tubes) for grins. If/when I do this again we'll definitely simul-climb to make better time. If simul-climbing I'd take two tools for safety.
|By Anonymous Coward|
Aug 6, 2003
My partner Joe and I climbed the notch on 7-27-03 left T.H. @ 4am. perfect snow up Lamb's Slide. Couple of good size rocks came down, I believe they were knocked down by a fella traversing Broadway. Made it the base of our objective, snow was less than desirable, about 200 ft. Up it turned into kitty litter, hard rock move below the upper snow/ice gully. FUN! Weather moved in on us early, waited it out. (Mistake) Very electrical, mountaineering ax sounded like a tuning fork! Scary. Topped out in a fog at 1pm, hiked down Keyhole Route in a daze, once we reached the Boulder Field we felt much better. Thanks to the folks who gave us water. Very nice group of people. Awesome day all in all. Next time we'll climb it about 2-3 weeks sooner, and leave the T.H. at 3am.
|By Anonymous Coward|
Mar 16, 2005
What would be a good month to go up and check this thing out? May? June? Help a brother out.
|By Shane Zentner|
Aug 1, 2005
As of July 31 there is firm snow and ice in the upper pitches of the couloir. However, afternoon sun would make snow travel sketchy. You will need ice screws.
|By Thomas Jensen|
Aug 21, 2005
GO DO NOTCH COULOIR NOW! SO FUN. FAT 60 deg ICE IN UPPER SLOT.
|By Anonymous Coward|
Sep 13, 2005
Did this route on 9/13/05--conditions were great--3+ pitches of fantastic ice--sunk screws all the way--do it!!
|By Joe Leonhard|
From: Denver, CO
Mar 8, 2006
Climbed this route with Tom Haines on Feb 25. We encountered short sections with bullet-hard ice and longer sections with unconsolidated snow. Over all the route was in good shape though. Give yourself plenty of time, as we saw two parties on Kiener's that may have summitted in the dark as temps really dropped. I imagine that descending the Cable Route in the dark really sucks.
|By Austin Porzak|
From: Boulder/ Vail
Oct 3, 2006
I want to ski this has anyone out their already done that??? Let me know if you have. I want all the details... Thanks. Party on!
|By Trevor Nydam|
Oct 11, 2006
With the right conditions it is skiable. When dropping the smaller rock bands, be sure to clear AI sections. After the second band, scrub off some speed by ripping a few turns, and then tuck and huck off of Broadway. Mill's Glacier down to the lake and you're home.
|By Andy Leach|
From: Fort Collins, CO
Jun 18, 2007
My buddy Michael and I shot a video of an ascent of Notch Couloir June 16, 2007. Watch the video and see some photos at www.andyintherockies.com/trip.php?trip_id=65
The snow was pretty soft in places, but mostly it was okay. There were two icy sections - one above the first dogleg, and one about 100' below the notch. Both were pretty rotten. I put a screw in the top one but wasn't sure if it would really hold a fall. All four of us climbed with one axe and one tool which was definitely the right decision.
We chose to simul-climb the whole thing, mostly because we didn't know how difficult the cruxes were going to be and what the stances would look like below them. Hence we though it would be a good idea to have the rope already deployed before we got to 'em. The cruxes turned out to be pretty trivial, and had we known ahead of time we probably wouldn't have roped up at all. By simul-climbing we did the whole couloir in two pitches on 60m ropes.
After a little exploration we were able to find The Staircase which was mostly free of snow but was running with a lot of water. I'd say 5.4-5.5 is a fair assessment.
In the afternoon the snow on the North Face was absolutely miserable.
|By Carl Dixon|
Jul 1, 2011
I skied the Notch with Andy Dimmen on June 15. Simul-traversed across Broadway and up about 50m into the couloir, then soloed the rest to the "Notch". Skied the upper part to the dogleg skier's right, rapped 25m to the top of the choke, downclimbed the choke and some bulletproof snow below it, and simul-skied the last few pitches on belay. Simulclimbed back across Broadway.
|By Scott Matz|
From: Loveland, CO
Dec 19, 2011
On Sat. the 17th, I soloed the Notch. The snow was in great front pointing condition, managed to make it to Broadway ledge a little after 7:00. I took my 50m light line for the boulder traverse, and things were looking good after that. One ice bulge at WI3 and a couple 5.6 moves. I chose to come down The Loft, which is in horrible shape right now, all hard alpine ice.
|By Mark Pilate|
Jun 25, 2013
Climbed it Sunday, June 23rd, 2013. Awesome route that lives up to its rep. In great shape this past weekend, but getting soft up top (later in day I guess). We brought 1 short screw and used it twice. Climbing is straightforward, but good gear not overabundant (you need patience to look for it). A few rocks whizzed down. A pair of Petzl Sum'Tec's was the sauce. Can't imagine bringing a picket no matter the season. While we were on route, someone added 5 miles to the descent.