Palisade Traverse - Rope questions


Original Post
Chase D · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 195

I am planning to do a portion of the Palisade Traverse in a couple of weeks, just the traverse from Mt Sill to North Pal. Question is, will we need a rope for this if we don't plan to do Starlight and Thunderbolt? The U-notch descent sounds sketchy so we will probably traverse back to Sill and down the north colouir. I am hoping we can get away with a light 30m rope if we need to belay or rappel instead of bringing my 70m up there. What do you think? 

Alexander K · · The road · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 130
Chase D wrote:

I am planning to do a portion of the Palisade Traverse in a couple of weeks, just the traverse from Mt Sill to North Pal. Question is, will we need a rope for this if we don't plan to do Starlight and Thunderbolt? The U-notch descent sounds sketchy so we will probably traverse back to Sill and down the north colouir. I am hoping we can get away with a light 30m rope if we need to belay or rappel instead of bringing my 70m up there. What do you think? 

I've only done it the other direction but from Thunderbolt to Sill a 30m was fine for everything, with a little bit of down climbing to get into U-notch. I'm not sure what crossing the U-Notch in reverse will be like, but there are plenty of features if you end up needing to add intermediate anchors. If you are going to reverse the traverse then you can either down climb 4th class to the west of the chimney with a rap or two (pretty well cairned) or rap the chimney with a 60m. If you are not comfortable downclimbing/soloing low 5th then a longer rope would probably make you happier.

pigsflyinsd · · San Diego, CA · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 430

Like Alexander I've only done it from the west starting at Thunderbolt. I would not feel comfortable doing it without a rope even if most of it is easy 5th (and you can certainly get into harder terrain).  It sounds like you're going up the couloir to Sill?  I would suggest bringing the rope and heading up the Swiss Arete. 

EDIT: Supposedly there is a 4th class route from the U-Notch to the summit of Polemonium but we could not find it. I thought it was the hardest part of the traverse aside from Thunderbolt's summit block. 

ze dirtbag · · Tahoe · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 50

I'm heading up there tomorrow, I'll look at the U notch.   As long as the U is still firm snow, it should be mellow and would be faster than traversing back to Sill.      

Chase D · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 195

Yes, we are going up the north couloir of Sill and then traversing to Polemonium then North Palisade. As stated above we will most likely reverse the traverse back to Sill and back down the couloir. Thanks for the advice on the U-notch to Polemonium, we will look out for the 4th class route.

Alexander, where on the route is this chimney you mentioned?

Any suggestions for an alternate descent route rather than traversing all the way back to Sill? There isn't much beta out there for the U-notch descent

Chase D · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 195
ze dirtbag wrote:

I'm heading up there tomorrow, I'll look at the U notch.   As long as the U is still firm snow, it should be mellow and would be faster than traversing back to Sill.      

Awesome, let me know what it looks like. Post a pic if you get a chance

Alexander K · · The road · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 130
Chase D wrote:

Yes, we are going up the north couloir of Sill and then traversing to Polemonium then North Palisade. As stated above we will most likely reverse the traverse back to Sill and back down the couloir. Thanks for the advice on the U-notch to Polemonium, we will look out for the 4th class route.

Alexander, where on the route is this chimney you mentioned?

Any suggestions for an alternate descent route rather than traversing all the way back to Sill? There isn't much beta out there for the U-notch descent

To get from the U-Notch to North Palisade you climb up a 5.2ish chimney for 300 ft or so. On the west side of the crest there is a 4th class rt to go down, though I remember making a rappel (maybe?) so it might not work on the way up. To reverse this chimney you either rap the chimney with a 60m or follow the Cairns down the 4th class (or downclimb the chimney). I too remember soloing 5th class stuff to get back up to Polemonium though in California sometimes 4th and 5th are hard to differentiate.

Chase D · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 195
ze dirtbag wrote:

I'm heading up there tomorrow, I'll look at the U notch.   As long as the U is still firm snow, it should be mellow and would be faster than traversing back to Sill.      

How did it look up there?

Ryan Huetter · · Mammoth Lakes, CA · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 255

Chase,

The 4th class option, which still includes a rappel, will not be snow-free. You will end up taking the rap route from Polemonium summit down to U-Notch which is set up for 3x 20m raps plus a little bit of down climbing between stations 2 and 3.

To descend back from North Pal to the U Notch, the rap stations are set up for 30m raps. My Palisade Traverse rope setup is a single rated 40m and a 5mm 40m pullcord and that will get you up and down most things. Plan on 20-25m raps on Mount Sill (Starr Route) too, since snow will likely negate down climbing.

Forever Outside · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 160
Ryan Huetter wrote:

Chase,

The 4th class option, which still includes a rappel, will not be snow-free. You will end up taking the rap route from Polemonium summit down to U-Notch which is set up for 3x 20m raps plus a little bit of down climbing between stations 2 and 3.

Ahhhhh  so many feels thinking about the descent from Mt. Sil!  ONE FOR THE BOOKS!  Miss ya Ry-Dog!

Chase D · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 195
Ryan Huetter wrote:

Chase,

The 4th class option, which still includes a rappel, will not be snow-free. You will end up taking the rap route from Polemonium summit down to U-Notch which is set up for 3x 20m raps plus a little bit of down climbing between stations 2 and 3.

Thank you, I appreciate the beta

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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