North Palisade U-notch in August?


Original Post
Chase D · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 0

Has anyone been up the U-notch lately? I'm attempting the route mid August and I'm wondering how icy the couloir will be at that time. I climbed Sill on July 2nd and the snow was melting fast. Any info on typical August conditions will be much appreciated.

Ryan Huetter · · Mammoth Lakes, CA · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 135

The U-Notch is currently impassable due to gaping bergschrund. Likely to only get bigger. moat options might exist by then, but I would not count on climbing it. 

The Gray Tradster · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2002 · Points: 210

This isn't the first time in history that's happened.  

The shrund can be bypassed on the right with a short pitch of rock.

The first time I did it (late 90's) the shrund was open and when someone in the party asked "what do we do know?" I just told them we were going to climb rock in crampons.

it goes at about 5.6 and is only about a 60-80 ft pitch.

The next time the shrund was easily surmountable and the last involved some dead vertical front pointing, so just be prepared to deal with what you find.

Late august (at least the three times I've done it) is usually Styrofoam neve above the shrund until the last couple of hundred feet where you can either continue up blue ice or escape right to sand and scree.

Chris Owen · · Big Bear Lake · Joined Jan 2002 · Points: 9,663

Recent photo - not mine:

C Brooks · · Fresno, CA · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 461

Good godthat pic look gnarly - U-notch always looks like a death trap late in the season with all that rock fall. I wonder if anyone ever actually climbs it in the Fall as an ice couloir anymore?

Richard Shore · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 5,810

Hey guys,

Just climbed V notch and downclimbed U notch yesterday. V has ~500' of alpine ice up the narrow middle, U is all neve/snow except for a short scree section in the middle where it's melted out. Bergschrunds are huge but easily bypassed on the far left (V) and far right (U). Contrary to C Brooks' opinion, the black streak in the U is from a sandy, muddy meltwater stream that flows over the Couloir, not fromrockfall. Have fun, be safe, climb early and fast. 

C Brooks · · Fresno, CA · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 461
Richard Shore wrote:

Hey guys,

Just climbed V notch and downclimbed U notch yesterday. V has ~500' of alpine ice up the narrow middle, U is all neve/snow except for a short scree section in the middle where it's melted out. Bergschrunds are huge but easily bypassed on the far left (V) and far right (U). Contrary to C Brooks' opinion, the black streak in the U is from a sandy, muddy meltwater stream that flows over the Couloir, not fromrockfall. Have fun, be safe, climb early and fast. 

Good to know! It certainly looked like rock fall from the pic! 

Guy Keesee · · Moorpark, CA · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 105

Richard ..... thank you for the first hand report. 

Chase D · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 0

Looks gnarly. Thanks for the photos. Just summited North Pal yesterday via the Southwest Chute. Didn't want to take the chance with those conditions on the east side.

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 9,632

How conditions change . . .
In springtime more than ten years ago with Gi visiting from Germany, we made it up almost to the top of the couloir with our skis still on our feet. Then took our skis off and booted up the last 20 feet.

Unlike the stories about jumping the shrund on descent, I just felt a slight bump from skiing over an indentation in the snow surface.

Ken

P.S. This year Gi visited again, and in addition to descending the obvious line on the S side of Mt Irvine, he climbed up and skied down the N couloir of Mt Gilbert (while I watched from below after doing something less impressive).

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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