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Routes in Holy Cross/Notch Mountain

Dismas WI4-5 M3-4
Gestas WI5-6 R
Type: Mixed, Ice, Alpine, 190 ft
FA: Brian Childress, Mike Lowe, 10/97
Page Views: 906 total, 12/month
Shared By: Loweball on Aug 3, 2011
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

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Dismas, and its sister route to the right, Gestas, were put up in October 1997, after local school teacher Brian Childress spied the top of the flow from a mile away while fishing the Cross Creek Valley. The claim of first ascent here is taken with a measure of caution, however, because the flow is so prominent and obvious from Lake Patricia and the North Ridge of Holy Cross that I fully expect Ferguson and/or Wilford to pipe up and explain how they did the first ascent with leashless alpine hammers in 1976. That probability notwithstanding, we thought that naming the lines after the two thieves crucified with Christ was appropriate, given their position in the shadow of Holy Cross. For further reading, see the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus.

Dismas, the Good Thief, takes the obvious, broken, right-facing mixed corner straight up to the left side of the vertical ice curtain on the main flow described below. The route can be done as two short pitches or one long one. Breaking it up provides some lead fun for each partner, and the mid-height belay in the pseudo-cave below the curtain is pretty cool. The first pitch is easy mixed, and probably a little longer than the second pitch of pure ice. At the top of the corner, either belay in the cozy cave and let your partner come up and get some, or keep going up and slightly right onto the vertical curtain.

On the first ascent, conditions in the corner consisted of a thin shell of glaze over unconsolidated snow down low, changing to more or less solid ice higher up. It's likely that later in the season the corner fills up with snow. The vertical curtain above was solid WI5 with an overhanging, chandeliered start and brittle, granite-hard, blue ice above that resisted even razor sharp BD screws. Later in the season it seems like this curtain might fatten up and connect with the corner lower down, making a longer but easier second pitch.


Dismas and Gestas lie at the south end of Lake Patricia on the northwest-facing buttress about three hundred yards from the south shore. Once at Lake Patricia, the flow is huge and impossible to miss. Approach via Half Moon Pass. From the pass, you can continue down to where the trail hits the Cross Creek drainage and head south (left) up the drainage to the lake, or you can trend left at treeline until you cliff out just above and north of the lake and rap in off a tree, which avoids the talus slog up the drainage. At the top of the routes, rap off v-threads. To do it in one rappel requires double ropes.


4 or 5 standard screws, small selection of stoppers and/or cams for the mixed stuff down low.