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Instant Clarification (AKA Rap Route) T 
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Laid Back (a.k.a. NE Ridge) 

YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 3 pitches, 300', Grade II
Original:  YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c [details]
FA: Larry Hamilton and Dakers Gowans, August 1974
Page Views: 122
Submitted By: L. Hamilton on Apr 9, 2003

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Andy Grauch and his twin brother Andy climbing the...

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This route ascends the semi-detached pinnacle that forms the lower half of Notchtop's NE corner, a few hundred feet to the right of White Room. The clean summit dihedral, on the pinnacle's NE corner, is the climb's most distinctive feature.

Begin with several hundred feet of interesting third class, in the prominent chimney-gully on the pinnacle's E face. Below the top of the gully some rippled slabs appear to the left.

P1) Get up onto these slabs, and diagonal up left across them. After a final overhang, a good stance is reached below a headwall. 5.6.

P2) Steep moves lead out left onto the 20-foot wall, and up cracks to its top. Continue up easier cracks and ramps above to a very nice ledge below the smooth vertical summit wall of the pinnacle. 5.7.

P3) Magical Mystery Pitch. Climb the dihedral in the center of the E-facing wall above until it ends at an overhang. Make an exposed 20-foot traverse right to the base of the bottomless summit dihedral. Jam and lieback up this perfect corner to its top. Rotten climbing then leads to the summit shoulder. 5.8.

The name "Laid Back" was suggested by first ascentionist Dakers Gowans, as he basked in the sun after laybacking up the final corner. This ought to replace the less imaginative "NE Ridge" name that has been applied over the years.


Good protection with gear to 3".

Photos of Laid Back (a.k.a. NE Ridge) Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: E face of Notchtop, showing approximate lines of (...
BETA PHOTO: E face of Notchtop, showing approximate lines of (...

Comments on Laid Back (a.k.a. NE Ridge) Add Comment
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By Greg Sievers
From: Bozeman, MT
Jun 30, 2009

Well, this could become a classic albeit still quite loose. It seems like this route hasn't seen traffic since the FA? We'd love to know anyone else who's made the voyage.
Brian Verhulst & I climbed it Saturday, June 25, 2009 and got a real eye opener for 5.8. After it was over, we agreed that there wasn't any one move that was harder than 5.8, but the intensity, position, and loose rock, fear-factor made us climb with 5.10 attitute and focus.
We were unable to push the 3rd class start (4th really) to a point as high as suggested. So, we were roped for 4 full pitches. The 5th pitch moved horizontally right (north) then up on-top of the summit block. Also in the 5.7 range.
There was no sign of summit activity or visitation. Again, we'd love to hear from anyone that knows differently. We did find an old ring-piton station about 100' down the east side. The single 1" webbing looked like it could have been Larry's original?
We slung a horizontal chockstone on the east side of the summit block and built 3 more rap stations down the east side. Being delivered on the ledge that leads to the winter access chimney. A short scramble from there will lead you back up to your pack/start.
Note: the 4th pitch (layback) is quite good, (#1 to start & #3 BD)
but the last 40' is tremendously fractured, steep, big blocks. DO be careful. The sharp edges could easily cut a rope if pulled loose.
Best of luck.
By L. Hamilton
Aug 3, 2009

Another rarely-done adventure route! Sounds like Greg's "tremendously fractured, steep, big blocks" are the same part I called "rotten climbing." Requiring caution no doubt, though I don't recall feeling too sketched out -- Dakers & I thought we were having fun in the sun.

We didn't see or place any pitons, however. Hammerless was the thing in those days. That ring piton Greg mentions must have been a later addition, possibly from somebody who bailed?

As for how high we pushed 3rd class at the start, I guess that's why I called it "interesting"? Just trying to read between the lines of my own notes, which were written down just after we climbed it.
By Greg Sievers
From: Bozeman, MT
Aug 13, 2009

Hi Larry - yup another great adventure.
So imagine my trepidation last weekend when Scott Kimball and I did Dogstar? I was thinking "oh no, another LH/DG badass 5.8", but it came to pass delightfully. In fact, we did a couple variation pitches to it, too.
Thanks for adding to my tick list. After 22 years of living and climbing in EP/RMNP, it's still great fun to get off the beaten trail.

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