North Palisade - The Climb timberlinetrails.net
Photo by Joe Beaver
The Climb on North Palisade - begins at the Palisade Glacier Bergschrund. From that point, the challenge is to gain
access to the steep "U" notch couloir the leads to an obvious break in the Palisade Crest known as the "U" notch. For a good
view of all these features, see the North Palisade Aerial View. At the top of the notch climbers will remove their crampons and
scuttle their ice axes in order to climb the class 5.2 rock on the northwest side of the "U" notch. The 2-pitch chimney is located
immediately to the right of the notch. After you ascend the chimney you will need to traverse along the southern ridge of the
mountain. Near the end you will drop down a bit but then will climb out of a small bowl up large boulders till you reach the
summit. The last few moves are a bit exposed, but the rock is solid. Most of the entire traverse from the top of the chimney to
the summit will be class 3, with a possible class 4 move here and there. We found the traverse to be quite time consuming, so
don't underestimate it's length. Getting to the summit late in the day may put you in danger of a forced night out up high. This
can be quite uncomfortable and even dangerous. So make sure you give yourself enough time for the round trip.
After leaving high camp, we have to cross about
a half a mile of the Palisade Glacier in order to
reach the bottom of the "U" notch couloir. The
crossing was not too bad in July. Latter on, bare
ice is exposed, and the crossing is a much more
difficult in terms of energy comsumption.
A large crevasse is formed where glacier meets
up with rock. This is known as the bergschrund.
You can see the high angle of the ice above that
makes up the "U" notch couloir that you must
ascend on this route.
Here you see the author, Dave French being belayed by Dave
Koerner. At this point I am shaving off snow and ice in order to
create a platform to stand on. This will aid in accessing the steep
couloir. The snow was soft on this corner and care had to be taken
so as not to get yourself into a position where the snow would give
way. Such a mishap would land you in the crevasse below.
Now well into the "U" notch couloir, a figure of a
climber below comes into view. The photo gives
us a good perspective of the scale and grandeur
of the Palisade Glacier below and the ice and
snow couloir in the foreground.
Mike showing good belay technique. As
you can see, he is well anchored into the
side wall. Anchoring is always critical when
it comes to a climbers safety on any climb
The above photo was taken from about the half way point up the class 5.2
chimney that leads out of the "U" notch. The yellow circle in the photo shows one
of our team members (Joe) awaiting his turn on the rope. He is located exactly at
the top of the "U" notch couloir.
Photo of Mike Koerner many years ago
sitting on a ledge halfway up the 5.2 rated
chimney variation of the North Palisade.
Joe making his way up the second leg of the North Palisade
chimney. Good solid rock and excellent hand holds make this an
Mat, after reaching the top of the chimney variation is now
working along the summit ridge of North Palisade. As mentioned
above, make sure you have sufficient time for this leg of the
journey. It is deceivingly long.
After making the summit, your work is only half done. You still
have to get down.. And getting down the North Palisade is
serious business. Never let your guard down on any descent, and
remember to always stay focused. Joe and David are shown
above preparing for their first rappel down the northwest wall of
Sean (above) completing the second rappel
down the two pitch chimney. There is a
great ledge or landing area on the
northwest wall of North Palisade. This
ledge makes it easy to break up the decent
into two parts.
Steve Koerner rappelling the northwest wall of the "U" notch
section many years back. Always make sure to place bomb proof
anchors for your rappel points. I have read about several deaths
due to improper anchors while people were rappelling. High
forces can be placed on anchors and failure is often fatal.
Matt Milner showing us how not to glissade. Actually he and
David Koerner (while descending the snow fields below the
peak) were having some fun sliding head first down a fairly steep
section of snow with their packs in tow. I would not recommend
this type of activity, however, since loosing control is quite easy to
do. Matt demonstrates this fact here. Injuries are never worth it.
(no matter how much fun something may appear) Fortunately,
Matt completed the slide with no injuries.