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North Palisade
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Southwest Chute T 
U-Notch Couloir T 
West Face T 

U-Notch Couloir 

YDS: 5.6 French: 4c Ewbanks: 14 UIAA: V ZA: 12 British: S 4b WI2 M1 Mod. Snow

   
Type:  Trad, Mixed, Ice, Snow, Alpine, Grade III
Consensus:  YDS: 5.6 French: 4c Ewbanks: 14 UIAA: V ZA: 12 British: S 4b WI2 M1 [details]
FA: Norman Clyde - June 1928
Season: Snow - May to July, Ice -
Page Views: 6,736
Submitted By: Chris Owen on Mar 9, 2006

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BETA PHOTO: Note three climbers in the U-Notch Couloir.

Description 

A nice alpine route which is almost out of character for the High Sierra. Save time wherever possible. Also get an alpine start.

From Sam Mack Meadow climb the lefthand gully at the back of the meadow, bear right under the Palisade Glacier moraine, through another shallow gully just to its right (Thunderbolt Peak framed in the notch) and so gradually gain the crest of the moraine. Follow it until it peters out (wonderful views of North Pal) then head straight up to the start of the couloir. About 1 hour from Sam Mack Meadow.

Part 1 The Couloir

In early season it's soft or hard snow by late season it's blue ice.

The first obstacle is crossing the bergschrund, which can be easy in early season and seriously hard in late season. Once established above the couloir suck it up and start climbing. Keep to the right, sometimes a break can be taken in a moat which may be there, there are slings also, for late season ascents. Keep going until reaching a tongue of rock dividing the couloir, skirt left around this and head up into The Notch.

Part 2 The Open Chimney 5.6

To the right lies a steep step which is negotiated using a groove which turns into a chimney in 2 pitches. Towards the top of the 2nd pitch bear right, to exit The Notch just by the summit snowfield.

Part 3 The Ridge

Best soloed or simul-climbed. Cross rocks above the summit snowfield, then, before the First Pinnacle, cross over onto the south side of the ridge and scramble along to eventually reach a well-earned summit.

Location 

Descend the route.

Protection 

Part 1 ice-axe, crampons. Part 2 small alpine rack. Slings if simul-climbing the ridge.


Photos of U-Notch Couloir Slideshow Add Photo
Fred Batliner above the summit snowfield, having just emerged from The Notch. Mt. Sill on the left.
Fred Batliner above the summit snowfield, having j...
A view of the Palisade crest from Gayley Camp.  Mt. Sill is just off the left of photo.
A view of the Palisade crest from Gayley Camp. Mt...
Storm in the U Notch, circa 1987
Storm in the U Notch, circa 1987
Fred on the other side of the summit ridge.
Fred on the other side of the summit ridge.
U notch from the glacier approach
U notch from the glacier approach
Approaching the summit.
Approaching the summit.
The view down the U Notch, N. Palisade, July, 2006.
The view down the U Notch, N. Palisade, July, 2006...
Descending the couloir - look casual doesn't it?
Descending the couloir - look casual doesn't it?
approaching the bergshrund. jan 2012.
approaching the bergshrund. jan 2012.

Comments on U-Notch Couloir Add Comment
Show which comments
By Chris D
From: the couch
Jul 21, 2014

CONDITION REPORT 
Thought I'd share a photo I took of the U-Notch for anyone who might be thinking (foolishly) of climbing it. Conditions are "less than ideal." Ha! This was this past Saturday, July 19, 2014.

By Chris Owen
Administrator
From: La Crescenta and Big Bear Lake
Apr 4, 2009

As a variation - when reaching the bottom of the tongue of rock it's possible to climb up the rib formed by this tongue to the U-Notch itself. I did this once when I was soloing the route, had some rock shoes with me, cached my mountain boots at the start of the rib, and wore the rock shoes all the way to the summit. Worked out okay.
By Wade Griffith
Aug 12, 2010

U-Notch is a fun backcountry ski or snowboard adventure. I remember an old copy of Rock and Ice featuring Tom Burt boarding the U and V notch. Inspired me to do the same back in late 90's. Highly recommended and the jump across the bergschrund can be awesome!!
By Sam Novey
Sep 11, 2013

Climbed August 22nd 2013, fantastic route. Lots of nice, no snow, definitely two tools required. Opted for a fun sketchy M3/4 variation somewhere about the 5th pitch after crossing the schrund and a circuitous 5th class scramble to the summit from above the chimney (feels about 5.6 in boots). Set of nuts, handful of cams, a few screws, 70m rope, wish I had brought a V-thread tool. Ended up coming down at night and leaving a few pieces of gear, some anchors on climbers right of couloir are pretty poor, definitely inspect before using. Kinda epic, really sweet.
By Schwisow
From: Incline Village, NV
May 3, 2014
rating: 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c WI2 M1 Mod. Snow PG13

im voting for easy 5th class in the chimney, in boots and gaiters. 2 sets of nuts only required and a few slings. CLASSIC!!!