Technical Difficulty (Class):
Click to see rating Click on rating

Prerequisite Skills:
Click to see rating Click on rating

Physical Condition:
Click to see rating Click on rating

Client/Guide Ratio: 2:1

Guides climbing and safety gear, climbing helmet (reservation required).

Does not include:
Personal items on gear list.

The Palisades

North Palisade (14,242'), The U-Notch Couloir    3 Day
III Class 4 Snow/Ice, 5.6 Rock

The U-Notch Couloir to the summit of North Palisade may arguably be the classic route of the High Sierra. First climbed in 1928 by the infamous pioneer, Norman Clyde.

$925 ea/2 people

Choose your own date

The Approach:
From Glacier Lodge (7,800'), we begin along a relatively easy graded trail to Third Lake (10,250'). From here, we usually choose the route that leaves the trail and ascends the direct Gayley Gully to our high camp at the edge of the Palisade Glacier (12,150'). This requires about 7-8 hours of ascent with over 4,000' of elevation gain in one long day.

The Climb:
From high camp at the edge of the Palisade Glacier, we ascend the largest glacier in the High Sierra to the bergschrund, the last crevasse before the steeper couloir above. After we find the best crossing of the bergschrund we begin climbing the 40°-43° snow or ice filled couloir, often finding a good belay anchor from rock on the couloir's right edge. After several pitches, we pass a peninsula of rock on the left and choose the final finger of snow/ice to the top of the U-Notch.

From the U-Notch, we cache our ice axe and crampons and begin the ascent of the chimney variation. This consists of two pitches of steep rock, the second being a bit more strenuous than the first with an awkward feel. If we don't like the looks of the chimney variation we can choose the Clyde Variation dropping down the westside to the ledge system, traversing up and left, then following a chute back up and right. This variation is class 4. From the top of the chimney, we follow the southest arÍte to a huge bowl, then the final class 4 move to the summit block.

The Descent:
We retrace almost the entire ascent with 2 rappels down the chimney, then several rappells or lowers down the couloir itself. From the glacier, we retrace our ascent back to Glacier Lodge.

Preferrably 2 days of prior acclimatization up to 10,000' or higher is recommended for this ascent.

  • Previous snow/ice climbing experience 40° or greater
  • Previous multi-pitch belayed climbing
  • Rock climbing following 5.6
  • Previous rappeling experience
  • Mountain hiking and overnight camping to altitudes above 12,000'

Questions about this climb?

Name:  Email:

   Equipment List

   Weather Forecast
   Leave No Trace
   Trip Insurance
©2020 Alpine Skills International  
Site Map