V Notch Couloir III+ AI 4 5.5-5.8

 
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Polemonium Peak


High Sierra, California USA


Trip Report
V-Notch Couloir
Wednesday October 14, 2009 2:53am
Crispy with the rock and I made a trek up to the v-notch couloir in the palisades to get a day on alpine ice before the storm hit. Finding limited beta on the conditions, we just went for it.

Itinerary:
Friday night: Hike into Sam Mack Meadows
Saturday: Finish approach to V-notch, ascend and descend back to Sam Mack. To make it spicy, we decided to catch a sunset and descend 75% of it by headlamp
Sunday: Sleep in, bask in glorious sun, hike out and express to IPA395 and Double Nut Brown

Conditions:
 2/3's of V-notch was stellar blue ice, remaining 1/3 was hard neve and the entire route accepted tools and screw placements without issue.
 Finished Route in 5.5 pitches, all fully extending the 60m rope
 To avoid ice anchors and to place belayer out of the way of falling ice from the lead climber, rock anchors were possible on nearly all pitches
 Palisade Glacier had a few open crevasses, but nothing you couldn't see and step over.
 The Bergschrund at the base of the notch was quite deep, but instead of using the snow steps on the looker's left of the 'schrund, we went right up the gut by stepping across a narrow gap for a cruxy overhanging/vertical section = cash $$$
 Descent off of Sill required down climbing the hard neve L-shaped snowfield (BARF!)

Recommendations:
 Bring two ropes and rap off the U-notch, which I understand has rap stations
 When approaching the top of the v-notch: STAY RIGHT - much better conditions over there than the left side leading to the palisade crest.
 The most recent storm 13 Oct may return the route to winter conditions with many feet of snow expected up high.

Personal Notes:
 Throwing your tools into ice makes you feel alive
 The Palisades are breathtaking...in more ways than one
 Getting back to the parking lot at Glacier Lodge: "Ocean in view! Oh the joy!"
 "I'm a damn fortunate man"
 Aaron Burr shot and killed Alexander Hamilton in a Dual

Pics:
Ze Glacier:
pronounced Gla-seee-er
pronounced Gla-seee-er
Credit: aleday

Approach:
Palisade Glacier Approach
Palisade Glacier Approach
Credit: aleday

Route:
The route from below
The route from below
Credit: aleday

Playa:
Crispy with the rock, a.k.a. Red Beard...ARRRRRRRRGHHHHHHH!!!!
Crispy with the rock, a.k.a. Red Beard...ARRRRRRRRGHHHHHHH!!!!
Credit: aleday

Schrund:
The author tackling the Bergschrund
The author tackling the Bergschrund
Credit: Crispy with the rock

Pitch 1:
pitch 1
pitch 1
Credit: aleday

Pitch 2:
Pitch 2: I'll take neve and blue ice for 500 please, alex
Pitch 2: I'll take neve and blue ice for 500 please, alex
Credit: aleday

Pitch 3:
pitch 3: Damn that ice was bomber
pitch 3: Damn that ice was bomber
Credit: aleday

Anchor: bomber
It inspires confidence
It inspires confidence
Credit: aleday

Pitch 4:
pitch 4
pitch 4
Credit: aleday

Pitch 5:
pitch 5
pitch 5
Credit: aleday

Oh yeah:
"I'm a damn fortunate man"
"I'm a damn fortunate man"
Credit: Crispy with the rock

Sunset:
Sunset
Sunset
Credit: aleday

  Trip Report Views: 2,839
aleday
About the Author
aleday is a trad climber from NV.

Comments
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Russ Walling

Social climber
from Poofters Froth, Wyoming
  Oct 14, 2009 - 02:00am PT

I don't know nuthin' about ice and whatnot, but that looks pretty cool! Good looking outing!
Cpt0bvi0u5

Trad climber
Merced CA
  Oct 14, 2009 - 03:49am PT
Looks like a great trip! I wouldn't mind getting into ice climbing soon.
rhyang

climber
SJC
  Oct 14, 2009 - 10:42am PT
Sweet.
DonC

climber
CA
  Oct 14, 2009 - 10:44am PT
Cool... No need for two ropes to rap the U-Notch - I've done it 3 times with one rope.
Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer

Trad climber
  Oct 14, 2009 - 01:20pm PT
Really cool TR - thanks for sharing!
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Oct 15, 2009 - 11:14pm PT

Very nice, aleday!

If anyone out there wants to teach me how those ice climbers get the ropes up there, I'd love to find a mentor. Looks like a blast. Also looks like you'd have to buy a ton 'o gear. Like the op said, 'cash $$$'. Worth it though, right?
Zander

climber
  Oct 16, 2009 - 12:59am PT
Holy mackerel Batman!
You guys are having way too much fun.
Z
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
  Oct 16, 2009 - 02:55am PT
that looks so much steeper than i imagined it... how steep?
rockermike

Trad climber
Berkeley
  Oct 16, 2009 - 12:55pm PT
Nice TR.
Too bad about the recent snow, or I'd head up there this weekend.
aleday

climber
Stateline, NV
Author's Reply  Oct 16, 2009 - 07:59pm PT
Thanks for the comments, everyone. Steepness: 40 - 50 degrees, sustained.

Zander, looks like you've been having quite a time in the Grand Canyon yourself. Great TR. Stoked to be going in Nov.
Hoots

climber
Mammoth Lakes, CA
  Oct 17, 2009 - 01:05am PT
booyah!
Footloose

Trad climber
Lake Tahoe
  Oct 17, 2009 - 12:40pm PT
Wow, very nice TR!

Any idea how deep the crevasses (near the bergschrund, i guess) were, 20'... 100'... 200'...?? Anyone ever descend those for sport? The adventurer in me says to check it out, go explore those. Or is that not a good idea?

Is this a relatively tame glacier, crevass-wise? Would it not be wise to not rope up before getting to the bergschrund? Did you guys see any deep crevasses. Pardon the noob questions, thx.

Maybe next year...

Thanks for posting!
pc

climber
  Oct 17, 2009 - 01:45pm PT
Excellent adventure! Nice TR.
Karen

Trad climber
So Cal urban sprawl Hell
  Oct 17, 2009 - 07:48pm PT
Very nice, great pics! I wish I were gutsy enough to do what you guys pulled off!!!

Your anchor looked bomber alright...!
aleday

climber
Stateline, NV
Author's Reply  Oct 21, 2009 - 01:12am PT
Comments on the 'Schrund and the glacier:

 on the decent, we didn't rope up when crossing the glacier because the morning taught us that yes, crevasses, where present were quite visible and avoidable, and not very deep. Low risk, basically.

 Schrund: we could see down ~40' or so. It is pretty narrow as it gets deeper, though, making for some difficulty in swinging tools. It might be a little fun trying some sport ice climbing before the V-notch, as after you get past the 'schrund, there isn' much vertical ice, just sustained 40 - 50 degrees. If all you want is sport, though, It's quite a haul back up there, so you might want to consider the LVC or something out of South Lake.
Pate

Trad climber
  Oct 21, 2009 - 03:00pm PT
That's as solid as frozen water gets. Very nice.
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Polemonium Peak - V Notch Couloir III+ AI 4 5.5-5.8 - High Sierra, California USA. Click to Enlarge
V Notch in red, descent in yello.
Photo: Ryan Crochiere