Sunday, June 23, 2013

Should I Pull on That?

The last week in June is my favorite time as they are the longest days of the year. Get out!

Notch Peak

Tues: Finally discovered the illusive Beartrap Fork Trail up BCC. As a young, immature mountain teenager I had looked for this supposed alternate route up to Desolation Lake but was too stupid or blind to find it. Finally, with my crack navigation skills, I won the battle. Did a nice loop up Mill D and down Beartrap Fork. The trailhead isn't marked by any kind of sign, so you have to have decent beta in order to find it.
Great new loop
Wed: Enjoyed getting worked on another classic LCC 11d testpiece, pudgy gumbies. Tips liebacking for quite awhile with small figidity nuts for gear. But then a miraculous hand crack appears and its just fun 5.11a to the chains. Annie led the ultraclassic 5.9+ Sasquatch and did much better than I did on my first onsight attempt oh so long ago.

Thurs: Cardiac Ridge with the Bryce Team
Cardiac Ridge from near Kessler

Still new to this whole backcountry skiing business, I was unaware that the ridge connecting Kessler to Superior was indeed the infamous Cardiac Ridge, home to many a tasty ski descent. Nor did I realize the Donut Falls area was the entrance to Cardiff Fork. Amazing how has improved my knowledge. Anyway, Steve, Annie and I set out to tackle this ridge after work with the maximum daylight exposure. Its a long ridge, so I knew it was ambitious, but that's what life is about. Planning for things likely you will fail at. Basically we climbed Kessler via the North Route, then traversed for about 2 hours over some fantastic terrain, including some sketchy 5th class downclimbs. We had a great time, but only managed to get to the base of Peak 10820 before having to descend due to darkness. We ran out Cardiff Fork for a solid 10 mile, 4000' day.

Annie enjoying some quality traversing

Required downclimbing

 Saturday: Notch Peak, Western Hardman 5.10d, 12 Pitches, 1200'.
The wall

Notch Peak resides in a place in Utah not many venture to:1 hour west of Delta. Where the freak is Delta? Like an hour west of Santaquin. Ely, home of 30 people and some cows is the nearest town. Notch Peak itself holds the claim of being the 2nd tallest cliff in the continental US, only El Cap is taller. The peak has a massive 2000' limestone cliff on its  north side, and unlike El Cap contains some of the most chossy nacho quality rock you'll ever consider worthy of climbing. The "must do" route out there is a route called "Book of Saturdays", a 12 pitch 5.11a R route up the direct north face. It is definitely on my tick list, but after talking to many people and reading up on it, it really is R. 5 or more pitches have only 3 bolts in 150'. The 2 hour approach mixed with the complete remoteness of the area makes the entire peak a very adventurous and solitary exploit for climbers should anything bad happen. Seeing that I usually cry and tremble like an epileptic 6 year old girl when I get 5 feet above a bomber cam, I thought better of making this my first Notch Peak route. I decided to do a more introductory piece called Western Hardman. It still contains the choss factor, some creative gear placements, and 12 full value pitches but isn't R, has a shorter approach, and can be rappelled with one rope, a super bonus for me. I convinced Annie to join me.

Somehow we turned up the wrong dirt road at 12:30 am Saturday morning and ended up doing some hardcore rallying in the Hyundai that likely should have torn out our undercarriage. This was not sedan terrain.  Lost and confused, we sacked out in the cheat grass and waited till morning. When we woke up, we discovered our mistake, and found the right road. We hiked up the long wash to the base of the route, which climbs the subsummit wall of Notch Peak. It is comparable to climbing the East Buttress of El Cap in that you are climbing on the wall, but don't actually summit the peak. Annie led pitch 1, promptly got scared, and I took over from there. The pitches are short(100' or less) so I tried to link 2 pitches everytime. Abraham would have been proud of all of the linkin we did.

 Highlights were:
1. Godsend pitch. A striking splitter(in limestone?) that went from fingers to OW with great gear. Linking this with the previous pitch was the best section of the route.
2. Pitch 10 had some fun sporty well protected climbing on it followed by a great hand crack
3. Despite asking myself constantly, "should I pull on that?" nothing huge ever broke and we didn't use our helmets.
4. I got my Elijah on and mantled over 20 times through some pretty loose kitty litter without getting too beat up.

Annie hiking up the long wash with Notch in the background

a good look at pitch 4,  rated 5.dirt/bush6

the best limestone crack I've climbed(i've climbed 2)
Godsend crack. Its not Serenity or incredible HC, but its good

This pitch had weird blocky striated rock. I placed cams but I decided not to fall

Annie mantling into rubble

See how this rock looks like someone Elmers Glued  some corn flakes to the wall? This is a sign not to use that rock to support body weight.
On top. The classic BOS climbs behind us to the summit

 We rappelled in safety and our overall experience with chossy Notch Peak was a success.

Other fun things to do on Notch Peak


  1. You could save a lot of time if you guys started climbing Steph Davis style. Yeehaw!!!