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North Couloir direct

North Couloir direct

North Couloir direct

Page Type: Route

Location: California, United States, North America

Object Title: North Couloir direct

Route Type: Mountaineering, Trad Climbing, Ice Climbing, Mixed

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Time Required: Most of a day

Difficulty: grade II, AI2, 5.4 rock

Route Quality: 
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Page By: physics

Created/Edited: Sep 22, 2006 / Sep 22, 2006

Object ID: 228048

Hits: 4984 

Page Score: 73.06%  - 3 Votes 

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North Couloir of Mt. Abbot,...

This route is the direct variation of the normal route which involves substantially steeper couloir climbing, very likely encounter of hard water ice in late season, and a 5.4 rock head wall to reach the summit ridge. The 1000 ft North Couloir on Abbot is a great fall climb, is easily approachable from the Mosquito Flat trailhead (10,300 ft), and could be easily paired with other ice climbs (NE Couloir or N. Face for example) up the east and north sides of Mount Dade for a multi-day ice climbing outing. This line was first climbed by John Moynier in August of 1984 and from the evidence in Abbot's summit register has seen few repeated ascents.

Getting There

Mount Abbot Northeast...

The approach is easy compared to most of the others in the high Sierra. Parking at the Mosquito Flat trailhead, one can either approach from the Mono Pass or the Treasure Lakes trail. The former is shorter and more direct while the later is arguably more scenic. Gain the large snow field which stretches from the base of the north face of Dade to the bottom of the east side of Mills and traverse over to the base of the North Couloir. If approaching from Mono Pass the N. Couloir is obvious running diagonally up the side of Abbot yet if coming up from Treasure Lakes one must walk just under it before it is visible.

Route Description

N. Couloir Abbot

Climb the couloir. The wide mouth at the base of the couloir is shallowly sloped and one will pass the exit for the sandy slopes of the normal route on the climbers right.

N. Couloir Abbot

As one ascends the couloir, it becomes progressively steeper approaching ~50 degrees. During late season/fall one will likely encounter hard neve and water ice on route.

N. Couloir Abbot

During September of 2006, nice neve was found from the base of the couloir which became increasing more dense as one climbed higher until water ice was found formed in the last part of the couloir.

At the top of the snow/ice section of the couloir, a rock headwall is found. This section is quite steep and there are no prominent ledges on which one can safely take off crampons. Unless one builds an anchor and ties in, it may be safest to climb the class 5 rock with crampons to avoid risking trying to take them off without falling down the 1000 ft couloir; at least one summit entry describes climbing the rock with crampons on (made by SPer bobpickering; see picture below). Climb over the rocks veering left until entering a wide chimney. Climb the right wall of the chimney and then up over some steep rocks (crux) to the summit ridge. Continue to the summit and descend the normal route.

Essential Gear

Two tools, crampons and a helmet are necessary although if one attempts in spring or summer when there is no ice on route one may get by with just a mountaineering axe. Although this author climbed the 5.4 rock solo, it was very sketchy (read: scary) taking off crampons on a small 1 ft by 1 ft ledge surrounded by steep ice; thus ice screws for anchor building would be suitable along with a rope for the rock pitch. If soloing in water ice condition, be prepared to climb 5.4 (or harder) rock in crampons.
summit entry in Abbot
Bob Pickering signs the summit register mentioning he climbs the rock with crampons

note on naming

Alpenglow on Abbot/Petit...

This route as mentioned is a variation of the class 3 normal route which is labeled on SP as the "Northeast Couloir". In both Secor's and Moynier's book, this route is consistently referred to the North Couloir; thus is why it is termed such in this route description page.


N. Couloir AbbotAlpenglow on Abbot/Petit...North Couloir of Mt. Abbot,...Mount Abbot Northeast...N. Couloir Abbotsummit ridge AbbotN. Couloir Abbot
N. Couloir Abbotsummit entry in AbbotN. Couloir Abbot