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North Face Notch route

North Face Notch route


Page Type: Route

Location: Colorado, United States, North America

Object Title: North Face Notch route

Route Type: Mountaineering

Season: Spring

Time Required: Half a day

Rock Difficulty: Class 3

Difficulty: 70° snow, AI3, easy mixed

Grade: III

Route Quality: 
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Page By: Erichimedes

Created/Edited: Jun 15, 2014 / Jun 15, 2014

Object ID: 900760

Hits: 631 

Page Score: 73.16%  - 4 Votes 

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A fun, straightforward route on the North Face of Niagara peak. The approach is via a short hike up Burns gulch road. This route follows the line of least resistance through the lower and upper rock bands, putting you on the top of the ridge about 60' West of the summit. A good route for spring when the snow is consolidated.
North Face Notch route in red. Dotted line is the notch.

Getting There

Drive Northeast out of Silverton towards Animas Forks. When you cross from the West side of the drainage over the Animas river to the East side of the drainage, there is a road going up and Southeast. Looking up Burns gulch, you will see the face of Niagara you will be climbing. A passenger car can make it to this point in spring. We walked up Burns Gulch road (2-3 hours) to the snow slopes beneath the face. We were able to find a spot of relatively dry grass for camping. If done earlier in spring (May?) snow camping may be the only option.

Route Description

The route begins on climber's left of the face. Travel up a large apron and traverse right on a shelf towards the obvious notch in the rock band above you. Move through the notch up steep snow to a large stack-of-pancakes style rock in the center of the middle snow field. Move up and right past this rock into the couloir leading to the ridge West of the summit. Summit is easily gained from here. Opportunity for protection is limited to micronuts and knifeblades. Probably better without a rope. Descend the East ridge. It took us 5 1/2 hours camp to camp. Alpine start (3:00am or so) highly recommended.
View of the route from further up Burns gulch. The notch is easily seen from this angle.
Sunrise on the middle snowfield.
Descent on the East ridge.

Recommended Gear

Crampons, two technical ice axes, helmet. If simul-climbing: harness, rope, knifeblades, micro nuts.