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North Pal gear advice

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North Pal gear advice

Postby mtndonkey » Thu Mar 29, 2012 9:50 pm

Planning to do North Pal via the chimney (and Starlight if time allows) next weekend via the U-notch and just looking for a few pointers on gear from those who've done it before. How does it compare to the climbing on Polemonium from the U-Notch? I know the grade in that area in general is somewhat subjective so I am trying to decide if I will need rock shoes or just go it in my mountaineering boots.

Rope - 50m or should I go longer? My options are a 8.8mm x 50m (single strand of a double rope) or 8.9mm x 70 m single rope (or I can always bring the full set of doubles but seems overkill) I think this is mainly relevant for rapping and not down climbing, unless the down climb is trivial and not worth the added rope.

Pro - just planning to bring a set of stoppers, will i need/want anything bigger for the chimney? I don't imagine using any pro on the U-notch unless there is ice, which seems unlikely right now and if so will prob just place rock pro on the side rather than bringing any screws.

Axe - going to bring my mountaineering axe and a single tool, a few years ago we topped out the U-notch and I measured the slope at 60 degrees the last hundred feet or so (drifting near the top, most of the route was standard 40 degrees or so) and had there not been a boot track, a second tool would have really made a difference.

Any thoughts on the above? Obviously I will have a helmet, slings, and the other usual stuff, just looking at the technical items that are route dependent.
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Re: North Pal gear advice

Postby Marcsoltan » Thu Mar 29, 2012 10:45 pm

mtndonkey wrote:Planning to do North Pal via the chimney (and Starlight if time allows) next weekend via the U-notch and just looking for a few pointers on gear from those who've done it before. How does it compare to the climbing on Polemonium from the U-Notch? I know the grade in that area in general is somewhat subjective so I am trying to decide if I will need rock shoes or just go it in my mountaineering boots.

Rope - 50m or should I go longer? My options are a 8.8mm x 50m (single strand of a double rope) or 8.9mm x 70 m single rope (or I can always bring the full set of doubles but seems overkill) I think this is mainly relevant for rapping and not down climbing, unless the down climb is trivial and not worth the added rope.

Pro - just planning to bring a set of stoppers, will i need/want anything bigger for the chimney? I don't imagine using any pro on the U-notch unless there is ice, which seems unlikely right now and if so will prob just place rock pro on the side rather than bringing any screws.

Axe - going to bring my mountaineering axe and a single tool, a few years ago we topped out the U-notch and I measured the slope at 60 degrees the last hundred feet or so (drifting near the top, most of the route was standard 40 degrees or so) and had there not been a boot track, a second tool would have really made a difference.

Any thoughts on the above? Obviously I will have a helmet, slings, and the other usual stuff, just looking at the technical items that are route dependent.


Done North Pal via U-Notch. I used my light weight mountaineering boots, flexible crampons, used only one mountaineering axe, placed rock pro in the rock on the right side of the snow/ice, long runners. Used only stoppers from U-Notch to N.Pal. One 50 meter, 8.5 mm rope. I can see having an ice tool and three ice screws coming in handy. There was about 200 feet of ice, the rest was hard snow. If you have done Polemonium from U-Notch, you will find U-Notch to N.Pal a lot easier and more straight forward. I did a 5.8 overhang to get to Polemonium. You wont have anything like that on N.Pal. Returned via Mount Sill.
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Re: North Pal gear advice

Postby jdmorris » Sat Mar 31, 2012 12:00 am

I can't help with gear beta for the chimney, but I think there are enough pictures and description on summitpost to find and climb the Clyde Variation from the notch fairly easily allowing you to leave all the gear behind if you're comfortable on that sort of terrain (except for what you might want for Starlight's summit and or emergency rappels). Of course, it never hurts to be over-prepared and safe, so the decision is obviously yours. My party of 4 brought 2 30M half ropes and solo'd up but rapped off the 4th class half-pitch of the Clyde Variation although down climbing may have been faster. There are great blocks to sling all over the place, there, although FWIW, I'd typically bring 3-4 cams in my alpine rack in addition to a reduced selection of stoppers. To each his own. I thought the short bit of low 5th class on Polemonium was much tougher than any part of the Clyde variation's 4th class, although there are lots of different ways up to the top.

Oh, when I climbed the U-notch last year I had to climb vertically out of the shrund and I borrowed a partner's walking axe so I'd have two tools to get over the lip and into the notch, proper, so a vertical tool might come in handy, there. We didn't try the rock bypass. And although the notch had blue ice up high it was easily bypassed on rock.
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Re: North Pal gear advice

Postby myles » Sat Mar 31, 2012 1:00 pm

I did the Chimney pitches in Makalus, and it was my first outing in a while. Haven't been up Polemonium yet, but in reference to the Clyde Variation mentioned above, I found the Chimney provoked much more thought.

For gear we carried a couple of medium cams, plus a few stoppers and pink, red, blue and brown tri-cams--it was plenty.

May the weather gods smile on you.
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Re: North Pal gear advice

Postby mtndonkey » Thu Apr 05, 2012 7:42 pm

Thanks for the info everyone. Heading up this evening after work, hopefully we don't freeze to death. Windchill at 12k tomorrow is minus 18.....
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