Notch Peak, 2nd biggest cliff in N.A.

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Trip Report
Utah, United States, North America
Date Climbed/Hiked:
May 10, 2008
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Notch Peak,  2nd biggest cliff in N.A.
Created On: May 15, 2008
Last Edited On: Jan 1, 2017

Whoa !!!

When I got to the top of Notch Peak and tried to look over the edge, I really said "Whoa nellie", don't go too close to that edge. I was glad the wind wasn't blowing but I'll get back to this but first let me get back to the start. 
End of the road
Park near here

The week before, a fellow SP member, Wasatchnut007 and I had planned to do both Swasey Peak and Notch on the same trip. Both were worthy since they
are Utah prominence peaks with Swasey Peak having the greater prominince which places it higher up on the "gotta get" list. As things turned out, it had snowed the day we went (May first) and that slowed us down just enough
to make us realize that Swasey was enough for one day.
After the road forks
Heading to the right canyon

Well, as things turned out, I had a chance to head back for Notch but Jim had to work which kept him from joining me. May 10th had a great weather forecast and so I grabbed my daypack and headed out the door, ready to drive the 140 miles back to the start of the hike.
Canyon starts to...
Exiting the canyon

I got a bit of a late start so I arrived at the trailhead, about a mile past the famous cabin at noon. The day was perfect and after talking with a couple ATV'ers I headed up the road and grabbed the first left that led into the correct canyon. The canyon now held very little snow and I could imagine what it would be like if it did. See this trip report for a feel
of what two others had encountered just about 6 weeks before. It was easy
to imagine how snow filled this canyon would be and in some places it narrows down to the size of a wide slot canyon. This was for me a very enjoyable part of the whole hike. About a hour and half in, I met two young guys who were returning from the summit. They had been sucessful but
they kind of gave me the look that I've become accustomed too (probably just my imagination) of what is this "old" guy doing here by himself?
First view of the cliffs
First view of cliffs

Ah well, if you don't get out and hike solo sometimes, you never get to go anywhere. The trail deviates up and out of the canyon for a bit as it hits
a bit of a stopper in the form of a snow packed section with a bit of class three rock climbing. Not normally a diffiuclt thing but once my boots get wet on the bottom, they are useless on rock (new boots are ordered). So I trudged up the detour and after following a few cairns and the sidehilling it entails, I was back into the narrow canyon proper again. This time I stayed in it until it cranked left, marked by a cairn and then slowly peters out onto the slope you want to take to get to the ridgeline.
Summit cairn
Summit cairn

A few cairns marked the way but you could easily find your way without them since you can see where the summit is just after you get onto the slope.
I followed a few cairns and then just went for ridgeline, getting into a bit of bushwhacking for my efforts but nothing serious. Before long I came to the ridgeline and saw the mighty drop off for the first time. "Holy El Capitan" I thought. Then I looked to my left and knew I still had about 400 feet of elevation gain to do to make the summit and started up the obvious path(s). I'd stop every so often and just look around me. The views were outstanding in every direction. Sevier Lake off in the distance (no water in it, just a dry lakebed) captured my fancy as did a peak that seemed taller than everything else and I guessed it might be Indian Peak.
I'll have to study my maps now to see if I was correct but suffice it to say I was impressed by the views. And I wasn't even to the top yet.
Shortly however, there was no more mountain to climb as practically before me was this cool cairn that marked the summit of Notch Peak. A weatherbeaten benchmark was near it and a register was hidden in its base.
A few feet beyond the cairn was the "edge of the world". A 4500 foot drop for the unwary and for some reason, I couldn't force myself to get to the point where I could peer over the edge. I tried to take a picture or two of the drop but my arm is just not long enough. Oh well, my wuss factor was on high alert so I stepped back to the safe side of the cairn and began to take in the scenery.  
The views were superb despite a bit of a haze. I could see Swasey Peak to the north, George Hanson Peak (where I'll be the next weekend) slightly to the west and the Deep Creek range beyond that. A snowy peak stood out on the horizon and I figured that was Pilot Peak above Wendover, another of my goals. Directly south(west) lie the Confusion range, an interesting name but that range contains Kingtop, another on my big list of Utah hoped for's. I could go on and on but I'll leave some view digestion up to those who seek out this summit for themselves. I tried my cell phone but I have no luck on most of thise Utah Outback peaks with my digital one. My older analog cell would probably have worked but alas, it is no longer the phone service i now subscribe to.
Notch Peak (UT) BM
Notch Peak benchmark

All too soon it was time to head back to the vehicle, but first I had to find the nearby geocache. If you're not into geocaching, you can save your energy but to those who are,  try and find it, it is worth the effort.  All the info you need is on the page. Plug in GC8106 under find so you can get the info you need if your are interested in this fun activity.  Retracing my steps, I found myself back at my truck two hours later. What a great hike. I had an evening to savor and enjoy the day before heading out in the morning to hook up with Greg (SP member giegiels) in Scipio Utah for our effort to summit a rarely visited prominence peak known as Stevens Peak. We had a great day doing Stevens but I'll save that story for another time. Let me finish up by saying that Notch Peak has a cliff on it that is higher than Yosemite's El Capitan and ranks in the top two or three highest cliffs in the world. Norway may have the highest one but I don't have the facts
regarding that. Perhaps someone who reads this TR might know and make a comment about it.

Stats: 8 1/2 miles (by my GPS) and close to 3000 feet of elevation gain.
Time up (remember, I'm getting older) 3 1/4 hours up, 2 hours down with 45 minutes spent on the summit.

The summit register needs a new ziplock, the other one is in bad shape and the registers are not going to last longer. I will now always include a ziplock in my pack just for that purpose.

I have a few more pics to add to this report but its time to head for work.



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Viewing: 1-5 of 5

JDrake - May 17, 2008 1:16 pm - Voted 10/10

You cheated on me

doing Notch sans WasatchNut... I hope you picked up a few "blisters" for the effort. Kidding of course, possibly I need to re-examine my commitment to work? :)


Dean - May 19, 2008 12:06 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: You cheated on me

Actually, no. We had Fool Creek peak planned originally and Notch was a last minute decision on my part rather than go do Fool Creek without your presence. No blisters either. Remember, work will always be there but time for the mountains is fleeting. Fool Creek peak is still out there waiting. : )


lcarreau - May 19, 2008 11:27 pm - Voted 10/10

The art of

"high-pointing" appears to be the ability to make last minute
decisions. Without first making a decision, there's no gas in
your GO. Those sands of time are slipping thru the hourglass!!
Notch peak is an awesome chunk of limestone. Congratulations!!
(Keep that Toyota truck movin', Dean.)


vanman798 - Aug 6, 2012 7:38 pm - Hasn't voted

Cliff Definition

Dean, I've been doing some research on Notch Peak and trying to figure out just how tall the actual cliff is, and if it is the tallest cliff in the USA or not.

Here is what I've learned...

It seems to me that the definition of "cliff" is what makes things confusing. Let’s say a cliff is defined as a high, steep face of rock. Is “steep” 90 degrees (vertical) or greater (overhanging), or is near vertical close enough? Research shows that a cliff need not be exactly vertical and so there is uncertainty about what slope or portion of a slope is a cliff.

With a vague definition I think to be safe we have to state how much of the cliff is vertical (or greater).

With that said, El Capitan at 7569 ft has a 3000 ft pure vertical drop. In comparison Notch peak at 9654 has a 2200 ft pure vetical drop, yet it is 4450 ft from valley floor to its summit. In comparison the Northwest Face of Half Dome at 8842 ft has a vertical drop of 2,000 ft and is 4,400 ft from valley floor to summit.

The largest purely vertical drop on the plant is the face of Mount Thor at 4,500 ft.

So, yes the west side of Notch Peak is an amazing cliff, and I think it is safe to say it is the second highest pure vertical drop in the USA. To give it a #1 spot we might say it is the highest limestone (or carbonate rock) cliff in North America.

Anyways, I thought that was worth sharing.


Dean - Aug 7, 2012 3:45 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Cliff Definition

Thanks for the research on this one. I had read elsewhere that it was the biggest cliff but your remarks clarify that aspect. I'll change my title to 2nd biggest so I tip my hat to your willingness to check it out.

Viewing: 1-5 of 5