Anyone been up to the Palisades in August of 2015 and willing to give a condition report? We are heading to Mt. Sill and the L-Couloir on September 7-8 and are wondering if we need to bring sharp stuff (ice ax and crampons). My guess is the drought has made it more of a talus/dust climb than other years. Happy to carry, and even desiring to carry them, but also willing to go much lighter if possible. Any info is appreciated. Thanks!
We're heading that way this weekend and can provide an update. I don't know if we're going to approach from Elinore Lake or Sam Mack Meadow. It depends on the permit situation. Last year I wished I had crampons across the top of the glacier. This year I'm carrying them. I too am doubtful there will be much need in the L-Couloir.
We managed to get a permit for North Fork, entered Saturday, had Sam Mack Meadow to ourselves Saturday night, attempted to summit and returned to the parking area Sunday. Well, third time was not the charm. I had a new partner that got sketched near the base of Glacier Notch.
The talus slope below Mt. Gayley is tremendously unstable. It is not nearly as stable as I recall it from last year about this time. We would step on large blocks and could here the slope move 20'-30' away. My partner described it like listening to a crack spread through glass. We saw two significant rock falls, both with multiple refrigerator size boulders coming down the slope.
The top of the glacier is covered in a nasty mix rock and dirt. We spoke with a group who summited Sill and Polemonium on Saturday and they said the L-Couloir is dry. From below Glacier Notch, it appears there is just a touch of snow but not enough to use to get out of the loose stuff.
Morning winds were light but the afternoon winds blew in smoke and ash, presumably from the Rough Fire. Visibility late in the afternoon was horrible, my eyes burned some and I was developing a cough. Usually, some smoke doesn't bother me but this was extraordinary.
I have not been up there this year; this year I have spent my time rock climbing in the Gunks in NY and in Tuolumne Meadows; but I climbed that route last October. There was snow in the couloir, but I avoided it by climbing on the rocks on the right. There is a traverse once you get to the top of the coulour and this was sketchy. You cross a narrow shelf for about 20 m and in my case it was covered with wet snow. My climbing partner did not make it that far, so I rigged a temprary hand rail using my rope and some cams. I did not use an ice ax ore crampons, and did not think I needed them. This is not recent info, sorry.