American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Utah, House Range, Notch Peak, North Face, Book of Saturday, Previously Unreported

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2001

Notch Peak, North Face, Book of Saturday, Previously Unreported. Between May, 1997, and May, 1999, the late Tom Lyde and I established a new route on the north face of Notch Peak (9,725') with some assistance from Tracey Price. This limestone face had received one previous ascent by a Swiss team in 1986 that is apparently unrepeated. It was our intent to establish a line worthy of being repeated that could serve as a training climb.

The summit elevation is 9,725 feet; the elevation of the Tule Valley below is 4,800 feet. Due to the description of the Swiss route, and because of accessibility, we decided to scope the wall from above and established a rappel route down the face for inspection and cleaning. The cliff bands below the upper face initially led us to believe that an upper approach from the east side of the range would be preferred, even for repeat ascents. Our first approach in May was, like many others, greeted with a snow storm. The upper pitches were established from the rim by rappelling in and climbing back out; essentially, all climbing was done onsight and all fixed gear established on lead. Thirteen days, nine on the wall, were spent on this effort from the rim.

In June, 1998, we succeeded in reaching the base of the wall directly from the west side, utilizing someone else’s fixed rope on the approach. This is the preferred approach, and with the aid of a fixed ladder and rope, can be done in about two hours. Three more trips and three more days on the wall allowed us to complete pitches one through six and link up to the upper pitches already established. In October, 1998, we attempted to climb the entire route and free a short bolt ladder section on the ninth pitch. We reached the base of the ninth pitch before an early winter storm blew in, with electricity, snow, and hail chasing us off the wall.

In May, 1999, accompanied by James Garrett, we returned and completed the first complete free ascent of the route. All belays are fixed for rappel. Approximately 65 bolts were placed on lead, but a rack of small cams is necessary to supplement the fixed protection. The route is somewhat unique for desert climbing in that it is alpine in nature and normally cold, even in summer. A May ascent will likely encounter snow in the approach gully. Exposure on the route becomes exceptional on the upper pitches, and near-vertical runouts make for exciting climbing in such a setting. The rock and climbing are similar to that of Yamnuska or Mt. Rundle, and should be expected to clean up after a few ascents. A detailed route description of Book of Saturday (IV 5.11-, 12 pitches) can be found in James Garrett’s Ibex and Selected Climbs of Utah’s West Desert.

Robert Price, unaffiliated

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