Middle Palisade

18-Sep-93

By: Barbara Cohen, Nancy Gordon


This trip had such an overwhelming response that the waiting list started in May! Even though we were not under permit restrictions, the leaders felt that 10 climbers would be a maximum due to loose rock in the chute. We decided to climb the peak on Saturday, hoping for softer snow in the afternoon, rather than Sunday morning.

After two participants shuttled us and our packs to the trailhead, we started hiking at 6:20am reaching Brainard Lake around 3 hours later. We set up camp, packed, and started for the peak at I0 am. Things were going well until we reached the glacier. In lieu of ice axe and crampons, we each had a ski pole. Most members of the group felt that the snow was too steep and hard-packed to proceed safely so they decided to turn around. The leaders and Ali Aminian continued up the icy glacier seeking out more sure footing on the moraine that divides the glacier.

The key to the success of this climb is being able to get off the glacier onto the ledge. This was a little tricky because there was a deep space between the glacier and the rock. The previous party (about 45 minutes ahead of us) had used a rope at this point. We were able to reach the ledge unaided. Soon we were climbing in a chute south of the standard route above the top of the moraine avoiding rock fall from the preceding party. About 2/3 of the way up (13,250/), we found an obvious place to traverse to the standard route on our right. Continuing on class 2-3 rocks, we reached the summit at 3:30pm. After a brief sign-in and photo session, we began our descent down the standard route, crossing over to our original chute 500/ above the glacier. Returning to the glacier proved easier than leaving it, and we stayed on the moraine as far as it would take us. When we finally had to step onto the very hard snow, it was difficult walking with only a ski pole for balance. The first 30 feet were tough, after that, it was much better. We made our way back to Brainard by 7:30 without using our flashlights--a rewarding 6250' day! We had the place to ourselves since the rest of the group had packed out, Sunday found us hiking out by 7:30am and an early return to L.A.

This was a successful and exciting trip. Thanks to my co- leader Nancy.


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