NORTH PALISADE (14,242') August 19-22, 1972

North Palisade Movie Clips. From Kodachrome Super 8 home movies, low quality, dusty and scratched, but viewable. Filmed August 19-21, 1972, by Petesthousandpeaks, and as directed.

Quick Time plug-in or iOS required. All at 640 x 480 pixels.

Palisade Glacier before the climb 29.7 MB (1:39)

U-Notch Couloir and Summit Views 20.4 MB (1:05)

This was a Sierra Club scheduled rock climbing trip. I hitched a ride with the assistant leader, and we motored south on U.S. 395. Meeting a fairly large group, we backpacked up to about Sam Mack Meadow. Some of us went to look at the glacier. The next morning, we hiked back up to the glacier, and appraised our climb. Our route was to be the Clyde Couloir. We came to the icy, icicle draped, bergschrund and began setting up the ropes. Four climbers went ahead, and the rest of us took our time going up a rock route next to the couloir. This took some time with our large group.

The rope leader took a short fall, and injured himself. The entire group, however, made it to a ledge. The other four climbers were high in the Couloir, set on doing the climb apart from the rest of us. We decided to turn back, so set up a rappel. I was the last to come down, without any belay, but I made it safely. The hurt climber was able to limp out. It was later determined that he suffered a hairline fracture, to a leg bone, but we didn't need any heli rescue.

Aside from another climber and myself, the group packed out. The next day, I hiked back to the glacier for some time lapse photography. Running into the group of four, they had summited but had to bivy that night in a snowstorm. Due to lack of sleep, they were pretty tired. I witnessed a large boulder coming sliding down the glacier, as in a Disney movie, toboggan style. This was said to be a sight never captured, and it was my luck not to wish to disturb my time lapse sequence. I had a zoom lens, so could have shot that rock hurtling along, but chose not to.

Getting up early the next morning, I was to have my longest day, about 20 hours of climbing. At 4 a.m., we hiked up to the start of the U-Notch Couloir, and I led across the bergschrund over a snow bridge. Setting up a belay, I protected my partner to come up, but then he wished for a better spot to belay me further as I led, due to rockfall. I led up the class 3-4 right side of the Couloir, on rock. Proceeding slowly and cautiously, I declined to place any pro. I am a slow climber, but found a good route as rocks occassionally came whizzing by us.

Finally, we had to cross over the ice in the Couloir. My partner had better crampons, so led this portion. He halted for some movies, as this was an involved traverse with an awesome ice slope below. This was true climbers' ice, with bubbles, and my points going in only about a sixteenth of an inch. My partner had sought to find some protection for this, so went higher and knocked down three large rocks. I had to jump out of the way. Two other climbers were below us, and I yelled, "Rock," repeatedly. He came back down, and led over the ice, directly level, then, and climbed up a bit to better belay me, coming over.

Soon we were at the Notch, and I urged a return down. The rock chimney was near vertical, and thusly appeared to be beyond me. My partner was a good climber, so led up. It wasn't so hard, as I found, and I rated it class 4, since he placed little pro. It was then some class 3 to the summit, and we did this without roping up again. There were some exposed moves, but we made it nicely.

Summitting at about 3 p.m., I shot the views, panning my camera. We stayed long enough for that, and there was a register. Clambering back down the class 3 Sierra crest, we rapped down the chimney route, and my partner suggested downclimbing the west side and going back to camp over another col. I believed to rap down the Couloir no matter how long it took, and to do it safely and slowly. I wasn't too fond of downclimbing all that I had led.

We started our rappels, and easily found anchors in the form of webbing loops from previous parties. I backed this up with looping the rope about horns, and also to back up the old webbing with our own new webbing. Soon, night fell, and then we had a big delay. Communication was poor, and I had to holler repeatedly. Due to the echoing, my partner didn't understand me. He thought that I had injured myself. I was yelling, "Come on down," but he heard me asking for help. We sat there for an hour, and I stopped saying anything. He finally decided to rap down, and we cleared it up. The night was calm, and I wasn't cold or uncomfortable. We rapped over the bergschrund, and hiked down the glacier, safe and successful.

He went ahead, and me getting to the moraine, had to take a rest in the moonlight. I tried to doze for a few minutes, but had to get back to camp. I finally made it at about 1 a.m., pretty beat.

Packing out the next day, I met another climber who said a hearse came up by the trailhead in the middle of the night. A dead climber was loaded aboard. He thought that was me. Someone had rapped off the end of his rope on Temple Crag. Climbing in the Palisades is very dangerous, and I was fortunate to have done it so well. I imagined that I would do this again, as it never turned out.

I hitchhiked back north, and met another hitchhiker. I convinced him to join me, and we did a climb of class 4 Cathedral Peak in Yosemite. Also, we had scrambled three of the Echo Peaks, the day before that. I led myself up the Cathedral summit block, and I think he declined, so I rapped off the top from the bolted register as an anchor. We continued to hitchhike home, and I left him in Stockton, CA, as I got a ride with a drunken Greyhound bus driver on his way to a job in Salt Lake City, UT.

Home, I was able to make it to the City College registration day, and enrolled in my classes. I didn't think too much of this climb; the chimney variation was later rated 5.4, but I was a capable climber back then. Other climbers had set 5.9 as the hardest climbing, then, but they were professionals. Glad that I had done this, I was never to finish doing all of the California Fourteeners, despite this one, considered by some, to be the hardest peak, even by the easy route. Ditto for the California County Highpoints, North Pal being the highest point of Fresno County. I had a chance to do this standard class 4 LeConte route from the west, but declined.

My Super 8 film movie footage I had transferred to the BetaMax tape format in the 1980's, then to DVD in the early 2000's. Not until now did I think to put it on my website, using iMovie to format it. I have more movies from way back, and figure with now, plenty of webspace, to have tons of more old photos and movies to be on my website. I also have some 16 mm movies to be digitized, but that may have to wait.