Polemonium Peak via U Notch Couloir, October 10-12, 2009

The U Notch Couloir, like all the gully climbs in the Sierra that don’t melt off, is hard ice during the fall months.  In the spring time Sierra gullies are filled with snow and make for excellent steep snow climbs.  Over the course of the summer many melt freeze cycles turn the snow into ice.  The U Notch had been “set up” for ice climbing back in July.  By October we now had solid ice with a coating of fresh snow from a recent storm that was up to a foot deep in places.  These varied conditions made for a challenging and rewarding climb.

After topping out on the U Notch we turned south to Polemonium Peak.  Named after the famous Sierra flower that only blooms above 12,000′ in the Sierra, Polemonium Peak is one of five 14ers along the crest above the Palisade Glacier.  At the U Notch we took off our crampons for the couple pitches of low 5th class rock climbing that lead to the summit of this very enjoyable climb.

This climb also would mark the final California 14er for Ben to climb.

Here are a few highlights.  The entire photo gallery is here:  http://kurtwedbergphotography.com/Sierra-Trips/2009-Sierra-Trips/Polemonium-Peak-October-2009/9942984_pYKqM/1/678654937_HwWqs

The U Notch Couloir in the center skyline rising above the Palisade Glacier

The U Notch Couloir on the right rising above the Palisade Glacier. The left couloir is called the V Notch.

Crossing the bergshrund where the Palisade Glacier separates from the cliff above creating this crevasse.

Crossing the bergshrund where the Palisade Glacier separates from the cliff above creating this crevasse.

Ben climbing on the hard ice on pitch #2

Ben climbing on the hard ice on pitch #2

Ben still looking strong near the top of the U Notch

Ben still looking strong near the top of the U Notch

Ben finishing up the first pitch of low 5th class rock climbing en route to the summit of Polemonium Peak

Ben finishing up the first pitch of low 5th class rock climbing en route to the summit of Polemonium Peak

Ben near the summit of Polemonium Peak with Barrett Lake and the Palisade Basin far below.

Ben near the summit of Polemonium Peak with Barrett Lake and the Palisade Basin far below.

Congratulations Ben on finishing all the California 14ers!!

Congratulations Ben on finishing all the California 14ers!!

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