Northface of Notchtop

Andrew Councel, Lindsay Fixmer, and I headed up to check out the North Face of Notchtop in Rocky Mountain National Park today with a great forecast!  When we got to the base of the climb, there were splitter blue skies, and the route looked good. I started up on the first pitch, which was a little thin and had some mixed climbing (which isn’t normal).  As I was getting into the crux, a storm blew in quite rapidly.  I moved through the crux and on up to a piton and ice axe belay and put Lindsay on when the slope to our left cut loose. Andrew got a little bit of the sluff at the last belay but nothing to worry about. The bowl above us was getting wind loaded, and it would only be a matter of time before it would cut loose.

Andrew took the lead on the next pitch, and we started belaying two ropes to speed up the climbing. As he got about 100 feet off the belay with only one good ice screw in, the bowl let loose. I started yelling…

Andrew was below a bulge and could not see the sluff coming, but it was of decent size. He hunkered down on his tools as the snow moved over him and down towards us. Because of the slope angle to the left of us, it barely touched us. Andrew set a belay and brought us up to him.

Andrew kept leading as it would be the fastest rope management and flew up to the next belay. The bowl cut loose again…

This time it hit Lindsay and I pretty hard at the belay and knocked the rope coils down the slope. We made quick work of the next few pitches and got out of the avalanche danger. The slopes on the way down were wind-blown slab and stable which made for good cramponing. The winds steadily increased and made the descent very cold.

All in all a good day of climbing. With that being said ,it could have gone pretty bad with the moving snow.

Here is a picture of the route we took up the North Face of Notch top while the weather was still good.The red line shows our route up the North Face of Notchtop

The picture below is of the Crux.

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