7/21/10

Pali Notches - July 16, 2010

Just like Pali Puka, the trail to Nu'uanu's Pali Notches has to be another one of the shortest and most dangerous hikes on the island. It's actually more dangerous than Pali Puka. The prominent notches on the right hand side of the Pali Lookout bear significant Hawaiian history. [Click here for an interesting read on the area.] It also bears significant danger.

The Pali Notches trail is located at the Pali Lookout in Nu'uanu Valley. It is located in the same area of the Pali Puka trail. From the parking lot, walk towards the lookout. Just before reaching the lookout, there are a few obvious trails on the right that lead upslope into the forest. Follow any one of these trails. Bear left towards the edge of the ridge and follow the steep trail upward.

After a good amount of sweating, you'll reach the first notch. Descending can be a bit tricky, but it is definitely doable. Directly across is the second notch. Climb up to the second notch following the trail relative to the right side. The trail becomes exceedingly narrow atop the notch. Reach a point where the second notch drops vertically. This is where we turned around.

Descending the second notch is a mind-fuck. Without ropes, it would take a lot of guts and mental will to proceed further without making a single error. One wrong move and the Pali Notches trail could be your last. However, it is doable. Upon our inspection and failed attempt, the right side of the second notch would be the best option for trekking beyond. Although steep, there are foot and hand holds, but not much. Placement of your hands and feet are critical. While attempting the drop, my hands and feet were inches away from slipping, with my body contorted at maximum flexibility to reach my limbs to another foot or hand hold. Words cannot express how crucial your mental state must be along this section. You have to see it to believe it. Twenty minutes of trying, and we turned around.

Three people before our attempt succeeded in descending the second notch without any ropes. Check out Martyna and Allegra's Hiking Blog. Two fearless women. With that said, it is definitely possible, but the confidence and security of an anchored rope will prove the difference between life and death. And for now, I choose life. We'll be back with ropes next time.







Here's Kevin climbing back up the 1st notch.




6 comments:

J Mo said...

I've done this hike a few times without ropes. It is not difficult if you properly identify the sequence of steps on the notches. The much harder part is getting past the next peak, down again, and then straight up for 100 feet, after which you can climb up into the clouds along the ridge trail. It is not advisable to downclimb here-if you make it up that far, which I suspect most people will not, bring a disposable rope, or protection, and rappel down. I downclimbed, but was scared out of my mind and had a few close calls. This hike is technically challenging, instead of physically challenging like most hikes here. It is certainly treacherous, and not for the faint of heart. Someone has (poorly) installed ropes for the two notches and the next time I am up there i will install a ring at the top with string so people can make that final climb with their own ropes and harnesses.
Finally, be careful and deliberate with your steps up there. The rock is weak, and may give way.

kaleo said...

exactly. technical, not physical. past the peak after the 2nd notch, is there actually a trail, or do you have to follow the ridge crest to the top?

Trevor said...

someone roped notch 2 pretty good. Notch 3 looks sick though, like notch 2 but 50 feet high

stef said...

J Mo. Did you install a ring? I am going with a group that plans to do the Pali Notches and beyond on Sunday.

cbleecker said...

Lost my camera right before the chimney on this trail today. Suddenly I had a big realization of the danger as I watched it bounce down the cliff into the abyss.

Matt Anderson said...

Great photos and write up of the hike, we'd love your review (and photos) here too: https://lookintohawaii.com/hawaii/43475/pali-notches-hike-activities-oahu-kaneohe