On Monday May 22nd climbing rangers Kurt Hicks and Joseph Anderson climbed the Gibraltar (Gib) Ledges route on Mt Rainier.
The climb begins by ascending the striking ridge line (Cowlitz Cleaver) immediately to the northwest of Camp Muir. The route climbs moderate to steep snow slopes and meanders around scenic rocky gendarmes for 1,600 feet until it intercepts with the namesake Gibraltar Rock.
From 11,800 feet the route follows exposed snow and rock "ledges" that traverse the well defined base of Gib Rock. This portion of the climb is south west facing (shade until 10am) and is exposed to rock fall hazard from above while the terrain remains moderately steep and exposed. The ledges traverse for a third of a mile and intercept with the top of Gibraltar Chute at 12,300 feet. From here the route climbs 400 feet up 45 degree snow until the top of Gibraltar Rock.
From this point you are looking down the other side at the upper Ingraham Glacier and the top of Disappointment Cleaver. There are several large crevasses separating the route from the glacier below. To avoid this hazard climb toward the summit on the upper Ingraham glacier for another 1,200 feet elevation. From here the route will intercept with the current track of the more popular DC route at approximately 13,800 feet.
We found the route to be in good, mostly snowy conditions along the Ledges. Protection is plentiful, with solid pickets and occasional ice screws available. Try to move quickly across the ledges to reduce exposure to spontaneous rockfall.