Sunday, May 28, 2017

Kautz Cleaver & Success Couloirs (May 28th)

Looking up the route from 11,400 ft.

Last week's lower freezing levels paired with the warming trend at the start of the weekend allowed climbing rangers and excellent opportunity to get out on the SW side of the mountain. The itinerary was to access the Kautz cleaver via Paradise by crossing the lower Nisqually, climbing the Wilson gully, and contouring west around 8,500 ft. all the way to the Kautz glacier. The lower Nisqually/Wilson gully are still well filled in and are easily navigated. The ridge line that leads up to "the castle" above the Wilson gully however, is starting to melt out and peel away. It was quite difficult to manage on skis and i would bet you will be forced to walk the ridge on rock after this warm spell.
Ridge line melting out and breaking up as cornice pulls away from the ridge.
Tricky navigation if you choose to stay on the snow.
Just below the castle, a quick contour to the eastern edge of the Kautz glacier lead us to a nice flat/protected snow camp at 9,100ft. This elevation currently allows for a very mellow crossing of the Kautz glacier over to the Kautz Cleaver. From camp, a 150ft. descending traverse will get you on the cleaver. From here, choose your own adventure up and climbers left as you pick your way up the cleaver and into the Success couloir. Once we were in the couloir, we hugged the climbers right ridge line to stay out of the fall line.
Route accross the Kautz glacier and up the couloir shown. 9,100 ft. camp shown as red square.

Warming temps and large mushrooms of upper mountain rime had us on the lookout for falling ice. French stepping and front pointing conditions were excellent in the early morning and 4,000 ft. later we found ourselves at the top of the Success couloir. From here, trend east and up through two rock bands to gain Point Success.

Track log from camp to 13,000 ft.