Monday, June 05, 2017

Disappointment Cleaver (June 5th)

Rangers crossing the Cowlitz up to Cathedral Gap.
         Although it was a windy weekend up high on Mt. Rainier, those folks that managed to get above the marine layer were treated with plenty of sunshine. Low climber turnout in camp made for pleasant conditions as rangers made their way up the mountain to check out the DC route.  As of now, the route is fairly straight forward without any ladder crossings or pitched climbing. Currently, the crossing of the Cowlitz remains fairly benign and Cathedral gap has begun to melt out, exposing the dirt/rock. Gaining Ingraham Flats remains straight forward and the standard traverse onto the cleaver is still intact. 

Conditions on the Disappointment Cleaver. Notice 3 climbers traversing through the "ice box".
            The Disappointment Cleaver itself remains almost entirely snow at this point. Which means rockfall in the "bowling alley" isn't much of a concern at the moment. Many switchbacks and fixed pickets will get you to the top of the cleaver. These pickets are placed/maintained by the guide services and shouldn't be tampered with. That being said, always inspect pickets for their security/anchoring before clipping into them for a running belay. Again, be sure to thank the guides along the way for all the hard work they do maintaining the route. 
Route traverse under the serac and towards the Emmons shoulder at 12,800ft.

         From the top of the cleaver, the route trends up and right until it makes a long, flat traverse out towards the Emmons shoulder. At this point there will be an impressive, vertical serac wall above you. Be sure to admire it, but don't stop under hazards such as these along the route. Once you get passed the large wall, the route will take a steep switchback that trends SW up to 13,600 ft. After a few more crevasses to navigate, one last turn around the burgshrund will gain you access to the crater rim.
Track log of route up the DC
           The forecast is calling for warm, calm conditions early this week with deteriorating weather starting on Wednesday. If you plan on coming up the mountain this upcoming weekend be sure to be prepared for winter like conditions. GPS units with pre-programmed routes/tracks are crucial for glacial (and even snowfield) travel in white out conditions. We hope to see you up here!