Friday, August 10, 2018

Disappointment Cleaver update -- 8/9

Warm temperatures and late season conditions have combined to create increasingly difficult conditions on the Disappointment Cleaver route. Weeks of above average temperatures have thinned snow bridges and widened crevasse crossings, making the route more circuitous and prone to change. Overall, however, the route remains in similar conditions from recent blog posts.

Many of the technically challenging sections of the route are becoming more hazardous. Getting onto Disappointment Cleaver above Ingraham Flats (11,200') is a serious endeavor. Rockfall has been prevalent at all hours of the day and night; this hazard is best mitigated by limiting your exposure to it. The glacier-to-rock transition area is also steep, icy, and crevassed, making the timing and location of the rope transition a challenge. Shortening the rope too early exposes the group to additional crevasse fall hazard, while adjusting it too late increases overhead rockfall hazard by stopping in the danger zone. All of this requires competent ropework and speedy transitions to reduce the time spent below loose rock. Unfortunately, these transitions require practice and it takes a keen eye to anticipate the best place to do it.  There is no simple answer when it comes to managing the co-mingled hazards in this zone.

Many groups have been surprised by the amount of time required to climb and return to Muir and have decided to spend an extra night at Muir after their climb. Planning for a three-day climb at this time of year might help set you up for success and not overdue.