Success Cleaver Route Conditions - Aug 1st, 2006
If you like scree, talus and volcanic rock, this route is for you. Most of the cleaver has melted out.
Success Cleaver is mostly rock and to actually climb the ridge would require some serious traversing on steep loose cliffs. The Success Glacier however does "go." A climbing ranger patrol climbed this version of the route on Friday the 21st. We approached by traversing from Paradise at about 8000'. The only tricky part of this traverse is geeting across the Kautz to Success Glacier. We had to descend a couple hundred feet of scree to get onto the Kautz to traverse over to the Success Glacier. If you stay high the glacier was extremely broken and would have been hard to cross.
Going up the Success Glacier was straight forward. We found good camping at 9800' in the middle of the glacier. We found a very easy way to cross the bergshrund at 10,500' on the far right side (as you are looking up) of the route next to the Kautz Cleaver. For the next 2500' we kicked steps in the snow and followed the far right couloir until we came to a cliff band at about 13000. We found that the snow in this section was very soft, and we often poast-holed up to our thighs hundreds of feet at a time, ughhh. From here it would be easy to traverse over to the Kautz and avoid having to climb through the upper cliff bands. We chose to climb up through the cliff bands. The first one we found a 4th class rock scramble that was about 30' long. We also found some running water here to refill our water bottles with. Above this we followed snow up and right until we could see a notch in the ridge on our left. We traversed back across steep snow to this notch and found an ice filled chimney that we climbed to gain the upper Success Rdige line at 13,500. The ice in the chimney was vertical and nice. It was easy to get good tool placements in the ice, and toward the top of the gully the climbing transitioned from vertical ice to easy 5th class rock. I protected this pitch with screws and used a tool and a mountain axe to climb it. From the top of this pitch we kicked our way to the top of Point Success on nice firm snow.
~ Andy Anderson
With the recent warm weather Success Cleaver is now presenting large portions of melted-out scree and rock in the lower half of the climbing route. However, teams will still be able to climb the route if they are comfortable dealing with these sections of scree. Expect increased hazards from rockfall. Once above 11,000 feet parties should be able to connect snowfields through short rock steps for enjoyable climbing to Point Success. Depending on enthusiasm and comfort level, teams may want to consider descending a different route to avoid downclimbing the rocky sections.
The approach through Indian Henry's is snow free with patchy snow above Pyramid Peak.
Success Cleaver Climbing Conditions - July 8th
Success Cleaver is still in good shape. Access to the base of the cleaver is still snowy with several feet of snow at Indian Henry's. However, from Pyramid Peak to 10,700 feet, the route is mostly rocky. Along the way, frequent patches of snow, for water and tent platforms, exist.
There are two major gendarmes on the lower ridge. One near 9,000 feet, the other near 10,200, both easy to get around. There are a few campsites between the gendarme at 10,200 to the traverse into the gully at 10,700 feet.
Our team was unable to summit (a thundershower dumped a substantial amount of rain on the team all night) but did feel that the route was in good climbing shape. Most of the upper route was still snow covered. Watch for rockfall along the route, and loose slide avalanches on warm days. Several runners for anchors and running belays would be a boon. Depending on conditions, you may want an ice screw or two.