Disappointment Cleaver 2012

September 30

Today was the last day of Guide Service traffic on the DC for the 2012 season. IMG ended the season with a spectacular climb this morning, putting all 12 clients on the summit! On the descent, the guides removed all fixed hardware from the route, including the fixed lines on the Emmons Shoulder, and the ladders above Ingraham Flats.

The weather has been amazing over the last few days, summer just wont quit! We are still experiencing the occasional roasting hot day, which is causing continued deterioration of the route. A party of independent climbers reported a minor icefall on the climbing route at approx. 12,800 ft this morning.

With the removal of fixed hardware, the turning weather, and the boney conditions on route, the DC has gone up a notch or two in terms of commitment and technical nature. While it is still possible to safely reach the summit, climbers attempting the DC should arrive with a high level of skill and preparedness. As of today, NPS Climbing Rangers will no longer be staffing Camp Muir, and the need for self-sufficiency on the upper mountain cannot be overstated.

For parties planning to attempt the DC in the off season, please remember to self-register at the old Ranger Station in Paradise. This is imperative to your safety, and TO our ability to assist you in the event of an emergency.

With a healthy dose of caution and the right attitude, climbing Rainier in the off season can be an amazing experience. Make conservative decisions, bring the right equipment, and plan ahead for contigencies. Good luck, and have a great winter (be sure to be sure to ski your legs off)!

See you next season...

September 24

After a brief hick-up in the weather the past couple of days the sun has returned to the slopes of Rainier. The Disappointment Cleaver continues to be climbed on nearly a daily basis with the route holding tough for this late in the season.
Getting to Muir is growing a bit more challenging with ice appearing in places around 9,200 feet along with a few crevasses and some running water. All of this is easily avoided, but still requires climbers to be heads up. Crampons may not be a bad idea if you are travelling in the early morning hours, or in the evening with the snow firming up.
Your friendly climbing rangers will remain staffing Camp Muir until early October. From that point on, no guide services, route maintenance or rangers will be around. That said, come on up for a beautiful fall climb and enjoy the peace and quiet. The route remains largely unchanged since the September 17th post. Please check it out if you plan on coming up for a climb! Get out and enjoy your mountain before the inevitable fall rains and snow return!

September 17

Despite what the calendar says, it does not feel like autumn this week on Mt. Rainier. With freezing levels above 14,000 feet and clear skies it feels more like mid-August.
 Rangers got out for a glacier walk up the DC yesterday and found great late season conditions. This said, things are open on the upper mountain, and there is exposed glacial ice in places. Currently there are 2 ladders still in place on the route, both just above Ingraham Flats. The Disappointment Cleaver itself is completely melted out, and the current route of choice is to follow the spine of the cleaver all the way to its top. Above the cleaver the route makes a sweeping traverse out to the Emmons shoulder then makes a handful of switchbacks before traversing back to the south before zig-zagging to the crater rim.  
Rangers will be staffing Camp Muir and making occassional route patrols through the rest of the month, so come on up for some late season fun, and say hello before the fall storms roll in!

September 10

The first storm of the autumn came and went this last weekend with a bang.  Thunder kept many climbers from sleeping through the night.  The DC has still been hanging in there.  Crevasses are still opening wider and the sun cups are getting deeper.  With self-registration at Paradise on the weekdays - make sure to stop in and check with the rangers at Camp Muir for the latest info.

September 2

There are a couple of new developments on the DC. First, above Ingrham Flats on the traverse to the cleaver there are two horozontal ladders bridging crevasses. Above the cleaver be prepared to traverse out to the Emmons shoulder, as the previous ladder at 12,800 ft. has been removed. Secondly, there is a fixed line in place at approximately 12,200 ft. that traverses across a large crevasse bridge and then ascends a gentle ice slope. Lastly, as the season progresses be prepared for more rockfall - below is a photo of rockfall that occured on Sept.2 just above the normal route across the Cowlitz Glacier. 

August 23

The DC is still holding strong despite the consistently warm weather the last few weeks. The. ladder is still in place at 12,800 ft, as well as some other fixed hardware. It's difficult to say how long this will hold, but most parties are still taking this route for the time being. The traverse out to the Emmons shoulder was kicked in by the guide services a few days ago as a contingency, but so far hasn't seen much traffic.

A hand full of smaller crevasses are opening up on the upper parts of the route. Most of these are easy to negotiate and still have plenty of life left, with room to "end run" if necessary.

Except for the traverse from the Ingraham glacier onto the nose of the cleaver, most of the cleaver itself can be climbed on snow. Be mindful of other parties and try not to drag ropes on the ground as this increases the already significant rockfall hazard.

Again, the DC is holding strong. It's a great time to come climb, as the weather has been consistently good, and the amount of traffic on the mountain is dropping of quickly.

See you up here!

August 13
Hot August days have been changing the upper part of the DC daily.  A major
snow bridge blew out around 12,800 making for an interesting crevasse crossing.  Currently a ladder is in place to assist with the crossing.  Eventually the route will roll climber's right and on to the Emmons Glacier shoulder.  Be prepared to route find and journey "off the beaten path."  

Lots of climbers are still attempting this route - even mid-week - so make sure to communicate and be patient at congested areas.  Early starts and moving quickly through rock and ice fall areas will help keep you and your team safer. 

It has been an amazing season on the DC so far.  The route in general is in exceptional shape.  Hopefully it will continue like this into September.  Make sure to chat with the rangers at Camp Muir when you roll through Camp Muir for the most recent route beta.  See you on the mountain.... 

August 6

The Disappointment Cleaver Route is in great shape for August, and the route above the cleaver itself is still mostly direct to the summit. The fantastic weather and conditions resulted in very high success rates, with hundreds of climbers reaching the summit, including six-year-old Pete Eubank.  The summer heat has heightened the rockfall hazard a bit so especially cautious on the climb to Cathedral Gap and the traverse from the Ingraham Flats to the spine of the Cleaver. Move expeditiously through these areas and be aware of climbers above and below.  Summer temperatures are also steadily thinning snow bridges on the route, so make sure to asses them before crossing. Don't trust snow bridges just because there is a boot pack on them!

July 26

Conditions are excellent on the DC, and the route is still remarkably direct for late July. Coming off the Cowlitz the climb to Cathedral Gap is now completely melted out, so be especially careful with foot placement and beware of rockfall, especially later in the day and on the descent. Like last week, the crux of the route is the traverse from the Ingraham Flats to the spine of the Cleaver. The holes in this area are growing rapidly and the slide paths above have become more active. Climbers can help mitigate the hazard of rockfall in this area by shortening the rope length between them while they're on the cleaver and moving quickly through the area.

Above the Cleaver the route is excellent, all the bridges up high seem to be quite strong, but be sure to assess them yourself as the weather continues to warm. 

July 18

GPS Track of the DC on Google Earth

This is the most current GPS track up the Disappointment Cleaver. This track starts at camp Muir and ends at the crater rim. The distance one way is approx. 3 miles. The climbing  route does change throughout the season due to crevasse openings. 

July 15
The past weekend saw absolutely great conditions around the upper mountain, and the DC is in spectacular shape for mid- July. Over the past four days hundreds of people, including two eleven year olds, summited out of Camp Muir on a very direct and fast route.

Now on to the beta. The route out of Muir follows the standard traverse across the Cowlitz and up Cathedral Gap. Be aware that the snow and rock interface under Cathedral Gap is prone to rockfall, so we advise climbers to move somewhat fast through that area. Cathedral Gap is almost completely snow free so be careful of climbers below you and try to avoid kicking rocks onto their heads.

Above the Gap the route goes through Ingraham Flats, which has been a popular camp lately. On a side note thank you to all the climbers who stayed at the Flats last weekend and kept it very clean; your efforts do not go unnoticed by rangers or the other climbers who use the space after you! Above the Flats the route ascends a couple of hundred feet before starting a traverse onto the Cleaver. This traverse is now the crux of the route. This traverse goes below an icefall area that has been somewhat active recently. Climbers can minimize their exposure by moving fast and efficiently through this area until they are on the spine of the Cleaver. Once on the Cleaver it helps if teams would take in coils and shorten up their spacing as they climb up to the top of the Cleaver. This allows for much easier travel through rocky terrain and also lessens the waiting time for climbers trying to get onto the Cleaver and out of the icefall hazard. If you want more information about how to shorten your rope spacing ask a ranger at Muir.

Above the Cleaver the route takes a very direct line to the crater rim. There are a couple of crevasse crossings that will continue to change as the sun melts the bridges, but for now the route seems very solid. As it stands now the DC is about as direct and fast as it can be.

July 1

Several short but intense storms have impacted Mt. Rainier this week. Strong winds and cold temperatures have prevailed on the upper mountain during many of the days since June 24; however, in the last few days the cloud levels have lowered to below 10,000ft, and periods of clear skis, calmer winds, and warmer temperatures on the upper mountain have allowed many climbers to summit.

Spring-like conditions persist on the Disappointment Cleaver Route. Upon leaving Camp Muir climbers step into glaciated terrain. Some of the crevasses between Muir and Cathedral Gap have started to open up. Much of the snow has melted off the route up Cathedral Gap forcing climbers to ascend a mix of loose rocks and snow to reach the top of the Gap. Between Cathedral Gap and the Disappointment Cleaver the route skirts a few large crevasses above Ingraham Flats before traversing underneath a section of active ice fall and loose cliffs where rock fall is common. 
Traversing to the base of the Cleaver 7-1-12

Ingraham Flats and the Disappointment Cleaver 7-1-12

Looking towards the summit from the top of the Cleaver 7-1-12
Climbers and skiers above the Cleaver - 7-1-12
After this traverse climbers gain the ridgeline that is the Disappointment Cleaver. Currently the route up the Cleaver is 95% snow climbing with a few small patches of exposed rocks to cross. There are several hand lines placed on steep or exposed sections of the Cleaver. From the top of the Cleaver the route switchbacks to the summit. This section of the route is still fairly direct and steep since most of the crevasses above the Cleaver are still snow covered. Firm snow conditions still exist between the top of the Cleaver and the summit due to the colder temperatures that have persisted at the higher elevations.

June 24

Since Thursday 6/21/2012, the upper elevations of Mt. Rainier have received significant amounts of new snow at lowering snow levels. This new snow, which is upwards of 3 feet in places, in concert with strong winds has resulted in an increase in avalanche danger, especially on leeward slopes. While some windward aspects have been scoured down to a firm snow surface, lee aspects may have areas of very sensitive windslabs.

As of this report, surface conditions on the upper mountain resemble those found in late winter or early spring. Those traveling above the high camps should be prepared to make avalanche assessments for themselves.

Reports also indicate that fixed lines are no longer in place on the cleaver.

June 15

Here's a picture from today looking down onto the DC.  Wonderful conditions and great weather lined up for a stellar day on the mountain.  The route still follows the spine of the cleaver. Above it is almost a straight shot from the top of the cleaver to the crater rim. 

Be sure to communicate with other parties in bottle-neck areas, and try to climb early.  The ice fall above the route - right before gaining the cleaver - becomes much more active during the heat of the day.

June 13

Finally, after a few full days of glaring sunlight on last week's new snow, climbers are starting to venture back onto the upper mountain. There is still a smattering of wind pillows strewn about, but most of the snow above the cleaver has become firm and well consolidated, which made for easy cramponing this morning.

Fixed lines are still in place on the nose of the cleaver, and the recent snow fall has kept most of the rock on the route well-buried. From the top of the cleaver the route is still direct, and the crevasses can be managed fairly easily.

Overall the DC is in rockin' shape right now, and with the weather generally improving, it's shaping up to be a great climbing season. Come out and enjoy the DC while it's still covered in snow!

June 11
Recent Avalanche activity on the Emmons Glacier
A gorgeous morning got a large number of climbers onto the route this morning, unfortunately lingering avalanche concerns above 12,000' kept folks from going above the top of the Cleaver. Hopefully a few days of melt-freeze will reduce concerns through the rest of the week

The route is still in fantastic condition, with full snow coverage from Muir to the top of the Cleaver. The route from the Cleaver is still mostly straightforward and direct to the crater rim, and this new snow should help maintain the line for a while.

The guide services have placed fixed lines on the lower part of the clever to help climbers gain the ridge. Please remember these lines are there for assistance only and should not be used for full on ascending.

As always, feel free to stop by the ranger hut at Muir and talk to the rangers on duty for the latest conditions.

June 6

Climbers gave the DC a good go this morning but fresh snow, postholing, winds and avalanche concerns above 12,000' kept all but three climbers from reaching the summit. Conservative decision making has been the norm over the past few days and for good reason, but as conditions continue to change so will climbers decisions and risk assessments.

As far as the route condition right now things seem to be in really good shape. Climbers have been cruising to the Flats and gaining the DC and ascending the ridge crest to the top of the clever. From there the route takes a fairly direct line to the crater rim, and hopefully this new snow will help preserve the direct line for a while.

The guide services have placed fixed lines on the lower part of the clever to help climbers gain the ridge. Please remember these lines are there for assistance only and should not be used for full on ascending.

Stop by the ranger hut at Muir and talk to the rangers on duty for the latest condition reports and local knowledge.

June 5

The snow from the recent storms has begun to settle out, and today brought some very pleasant weather to the upper mountain. The refresh button has been pushed and the mountain is waiting for climbers and skiers to make their tracks.

Stay tuned for further updates and remember that ithis is the time of year when many of the forecasted storms happen mostly below 8,000'.

June 1

A couple of upper level troughs moved through late this week, creating a rain on snow event all the way up to the high camps.  Bad for skiing, good for post-holing.  New snow (reports of two foot drifts), poor visibility, and high winds have made for extra-challenging conditions.  The cleaver is still 100% snow covered. 

May 24 
The DC has not seen any traffic since the weekend.  Climbers were initially shut down by bad weather, now we are waiting for the snow stability to improve.  The recent storm deposited up to 75cm of new snow in isolated areas.  Generally the upper mountain has about 6 to 12 inches of new.  The stability has improved in the last two but days, but just wasn't quite good enough this morning.  

Don't cancel you're weekend plans yet though, you can't make this call from the couch. Come up, check conditions and make your decisions from here.

May 9

Climbers are generally staying on the Ingraham Direct at this time, although some climbers have been traversing to the top of the Clever from the ID and proceeding to the summit from there.

Here's a link to last year's posts.