Despite the ominous weather forecast over the past few days, climbing rangers managed to head out for a patrol on the Kautz Cleaver. An itinerary that allowed for easy escape from our high camp, as well as access to the upper mountain should the weather cooperate, played out well as we woke up to beautiful conditions above 8,500 feet.
We approached via the Comet Falls trail, passing the namesake falls in full force with complete snow coverage from that elevation upwards. While a longer approach than going from Paradise, it is more direct and involves no elevation loss. We gained Van Trump Park, and ascended through snowfields and rock ridges to the east edge of the Kautz Glacier, making camp at approximately 8,900'.
We awoke to blue skies, made an easy crossing of the lower Kautz glacier and ascended a moderate snow slope to gain the Kautz Cleaver at ~9,500'. From there we followed a series of 30-40 degree snow ramps with intermittent steeper bulges, eventually climbing through a through a rock band (one of a few options) around 13,900 to gain more mellow slopes to Point Success. Currently the route involves standard snow techniques, with an ice tool being a handy thing to have at times.
We opted to carry over, owing to the ease of descent down the DC as well as not wanting to have to relocate our camp in a fog. This route is a great option for folks looking for something a bit more sustained than the standard routes, with no crowds and great ambiance on a seldom visited portion of the mountain. Go get it before it all melts away!