Gibraltar Ledges and Chute 2015

August 30, 2015

It's getting to be that time of year where the non standard routes (routes other than the highly traveled DC and Emmons) are seeing substantially less climbing traffic.  Upper mountain terrain is becoming very featured and broken which results in substantially difficult terrain navigation and route finding.  As we move into the fall months, these routes are becoming much more dangerous from objective hazard such as rock fall, ice fall, unstable snow bridges, decompensating plugs, and long deep crevasses that are difficult to navigate around.  It is highly recommended to wait until next climbing season to attempt these routes and allow the winter months to heal the current upper mountain conditions.

There has been no traffic on the Gibralter Ledges since very early in the climbing season due to an abundant amount of rock and ice fall and substantial difficulty exiting from the ledges due to melt.

May 27, 2015

What's left of the snow on the ledges.
The ledges are still passable without too much loose scree traversing, but they will not be "in" for much longer.  The crux is finding secure footing on "loose rock filled bullet proof water ice."  There's water that drips down Gibraltar Rock and forms large dangerous icicles.  The dripping water also hits the rocks on the ledges, making for a thin sheen of ice that doesn't accept ice screws and is fairly hard to trust with crampons.  Connecting snowy patches seemed to be the best strategy and made for faster movement.

The Cowlitz Glacier has been holding together nicely.  The upper mountain above the ledges has become a bit more circuitous than it was earlier this season.  The chute after the ledges is still all snow without any skeletal glacial ice poking through.  A major crevasse bridge fell apart which was the last option for a direct route from the top of Gibraltar Rock to the Summit Crater.  Now climbers are having to traverse out toward the Wapowety Cleaver near the top of the Kautz Glacier route to access the crater.

Climbers on the Disappointment Cleaver route have started traversing back to the top of Gibraltar Rock, thus making the two routes merge at Camp Comfort.

May 18, 2015

Rangers were able to make a patrol up the Gib Ledges route on 5/18. Unfortunately, technology failed us and we were unable to take any photographs. The route is in, but just barely. Getting to the ledges requires a few crevasse crossings on the upper Cowlitz. The ledges themselves hold a mixture of firm snow, breakable crust with knee deep sugar below, and frozen rocks. Travel is mostly on the variable snow, with a few rock steps. Upper Gib Chute is firm and in excellent climbing condition. From Camp Comfort to the summit, the route requires crossing a few bridges, with one large crossing near 13,000. Snow conditions at the time from Camp Comfort to the DC track were punchy and shin deep, making for slower than average travel. This route may not last much longer, so enjoy it while you can!