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.
July 2, 2015
Currently, Success Cleaver has very little snow on both the lower and upper slopes of the route, but surprisingly still has relatively good climbing conditions. The rock quality on this route is largely variable and ranges between high quality stable rock steps to largely unstable and slightly scary volcanic and glacial affected choss. We encountered spotty snow patches on the lower Success Cleaver, between 7400’ and the exit col on the Kautz Cleaver.
It is worth noting that there is substantial rock fall along this entire route, and there are areas that require navigation through small sections of 5th class terrain with unstable rock quality. As with the recent elevated freezing levels (15k-16.5k) there is a substantial amount of natural releases, so keep your head on a swivel and avoid debris gullies and travel one at a time in hazardous zones.
There are bivy platforms located along the ridge up until about 10,600’ with the occasional snow patch and run-off for water.
The snow on the upper portion of the route is largely sun affected and has transformed into fairly large penitents past the exit col on the Kautz Cleaver which provide surprisingly easy travel. There are a few rock steps past this point that were verglassed, but still easily navigable with a single ice axe.
This is a very long but fulfilling route that leads you through multiple zones if starting from Longmire. Be aware that the bugs are out in Indian Henry’s, but then again, so are the wild flowers.