Mount Rainier/Disappointment Cleaver

Called the "DC Route," this is the most popular route to the summit of Washington state's highest mountain. Climb 9,000 feet on snowfields and glaciers. Travel a short distance on rock on the cleaver and possibly cross ladders. Enjoy a "top of the world" view from the summit. Many climbers on summer weekends often cause bottlenecks, and the altitude is an issue for many climbers. Times: 6-8 hr trailhead to camp, 5-8 hr camp to summit.

getting there

From SR 7 in Elbe, turn east onto SR 706, both known as the National Park Highway. Continue through the Nisqually Entrance of Mount Rainier National Park. Be prepared to pay the fee just after entering the park. Drive 19 miles to Paradise. Park in the overnight parking area.


Hike from Paradise (5,420 ft), take Skyline Trail and follow obvious tread past Panorama Point (6,800 ft) at 2.5 mi Route continues over Pebble Creek (7,200 ft) and up to Muir Snowfield to Camp Muir (10,080 ft), 2.7 mi from Panorama Point.

The compass bearing from Pebble Creek to Moon Rock is 350° true north, and 344° from Moon Rocks to Camp Muir. The reverse compass bearings are 170° and 164°, respectively.


From Camp Muir follow obvious traverse of the upper Cowlitz and scramble the Cathedral Rocks Ridge to gain access to the Ingraham Glacier (10,500 ft). Traverse the glacier (Ingraham Flats) to the lower southern base of Disappointment Cleaver. This traverse should be done as quickly as possible due to overhanging seracs. The route onto the Cleaver is approximately 300 ft above the Cleaver's nose.

Continue to the top of the Cleaver (12,300 ft), and climb as directly to the east crater rim as crevasses will allow. To gain the true summit, scramble down into the crater and cross directly to the west crater rim. The summit register is just below and northeast of the true summit (14,411 ft) by a large boulder.


Descend the climbing route.


Seattle to Trailhead 2.5
Trailhead to Camp 6-8 4,460
Camp to Summit 5-8 4,330
Summit to Camp 2-3
Camp to Trailhead 2-3


Standard glacier equipment and helmet.


  • No camping is allowed in parking area; the nearest car camping available at Cougar Rock Campground.
  • The public shelter at Camp Muir is usually packed. Plan on camping in tents.
  • Be aware of rockfall danger on the Cleaver after June.
  • Alternate base camp sites are located on the Muir Snowfield (just below Camp Muir) and on the Ingraham Flats (just above Cathedral Rocks Ridge).
  • Treat or boil water at all camps.
  • Be prepared to pack out all solid human waste.
  • Excellent physical conditioning is mandatory.
  • A smaller party size is recommended to minimize impact.

Information for LEADERS


Climbing and backcountry permits are required. Fees apply.

Priority Climbs List

This is a very popular climbing route. Please check the PRIORITY CLIMBS LIST before listing trip to be sure your branch has priority for this route for the dates you plan to schedule it.

  • Suitable Activities: Climbing
  • Climbing Category: Basic Alpine
  • Seasons: June, July, August
  • Weather: View weather forecast
  • Difficulty: Basic Glacier Climb, Strenuous 5, Technical 5
  • Length: 15.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 8,790 ft
  • 14,411 ft
  • Land Manager: Mount Rainier National Park
    Mount Rainier Wilderness
  • Parking Permit Required: National Park Entrance Fee
  • Recommended Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Route/Place Capacity: 12
  • USGS Mt Rainier East
  • USGS Mt Rainier West
  • Green Trails Mt Rainier West No. 269
  • Green Trails Mt Rainier East No. 270
  • Green Trails Mount Rainier Wonderland No. 269SX

Upcoming Activities

Basic Glacier Climb - Mount Rainier/Disappointment Cleaver

Climbing Trip
SIG Priority Climb - Vineeth & Manisha
Difficulty: Basic Glacier Climb, Strenuous 5, Technical 5
Fri, Jul 3, 2020 - Mon, Jul 6, 2020
Prerequisites, Leader's Permission Required
4 participants 0 leaders
Registration opens Jun 15
Seattle Branch
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