Trip Report    

Basic Alpine Climb - Glacier Peak/Disappointment Peak Cleaver

Great later season climb of Glacier Peak.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • The trail is in great shape up to the pass into white Chuck basin - so about 12 miles of easy trail. Easy meaning it's a trail, not that it isn't steep in places.

    Once you get into the White Chuck Basin there is some route finding and Boulder hopping, and once you get past the reflection lake at 6400 feet there is a lot of Route finding on the dying White Chuck glacier. It is mostly bedrock with a highly receded glacier and a a lot of outflow from its melt.

    My best advice here is to stay to climber's right when possible and hug the remains of the glacier. If you do that, you can see a faint trail. You will also be dealing with getting around Lakes and across streams, but if you get too far left there will be one fast moving stream through a deep cataract with 30 ft drops that's pretty dangerous and another stream that feels like quicksand (Serious boot sucking glacier silt).

    After that you start going up again on a faint trail to the right, which flattens out at another Lake and then you can see the trail the last 200 feet to Glacier Gap.

    Above Glacier Gap the trail is fairly self-explanatory - down a snowy slope and up again on a ridge line with a trail. The question becomes when to go down onto the snow to catch the Gerdine glacier. The best place is right before the gendarmes. The boot path was obvious, we just needed to move quickly through the rock fall below disappointment Peak on the Gerdine glacier.

    The other big hazard right now is the transition from the Gerdine to the Cool glacier. By Labor day it's going to be pretty nasty, if it is even viable. There was a two foot crevasse crossing and a quickly melting out snow bridge over a jumble of crevasses. There were a few other step over crevasses that will probably open up by then. If you can make it through, the transition is one of the most beautiful glaciers I've been on. Undulating blue ice with black streaks, and crevasses all around. As a team of 5, we roped up on one 30m rope above the rock fall and stayed roped til the snow-free summit ridge. We did some quasi-belaying over the crevasse and snow bridge on the way down. Did not set pro, but smaller teams may want to.

    Once you get to the ridge line above the Cool glacier you're in the home stretch. It's a scree hike and non-technical scramble from here. Looks more daunting than it is. Climb tight to each other and watch for dislodging rocks onto companions below.

    I am not sure that you can get above the Gerdine glacier to the Cool in a week from now, but it might be worth a try. Incredibly beautiful unique and diverse landscape.

Camped White Pass Night 1, Glacier Gap Night 2, Reflecting lake (6400ft in the White Chuck Basin) Night 3. Great campsites. Toilets at Mackinaw Shelter and White Pass.  Wildflowers galore - old man's beard, green/white/purple paintbrush, etc... Lots of marmots. Didn't need bear cans, but those of us who had odor-free bags and hung them in stuff sacks inside our tents didn't get raided. One of our team had his garbage strewn about by a particular marmot at Glacier Gap.