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Trip Report    

Basic Glacier Climb - Glacier Peak/Disappointment Peak Cleaver

3-day climb of Glacier Peak & Disappointment Peak with the best climbing team and weather you could hope for! Day 1: TH to high camp (7,200'), Day 2: High camp to Summit to White Pass, Day 3: White pass to TH

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
    • Mostly snow free up to White Pass, except for a few short patches.
    • Solid boot pack on snow all the way from White Pass on.
      • Because the freezing level has been so high, we didn't need crampons at all getting up to camp.
      • We did pull out ice axes for the section of elevation loss and gain between the two ridges just before you descend into the low camp basin.
    • High camp (7,200') had several snow-free camp spots.
    • We roped up and put on crampons at the start of the climb from high camp thinking it would be more efficient. However, after a short section of hiking, we reached a long ridge trail on soft dirt and took off our crampons and took in more kiwi coils to hike up it and avoid dragging the rope in the dirt. We would have been more efficient hiking unroped & no crampons from camp to this point.

     early on approach to dirt ridge.jpg

    (See dirt ridge/trail climber's left in the distance that travels quite a ways up)

    • Once at the Suiattle Glacier, we put crampons back on & took out the kiwi coils.
    • There was a section with quite a bit of recent rock fall on the section of the Suiattle glacier until it meets up with the Cool glacier.

    suiattle rockfall.jpg

    • Right where the Cool glacier starts there was a small crevasse opening off to climber's right of the route that I'd imagine will open up further, later in the season.
    • We didn't notice this opening until we were descending, but there is another crevasse opening off to climber's left of the route about mid-way up the Cool glacier.
    • As we were walking up the Cool glacier, we saw some gnarly ski tracks leading down a steep couloir from the summit straight into a crevasse...pretty disconcerting.  
    • The only sketchy part of the climb was a snow bridge/bergschrund just before the final ridge climb up to the summit. Both mine and Tom's legs punched through the middle of the boot packed crossing. I imagine this section will get tricky as the season continues because it looks like it may stretch across most of the saddle/ridge between Glacier Peak & Disappointment peak.

    sketch snowbridge.jpg

    • Kept crampons on for dirt ridge hike up to final summit push.
    • Final section of climbing up to summit had an amazing boot pack.
    • We descended back to the ridge, and hiked the length of the ridge to tag Disappointment peak. 


    • From the section of ridge trail next to the snow bridge, it took us ~10 minutes to summit.
    • Rather than hike back down the ridge and cross the sketchy snow bridge, we descended the snow slope off of Disappointment peak that meets back up at the bottom of the Cool glacier/start of the Suiattle. 

    Descending disappointment.jpg

    • We took off crampons and unroped for the remainder of the hike through the Suiattle and back to high camp. The Suiattle was completely filled in and given the amount of rock fall and how hot it was, we felt it was safer not to be roped through that section.

Our climbing group was phenomenal! We had so much fun and the perfect weather window. Stunning views the entire climb and beautiful trail, wildflowers, and lots of marmot friends on the approach.

We all felt pretty strong & well-rested throughout the long weekend and I think it's because of the way we broke up the mileage. I thought I might regret the decision to move camp to White Pass on Day 2 and have to pack-up/set-up camp for a second time but it ended up being a great decision. The section of trail between White Pass to Low Camp to High Camp is beautiful but a bit of a slog (long traverse with gently rolling hills foreeeeevvveerr) and I think it would be somewhat demoralizing starting the summit day and/or starting the hike back to the cars with that. It felt real good to wake up on Summit day with only 3,300' gain left.

Day 1: N. Fork Sauk River Trailhead (2,000') to High Camp (7,200')

14.5 miles, 5,500' gain, 300' loss, 8 hours moving time

7:30 AM - depart TH

12:30 PM - lunch break at White Pass

5 PM - Reach High Camp

Some clouds rolling out as we hiked in, warm/humid hiking up, totally clear at camp with almost no winds. Plus we had a full moon and it was 4th of July! Just us, one solo dude, and a couple with a dog at high camp.

Day 2: High Camp (7,200') to Summit (10,500') to White Pass (6,000')

10.5 miles, 3,700' gain, 4,900' loss, 8 hours moving time

4:45 AM - depart camp (beautiful sunrise and full moon to start the day)

sunrise moon.jpg

9:30 AM - summit Glacier Peak

Enjoying summit.jpg

10:15 AM - depart summit


10:50 AM - start climb from ridge by the snow bridge up to Disappointment Peak

11:00 AM - summit Disappointment Peak (9,750')

Disappointment summit.jpg

11:15 AM - start descent from Disappointment Peak

1 PM - Back at camp to rest and pack up

Camp relax.jpg

3 PM - depart camp

5:45 PM - arrive White Pass

Could not have asked for better conditions. The snow was in surprisingly excellent condition for how warm out it was. No wind all day, completely clear out, best views ever. Saw TWO happy doggos summit. Solo dude and the couple at our camp started just before us and summited before us. Another couple and another solo dude summitted shortly after us. As we were preparing to leave the summit, a guy (Alex King) with trail runners, no traction, shorts and a t-shirt ran up and told us he just got the FKT for Glacier Peak (Summit time: 4:10:13//RT time: 6:52:41...WTF HOW?!). That was really cool to see!

Also, shout out to the awesome backpackers at White Pass who gave us some Pinot Gris and their camping spot on their way out! We all were pretty stoked to each get a couple oz. of wine on our final night.


Day 3: White Pass (6,000') to N. Fork Sauk River Trailhead (2,000')

10 miles, 3,900' loss, 3 hours 45 minutes moving time

6 AM - depart camp

8 AM - arrive Mackinaw Shelter for a short break

10 AM - back at cars

Easy hike out, and we were so grateful to wake up at White Pass! The stretch of trail between Mackinaw Shelter and the cars is a bit of a slog but we cruised through. Nobody camping at Mackinaw or Red Creek on the way out and we only passed two groups (2 climbers and 2 backpackers).