Trip Report    

Basic Glacier Climb - Glacier Peak/Disappointment Peak Cleaver

Two-day climb with a great team. Mix of weather conditions (whiteouts and bluebird skies) and great snow for kicking steps!

  • Road recommended for high clearance only
  • White Pass-Foam Pass had a mix of snow crossings and dry trail. Be cautious when crossing the snow, it's melting out quickly and lots of the slopes have creeks running underneath. IMG_6254.jpgSnow from Foam Pass up to Glacier Gap. You may need to use your GPS and maps to navigate as the valley is prone to whiteout conditions! IMG_6263.jpg Rockfall off Disappointment Peak lead us to move quickly climbers right on the ascent, skiers left on the descent to avoid potentially getting nailed by flying debris. Crevasses starting to open up on the route due to recent periods of hot weather.

Successful 2-day summit of Glacier Peak. Car camped night before @ North Fork Sauk TH. Headed out as a party of 6 on Friday am under cloud cover, and took a long time getting to camp as one of our party members had severe leg cramping intermittently climbing the switchbacks so we stopped many times to take long breaks and let him rest, rehydrate and take lots of electrolytes. Two snow fingers over rushing creeks on the way to White Pass to cross, these were much more treacherous to cross on the way back having melted out over 2 days.

Lunch @ White Pass, then a mix of snow crossings and dry trail from 5900'-Foam Pass. All snow from Foam Pass onwards, crampons weren't necessary in the afternoon, snow was good for kicking steps. Clouds rolled in right before arriving to Foam Pass and when we crossed over into the basin to do the traverse we were in a complete whiteout. We relied on maps and GPS to try and navigate to a tarn we had camped at 7 years prior but couldn't find it in the fog, so continued towards past White Chuck Glacier onto Glacier Gap, not being able to find any good water sources in the area. After ascending a steep snow then rock section towards the gap, we stopped and set up camp on a rock island by a stream around 7000'. We were above the clouds and had an amazing view of Glacier Peak and the surrounding mountaintops peeking through the fog.

The party member who experienced difficulty on the way up self-selected out of the climb so this was a great place for him to hang the next day to recover, with easily accessible water. Started the climb Saturday at 5:15a with a Ptarmigan screeching right outside our tent at 4am to wake us all up. No crampons needed, snow was perfect for kicking steps and stomping a boot path. Took 20 minutes for our party of 5 to get to Glacier Gap, saw only two tents and a bivy. Climbed on a mix of steep snow and rock to the col at the edge of the Suiattle Glacier then ran the ridge and roped up just before heading towards Disappointment Peak. Moved quickly through this area, saw and heard some rockfall on the way up. Cool Glacier had some major cracks opening up at and below the col but the rest of the glacier was pretty straightforward, with only a few crevasses that were easily avoidable. There were some depressions in the snow that we were cautious climbing over. Unroped at the pumice ridge at about 9750', then followed loose volcanic rock up to the snow gulley below the summit. Took ice axes and crampons, used both as snow was a mix of ice and slush. Hit the summit under bluebird skies with gorgeous views of the Cascades, Rainier and Baker, and even the Olympics on the horizon.

Signed the summit register for today's trip and retroactively for the climb 7 years ago where we summited in a whiteout on the 4th of July, 2014. Played around up there for an hour or so, then descended using axes and crampons again. Snow was too icy to properly plunge step in places so it was a game of one plunge, one ice step, back to the pumice ridge where we removed our crampons for the rest of the descent. On the Cool Glacier on the way back, we saw about a 2-3" crack that had opened up across the route since we had ascended, not sure if this was a snow separation event? To avoid rockfall from Disappointment Peak we headed skiers left to traverse lower below the peak, seeing a large rockfall event just as we were crossing the area. A few slips from some party members on the weird snow/ice, but everyone was able to arrest immediately and get up without help. Above the col towards Glacier Gap, we were able to easily plunge step down the steep snow towards high camp, where we saw many people setting up tents to climb on 4th of July (we picked a fabulous day to climb, we basically had the route to ourselves...only 10 others total that day!). Broke camp around 7am Sunday, headed out under clear skies and saw so many tents set up around 6500. Found the tarn we were looking for in the clear weather :). Many of the snow fingers were much more melted out than on the way in requiring us to find alternate routes to avoid collapsing snow bridges.  Overall a wonderful trip with a gracious, collaborative, and cooperative group (and 3 of 5 of us met our namesakes on the summit...small world!). Couldn't have asked for better teamwork and I wouldn't hesitate to climb with any of the participants again!