Trip Report    

Basic Glacier Climb - Glacier Peak/Disappointment Peak Cleaver

Spectacular, easy-going 4-day Glacier Peak climb in late July (but felt more like late August).

  • Road recommended for high clearance only
  • Water everywhere, including White Pass and Glacier Gap.

    Dropped onto snow at 8500ft, contoured close to the ridge until about 8800 before traversing to climbers' right through the rock fall zone and up to the transition.

    Rock fall significant on route below Disappointment peak after 10am, but generally not reaching the boot path.

    Transition from Gerdine to Cool glacier is a jumble of ice with a couple solid snow bridges: hard to climb in the morning, easy to descend by 9:30.

    Four crevasses on Cool glacier. Still jumpable but maybe not for long.

    Lots of people up there, including several guided groups of 12. Made the rock fall area below the summit a bit nerve wracking, but worked out fine.

    Lots of places to camp in the boulder fields and near tarns on the dead White Chuck Glacier. White Pass is crowded. People arriving after 3pm had a hard time finding spots, and some ended up camping in meadows and on grass.

    Lots of marmots on the PCT and Foam Creek trail. They are not shy. Lots of mice at Glacier Gap and the alpine tarns. Ursack or other rodent bag recommended. Saw one bear far off, eating the early-season berries (salmon, thimble, blue, huckle...)

First off, we had a wonderful group. For us, it was the season closer, and it was such a pleasure to have everyone dialed in, from leaving on time to keeping a steady (moderate) pace, to knowing their way around a rope and glacier gear. Everyone was friendly and got along. We shared food, stories, philosophies, etc... and even though there was a lot of diversity of thought, everyone was very respectful.

We left the TH at 8am Thursday and reached White Pass at around 2:30pm. The slog up from Mackinaw to WP was hot, and the 35-50lb packs made it even more brutal. We found great camp spots, did our water chores, napped, had dinner, took an evening walk among the wildflowers, etc... We met a marmot that blocked the trail for several minutes.

8am start Friday up Foam Creek trail. One more assertive marmot. The trek down and up the pass below Marmot Knob to the White Chuck was uneventful. There are a few slippery spots, but all in all, it felt shorter and easier than it did in 2018 (the last time we were here). Snow free on the boulder fields, except for 2 patches. We reached the last alpine tarn around 11, had lunch, a soak and a long break, then continued to Glacier Gap. There is definitely some scrambly scree, and it's not flat, but we got over the glacial river (a few wet feet) up to a lake that was more like a bathtub, for another soak, and reached Glacier Gap around 2pm. We organized our gear, had an early dinner, took a couple walks, including to the top of Glacier Gap to look at the route, and then early to bed.

2am wake-up on Saturday, 3am start. There was one patch of snow below Glacier Gap on the mountain side, and then a dirt trail til we dropped down. The snow had a well-defined bootpack, but we roped up because it was firm and the drop-offs were steep, with yawning crevasses below. The snow hadn't frozen, but it was cold enough not to worry about rock fall below Disappointment Peak. The ice fall jumble was more exposed, crevassed and difficult than it had been in mid-August of 2018. We took our time through here. It is blue and beautiful, but there wasn't much time to looky-loo; we had to pay attention. On the Cool Glacier there were a few crevasses, 2 of which were a little sketchy. Not sure if they will be jumpable in a week from now. Two had a step down below the lip that had become less viable even from when we ascended to when we descended. We mostly stayed left until the saddle. The ridge walk up to the summit was snow free and pretty self explanatory. A couple of us felt a little bit nauseous from the altitude. We all made the summit by 8:15 and hung around for 30min or so. We were back in camp before noon, napped, broke camp and trudged down the alpine tarn for more soaking and an early night's sleep.

Sunday we woke up at 5am, hiked out under clouds and fog at 6:30, which made for a nice walk (not too hot). The clouds burned off around WP, and the slog down and out were hot. We dumped the contents of our blue bags in the pit toilets at WP (not the bags themselves, but good to offload 3lb of rehydrated, digested food waste inside - also, if you have the little desicator pouches from your food bags, it can help to throw the contents into your blue bag to dry things out), had a nice break at Mackinaw and reached the TH at 1pm. We met a 20yr old thru-hiker at the TH coming off the PCT and gave him a ride to Lake Stevens, had dinner at Qdoba, caught the ferry to Bainbridge and were home before 7pm.