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Trip Report    

Glacier Peak/Disappointment Peak Cleaver

Arrived at the trailhead Friday morning (6/26), 8:30 for a 3-day trip. This was a weekend of record-breaking high temperatures. At Mackinaw Shelter, we got more water (with one filter and two steripens for 8 people). We got 2L, expecting to find more up the steep slope and we did find some. One person got water at 4300' and the rest of us got some at 5500' near the junction with the PCT. There was also a couple streams off the side of White Mountain on the PCT. They may run with water for a while yet. The hike from 3,000' to 6,000' is partly in trees and partly in the open. Temperatures hit 95 degrees in the open sections. Near White Pass, we followed the Foam Creek trail all the way to its end at about 1.25 miles. Then it crosses a small couloir, drops down to the head of Foam Creek, and climbs back up to another couloir where we could see Glacier Meadows below us. We dropped into Glacier Meadows and camped on a heather-covered knoll. We did not camp in the White Chuck Glacier Basin, which was just over the moraine from our camp. We only crossed small sections of snow on our way to Foam Creek, and crossed a larger field in our drop to Glacier Meadows. There was some snow around camp, between islands of rock or heather. We reached camp at 6:30. Mileage, about 13.5 miles. Very hard day.

We started climbing at 4:18 and summited a little after 11 am. That was long. I expected to reach the summit between 9-10 a.m., but a couple climbers were troubled by blisters, heat, and elevation. It wasn't a showstopper, just slower than expected. We stood on the summit in t-shirts at 67 degrees and a warm breeze. Skies were very clear to the north and slightly hazy to the south, but wide open and beautiful all around.

On the route, we went up to the moraine above Glacier Meadows and traversed the White Chuck without dropping much elevation. We took a "race-track" looking ramp on the other side of the White Chuck, which took us up and around some rock to another snow field that we traversed over to the Glacier Gap. That kept us high, while we saw other climbers dropping way down to circle around.

Glacier Gap was free of snow, but had water coming down each side, so I noted that for later. Our main objective hazard for this climb was the heat and hydration.

From Glacier Gap, we went up over the 7500' ridge, dropped down and caught the cleaver itself, climbing the cleaver on dirt and talus to about 8,000'. Then we continued up the snow to the right of the cleaver to a gentle spot around 8300' and roped up there. We stayed low on the Gerdine Glacier, well below the rocks of Disappointment peak, and passed through the gap to the Cool Glacier. That gap is getting more and more narrow, but I can't say when it may be impassable. It was still pretty good. To the right are exposed icy chunks. We passed them to the left and began finding crevasses on the Cool Glacier right away. We turned left to climb the left side of the Cool Glacier. One person in our party post-holed a leg down into one crevasse. She pulled it out easily and we continued upward on good snow with the crevasse openings being farther and farther away. The ridge between Disappointment Peak and Glacier Peak is easy to get onto, and it's all dirt and scree. We left one rope on this ridge and took the other with us. About 500' below the summit, we moved left from the dirt onto a decent snow gully that took us directly up to a col between two high points. The rocks on the left contains the summit benchmark. We stayed on top until 12:30 pm and headed down. We roped back up when we reached the Cool Glacier, and stayed roped onto the Gerdine and back to the cleaver, where we unroped. The snow was perfect for plunge stepping all the way there. We saw rockfall on the steep sides of Glacier Peak, across the Cool Glacier, but not on Disappointment Peak. At the bottom of the cleaver ridge, I almost forgot that we had to then climb back up to the 7500' col. I almost wend rightward into the unknown. By this point, everyone was running out of water, so it was good to know that Glacier Gap had water. We had tablets and a steripen and ensured everyone had 2L because it was hot, in the 70's. We followed the same traverse of the White Chuck Glacier to reach camp about 4 pm. Climbing Mileage, about 10 miles round trip. Very tired.

We hiked out the third day, the same way we hiked in. But we started early, 5 am. It was going to be another hot day and we wanted to get into the valley early. We reached the cars by 1 pm. We stopped at Bradley's Diner in Darrington for some lunch. Bradley's burgers were very good, but they don't have their beer license yet :-(. Mileage, about 13.5 miles.

Key points: Mosquitoes in the valley. Overnight and during the climb, we buried our food in the snow where nothing bothered it. There were marmots wandering around Glacier Meadows, and one chewed through a steel mesh food sack that was left out. They did not eat our extra socks, poles or other items, but a bear canister might be good to store food. This was a great group, and we had a lot of fun despite the length and achy feet.