Trip Report    

Glacier Peak/Disappointment Peak Cleaver

Long hike through the PCT brings you to an other-worldly martian wasteland on your approach to Washington's most remote peak. Difficult hike in, dangerous crevasse conditions, beautiful mountain.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Route conditions were good; trail is well marked until you get past the Foam Creek Trail on your way to the White Chuck Glacier. Unless you know where you're going, route finding will be difficult there in the dark.

2 friends and I got to the trailhead at around 7pm Friday night to hike in to the Mackinaw Shelter and sleep there for the night. We got a good start at sunrise, and started a long, strenuous day with heavy packs. 

Getting past the switchbacks and up onto White Pass was nice;  we met a lot of cool people on the PCT who were coming all the way from Mexico. After a little lunch break we pushed onward up the Foam Creek trail, spotting tons of Marmots frolicking in the high meadows.

We left the trail a little early (thinking it was completely unmarked) and turned hard left to head up to the eastern most col - turns out we took a very difficult route through steep, loose rock. Nonetheless, we eventually made it up to the col to find a fairly strong white out.

Given the conditions, we decided to set up our basecamp right in front of the White Chuck Glacier. We arrived there around 3pm, so we spent most of the day relaxing, reading, and enjoying the mountains. 

Woke up at 4am, walking by 5:30am was great timing for our summit push. We reached the crampon point at about 8am, and ran into a couple climbers gearing up. 

We were prepared with crampons, helmets, and ice axes, but did not bring rope (as one of those in my party said she had a friend who mentioned the conditions were fine without). Looking at the route from the bottom of the cleaver made me stop and consider: the traverse through the crevasses was pretty unforgiving. Any slip and you're not stopping for a long, long time, or you're headed straight into one of many open crevasses. Additionally, the existing snow bridge did not look very strong. At 8am, the ice was hard packed and had very little give. Without harnesses and rope, I made the difficult decision to turn us around.

Left crampon point at 8:30am and got back to car at 5pm. 

Even without a summit, it was a great trip! Beautiful mountain that I hope to come back and tag the top of sooner than later.