Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route

Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier Area, Washington

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Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route

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  • Pink mountain heather (Phyllodoce empetriformis).- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • Paradise Park.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • Skyline Trail, Paradise Park.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • A marmot perched above its den.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • The Tatoosh Range: Unicorn (7,709'), The Castle (6,640'), Pinnacle (6,562'), and Plumber (6,370') Peaks.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • Scarlet paintbrush (Castilleja miniata).- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • A marmot drinking morning dew from a lupine leaf.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • Skyline Trail, Paradise Park.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • The Skyline Trail with the Tatoosh Range in the background.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • Skyline Trail, Paradise Park.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • The Tatoosh Range with Goat Rocks and Mount Adams (12,281') on the horizon.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • The base of the Nisqually Glacier.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • Mount Rainier's Nisqually and Wilson Glaciers.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • Icefall on the Nisqually Glacier.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • View to the east from the Muir Snowfield.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • Mount Rainier's Nisqually and Wilson Glaciers.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • A basecamp option just to the west of Moon Rocks.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • Fast changing weather on Mount Rainier's summit.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • Mount Adams (12,281') behind Stevens, Tatoosh, Boundary, Unicorn and Foss Peaks.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • Mount Rainier (14,411') from the Muir Snowfield.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • Weather moving in on the Muir Snowfield.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • The hike to Camp Muir from the Muir Snowfield.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • Camp Muir.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • The Muir Shelter at Camp Muir.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • The Muir Snowfield with the Tatoosh Range in the clouds.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • Basecamp at Camp Muir.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • Sunrise from 14,000 feet.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • The last push up to the East Crater.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • Sunrise from a snowfield above the Dissapointment Cleaver.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • The rim of the East Crater.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • Sunrise from the crater.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • Ice formations in the crater.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • Steam on the west aspect of the crater's rim.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • Looking into the crater from Columbia Crest.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • Mount Adams (12,281') in the distance from Columbia Crest.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • Columbia Crest, the summit.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • View to the east from the summit.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • Mount Adams (12,281') from the summit.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • West rim of the crater.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • Little Tahoma Peak (11,138') from the snowfield above the Dissapointment Cleaver.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • Emmons Glacier.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • Little Tahoma Peak (11,138').- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • Ladder bridge above the Cleaver.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • Ingraham Glacier.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • Ingraham Glacier with Little Tahoma Peak (11,138') on the left.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • A small crevasse typical of the route.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • Ingraham Glacier.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • Ingraham Glacier crevasses and basecamp.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • Seracs (house size blocks of ice) on Ingraham Glacier.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • Camp Muir from Cathedral Gap.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • A field of lupine (Lupinus perennis) in Paradise Park.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • Lupine (Lupinus perennis).- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • Western anemone (Anemone occidentalis).- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • Nisqually and Wilson Glaciers.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
  • The Tattoosh Range with Mount Adams (12,281') on the horizon.- Mount Rainier: Disappointment Cleaver Route
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Vistas. Wildflowers. Wildlife. Obvious trail.
Cons: 
Crowds. Upredictable weather. Crevasses. Avalanche potential.
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Region:
Mount Rainier Area, WA
Congestion: 
High
Pets allowed: 
No
Recommended Equipment:
Ice axe / crampons, Ice axe / crampons, Harness / rope / anchors, Harness / rope / anchors, Harness / rope / anchors, Additional ice tools
Alpine climbing NCCS rating: 
Grade II
Net Elevation Gain: 
8,991.00 ft (2,740.46 m)
Parking Pass: 
National Park Pass
Preferable Season(s):
Summer
Total Distance: 
13.00 mi (20.92 km)
Trailhead Elevation: 
5,420.00 ft (1,652.02 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Contributor

Dominating the horizon as the highest peak in the Cascade Range at 14,411 feet, Mount Rainier offers alpine climbers a plethora of route options ranging from steep snow fields and crevasses to expansive walls of ice. The Disappointment Cleaver route is anything but disappointing. The explosion of subalpine wildflowers, breathtaking vistas of the neighboring Tatoosh Range, and intimate glacial crevasse experiences keeps the hearts of climbers pumping as they climb high into thin air. Don't be fooled by the easiest route on Rainier: the 9,000 foot overall elevation gain, rapidly changing weather, and potential for crevasse falls leaves this climb suited for the physically fit, experienced alpine climber.

In the early summer months climbers can expect the route to be snow-covered right out of the parking lot. By late summer the trail offers colorful meadows blanketed in pink mountain heather, lupine, western anemone, and scarlet paintbrush. The well-marked route leads climbers through Paradise Park and up the Muir Snowfield to Camp Muir, where most climbers establish their basecamps. For climbers trying to escape the crowds, consider a shorter day to camp at Moon Rocks or push beyond Camp Muir to Ingraham Flats, two great basecamp options.

Heading into crevasse country on Cowlitz Glacier just beyond Camp Muir, climbers begin the summit approach between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. roped up and ready for action. Following a scree scramble through Cathedral Gap, climbers return to crevasse hazards on Ingraham Glacier, where late season ladder bridges installed by the Rainier Mountain Guides provide for safe crossings of otherwise impassable crevasses. Reaching the Cleaver, ice and rockfall become a hazard as teams scramble up the ice covered boulder field above Emmons Glacier to the rim of the East Crater. An easy stroll above 14,000 feet brings climbers to the summit at Columbia Crest.

Travel Safe

As the most heavily glaciated peak in the contiguous United States, Mount Rainier attracts a large number of visitors each year. Please practice low-impact and leave-no-trace traveling to help preserve this paradise of a park for future generations. In addition to the inherent hazards of traveling on a glaciated alpine mountain, inexperienced climbers may pose the greatest threat. Please gain proper training, climb with experienced climbers, and use a guide service if you have any doubts regarding your skills and abilities. As always, be sure to liberally apply sunscreen when you travel into thin air, and watch for storms that roll in quickly on unsuspecting climbers.

Climbing Permits

A Mount Rainier National Park Climbing Permit is required and should be reserved and purchased well in advance of your trip. However, 30% of all campsite permits are kept aside for same-day purchase. They are sold on a first-come, first-served basis for last-minute planners. Permits can be purchased and picked up at the following ranger stations:

  • Longmire Wilderness Information Center
  • Paradise, Jackson Visitor Center
  • Ohanapecosh Visitor Center
  • White River Wilderness Center (White River Entrance)
  • Sunrise Visitor Center
  • Carbon River Ranger Station (Carbon River Entrance)

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Nearby Camping + Lodging

(20 within a 30 mile radius)

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(61 within a 30 mile radius)

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