AI1-2 Mod. Snow
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A good winter or spring outing when conditions are right. This route is a nice change from the glacier climbs typically leading out from Camp Muir. There is significant rockfall hazard while climbing the ledges along Gibralter Rock and in Gib Chute. The ledges not only pose rockfall hazard but are exposed in some sections, ideally they are covered in firm snow and/or solid ice but depending on conditions some short sections of loose 4th class rock may be encountered. Best to move quickly along the route before sun exposure increases the rockfall hazard.
Approach from Paradise via Skyline trail to Pebble Creek at 7,200ft and hike up the expansive Muir Snowfield. The Muir snowfield is often wanded and a large boot path can be followed but this is not always the case. The snowfield can be difficult to navigate in whiteout conditions and a map & compass with bearings to/from Muir is recommended. Once at Camp Muir there are solar toilets and a deposit can for blue bags.
Find a tent site among the masses or continue another 800ft higher along the Cowlitz Cleaver to a very nice camp site at 10,800ft (the Beehive)This is a great spot and it allows for a higher start on the route and avoids the typically crowded camp Muir area. Another option is the public shelter at Muir. I have never been in this shelter but reportedly it can hold about 25-30 climbers and I believe it is a first come first serve basis. This should be confirmed when reserving your climbing permit.
THE ROUTE: From Muir or the higher camp at 10,800ft ascend the Cowlitz Cleaver along the west edge of the glacier to the base of Gibraltar Rock and locate the obvious ledge system. Follow the ledge to a section that has broken away and make a short very exposed down climb onto a steep snow slope, cross this to a steep gulley leading up to rejoin the ledges and continue along(many exposed sections here) until you intersect the upper slopes of Gib Chute.
Climb the Gib Chute to a saddle (known as "Camp Comfort"). We roped up at this point for glacier travel on the upper mountain. Conditions and crevace patterns will dictate the exact line of ascent from here but we intersected the wanded boot path of the upper DC route at about 13,500ft and followed this to the summit rim
Descent is made via Ingraham direct or DC although it is not uncommon to descend the climbing route when condions allow and daytime temps are cold enough to hold rock and ice in place. We used the ID descent for our climb in early June.
Standard crevace rescue gear, picket each, helmets. I have heard of climbers carrying a small amount of rock gear but we did not bring any nor did we feel like we needed any.