Dartmouth Hiker wrote:It looks like a friend and I may be making an attempt on Mt. Cleveland next summer, probably in mid-July.
First of all, what are our chances of a relatively snow-free ascent? I get the impression that snowpack can vary widely year to year, and unfortunately I'm probably limited to about July 13 as a late estimate of when I'd be up there. While I can handle a bit of snow (I've done Gannett and a handful of winter 14ers), the thought of doing that mile-long traverse along the Stoney Indian Peaks with significant snow on the route makes me blanch. I'll be keeping an eye on snow depth levels as the time gets closer, and comparing with past years...
Secondly, regarding the standard route, I was wondering if anyone has also climbed either of the Maroon Bells and could compare. Depending who you ask, it seems like the standard route on Cleveland is anywhere from mostly class 2 to class 4, and it sounds like the tougher climbing is mostly going from Stoney Indian Pass to the crossover point on the ridge. Is the goat path relatively safely navigable throughout? Does the route after the pass compare with N Maroon? I was a bit on edge for that climb, but by and large had an absolute blast. S Maroon didn't freak me out at all, aside from weather concerns.
Lastly, does anyone have information on the West Ridge route? I'm looking at this as a possible alternative way to the summit if snow levels are too high on the standard route. By the easiest route, how difficult/exposed/steep is the route, both on rock and snow? I may end up buying the guidebook describing the route, but would really love to hear any firsthand experience as well.
I appreciate any help or advice anyone can offer, especially given the relative scarcity of good information on Cleveland...for such a spectacular peak, it seems to be pretty rarely climbed.
Hey Dartmouth, It's been about 15 years since I climbed Cleveland, but here goes. We took the boat across Waterton, and stayed at the Goat haunt shelters. Got an alpine start, hiked a few miles south, and bushwacked east up to the north/west ridge to about 7200 feet.(I think tree line). From there we traversed across to the west bowl, and went up the bowl to the top. There are a few class 4/5 moves,on ok rock, but not many. from the top we retraced our steps, and made it back to catch the last boat back to the hotel. It is critical to retrace exactly the way you went up, because it is easy to end up cliffed out in the west bowl.( we used orange marker tape along the way) That link, that Peakhugger sent you, with the pic of the west ridge, and bowl, also shows the North/West ridge as well.(left) I have not climbed the Bells yet, but have heard some horror stories, and would guess Cleveland is not as loose.