Cleaver Notch

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 38.09840°N / 119.389°W
Additional Information Route Type: Scramble
Additional Information Time Required: A long day
Additional Information Difficulty: Class 4-5
Sign the Climber's Log


This route is possibly one of the fastest and least technical ways to get to the Doodad in a low-snow season. The trailhead is the Horse Creek Canyon trailhead, and related information may be found on the main Doodad page, the Blacksmith Peak page, and the Matterhorn Peak page.

This route only involves a couple of miles on trail, so be prepared for all the opportunities that cross-country travel has to offer! Route-finding, regional navigation, and water planning are all part of the fun!

Route Description

Proceed up the Horse Creek Trail for about 2.3 miles. After passing through the long level forested-meadow portion of the trail, look for a narrow spot in the canyon where the western talus slopes are quite close to the trail & creek. Cross the creek and head up the fairly solid talus to a small saddle separating a large point of rock from the ridge on the west (refer to this map for route location).

From the saddle continue contouring up across a section of large solid talus followed by a section of small, steeper, loose talus all the while aiming for the tree-covered slope just below the cliffs on the right (NW). Continue up through these trees, over some fun slabs, and up through some short sections of easy manzanita. Avoid straying more than a couple hundred yards from the cliffs on the right (north). The cliffs, it turns out, make up the lower section of the Cleaver itself.

Once past the manzanita, you should be on some nice open slabs and talus with the HUGE notch in the Cleaver in sight. Tank up with water here, or else wait for the glacier on the other side of the Cleaver. Proceed over the 3rd class notch and down to the glacier below Blacksmith Peak. Make your way to the NW side of the glacier and follow the path of least resistance (3rd-4th class & watch the steep ice) to the top of the couloir between Cleaver Peak and Blacksmith Peak.

Congratulations! You made it to the Sawtooth Crest! From here, drop down and to the right a couple hundred feet until past the cliffs of the Sawtooth Ridge. Feel free to climb any of the prominent features you want (if time allows), or just proceed along the easy small talus/slabs to the south along the backside of the ridge until you are directly below the Doodad.

Bypass the chute on the NW side of the Doodad and climb directly up the lower-angle slab face. Circuitous route-finding can keep the difficulty to 4th or low 5th here. Aim for the SW corner of the Doodad and follow the easiest lines. Once at the base of the block, look for the cracks in the SW corner.

It is highly recommended that this climb be combined with an ascent of nearby Matterhorn Peak and descent of the East Couloir back to Horse Creek.

Essential Gear

For early season climbs, an ice axe & crampons may be mandatory.

Pro consists of typical backcountry requirements --- bring a variety and plenty of slings.



Parents refers to a larger category under which an object falls. For example, theAconcagua mountain page has the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits' asparents and is a parent itself to many routes, photos, and Trip Reports.