Whiteout and windy. Didnt go above Muir. Will be back.
Nobody had summitted in a week and noon had attempted DC in recent memory, perhaps not for the season, even. The ice was loosening up in the mid-morning warm-up. We rushed to get off the glacier.
Most interesting mountain I've ever climbed. Photo trip report:
Didn't you puke blood mitch. . . it was exceptionally hot when we climbed the summer of 2004. . . needed more water than usual.
This route is well wanded and there is a good path to follow. RMI does a great job at making easy for everyone. I'm sure that's why it so popular. Beware of all the objective hazards such as rockfall and weak snow bridges. Stick to RMI path and move fast and should be no problem. Technically easy. Basically just a snow walk, scree scramble on the cleaver. Nothing steep. Just beware all the hazards that are out there.
Best time to climb is May through June. It is nice to go up over the Ingraham glacier and return over the DC. Ingraham flats is a good area to stay over night. Solo climb.
I've summited via the DC 3 times, but my best performance on it was when we turned around at the top of the cleaver (12,500) in blowing wind and rapidly decreasing visibility.
It was a 4th of July climb about 1997 or 1998. I had my 2 daughters and a bunch from OSAT on the climb. We spent a night at Muir, and another at Ingraham Flats. Weather was a bit unsettled, with lenticular clouds now and then. The morning of our summit attempt I remember seeing the RMI light streams come around Cathedral Gap as we were getting on the lower part of the cleaver. We turned around without regrets at the top of the cleaver, and by the time we got back to Camp Muir and looked back, most of the mountain above 11,000 was in a cloud. But I found out RMI turned around at the base of the cleaver, and told my fellow climbers to remember this as the climb when they got 1000 feet higher than RMI.
Left camp Muir at 2am and topped DC to see the most beautiful sunrise. A snow bridge just above it had collapsed and we had to step over about 4 feet. We returned down the Emmonds and cut across the bottom of the cleaver. Absolute perfect weather no wind and a few wisps of clouds.
Only one white-out on the way to Muir and mild wind all day Sunday. We missed a giant avalanche on the Cowlitz Glacier by about a half hour. It looked like it came down from Cadaver Gap. One rock was the size of a house. Above Ingaham Flat, before dawn on summit day, it was like a four lane highway. So many RMI rope teams... Eleven of our party of thirteen summited.
Getting onto the DC was much more exposed and tenuous than I had expected - for me I'd say it was the highlight of the route.
We started out at 1am ahead of everyone else but were soon overtaken by guides as we made a wrong turn trying to get around the huge crevasse that had opened up at the bottom of the Cleaver. From there on we were jostling for position with them, arriving at the summit together at about 8am.
Aside from fighting with my two best friends all the way up, and getting caught in a bad storm under a lenticular cloud on the Muir snowfield, it was great. And I wouldn't have had it any other way.