This climb, like most others on the Sawtooth Ridge, starts from the Twin Lakes trailhead. The approach is identical to the route to the Cleaver Notch
, and it is strongly recommended that the excellent Matterhorn Peak
, Blacksmith Peak
, and Doodad
pages be consulted to gain familiarity with the region & trailhead.
Take the Horse Creek Canyon trail in for about an hour's worth of steady hiking to the end of the large, forested meadow area. If you've reached the wilderness sign, you've gone too far. Cross the creek and head SW up a talus slope along the south side of the spectacular Cleaver ridge. Aim for the large glacially-polished slabs and benches (sprinkled with trees and other vegetation) that continue up to the Sawtooth Ridge, staying a couple-hundred yards to the south of the base of the Cleaver.
This route accesses the ledge systems in the center of the E face, and progresses up them to a headwall-area just below the summit. A right turn to the crest of the Cleaver is taken, after which the summit block is easily climbed on two sides.
After passing the magnificent Cleaver Notch, look for easy, low-angle slabs and blocks that will allow you to gain the side of the Cleaver between the Notch and Cleaver Peak. Contour along the side of the Cleaver to reach the imposing E face of the peak, and look for a series of narrow ledge systems that will allow you to 3rd-class your way to just below the summit. About 50 feet below the summit, look for a class 4-ish move up a miniature chimney followed by an easy (but exposed) move laterally to the right across a pointed block to the crest of the Cleaver. After rounding the corner, scramble up the few remaining steps to the summit block, which may be climbed (airy class 3) on the S or NW sides. There is only enough room on the summit for 2-3 people, and as of Oct. 2003 the summit register was unusable (needs a new container, paper, and writing implements).
For those with rock climbing experience, no gear is really necessary. Inexperienced folks may want a rappel when downclimbing in 2 or 3 spots.
For winter ascents, bring appropriate gear for steep backcountry climbing.