The Gibralter Ledges was the first route to the summit. This route was climbed by Hazard Stevens and Philemon Beecher Van Trump in 1870. This route is now considered the "standard" winter route on the mountain. Due to loose rock, this route should only be attempted in cold conditions and always before the sun hits the south face of the mountain.
The approach is the standard route from Paradise to Camp Muir. Overnight at Camp Muir. Depart early for the safest climbing conditions.
From Camp Muir, the route ascends above the left side of the Cowlitz Glacier or the Cowlitz Cleaver past the "Beehive" at 10,800ft. The Cowlitz Cleaver is a ragged rockey ridge that divides the Cowlitz and Nisqually Glaciers. The route passes through Camp Misery (11,600ft) at the base of Gibralter Rock then traversing left across the narrow and somewhat exposed Gibralter Ledges to the upper Gibralter Chute.
The Gibralter Chute is a 40-50 degree snow slope that leads to the top of Gibralter Rock at 12,600 feet. This is sometimes refered to as Camp Comfort. From Camp Comfort, ascend the upper Ingraham and Nisqually Glaciers to the crater rim at 14,150ft. Note that this section of the climb is sometimes filled with crevasses and very unstable snow bridges.
While it is possible to decend this route, depending on the time of the year, you will probably want to descend the Ingraham Direct or Dissapointment Cleaver Routes.
Essential gear would include standard glacier gear. Ropes, ice axes and crampons are mandatory. A helmet is highly recommended. Be prepared for changes in the weather, and carry a map.
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