The hike up to Squaw Lake was a typical hike through the forest. The grade was set for stock animals so it wasn’t steep at all, many switchbacks.
The walk from there over to Cathedral Rock was pleasant. Skirting around the SW shoulder was a bit sketchy in places. There were a few spots crossing gullies where there was loose scree and the path was as narrow as a boot width. Watch your step. Beyond that to the lake was fine.
On climb day, we proceeded up the Southeast ridge. Nice climbers path… When the ridge narrowed, there were a couple of spots where there were drops of hundreds of feet on either side. Handholds and footing was generally good.
At ~7000ft we jumped out on the snowfield with crampons and ice ax and traversed to the East and below the SE ridge. We then continued on and up to the “gap” at the base of the East Peak.
From there, traversing the first ~200ft of the South slope of the East Peak was ugly. Half way through it, I was telling myself, “F*&% this, I just don’t want to be here”. Turning around wasn't really an option. The slope was >45 degrees. The rock was down sloping and covered with fine crushed loose rock. Each step had to be perfect. The foot placement spots were ridiculously sketchy. The slope below got steeper and steeper and about 150 feet below - there were cliff bands… I truly believe that if one foot slipped, you’d careen down, picking up speed, tumbling, breaking shit, busting your head on rocks, and you'd die. You’d probably tumble like that 2000ft all the way down to Venus Lake. I will never go back there again unless it’s snow covered!
The summit experience was kind of ruined for me knowing that I had to re-cross that scree.
Obviously, I made it. My palms are sweaty just thinking about it.
There is an alternate route, but you’d have to pack a rope and harness. I would go around to the North of the East Peak, then across the glacier.
Funny, my experience on this mountain as far as crowds was completely opposite Redwic's; I saw no one past Squaw Lake that day and that made it a very nice secluded day.
Great route though if you don't want anything technical, although there still is exposure to the left of the ridge near the gendarmes; I thought i would fall down the "dirty gully" described on more than one occasion due to the slippery/dusty surface
Great weather, but it was blazen hot up there, perhaps it was the hottest day of the year. But going up was not too bad. It was a fun one.
Gimpilator, Bryan, and I attempted this peak at the end of September 2009. During that trip, I woke up sick and then we encountered a freak ice storm after some recent snow already packed on much of the route. Everyone turned around. This time, Gimpilator and I gave the peak a second attempt and were successful. The weather was great and the route conditions were perfect for the ascent/descent; snow-covered where we wanted and rocky where we wanted. We summited the West Summit, then the Middle Summit, and finally the East Summit. We were amazed how many people we met thought the East Summit was the true (highest) summit of Mount Daniel. The massive lake that formed from the melting of the Lynch Glacier north of the mountain is worth seeing! Great views from all of the summits, and this mountain is highly recommended. Mount Daniel brought my total number of Washington County Highpoints up to 33 (out of 39).