Disappointment Cleaver
Distance up

7.5 mi / 12.1 km

Elevation start

5,383 ft / 1,641 m

Elevation gain

8,967 ft / 2,733 m

Time up

21 hr 14 min

Start location

Paradise, Mount Rainier National Park


Class 3


122 summits

#1 most climbed route

Last summit

Sep 10, 2018

by rebecca1

Feet | Meters
Natural Atlas (US)
Route type

trail • mountaineering • snow climb • glacier climb


summit views • views en route • alpine vegetation • wildflowers • snowfield • glacier • hut/lodge


seasonal snow • avalanche danger • crevasse danger • ice fall

Key gear

ice axe • crampons • helmet • rope/harness • mountaineering boots

Route step-by-step
Start at Paradise on the south slopes of Rainier (5,420 ft). You’ll likely see hordes of people here.
Hike from Paradise on the Skyline Trail and follow obvious tread past Panorama Point (6,800 ft) at 2.5 mi. Route continues over Pebble Creek (7,200 ft) and up to Muir snowfield to Camp Muir (10,080 ft), 2.7 mi from Panorama Point. Most people camp overnight here. Stone hut is first-come-first serve and is usually packed, so expect to tent on snow.
From Camp Muir follow obvious traverse of the upper Cowlitz Glacier to Cathedral Rocks Ridge.
Scramble the Cathedral Rocks Ridge to gain access to the Ingraham Glacier (10,500 ft). Traverse the glacier (Ingraham Flats) to the lower southern base of Disappointment Cleaver. This traverse should be done as quickly as possible due to overhanging seracs. The route onto the Cleaver is approximately 300 ft above the Cleaver's nose.
Continue to the top of the Cleaver (12,300 ft), and climb as directly to the east crater rim as crevasses will allow.
To gain the true summit, scramble down into the crater and cross directly to the west crater rim. The summit register is just below and northeast of the true summit (14,411 ft) by a large boulder.
Getting there
From Seattle (about 87 miles away) or Tacoma (about 65 miles away), take Hwy 5 south to Hwy 512 east. Exit onto Hwy 7 (Pacific Avenue). Follow Hwy 7 south to Elbe and continue on Hwy 706 east to the Nisqually Entrance of Mount Rainier National Park. Paradise is located 19 miles inside the Nisqually Entrance.
Red tape
National Park fees and regulations apply. Also need to purchase a Climbing Pass to climb above 10,000 feet or onto a glacier. Climbers who wish to camp must also acquire a wilderness permit in order to reserve a campsite.
More info