American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Washington, Kautz Cleaver

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1958

Kautz Cleaver. Point Success, the southwesterly of Rainier’s three summits, and the only point above 14,000 feet which may be reached without touching glacier ice, was first reached by Stevens and Van Trump during their historic ascent of Rainier in 1870. Today Point Success is seldom visited, since until recently only one summit route ever traversed directly over this high point (Glascock and Dudley’s Success Cleaver route of 1905). Two other rock ridges converge near Point Success: Tahoma Cleaver on the west, the last unclimbed ridge on the mountain, and Kautz Cleaver on the south. The latter rises steeply from the confluence of Success and Kautz glaciers, at 9000 feet, to converge with Success Cleaver at 13,000 feet. (See AAJ 1957, photo: "Routes of Ascents on Southwest Side of Mount Rainier.” The route is on the right side of the picture.) The first two attempts were not made until 1957. The first ended disastrously when one climber was seriously injuried during a fall into a crevasse on Kautz Glacier. A week later, on August 31, George R. Senner and Charles "Bud” Robinson of Seattle left Christine Falls (3667 feet) on the Longmire-Paradise highway and climbed via Van Trump Park up the rock ridge on the east side of Kautz Glacier. At 8000 feet they climbed up on the glacier and traversed upward above the icefall at 9000 feet, the scene of the previous week’s accident. They scrambled to the crest of the cleaver at 9300 feet. Early next morning, from an airy 10,000-foot bivouac on a narrow ledge several hundred feet above Kautz Glacier, they crossed the cleaver’s crest onto its broad back, its ascending snow finger, and its scree slopes to the cleaver s junction with the Success Cleaver route at about 12,000 feet. Here the two ridges merge and climb upward in a series of broad snow- and scree-slopes intersected by occasional down-sloping lava cliffs 10 to 20 feet in height. The two reached Point Success at 3 P.M. Because of the late hour, they did not continue to the crater’s rim but returned as they had come up, reaching Van Trump Park as darkness fell. The climbers describe the route as devoid of technical difficulties but limited in bivouac sites.

Dee Molenaar

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