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North America, United States, Washington-Cascades, Mount Rainer, Tahoma Cleaver

Mount Rainier, Tahoma Cleaver. On June 6, Paul Bellamy, Tony Hovey, Don Keller, Herb Steiner, and Klindt Vielbig left the Tahoma Creek Campground enroute to the Tahoma Cleaver, the last major unclimbed ridge on Mount Rainier. They took the Emerald Ridge trail to the point where the moraines of the Tahoma and South Tahoma glaciers converge and followed the South Tahoma Glacier on its south edge to about 7000 feet, where they crossed to its north edge. The ascent continued, keeping to the right of several rock islands and buttresses to about 8500 feet, where the Tahoma Cleaver begins. Here the flat, cleaver crest was followed, until they were forced onto the snow slopes on the left (north) at about 9200 feet. A small snow col at 10,000 feet, immediately above the base of two colorful rock towers proved to be the highest feasible campsite on the ridge. Early on the morning of June 7 the climb was continued upward on steep snow slopes toward a sharp, prominent gendarme on the ridge at 11,700 feet. They turned the gendarme on the right, some 200 feet below the ridge crest, and traversed the steep snow slopes on the south side of the ridge to the base of a huge rock buttress which apparently blocks the ridge crest. Observers of the ridge had long considered this buttress, sometimes referred to as "The Black Triangle,” to be the key to the climb, and so it proved to be. Forty feet to the left (north) of the buttress, a 20-foot pitch on solid rock was selected, and this vertical pitch was followed by some 200 feet of touchy climbing to the steep, loose ridge crest. Rockfall was a hazard from the base of the buttress to the snow saddle at its top. The climb was continued to the northeast on a broad, steeply inclined snow ledge to its end at 13,700 feet, where it drops off to the Tahoma Glacier. The party continued on precipitous ledges around the corner to the right for 300 feet, where séracs were crossed to the summit ice cap. No problems are encountered from here to the crater rim. The ascent from the high camp to the top of the ridge required 11 hours.