Mt. Daniel (September 10, 1996)

Beautiful trip, with splendid weather. The approach from the car took us about 2 1/2 hours. We bivied next to beautiful Peggy's pond. The next morning, we started up the drainage of the small glacier on the E flank of Daniel quickly reaching the glacier. From here, the route was not at all clear. There is a gully at the NW of the glacier which cuts through slabs to snow slopes above, but the snow in there seemed quite broken up. We instead climbed manky slabs on the N until we could gain the high snowfield. First we had a bit of self arrest practice and then we traversed E towards the shoulder S of the E peak. After scrambling the E peak, we looked for a way around to the E-Middle peak notch. Two routes appear feasable: the first stays quite high on the E peak (less than 100 ft below the summit), but this would probably require getting onto the steeper Daniel glacier at some point (as the ridge is pretty broken up and dirty). The other was to drop down the ridge to a low point (?? ft) where we could traverse talus around the back (W side) of the E peak. This was the less technical option (as we had no rope), so we took it. A mixture of talus and easy snow slopes led to the main (W) peak. We skipped the middle peak. Time to the main peak was 4 1/2 hours, including the stop for self arrest practice and scrambling around on the E peak looking for a practical route.

On the descent, we returned to the low point on the S ridge of the E peak and from there we found a spot where it was feasable to gain the high snow slope on the E side (small moat). From here we made a descending traverse (SSE ?) to a point where we could regain the SE ridge. This allowed us to efficiently avoid a broken spot along the S-SE ridge. From this point, it appeared feasable to take sometimes steepish snow slopes E directly down to the glacier (with a few small, wet, slabby steps). At this time of year, this would probably be the best (in terms of snow-climbing) way to ascend from the glacier to the upper snow slopes, avoiding the horrible slabs on the other (N) side of the cirque. However, depending on experience, some of the slopes looked steep and falls could mean quick trips over uncomfortable slabs to the bottom... The lack of rope and lowish experience level of the group ruled out this option as a descent, so we decided to regain the SE ridge and cruise on a pretty well-beaten path back to Peggy's pond. At the point where the ridge steepens (800 or so feet above the pond) keep to the middle-left and you'll hit a nice trail which will take you down through steep sections and trees to the pond. The SE ridge is a safe and quick descent route: our return time was 2 hours. The SE ridge would even make a pleasant ascent route for the less experienced.

Gear: We took only ice axes. If the Daniel Glacier variation were attempted, or even the snow slope approach from the S side of the small glacier, rope, crampons, and a bit of snow protection would be advised. The snow was good consistency for short pickets (maybe even a touch on the hard side).

Recommendation: It is convenient to climb Cathedral from Peggy's pond, so at the very least, leave yourself sufficient time to try one of its less technical routes, or bring rock gear.

Mt. Daniel (September 11/12, 2003)

Short version: read your own trip reports before planning a route... and don't waste your time climbing during the worst weather week of the whole summer...

Attempted Mt. Daniel via the SE ridge from Peggy's pond. The trip was planned for the tail end of a stretch of poor weather. The walk in was wet, but went by quickly (about 3 hrs to the pond). We were pretty apprehensive about the ability of the megamid to deal with a night of foul weather, but after we got it staked (stakes, logs, and rocks) down well, it held up admirably. It was a little cramped for 3 people, gear, and a dog. Somehow the dog managed to get the dryest and warmest inside spot :)...

The next day dawned with improving weather. The rain had stopped, but Daniel was still in the clouds, and the winds were pretty high. After a non-alpine start, we headed straight up the SE ridge, which was straightforward. I should have done myself a favor before the trip and read my own notes (above), because I was under the impression that we had summitted with little or no snow travel, and had assured the group that there would be no terrain that a dog couldn't handle...

Between roughly 7200 and 7400 feet, the ridge comes close to a high snowfield (above the Hyas glacier and above a band of slabs). When I saw this snow I recalled vague memories of traversing that snow in places slabs during the descent. The snow looked too hard to cross safely with the dog and w/o crampons, so we opted to keep following the boot track up the ridge. By about 7400 feet we were in more or less permanent cloud, and it was difficult to see the shape of the ridge ahead. Sure enough, it started to get steeper and more exposed, making travel with the dog more difficult. After reaching the false summit (7662), and not being able to see crap, we decided to break for lunch and head back. It does look possible to continue along the ridge, but it would require some exposed scrambling on poor rock. (About 2.5 hours to this point from the pond.)

We hiked the ridge back to got back to camp (< 2 hours), basked in the sun for a while (at least the summit was still in the clouds!), and headed out to the car (~ 2 hours).