Little Tahoma Peak-Fryingpan/Whitman Glacier Route (East Shoulder)

This is my third report on Little Tahoma Peak. What more can I say? Well I guess I can say that the route is in good condition and I beat my old record of 5 hours and 40 minutes (White River Road to summit) by five minutes. I tried to beat it by more but...but. Okay, here are a few more details of the trip. 

Chris Mattson and I left the Wonderland Trailhead at c.3900' on White River Road a few minutes before 7:00am. It was a nice morning with the promise of being a HOT day. We made our way up the rapidly melting out trail and arrived at Summerland where we topped off our water bottles anticipating this would be our last real opportunity to get water. Rather than taking the route we had taken in the past to the top of Meany Crest, we took a route that Andy Johnson and I had checked out a few days before when snowing, blowing, and "I can't see" turned us back well below the summit. This route leads to the right side of the cirque below Meany Crest rather than to the 7573' high point.   

Little Tahoma from below Meany Crest

From here, we made a long rising traverse onto the Fryingpan Glacier and on to the 9000' notch in the Whitman Crest. Few crevasses were encountered on the glacier, it almost qualified as no crevasses...for now. From here, the best way is to traverse about 200' onto the Whitman Glacier then turn and go up and then go up some more, aiming for a flat, snow covered area between two gendarmes visible in the picture below. From there, a long rising traverse above the bergschrund leads to a short class 3 gully (mostly snow now and also visible in the photo below) just below the top of the snow on the Whitman Glacier headwall. (you can also traverse almost straight across then climb loose class 3 rock and snow until reaching the gully). By now I was well ahead of Chris but occasionally got a glimpse of him eating my spin drift below.

Little Tahoma from the Whitman Crest notch

Once on the rock there are several possible routes, the easiest of which is to ascend only about a hundred feet before climbing to the ridge crest on your right. The climbing is on easy volcano crumble until the final notch leading to the summit. Apparently the mountaineers give you credit for making it here. The Mazamas, however, put the summit register on the true summit where it belongs. 

Chris Mattson near the summit

I set up an anchor and made the traverse across roped but without a belay and enjoyed the view. Obviously, the view of Mount Rainier is about as good as it gets.

Mount Rainier from the summit of Little Tahoma

An hour and a half later around 2:00pm, Chris reached the summit area and was more than happy to have a belay across the loose notch between him and the summit (class 3). 

Chris, almost on belay

We enjoyed more views and the fact that we hadn't seen anyone else all day. Meanwhile strings of climbers were making their way down and not too surprisingly up the Ingraham Direct route on Rainier.

The Goat Rocks and Mount Adams in the distance

It was all over except for the down part. After descending back to the upper Whitman we glissaded. After Traversing back to the flat area between the gendarmes we glissaded. After reaching the Fryingpan we trudged for a while then we glissaded. After reaching Meany Crest we glissaded. I guess going down wasn't so bad after all. Oh yeah, but it was still 4 miles back to the glissading.

Chris Mattson descending the Fryingpan Glacier

Cascade Alpine Guide, Volume 1, Second Edition; Fred Beckey; Pages 118-121
Climbing Washington's Mountains; Jeff Smoot; Pages 306-310
Summit Guide to the Cascade Volcanoes; Jeff Smoot; Pages 80-83