Mount Rainier at sunrise from near Summerland! To the left is Little Tahoma.
Little Tahoma Peak! 11,138'!
An August 14, 2001 Trip Report. The third highest mountain in Washington.
All the great photos by
and I left the Fryingpan Trailhead, 3,900, on the Wonderland Trail by headlamps at 4
am. We had spent the night at the trailhead to ensure an early start. The moon was just
rising in its first quarter, but it was pitch dark in the old growth forest.
In 4.2 easy miles we were at Summerland. The trail is in great condition. There were quite a few hikers camped at Summerland, but they were all still sleeping, dreaming of summits and bears. Summerland is a beautiful place, just at treeline. There are rumors of lots of Marmots, Elk, Mountain Goats, and even Black Bears. We can only confirm the Marmots.
We put the headlamps up and headed up below and then to the right of Meany Crest, 7,000. Finally, from the top we had great views of the Wonderland Trail going up to Panhandle Gap. There are good campsites at 7,500 and the last of the bare ground before the Fryingpan Glacier.
We roped up on the Glacier and headed up and over to a saddle in the Whitman Crest. There were no tracks in the snow so we made our own route across the Glacier zig zagging around crevasses, doing occasional end-arounds and backtracking from dead ends once in a while. I was shocked at how broken the Glacier was.
About 9,000 we crossed the small scree and rock notch of the Whitman Crest over to the Whitman Glacier. Smoot shows the route up the right side of the Glacier, but on this day that would take us right into a debris field. The Glacier in this area was brown and dirty from the rockslides! Luckily, Becky said to go to the left. We traversed the Whitman all the way to the south side and then started up past many crevasses to the top of the Glacier at 10,500. Although we were near the rock crest that separates the Whitman from the Ingraham Glaciers, there was no falling rock on this side. Apparently, it all falls to the Ingraham below. There were great clomps of angular rock stacked up to great heights, with nothing holding it together but gravity.
Finally, at the top of the Whitman Glacier, we unroped to climb the final, 50-degree snowfield. It was slow and steep, Dan and I exchanged compliments on our step making abilities.
We reached the rock and began climbing up a rock chute, past a step, then up loose talus. Eventually, we turned right to climb to the Whitman Crest and the unbelievable views off the other side down on to the Emmons Glacier.
Following the Crest for a few minutes left us looking directly at the true summit, 11,138 on the other side of an exposed notch. We carefully free climbed over to the true summit, arriving at 1:40 pm. The third highest peak in Washington. Nine hours forty minutes from the Trailhead.
The register, placed in 1994 by the Mountaineers, was not even full! It was almost 8 years old. The last party to sign the register was the first part of July! Little Tahoma does not seem to be a popular climb? J. B. Flett and H. H. Garison are credited with the first ascent on August 29, 1895 from Summerland. The second ascent was not until the Mazamas arrived in 1919.
Although the sky was hazy from high pressure and fires in Eastern Washington, we had fantastic views of Camp Schurman, Disappointment Cleaver, Ingraham Flats, Camp Muir, and even Paradise way below. It was fun to sit and watch the tiny specks that were climbers coming down the main peak, Mount Rainier! The little blobs of color were tents. We were in awe at how broken the Emmons Glacier was, and a great piece of the Ingraham was missing!
It was late to be on any summit, so we signed the register and prepared for the round trip. We both wanted a belay for the exposed scramble back off the peak. It is 2,000 straight down to the Emmons Glacier.
Again, down the rock, we stayed apart in case one of us dislodged any rocks. We found the steep upper snowfield a bit icy and had to carefully self-belay down. There were a few inches of soft recent snow on top of a harder, icy layer. The soft snow would ball up on our crampons.
We roped up again at the Glacier, and carefully descended weaving around the crevasses. There was lots of water running, and we watched many boulders bounce over the right side of the Whitman Glacier. If one doesnt like the sound of rockfall, this is a bad place to be. Back on the Fryingpan we were stopped in our tracks by tumbling boulders and rocks above us but luckily there was a crevasse that they rolled into!
Back at Summerland, the Marmots were browsing in the alm and the hikers were enjoying the wonderful beauty of evening and cooking their dehydrated meals. Dan and I headed back down the trail, and arrived back at the trailhead at 8 pm for a solid 16-hour day! About 16.4 miles and 7,200 for the day. Becky says, "Little Tahoma is popular because of its height, individuality, alpine quality, and the rewards of its magnificent position."
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