A successful ascent of Little Tahoma by climbing rangers from the Fryingpan Creek trailhead on July 19th found great conditions. Despite being a bit later in the season, the approach is still in great shape and the routefinding/crevasse negotiation is negligible.
The trail to Summerland camp is 100% melted out and a good warm-up for the climbing ahead. From Summerland camp, rangers used two successive snow ramps with small rock sections in the middle on the far right side of Meany Crest to gain the Fryingpan glacier just climber's right of Meany Crest. These ramps are steep, but still in good form. Be prepared for a bit icier conditions in the early morning as the ramps are in shade until about 10 AM.
Once on the glacier, navigate through a crevasse here or there until the notch between the Fryingpan and Whitman glaciers is gained at around 9,000 feet. Be VERY wary of rockfall in the section from the cliffs to climber's left, several large rocks were seen cascading down by rangers.
The Whitman glacier has broken up a bit more, but a nice, steep direct line up the right side of the crevasses is one option as well as a bit of an end-around to climber's left of the whole area. The upper slopes to the rocks below the summit are moderate and in good shape. Routefinding should be no problem once on the Whitman. Obviously, be wary of rockfall for this entire part of the climb as well.
Pictures will be added to this post soon.
Come out and enjoy the climbing!
Little Tahoma - June 21st
Climbing rangers climbed Little Tahoma from Camp Muir and found great, straight-forward conditions. Teh route dropping down onto the Cowlitz Glacier to about 8,300 feet to a pass onto the Ingraham had some rockfall, but easy crevasse crossings. The traverse across the Ingraham was very direct. The pass over onto the Whitman Glacier from the Ingraham was rocky and a little unsecure - but no different from previous years.
Climbing up the Whitman Glacier was straight forward as well (see photo to the right). A couple of cracks are beginning to open, but the route appears to be intact for quite some time. The summit was still spectactular. Careful on the final scramble!
June 11th : Fryingpan Creek Approach (White River):
With White River road open and area trails melting out, a climb of Little Tahoma from the Fryingpan Creek trailhead is a great climbing objective in lieu of the bigger hill to the west.
Rangers climbed the route on June 11th and found fantastic conditions with plenty of snow still on much of the route which made for easy, direct travel. The east side approach begins from the Fryingpan Creek trailhead on White River road. The trail was approximately 40% snow covered to Summerland. Upon nearing the popular summer backcountry site, rangers were able to ascend to Meany Crest (~7,500 ft) directly via a moderate snow slope. Once on the crest, an easy traverse across the Fryingpan glacier gained the notch separating the Fryingpan and Whitman glaciers at just over 9,000 feet. Many routes from the basin below to the Fryingpan glacier are possible and a different approach could be fun.
Despite being a low angle glacier, the Fryingpan (as well as the Whitman) are both beginning to show several crevasses and roping up, as always for simple glacier travel, is recommended.
Once through the notch a traverse out across the Whitman glacier gains the final snowfield that takes climbers to the rocky summit block of Little T. When making the final push, rangers stayed to far climber's right to stay on slightly lower angled snow rather than climbing the snowfield directly.
In addition to crevasse hazard on the route, climbers should also be wary of rockfall especially when traversing the Fryingpan glacier (from the cliffs to climber's left, ~8,700 feet) and when ascending the final snowfield to the summit ridge and scrambling on Little T's notoriously loose summit.
See you out there!
- S. Hotaling
Early Season - 2009
There are several approaches to Little T. This post addresses the Camp Muir approach as the White River Road isn't open yet.
There are many ways of approaching Little Tahoma from the SW. Some people begin at Muir, cross the Cowlitz and descend to about 8,400 feet then ascend a snow slope with a short rock finish.
The route finishes by ascending virtually straight up the Whitman Glacier and accessing some rock slopes that eventually take you to the top peaks of Little T. Bear in mind that because of the recent snows we got up on the mountain, coupled with the really warm current temperatures, that these conditions could create perfect conditions in the afternoon for soft, loose, and heavy spring avalanches!
However, today I noticed that there may be a little more direct way of accessing the upper Whitman Glacier. This could conceivably cut a lot of time slogging along the flat bit of the Ingraham Glacier and get you up onto the Whitman nice and quick.
This gulley system, instead, begins at about 8600 feet and accesses the upper Whitman at about 9500 feet. Take a look and see what you think! The gulley system finishes to the right of the pyramid-like feature in the middle of the photo to the right.
Be wary of avalanche danger over the next couple of days. I noticed several loose-snow avalanches today in the 6000-8000 foot range.