A group from the Washington Alpine Club climbed Little Tahoma over the 6/7 AUG 11 weekend, using the Fryingpan Creek trailhead route to Meany Crest. We had clear skies and very warm temperatures. We saw no other climbing parties in the area. Only saw one other camper near Meany. Our approach to Meany Crest took about 4 hours. Some of the rock areas leading up to the Meany Crest have pretty good climber paths in them. We melted water and found running water within 2-3 minutes walk of the campsite at Meany Crest on some of the nearby rocky areas.
We departed camp just after 6AM and we summited around 1PM. It is a long walk across Fryingpan Glacier to the Whitman Crest. Uneventful and some just opening up crevasses were easy to avoid. Whitman Crest easy to get over and rest at. From Whitman Crest we traversed onto Whitman Glacier and then up! Negotiated two crevasse areas and then started the haul up the loose rock to the false summit area.
Some of us down climbed the snow a bit and others did well plunge stepping down the top third of the Whitman Glacier and all of us plunge stepped the remaining two thirds back to the low traverse across the Whitman to Whitman Crest. We got back to the cars by 8pm.
Little Tahoma remains a hidden gem within Mount Rainier National Park. At just over 11,100 feet, it is one of Washington's highest peaks. A ranger patrol on Wednesday climbed Little Tahoma from Paradise. The approach up the Muir Snowfield to the traverse at 8,600 was uneventful. Crossing the Cowlitz Glacier took some navigating, but traversing up and around the ice fall in the middle was easy.
There's running water at Pebble Creek (at about 7,200 on the snowfield) and on the Whitman Glacier at about 10,000. Skiers had recently descended the snow field just below the summit rock spire. The snow hasn't started to "cup up" significantly. Climbers not on skis can always boot-ski. The snow conditions and slope angle make for an incredible run.
The summit scramble is still in great shape. The rock is as solid as it ever is, and the views, plus exposure on all sides, make for an awesome summit experience.
July 4th - The Success Cleaver is in great condition right now. The Tahoma Creek trail to the suspension bridge is all snow free. Above the bridge the snow starts - but it's still easy to navigate toward Pyramid Peak through the forest on snow.
There is still plenty of snow higher up on the route. As temperatures warm up, climbers may want to stay on the cleaver proper in order to avoid rockfall and traveling on soft snow. The picture below is of penitented snow at about 12,800 ft. At this point in the route, most climbers move to the right to avoid the steep cliff bands. The upper snow traversing and rock-band navigation is still very straight forward. Begin your climb early to avoid ice melting and falling off the rock later in the day.
It's possible to descend the route without any rappelling, but because of the distance required to exit via on of the West Side approaches most teams carry up and over.