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Trip Report    

Basic Glacier Climb - Whitman Crest/Fryingpan Glacier

Great weekday trip on Mount Rainier. Varied terrain and a good way to scope out Little Tahoma!

  • Road suitable for all vehicles

Great day on Mount Rainier for a climb. In all, about a 12 hr 45 min day car-to-car in almost 15 miles and 5,500ft of gain. Terrain varied from very nice trail, to a solid climbers trail up to Meany Crest, to a broken up glacier. Our goal was to summit Whitman Crest in a day and get back home for dinner. Parking at the Summerland Trail is limited and gets very busy on weekends, but on a weekday there's plenty of room.

We started at about 0545 on the nicely graded trail up to Summerland Camp, made it there in under two hours. After a quick break, we began our ascent to Meany Crest but missed the correct turn-off which added a bit of time and route-finding to get back on track. No snow up to Meany Crest, and no snow up to Point 7593, which is a flat plateau prior to a short descent to a rock band on the toe of the glacier. This is where we roped up, put on crampons, etc. Approach shoes were used up to this point.

Whitman Crest 1.jpg

Whitman Crest 2.jpg

The Fryingpan Glacier is very melted out and broken up at this point in the year, with quite a bit of glacial ice exposed. Fortunately it's very low angle the entire way up to Whitman Crest, and the runout is safe, but was still surprised to see how little snow was left. This meant that there were many crevasses open and visible, none particularly large enough to be a serious concern. But it did result in a combination of end-running crevasses, stepping over many, and generally exercising route-finding. Watch out for some soft snow bridges on the way. No boot-track to follow at this point which resulted in a fun endeavor to get across the glacier! This did add a lot of time, though.

Whitman Crest 3.jpg

Whitman Crest 4.jpg

We opted to directly go for the north aspect of Whitman Crest which had pros and cons. Pros were that it took us largely out of serious rockfall path along the west aspect (saw a microwave sized block fall ~700ft down the crest and glacier in this area as we were descending, would have seriously harmed a climber) and had one flat area where unroping was easy and safe outside of smaller rockfall potential. Cons were it required traversing talus to re-gain the west ridge to the climbers trail up the crest, which was very loose and unpleasant. Either keep the group very close together, or go one at a time through this section should you go this way. Once re-gaining the climbers trail, smooth sailing up and back down!