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Trip Report    

Glacier Climb - Little Tahoma/East Shoulder

Two-day trip to true summit of Little Tahoma. Out and back from Fryingpan Creek trailhead with overnight at Pt. 7573.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Fryingpan creek trail was clear of snow to Summerland. Exited trail onto snow at the creek crossing 100 yards after the shelter and travelled on snow until Pt. 7573 which was melted out. Glacier was in great condition. Crossing through the notch from Fryingpan to Whitman glacier was an easy 5 minutes on loose rock. Navigated around two large horizontal crevasses on the ascent of the east shoulder. Final 600' of gain up the tip of the glacier was very steep but had enough sun cups to offer a little reprieve now and then. Exit gully was loose rock, but not as bad as I had expected. Weather was surprisingly good despite a sketchy forecast. Good visibility from the notch to the summit lessened our routefinding challenges.

Arrived at the White River rangers station 20 minutes before it opened (7:30) and were still 4th in line and weren't permitted until 8:30. Hiked to Summerland on a dry trail, which we exited 100 yards after the shelter onto snow, traversed back underneath Meany crest then up to the crest itself then along the ridge to Pt. 7573 to setup camp. Car to camp was 6 hours do to some wasted time backtracking after getting cliffed out trying to shortcut over to Pt. 7573 instead of staying left and gaining the ridge next to Meany crest first.  After a short night's rest we were walking by 2:15am and used the 260 bearing to get close to the notch, which we landed just to the right of. After an easy crossing of the notch (9000') we contoured along the Whitman glacier to the base of the tongue of glacier that gets you all the way up to about 10,600'. There is a waterfall on the right as you start ascending.  The final 600' is very steep, which caused us to short-rope and use the high dagger position with our ice axes at times. Exit the top of the glacier at the upper left onto the rocks and quickly encounter a 6' headwall that can be scrambled. Above it is a talus field that can be followed up a gully with several options that get you to the ridge. Once on the ridge turn left follow it to the summit notch. We used a cordelette for an anchor and belayed a climber across, establishing a sling anchor for a fixed line on the true summit and two pieces of protection in between, above the near-vertical gully. Summited in about 7 hours. Visibility was great on the summit, with little wind.  Returned the same route and it took about 90 minutes to descend the steep upper 600' section of the glacier. Then descended below the clouds, where the visibility dropped significantly between the notch and the campsite, causing us to follow a back bearing of 80 that landed us southwest of our site. Bearings of 250 out and 70 back would have worked much better. Picked up camp and hiked out, getting to cars at 7:30pm.