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Trip Report    

Little Tahoma/East Shoulder

  • Sun, Jul 13, 2014
  • Little Tahoma/East Shoulder
  • Climbing

Our original plan was to head to the Olympics for a 3-day climb, but much better weather was forecasted for the southern Cascades. After a late start, the revised plan was to climb Little Tahoma via the Frying Pan Glacier; upon arrival at the Ranger Station, all camping spots were full in the Meany Crest zone, so we opted to try the alternate approach described in Beckey via Paradise. This proved to be a great alternative with stunning scenery and a visit to areas of the park when few seldom visit.

Day one was a hike towards Camp Muir; at Moon Rocks we traversed easterly over to the edge of the Paradise Glacier and roped up. From there, we made a rising traverse around 8600 ft elevation, and climbed up to 9,000ft elevation once we were on the Cowlitz Glacier. There is a flat area on the glacier to camp at approximately 9,000ft, with great views and shelter from winds provided by the terrain above and to the sides of us.

In the morning, we departed camp around 4:30 and descended to the crossing spot on Cathedral Rocks, from there it was an easy step onto the lower Ingraham Glacier. We descended onto the glacier, aiming towards the snow finger to get us onto the Whitman Glacier. The snow did not extend all the way to the top of the ridge, so some scrambling on very loose rock was needed to gain the ridge. After reaching the Whitman, we ascended the south side of the glacier to meet back up with usual route around 9,800 ft. We ascended the glacier up to the gully at 10,500 ft, after contemplating a possible access point to the rock around 10,200ft when we noted some groups climbing up that way. The gully was loose and snow free, and very manageable; travel to the saddle was straightforward and also snow-free, via a well-marked by a climber's path. After gaining saddle, we set up a hand line to reach the summit block. Great views and fun climb. We reversed our climbing route to descend after a long, lingering rest on the summit; we set-up a rappel station when crossing back onto the lower Ingraham glacier. We reached camp and stayed a second night on the Cowlitz. The following mornings we packed up and returned to the Paradise parking lot.

Overall this is a great alternative to the Frying Pan glacier approach, with very comparable approach and climb times to the usual route. The access to 4 glaciers and parts of MRNP well-off the travels of climbers was well-worth the effort.