Ascent of Little Tahoma on 2014-05-31

Climber: Jack Slater

Date:Saturday, May 31, 2014
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Carpool
Peak:Little Tahoma
    Elevation:10900 ft / 3322 m

Ascent Trip Report

We started at the Frying Pan Trailhead on May 31 pretty late, because we wanted to switch out our camping permit for the unclaimed walk-up that would allow us to camp at a point closer to the summit block.

We left the TH at 0815, and headed up thru the Summerland area. The trail was dirt with few snow patches for most of our time thru the ~4 mile section of trees in the river valley, and then we consistently had snow after the first major river crossing on the log bridge.

Upon reaching Meany Crest we roped up and began wanding our route. At 1735 we reached the high point for the day of 9182' atop the rock rim between the Frying Pan Glacier and Whitman Glacier. We unroped at this point and dropped down to our camp at 8802' at 1746, set up and made dinner.

Sunday morning we left camp at 0500 to give the snow a chance to soften before we reached the summit block, but this wish did not come true. Crampons went on, and we left no footprints in the snow traversing the remaining glacier.

A team of 3 reached the steep section of glacier leading up to the block about 30 minutes ahead of us and they quickly ascended. Due to the steepness of the climb and the icy conditions we zig-zagged across the slope going up the steepest section of glaciated snow. Only one open crevasse was visible off to our climber's left, and we had an amazing view of the Tatoosh.

Two of the 3 in front of us unroped and started up the summit block while the 3rd ended his ascent and took cover from the sun. The other two turned back 30 minutes later, realizing the danger of having no pickets to use and having their crampons barely breaking into the slope.

As they left, we headed up the ~250' last steep section of snow and then zigzagged thru a few rock sections. We got onto a small snowfield above that, and after reaching the top of that realized that time would not permit us to reach the summit unless we turned the trip into an epic.

Our descent from our turn-around point on the summit block to get back to camp took from 1202 to 1645, due to the unstable rock and having to pull our pro as we moved slowly down to the choke point in the rock above the glacier. We blew out too many steps with our 3 rope teams coming up, that we had to do a double rope rappel with a double-fisherman's at the top on the decent of the last steep snow section before getting back onto the glacier.

30 minutes to pack up camp and we hit the trail again at 1645. The descent was fast because of two 1000+ ft glissades from the base of the frying pan glacier at Meany Crest to Summerland's basin.

We arrived back at the TH at 2055 and started our drive to dinner at Dennys.

Unfortunately, on the drive home, we called in a drunk driver and a few minutes later he crashed and flipped his small Toyota a few times and into a guard rail. He was very intoxicated and came running at us as we drove up, thinking we were his friends from the party he just left. Had to wait an hour until the police released us from the scene - a pleasant end to our very long day.

Arrived at Kent P&R at 0130 Monday morning.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:10650 ft / 3246 m
    Total Elevation Loss:10650 ft / 3246 m
    Quality:9 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Snow on Ground, Exposed Scramble, Snow Climb, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Ski Poles, Tent Camp
    Nights Spent:1 nights away from roads
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Cloudless and beautiful
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:10650 ft / 3246 m
    Route:Frying Pan Glacier -> Whitman Glacier -> Summit Bl
    Start Trailhead:Frying Pan Trailhead  250 ft / 76 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:10650 ft / 3246 m
    End Trailhead:Frying Pan Trailhead  250 ft / 76 m

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