Wow! I was quite impressed with this one. I did the loop starting out at the NE ridge. The trail was easy to lose and easy to find again, steep uphill. At the gully ~6000 ft I opted for a class 3 scramble up the west (climber's right) wall which was a nice way to spice up the trip. Views were amazing once you near the summit on. I finished the SW ridge but had to drop down on the south slopes to circumvent some goats on the ridge. I then traversed over to Summer Land at the ~6000 ft mark to scope it out before heading back down on the trail. If you're going to do the loop, I'd suggest starting with the NE ridge. You get all the steep uphill and bush whacking out of the way, then you get to gaze at Rainier and Little Tahoma all the way down. I'd gladly do this one again.
I just posted a map showing our route. We headed up the East ridge on a nice climbers trail, and then traversed to the left on benches at 5900'. After summitting, the ridge-walk towards Rainier and Little T is fantastic.
Do not count on the old trail! Date Climbed: Oct 29, 2011
The old trail on the east is pretty much gone. At least I could not keep track of it. Sometimes you could see, that it was there once, but soon it's gone. Great hike, but for round trip you have to bushwhack through the forest. 5 goats on my way up :)