Frying-pan and Whitman Glaciers

Page Type
Trip Report
Washington, United States, North America
Date Climbed/Hiked:
Sep 13, 2009
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Frying-pan and Whitman Glaciers
Created On: Sep 17, 2009
Last Edited On: Sep 17, 2009

The Approach

Little  Tahoma

After going to Mountain fest and meeting some of my climbing heroes like Ed Viesturs and Jim Whittaker it felt like the right thing to do was to climb. My buddy Jason and I headed to the White River Entrance of Mt. Rainier around 4:30pm and reached the Summerland Trailhead at about 7:00pm. We packed up trying to go as light as possible. We left my ultralight REI tent and just took the fly (saved like a whole half pound! haha I guess every bit counts). Anyways we started off down the trail at 7:50pm and hiked to 6200' by 10:00pm around 4.5 miles to the base of the Meany Crest.

We set up camp and made a delicious meal of freeze dried turkey tetraznni! Being idiots neither of us had alarm clocks or watches that had an alarm clock in my case so we decided that we could naturally wake up early. Haha that worked really well... I woke up at 1:45 am and Jason rolled over and asked what time it was I muttered something and we both cruised back to sleep... Around 5:50am I woke up again, woke Jason up and we got packed up for our summit bid.

Summit day

We were out and headed up the loose scree and negotiating the rocky cliffs of the Meany Crest by 6am. It took us what seemed like forever to get up to the foot of the frying-pan glacier. A note that following the Beckey guide at least for me was super confusing we went left off the Summerland trail into a large bowl left of the Meany Crest and did forth class scrambling to the foot of the glacier. Instead I think the right way is to go right of the crest reading an older trip report...

Little Tahoma

Anyways once at the glacier we suited up and started off up the glacier.

Little  Tahoma

Halfway up the Frying-pan we hit our first late season obstacle, some really deep crevasses. Jason led us across on this super sketchy snow bridge that was as wide as my foot. On both sides there was a huge drop into the abyss. Crossing this crevasse made me realize how stoked I was to be out on the mountain this particular day!

Little  Tahoma

We finally rose over a crest on the frying-pan glacier and were able to see our goal! It was still along ways off even though on this crest we felt like we could be on the summit two hours from that point... how wrong we were...

What seemed like an eternity of zig-zagging, jumping, and crossing snow bridges of huge crevasses that were open on the Frying-Pan as well as post holing big time, we finally made it to the 9,000' notch that separates the Frying-pan and the Whitman Glaciers. From here we dropped down some scree onto the Whitman glacier.

Little  Tahoma

At about 2:30pm we reached an elevation of about 9,900' at the base of the final push up the Whitman and onto the rock of Little Tahoma. This section did not look good at all. We thought the best idea was to call our parents and let them know the situation that we decided that we were going to keep pushing for the summit. We then started to negotiate the maze of seracs and crevasses.

Little  Tahoma

At 10,000' and 3:30pm we hit our final straw, we climbed ourselves into a section where we couldn't descend or ascend or zig-zag. This mother of all crevasses that wasn't apparent a few hundred feet below stopped us in our tracks. We finally tossed in the towel and felt it was safer to turn and head back instead of going to the summit. We surveyed the route above us and four more huge crevasses extended across the full length of the Whitman glacier with no option to circumnavigate them.

Little  Tahoma

Although super bummed that we couldn't summit we were pretty pleased to call it quits and not climb ourselves into further danger. We exhuasted every option to get to the summit, but no avail. We turned around and headed back to base camp.

On the hike back down the Summerland trail we both separated and just went into a zombie like state and cruised back to the parking lot. We made it back to the car at about 10:45pm dead tried, but still a little energized from our post summit meal at camp of freeze dried chicken and noodles.

Jason and I headed out back home and straight to Taco Bell, a well deserved post climbing meal!

Lessons Learned

So what we decided was that late season climbing or in reality post season climbing doesn't really work to well. Negotiating the crevasses and post holing takes up a huge amount of time, way longer than what it should have taken. Next time we climb Little Tahoma, June or July would be the best bet.



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