4-Day Little Tahoma Climb Day-to-Day Itinerary

The expedition was of very high quality. I was given the information and advice I needed to have a safe and successful summit. -2019 Climber

It was an EPIC experience. And humbling. The experience with Alpine Ascents was first class in every respect. -2019 Climber

The Day Before the Climb

You are required to arrive at the Alpine Ascents Office in Seattle by 2 p.m. the afternoon before our trip begins. We will have a climb overview and a thorough gear check. We’ll also instruct you in Leave No Trace (LNT) practices and discuss the National Park Mission Statement. This orientation lasts 2-3 hours. You will then return to your hotel.

Day 1

We’ll meet at the Alpine Ascents Office at 6 a.m., where we’ll pack up the van and drive to Mount Rainier. We begin at the Fryingpan Creek Trail (3,800′) just west of the White River Ranger Station. We will head southeast along the trail for roughly 4.1 miles and 2,100 feet, tracing Fryingpan Creek on the ascent to Summerland. On the hike, we’ll catch glimpses of the Fryingpan Glacier, Little Tahoma, Mount Rainier, and Goat Island Mountain. We may even cross paths with mountain goats that are known to roam the area. At Summerland we will depart the trail, first skirting a band of rocky cliffs and then ascending up a rounded slope to Meany Crest at around 7,200′ where we will make our camp.  Meany Crest is located at the toe of the Fryingpan Glacier and offers sublime views of the Emmons Glacier.

An integral part of mountaineering and expeditionary climbing is being able to set up a safe and secure camp in an extreme environment. As a group, we’ll practice these skills. We’ll close out the day enjoying the solitude and panoramic views along with a hearty meal and an alpine sunset.

Fryingpan Creek Trailhead – Meany Crest Camp
Elevation Change: 3,400 ft. (depending on exact campsite location)
Time: 5-6 hours

On the approach, instruction includes nutrition, hydration, rest steps, pressure breathing, and temperature management. Guides will also discuss Leave No Trace information in depth. During rest periods, we’ll have short discussions on mountain physiology and mountain environments. At camp, guides will give a primer on alpine camp craft and discuss the importance of personal maintenance, hygiene, and how to sleep well in cold environments.

Day 2

After a good night’s sleep to recover from our long approach and a cup or two of coffee, we will begin a robust day of training. In the morning, guides will cover important safety aspects of the climb, including glacier travel, self-arrest, crampon technique, ice axe usage, and proper rope techniques including knots. After a lunch break, we will dive into snow anchors. Guides will demonstrate a variety of snow and ice anchors useful for belaying, running protection, and rescue scenarios. Once students are comfortable constructing a variety of anchor types and styles, we put it to test. Climbers belay and rappel off of the anchors they construct. We teach several useful belaying and rappelling techniques for mountaineering and vertical climbing. Guides then introduce a variety of hauling systems, with emphasis on understanding the mechanical advantage each system employs. We’ll close the day with a delicious guide-cooked meal and another beautiful alpine sunset.

Training Day 
Time: 6- 8 hours

The focus is on the battery of skills needed to safely climb Little Tahoma: self-arrest, roped travel, crampon techniques, ice axe usage, basic knots, and other techniques related to glacier ascent and descent. We will also cover the building blocks of crevasse rescue – snow anchors and mechanical advantage systems.

Day 3

Summit day. For safety and better traveling conditions on the glacier, we’ll rise early to get us near the summit by sunrise. The summit climb should take seven to nine hours roundtrip. We will rope up and ascend the Fryingpan Glacier heading west by southwest, aiming for a notch in the Whitman Crest at 9,000′. Once we cross through the notch, we will enter the Whitman Glacier and continue heading west by southwest, skirting a rock outcrop at 9,600′. We’ll navigate around the outcrop, turning north up the glacier, aiming to exit at its upper left hand corner into a gully. We’ll ascend approximately two-thirds of the way up the gully to a headwall which leads to the summit notch. A short 30 ft exposed scramble along the ridge crest leads to the summit at 11,138′. After basking in this rare and airy vantage point in Mount Rainier National Park, we will reverse our path and return to Meany Crest. Back at camp, we’ll relax, eat a tasty dinner, and rest for our final day on the mountain.

Meany Crest Camp – Summit
Elevation Change: 4,100 ft.
Time:  5-6 hours from Camp to Summit, 2-3 hours from Summit to Camp

This day allows us to implement and enforce what we have learned in the previous days.

Day 4

We will wake up for breakfast and cover any final training topics such as glaciology and enjoy our last morning in the alpine.  When we are done with our training, we’ll break up camp and descend to the Fryingpan Creek Trailhead. We will then head back to Seattle, stopping along the way for a celebratory meal.

*This day can can also be used an alternative summit day if needed.

Meany Crest Camp – Fryingpan Creek Trailhead
Elevation Change:  3,400 ft. descending
Time: 3-4 hours

Glaciology and/ or more advanced glacier travel topics.

This four-day trip is extremely rigorous, and being in strong physical condition is mandatory. One day of skills review is included in the climb. Note that the guide retains the right, at any point, to determine whether a climber is sufficiently fit to continue.

Alpine Ascents is an authorized mountain guide service of Mount Rainier National Park

Alpine Ascents is an authorized mountain guide service of Mount Rainier National Park

I had a great experience. I was a little skeptical about Little Tahoma–felt like a “check the box” for my 20 volcanoes and not one I was looking forward to. But I have to say the whole trip will go down as one of my favorites.  I also loved the experience of climbing K Spire–very […]

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Up the Fryingpan Glacier Photo Credit: Nate Douglas
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The summit! Photo Credit: Nate Douglas


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Alpine Ascents International is an authorized mountain guide service of Denali National Park and Preserve and Mount Rainier National Park.
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