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[TR] Little Tahoma - Frying Pan Glacier / East Shoulder 5/30/2016

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Trip: Little Tahoma - Frying Pan Glacier / East Shoulder


Date: 5/30/2016


Trip Report:

I started at the Frying Pan Creek TH around 4:30 am. The Frying Pan Creek trail has many snow patches but they were firm enough that walking was easy. After the final log bridge (the one noted on USGS topo) the snow is more or less continuous and the bootpack ascends directly up the slope toward the Summerland shelter rather than following the summer switchbacks. I foolishly kept my running shoes on for the first half of this bootpack despite the fact that the snow was frozen solid (around 5:30 am). It started to feel rather dangerous about half way up and I swapped out my running shoes for ski boots - the bootpack is about as steep as the steepest of the slopes on the glaciers above.


Once I reached the Summerland shelter area I put skis on and began the rising travers e onto the Frying Pan Glacier. This turned out to be another mistake. The snow was still hard enough and steep enough that I had trouble skinning up, even with ski crampons. About 500 vertical ft above 'camp' I transitioned from skis to crampons on a firm slope with no platform - PITA.


Side note: Others have pointed this out before but Dynafit (and many other brands) ski crampons have a significant design flaw. When you using risers (i.e. going up hill) your boot doesn't fully push the crampon into the slope. I really wish they just came with some spacer installed on top to resolve this issue.


Fryingpan Traverse:



The rest of the ascent went pretty smoothly. There a very few open crevasses on the Frying Pan Glacier (at least the part that you ascend). When the grade mellowed I put skis back on until I reached the saddle between the Frying Pan and the Whitman. The surface was starting to warm (~8:30 am) but the snow wasn't soft enough to make skinning a steep slope very fun or efficient. So, I put crampons back on and wore them all the way up to the rocks. There are a couple large, partially open crevasses on the Whitman that are best passed toward climber's right. The last ~150 vertical ft of the Whitman had several small open crevasses, mostly toward climber's left. This area was also full of partially thawed penitentes. I wasn't interested in skiing them so I left the planks at the bottom of this section.


From the Saddle:



At the top of the snow, you exit onto rock on the left. This is followed by a little more snow and then a pretty natural scree walk / easy scramble that trends climber's left, taking you to the summit which I reached around 10:30. The exposure is very minimal and no move harder than easy 3rd. There are several rap anchors set up but using them would be silly. Rapping with all the loose rock around is going to cause more problems than it would solve.


I de-booted for 10' (see gear notes), ate some delicious sandwiches and then headed down. The skiing on he Whitman was awesome. The Frying Pan was a little sticky. Being an hour faster on the up would have improved things but so it goes. The route traverses quite a bit which makes the ski down a little less fun than something like St. Helens.


Overall, an awesome day.


From the Summit:



Approximate times:


TH 4:30 am

Summerland shelter 6:30 am

Saddle 8:30 am

Summit 10:30 am

TH 2:00 pm


GPS Track https://www.strava.com/activities/593542034




Gear Notes:

My boots are too tight.


Crampons, Axe, Helmet, Ski Gear



Approach Notes:

About 3 mi before continuous snow and probably 4 mi before you might put on skis.

Edited by Rodion

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