Little Tahoma, Elevation 11,138 feet
August 21, 2000
Jason, Ben, Josh
Author: Jason Hummel
This is the upper part of what we climbed and skied. There was more snow in this photo taken earlier in the year.
I had taken most of the summer off along with my Twin Bro, Josh. Being finance students we thought we could invest in the market and make enough to cruise through the summer. On Saturday I found a job as a Carpenter’s assistant. I was going to start Tuesday. It was Saturday and I wanted to make the best of the time between then and Tuesday. Ben and I talked about camping on the Summit of Ruth, but we were pretty bored of that mountain and so we decided to go sailing on Ben and Troy’s parent’s boat. We fished out by Bainbridge Island. Catching a view of Rainier Ben came up with the idea of climbing Little Tahoma. Josh and I tended to agree with him because it was a spectacular day and the following day was forecasted to be much the same.
We woke-up early and drove to the Summerland trailhead. The weather was perfect and shrugging on our heavy daypacks we rushed up the trail in tennis shoes. Often I wonder what people think of us with skis sticking 7 feet in the air and boots snapped in the bindings, especially when we are 5 miles from any snow. Comments vary from, ‘Where are you guys going?’ This gets the typical response, ‘Up.’ To, ‘I wish I had my skis,’ in which we respond only with a grin.
Just past the small shelter at Summerland we veered to a steep gully on the right. Working our way up to Meany Crest we encountered some steep snow patches. If you are talented enough you can walk these in tennis shoes. It takes a bit of skill and mistakes can be painful. I found out once slipping up above West Side road at the 7000-foot level. We managed until we topped the ridge where we took a break and put on our boots and ate a snack.
Our break on Meany Crest.
Josh nearing the saddle.
The climb was going great, the weather was perfect, and best of all the snow looked like it would be perfect corn, a few inches deep and smooth (no suncups). Yes indeed, the best Spring can offer.
We winded our way through some giant crevasses as we prepared to climb the pinnacle. Ben had no crampons and I think he was regretting it, but unlike anyone I know he was able to climb up the rock on the left and kick steps up some gnarly windblow, seraced, and suncuped snow, not to mention the ice. Josh and I met him where the snow met the rock at around 10800 feet, that is where we left our skis and switched from our boots to our shoes.
Next we climbed up some easy rock with a few exposed sections. The rock isn't very good, but with your head on your shoulders you can work your way to the summit.
Josh and I hanging out on the summit.
Josh and I had never been to the summit of Little Tahoma and so we felt like paupers at the head of a king’s table. The view was breathtaking! Anyone who has had the chance to stare off of the top of Little Tahoma better have two hands gripping cause the view is enlightening (to say the least).
Little Tahoma is in the background. This is the view as seen from the Emmons glacier.
Soon we were back down to our skis. The best feeling I get in a climb other than summiting (or getting back to the car, depending on the trip) is putting on my skis. I feel invincible or at least one with my skis.
Winding our way back down through the crevasses was entertaining and offered Ben an opportunity for some excellent photos.
Josh winding his way through the crevasses.
Skiing down low on the Fryingpan Glacier.
The day couldn’t be any better. We were planning on skiing a narrow chute, but changed our minds. We climbed out and skied to the far right down some wide-open 50-degree faces. We soon hit the end of the road. I skied to the side and hauled my skis to a giant flat rock. I took off my boots, put on my shoes, and ate some food. Soon after I realized Josh and Ben weren’t showing up. To my utter disbelief I realized that I could’ve skied much further. Bummer! I later passed them by just above Summerland. I waited for them down in the fields and scoped the line with a wide grin and laid back in the flowers to soak in some rays. I wasn’t thinking about work or school, just about bagging another peak and being in the hills. Maybe I was thinking about the market too and wishing it had just gone up. Maybe…