Climb Little Tahoma/East Shoulder

Rate this Adventure Washington Mount Rainier Summerland Trail, Panhandle Gap

Added by Nick A.

This is an outstanding climb of Rainier's little brother. A true alpine experience, it moves from meadow to glacier and ends with a scramble to the top where you're rewarded with outstanding 360 degree views.

Start from the Summer Land Trail Head at the Fryingpan Creek parking lot just West of the White River Ranger Station in Mount Rainier National Park. 

Beginning at an elevation of 3,800 feet, you'll head southeast along the Summer Land Trail for 4.5 miles, tracing the Fryingpan Creek. There are a few water crossings but felled logs and maintained bridges are there to keep you dry. The trail gains elevation gently and will take you to the Summer Land wilderness area. 

At just over 5800 feet, you will find a small shelter and toilet area that denotes the Summer Land camping area. From here, you will see the large meadow to the east and southeast. Continue southeast across the meadow, aiming just north of Meany Crest at 7,000 feet. There may be some light trails that will take you in this direction, but be wary not to let them take you off course. In the summer months when there is no snow it would be best to circumnavigate the meadow, which is an environmentally delicate environment. You can do this by heading South, around the Summer Land camping area, then skirting the edge of the meadow back north from the other side and resuming the route.

Above the meadow, you will climb up and around to the right of the Meany Crest. There, you will find a large, flat rock formation with tent platforms. If you are doing this climb as an overnight, camp here. 

Continue up the snow field to approximately 7,000 feet where you will enter the Fryingpan Glacier. Rope up here. Ascend the Fryingpan Glacer heading west by southwest. Find and aim for the notch in the Whitman Crest at 9,000 feet. Crossing through the notch in the crest, you will enter the Whitman Glacier. 

Continue heading west by southwest to skirt the first rock outcrop at 9,600 feet. Navigate around this outcrop, turning north. Move up the glacier, exiting at its upper left hand corner into a gully. 

Remove crampons then scramble up, turning right 3/4 of the way through the gully. Continue up the headwall to arrive at the summit notch. A 30 foot, highly exposed scramble will take you to the true summit at 11,138 feet. 

Descend via the climbing route.  

Pack List

  • Ten Essentials
  • Standard glacier equipment
  • GPS
  • Water filtration
  • Headlamp
  • Wind and sun protection
  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag and pad
  • Camera
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More



Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:




Trail Type:



17 Miles

Elev. Gain:

7450 Feet



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Added by Nick A.

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