Mount Rainier - Tahoma Glacier, August 2000
The mighty Tahoma Glacier as seen from alpine meadows below MRNP's Tokaloo Rock.

John and a couple of his friends had attempted this route a few weeks prior ( trip report ) and were denied a summit thanks to a freak summer snow storm. He vowed to return and, along with myself invited a friend of his (forgot his name) who was visiting from California. We all took vacation from work and allocated 4 days in August for this climb.

We left early on a sunny Sunday afternoon and drove up to the Westside Road washout. After an endless 4 or 5 mile walk up the gravel road in the pounding heat we reached the trailhead. We were sweating profusely and quicky burned through all our water. We took any opportunity to filter what was available of the locally scarce running water into our water bottles. We soon gained a ridge and reached timberline shortly thereafter. We decided to set up camp next to a delightful little pond on a level bench with spectacular views westwards. We were starving by this point and unfortunately so were the swarming mosquitos. (Photos: SV)

Click thumbnails below to enlarge...
Basalt columns
Impressive basalt columns along the approach trail.
First camp
Our first camp on the level bench. Aside from the murderous mosquitos, this was a perfect spot. We couldn't wait for nightfall when the cold would drive the pests away.
Sunset
We had unobstructed views to the west and spent the remaining daylight hours trying to make out any recognizable features in the distance far below us. We enjoyed an incredible sunset that evening.
Tarn below glacier
The following morning we passed by several ponds like this on our way up the mountain. John contemplates a refreshingly frigid dip with views of Mt. Adams in the distance.
Lenticular cloud
A lenticular cloud caps the summit while we break for a snack at the base of Tokaloo Rock. The Puyallup Cleaver lies directly ahead of us. The massive Tahoma Glacier spills down the mountain to the right.
Mountain goats
Mountain goats. Perhaps the only permanent inhabitants of this seasonally harsh environment. We wondered what they were doing so close to the glacier.
Climbing Puyallup Glacier
Crossing crevasses on the Puyallup Glacier.
Highpoint on St. Andrews Rock
We reached our high camp objective at the base of St. Andrews Rocks in good time. From our vantage point, the route off the Puyallup Cleaver onto the upper Tahoma Glacier appeared to be a nasty mix of icefall and crevasses. Having read something about an alternate route to the Tahoma Glacier via the top of St. Andrews Rocks, we decided to explore our options.

Hiking up steep slush, we reached the ridge in hopes that an obvious route would take us over to the other side. John scouted ahead alone for the last several yards and for a moment I could not see or hear him and therefore feared the worst. Shortly thereafter he returned with his verdict...No Way. So, we once again pulled out the map, sat down and tried to find a way around.
Sunset on Point Success
Faced with few alternatives, we took another good look at the problematic Puyallup Cleaver/Tahoma Glacier intersection and more or less were able to piece together a route, albeit not the most direct one. We decided on an early but daylight start that next morning so as to be able to better navigate through the icefall. Because we would be starting relatively late and the sketchy conditions on the Tahoma Glacier, we decided to carry-over and descend via the DC route, confident that one of us would be able to bum a ride from Paradise back to the car.

As we were discussing our options, John's friend reported that he wasn't feeling too hot. Altitude sickness we feared. It was agreed that if his condition did not improve by morning we would abandon our summit attempt. That evening we were blessed with yet another spectacular sunset and wondered what the next morning would bring.
Adams in distance
John's friend's condition worsened by morning and so we packed up and climbed back down the mountain. Yet another failed attempt. To have to turn back in perfect weather for something totally out of my control: frustrating! We spied more great views of Mt. Adams as we descended with heavy feet. I waited till next summer before making another attempt...
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