American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Washington—Cascade Mountains, Mount Rainier, South Tahoma Glacier Headwall

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1964

Mount Rainier, South Tahoma Glacier Headwall. The South Tahoma Glacier and its headwall which rises to Point Success on Mount Rainier had only recently been opened by the Park Service after a closure of over 15 years following the crash of a Marine transport in that area, and during this time the headwall had gained a reputation it did not really deserve. Like many Rainier climbs, there is no real technical difficulty, but it is important to find solid snow and ice and do the ascent when there is no rockfall or avalanche danger. We had the advantage of climbing early in the morning shade after a day of cold wind that solidified several light snowstorms from the previous week. Steve Marts and I approached the mountain from Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground, and because of low cloudiness, spent much time groping around to find Success Cleaver, where we camped at 9500 feet. In the morning we zigzagged through the crevasse patterns and found a place to cross the giant bergschrund at the glacier headwall without having to cut a step. From then on to the tip of Point Success, we followed the most direct line possible. Crampons bit well, and in four places we had to climb over or around rock bands, on crampons because of verglas. We reached Point Success at about noon.

Fred Beckey

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