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A Mt. Whitney Story
#14775 06/03/11 01:18 PM
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Bob R Offline OP
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Lately, a few people have asked for a reprise of this old trip report. It's on the WPSMB somewhere, but beyond the 5-year search limit, so virtually impossible to find. At least I can't find it. But I know another spot:

A Mt. Whitney Story

Re: A Mt. Whitney Story
Bob R #14779 06/03/11 03:16 PM
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Bob,

Great story!! I've been following your climbing escapades on the message boards for the last couple of years. Thanks.

Weather permitting, I'm taking my two nephews, ages 21 and 22, up the Main Trail this Tuesday 6-7-11. If you're on the trail, remind me to slip in behind you and not try to pass.

Thanks again,

Jimbo

Re: A Mt. Whitney Story
jimbo #14797 06/04/11 12:22 PM
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Rod Offline
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Classic BobR, hare and the tortoise retold.I was rooting for you the whole way.

Last edited by Rod; 06/04/11 12:24 PM.
Re: A Mt. Whitney Story
Bob R #14813 06/05/11 08:03 AM
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I've been watching the weather also, and am hoping for stable conditions for a Thursday hike. If things work out, I'll post a TR.

Re: A Mt. Whitney Story
Bob R #14819 06/05/11 03:50 PM
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mja Offline
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Great TR Bob R! Also enjoyed reading about your first Whitney climb in 1952. Hope to see you again on the trail.

Mike from Ohio

Re: A Mt. Whitney Story
Rod #14821 06/05/11 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted By: Rod
Classic BobR, hare and the tortoise retold.I was rooting for you the whole way.


Rod, I'm with ya in sentiment, but I don't think the "tortoise" is quite appropriate. Portal to summit in 5:20 - that's movin', bro. Maybe more like gazelle vs cheetah.

Re: A Mt. Whitney Story
Bob R #14846 06/06/11 08:24 AM
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Any chance on getting some sort of guidance online as to the locations of these shortcuts - namely the old trail turnoff near the beginning?

Re: A Mt. Whitney Story
#14860 06/06/11 11:02 AM
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Burchey, the "old" trail starts at the end of the family picnic area, across from the pond and the wooden bridge, and to the right of the waterfall. No signage and not maintained, but clearly there once you wander into the area. Steeper, but it cuts out the North Fork water crossing and saves maybe 20 minutes versus the current trailhead. It joins the MMWT at the JM Wilderness sign.

I'm definitely interested in the others as well.

Re: A Mt. Whitney Story
Bulldog34 #14866 06/06/11 01:22 PM
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Thanks Bulldog, I walked around down there a couple weeks back, but I didn't see the trail. I didn't really know what to look for, so I gave up and headed up the default way. I'll check it out next time I go.

Re: A Mt. Whitney Story
#14882 06/07/11 07:16 AM
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dbd Offline
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Originally Posted By: Burchey
Any chance on getting some sort of guidance online as to the locations of these shortcuts - namely the old trail turnoff near the beginning?


Bob R's writeup gives pretty good descriptions if you take the time to compare them to the topos of the trail. The exception (only to the history, not to the location) is the description of the trail past the Keeler-Whitney notch. There the "current trail" mentioned on page 3 is the constructed and occasionally maintained trail. In wetter years when there is a snow field on the south side of the plateau that lasts through the summer, people get to the snow and turn uphill either in or along the edge of the snow and cut the constructed switchback. This creates what is referred to as the "old trail". It isn't old, just poorly formed because it has never been laid-out, built or maintained to trail standards. Under the cover of the snow field, the boulder stream that crosses the trail becomes active and destroys the constructed trail. When this has happened , traversing the rocks or snow for about 60 yards keeping to the same rate of climb as the trail behind you will bring you across to the exposed undamaged section of the constructed trail. This year may be the start of another cycle of destruction/reconstruction if the snow field on the south side of the peak is deep enough to last. When maintenance is finally performed, the "new trail" is built to restore the original trail construct. When you stay on the trail it is easy to see from the condition of the rock which sections are fresh work (sharp edges)and which are old trail, both following the more gradual designed line. When you travel the cutoff trail you will find that most of the rocks are large and you travel in the steep gravel between them. The large rocks may be one of the reasons the trail wasn't laid out there. If you cut the switchback try to do it on snow to avoid trampling the occasional sky pilot that struggles to grow there and bloom later in the season.

As to the old trail that starts up from the top of the day use area, if you have trouble finding it, you may have trouble staying on it. This was once the people trail. The currently maintained trail with the giant single switchback was the horse trail used by the pack station back before the current portal store was established.

Dale B. Dalrymple

Re: A Mt. Whitney Story
Bob R #14895 06/07/11 01:37 PM
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Great story, thanks for sharing.

Re: A Mt. Whitney Story
dbd #14899 06/07/11 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted By: dbd
As to the old trail that starts up from the top of the day use area, if you have trouble finding it, you may have trouble staying on it.


If you have trouble finding it, look for the giant boulder - the trail is slightly to the left of it. Once you find it, however, it's quite easy to follow. On the way back, watch for the wooden sign marking the Wilderness Boundary - the old trail is slightly downhill from that sign (the lettering on the sign is visible on the uphill climb).

Am not certain how much time this shortcut actually saves, however, as you have to tend to your footing, especially on the descent. But, it feels faster, perhaps because you are watching your footing, and this may make the time seem to pass quicker!

Re: A Mt. Whitney Story
KevinR #14900 06/07/11 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted By: KevinR
Originally Posted By: dbd
As to the old trail that starts up from the top of the day use area, if you have trouble finding it, you may have trouble staying on it.


If you have trouble finding it, look for the giant boulder - the trail is slightly to the left of it. Once you find it, however, it's quite easy to follow. On the way back, watch for the wooden sign marking the Wilderness Boundary - the old trail is slightly downhill from that sign (the lettering on the sign is visible on the uphill climb).

Am not certain how much time this shortcut actually saves, however, as you have to tend to your footing, especially on the descent. But, it feels faster, perhaps because you are watching your footing, and this may make the time seem to pass quicker!


I like the fact that this gives you the option to bypass the North Fork water crossing. When the snowmelt is raging, and the rock-hops are flooded, and you have 35-40 pounds on your back - well, the fewer water crossings the better!

Re: A Mt. Whitney Story
Bulldog34 #14909 06/07/11 07:51 PM
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Rod Offline
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I agree with you Gary. A 5:20 ascent is amazing and would kick my ass.I just love the visual with "past his 20's BobR" and youthful runners scratching their heads how this guy could keep getting out in front of them. Then hanging around till they hit their wall,bonked and quit.Meanwhile slow and steady BobR summits alone and never sees the kids again.


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