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#15000 - 06/11/11 10:16 AM Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date)
derryg Offline


Registered: 06/11/11
Posts: 5
Loc: california
Admin edit:   The following posts were moved from the main Current Conditions thread.     2012 Conditions



Hello!

Me and two friends have overnight permits to hike Mount Whitney for the 19th and 20th of June. We are inexperienced hikers and have never hiked on snow, used crampons, ice axes, snow shoes etc.

Having looked at the weather reports and conditions it seems like there will still be a lot of snow by next weekend. Do you think it will still be possible for us to do this trip given our lack of experience?

And if so, do you have any advice for us? Do we need snowshoes or will our normal hiking boots be ok? Do we need crampons and ice axes?

Any advice you might have for novices like us would be greatly appreciated!

Also, if anyone is going around that time, let me know, we'll be arriving at Whitney Portal on the 19th

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#15001 - 06/11/11 12:03 PM Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date) [Re: derryg]
Rodney51 Offline


Registered: 04/28/11
Posts: 12
Loc: Northern CA
I too have a question along those same lines... Is the chute negotiatible without an ice axe? We have crampons.

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#15011 - 06/11/11 05:36 PM Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date) [Re: derryg]
lynnebern Offline


Registered: 06/08/11
Posts: 6
Loc: Venice, CA
I'll see you there. My daughter and I are leaving on the same date. This will be my 3rd trip and her first. Neither of us have used crampons before, but we have them. I already figured if we don't summit, it will be an adventure for her. Looking for some input as well.
Thanks

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#15022 - 06/12/11 09:04 AM Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date) [Re: derryg]
quillansculpture Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 552
Loc: Murrieta, CA
Hi derryg, Welcome. The hike up Whitney on the main trail is difficult under any circumstances. 22 miles round trip is just under a marathon distance, but you have the added difficulty of 6000 foot elevation gain (appx). With that comes 6000 feet you need to go down. Going down is just as hard as going up in light of the fact your legs, lungs, etc are tired. I find that concentration is one of the most difficult things to maintain when heading down the trail.

There will be snow on the trail as seen in the numerous videos put up by Steve this last week. You would absolutely need crampons for snow. Microspikes just won't cut it at this point. The snow has melted and iced over, crusted along the trail, so it's a bit to late for snowshoes.

I will be going to Whitney on July 5th and I don't expect to summit as I'm uncomfortable in the snow and ice. I would think you could make a goal of Trail Camp as long as you have crampons. Going any farther might not be the best idea. The hike is gorgeous to TC and you will certainly learn a lot just going there. Great prep for another hike down the line. If you want to try it again, anytime during the week in September should be an okay time to get a walk in permit.
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#15023 - 06/12/11 09:32 AM Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date) [Re: quillansculpture]
derryg Offline


Registered: 06/11/11
Posts: 5
Loc: california
Thanks very much for the advice everyone!

I think Trail Camp might be the best we can expect at this stage, which I think will still be a challenge given our lack of experience!

Reading about the switchbacks and the chute makes it sound very challenging!

Thanks again for the advice, still looking forward to the adventure, even if we don't make it to the top!

Derry

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#15028 - 06/12/11 01:56 PM Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date) [Re: derryg]
2600fromatari Offline


Registered: 10/18/10
Posts: 452
Loc: San Diego
I was there yesterday. For those asking about the switchbacks and going up in a week or so, there are none. You MUST use the chute.

I saw one guy go up yesterday with Microspikes and trekking poles. So, it is doable. However, he was on his knees many times, and slipping and sliding. Tough guy, but it was not fun to watch. I would never take any friends or family up there in the current condition without crampons and an ice axe. BTW, the guy who made it to Trail Crest with the Microspikes and poles was still there when I got back from the summit and pondering how he'll get down. When you're back from the summit, tired with numb legs, and the adrenaline gone from reaching the peak, looking down that chute can be very scary. I heard one guy advising people glissade down with the trekking poles, says he's done it before. Nice guy, and I trust he did do just that but I also think he got lucky. I heard another "experienced" hiker talking with his friend about doing the same. Please don't. I glissaded down, but wouldn't have done so with trekking poles. Call me a sissy. You're going very fast. At one point, I could not slow myself down fast enough and had to flip over onto my belly and used the axe head to self arrest.


Snowshoes are dead weight. The snow is currently very firm. I postholed not more than a few times. Just make sure your boots are waterproof or add some Sno Seal.

The trail is very confusing near Lone Pine Lake. What other posters said are true, there are boot tracks just going every where. Hell, it looks confusing in the daylight when I was coming back. If you hear the loud rush of water too close, you're off track. I took the most direct path up the slopes. Once past that small section, it's virtually impossible to get lost since the main chute or Whitney is always in front of you.

Be careful on the backside of Whitney after Trail Crest. The trail is very visible but there are a few sketchy parts. Not very wide, and a slip would be disastrous. It's not oh-my-god scary...just be careful is all.


Also, the ice axe is not just for the chute but a lot of the traversing you'll have to do. Most likely you won't fall, but having the axe sunk-in just has a very secure feeling, and if you do happen to fall while traversing it's nice to know the axe is there to save your butt.


Edited by 2600fromatari (06/12/11 01:57 PM)

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#15032 - 06/12/11 07:31 PM Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date) [Re: 2600fromatari]
Josh T. Offline


Registered: 06/12/11
Posts: 1
Loc: San Diego, Ca
@2600fromatari

Great pics!

Did you happen to summit in a single day? A group of us are set to hike on the 24th and hoping for blue skies. Thx for the photos, really appreciated when talking to my group about current conditions and the fact that hey WILL need crampons and ice axes.

It seems like in the chute there was a lot of tracks from hikers but would you say that the majority of the trail before the lone pine lake is well worn and navigation is okay?

Hoping to get to the summit as we will be leaving portal around 330am

Thx again for the condition report, it really helps!

Wellness Force

Best,

Josh
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#15037 - 06/12/11 09:15 PM Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date) [Re: Josh T.]
2600fromatari Offline


Registered: 10/18/10
Posts: 452
Loc: San Diego
Josh, yes, I only day hike Whitney. I started at around 3 AM and got back a little past 4 PM. It's doable, and trust me, I am NOT a fine specimen of human health.

I went up Gorgonio a few weeks ago with Microspikes and it was just not fun at all. They were worthless on steep slopes and had no bite. If I had a choice, I'll ditch the poles for the axe in a heartbeat, no questions asked.

The only place you'll have problem finding the trail is after the log crossing and nearing Lone Pine Lake. Be very careful there. Everything else is very straight forward; you would have to try very hard to get lost at any point before or after that. It was dark, and I'm not good with all the names and landmark, but once around Lone Pine Lake, and you have trouble deciding which boot track to follow, take the high ground. I made a direct bee-line and skipped Outpost Camp. Headed up the slopes, and voila, I see the chute in the distance and one main track traversing over there. I know that's lousy directions, but you have to understand I was fishing around in the dark myself. :-)

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#15039 - 06/12/11 09:27 PM Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date) [Re: 2600fromatari]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7228
Loc: Fresno, CA
Here are two pictures posted by joistix of a summit trip. They show the snow slope very well. It would be treacherous without crampons and ice axe.





Uploaded with ImageShack.us

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#15043 - 06/13/11 03:30 AM Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date) [Re: 2600fromatari]
Kevin Offline


Registered: 06/13/11
Posts: 3
Loc: Atlanta, Georgia
Great post 2600fromatari, can you tell me what the trail down to guitar lake from trail crest is like? Did it look like people had been using it?
Kevin

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#15047 - 06/13/11 06:04 AM Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date) [Re: 2600fromatari]
Burchey
Unregistered


Atari...out representing San Diego again, I see? Nicely done. Since I have to one-up you, I'll do Mt Rainier next weekend.


Edited by Burchey (06/13/11 06:05 AM)

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#15050 - 06/13/11 08:48 AM Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date) [Re: ]
2600fromatari Offline


Registered: 10/18/10
Posts: 452
Loc: San Diego
LOL, Burchey, usually, I take up the challenge, but I think I'd end up dead trying to one-up you. grin

Good luck on Rainier. I was talking to a guy from L.A. (and almost every hiker on Saturday was from L.A.) who did Rainier recently. I have to tackle a few other peaks before I'm ready for that one.

You are pumping me up step up the tempo!!! I want to scratch off Langley (via Tuttle Creek), Williamson, Tyndall, and Russell soon.

Remember to post those cool trip reports once you're back.

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#15051 - 06/13/11 08:55 AM Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date) [Re: Kevin]
2600fromatari Offline


Registered: 10/18/10
Posts: 452
Loc: San Diego
Kevin, I didn't see anyone coming from the JMT. Guitar Lake and every lake down there was frozen stiff. I saw no signs of human activity down below. I'll post some pictures of the West side for you when I get home tonight. From what little I can see near Trail Crest, the JMT coming up shouldn't be a problem; Whitney's backside was mostly clear.

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#15053 - 06/13/11 09:34 AM Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date) [Re: 2600fromatari]
Burchey
Unregistered


Atari, I'd be down for a Russell run some day if you're looking for company.

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#15062 - 06/13/11 03:05 PM Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date) [Re: 2600fromatari]
Kevin Offline


Registered: 06/13/11
Posts: 3
Loc: Atlanta, Georgia
Atari, I would love to see the pictures. It looks like the trail is still covered though, any chance that I would be able follow it down without getting lost? I had been planning on camping at guitar lake.
Kevin

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#15237 - 06/17/11 10:15 AM Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date) [Re: Steve C]
Sellers Offline


Registered: 06/09/11
Posts: 2
Loc: San Fernando Valley, CA
Hey Everybody.
So my wife and I are scheduled for a day hike up the main trail this Sunday 06/19/11. This will be our first time on the mountain and we would not consider ourselves experienced snow hikers/climbers. Actually we have found ourselves to be more versed in desert backpacking with eight Spring time trips in as many years to the Grand Canyon ranging anywhere from 3 to 7 days backpacking.

That being said, we do not have cramp-ons or Ice axes and have decided that we will not attempt to summit this weekend. Instead we are hoping to make it to Trail Camp and back. Is this possible to do without cramp-ons? We will have trekking poles and yaktrax with us in case the trail is icy, but I don't necessarily trust them on an icy unbeaten downhill slope.

We may also decide to skip the 2-3am start time since we will be cutting about a third of the mileage out of our hike. Although we were looking forward to a nice full(ish) moon hike.

Any thoughts on making it to Trail Camp w/o cramp-ons would be helpful. Thanks!!

Michael

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#15288 - 06/18/11 06:24 PM Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date) [Re: Steve C]
Rodney51 Offline


Registered: 04/28/11
Posts: 12
Loc: Northern CA
As of June 12th. From the ranger station.
The first 2.5 miles of trail is mostly snow free. From approx. mile 2 to Lone Pine Lake occasional drifts of varying depth cover the trail but route finding isn't too difficult if you are paying attention. Look for red markers in snowy areas indicating location of trail. There are some sections of trail with mud and/or standing water just below and just above Lone Pine Lake. Protect adjacent fragile vegetation and stay on the trail. Do not go around these sections. Beyond Lone Pine Lake, the trail is covered in many areas with large fields of deep snow and good route finding skills are necessary. Ski, snowshoe, and boot tracks lead in many directions, most being off-route.
There are a few snow free campsites in the Lone Pine Lake and Outpost areas but if you plan on doing a multi-day trip be prepared to camp on snow.
Above Trail Camp, the switchbacks are covered with snow and ice. If you are intent on summiting Mt. Whitney, solid winter mountaineering skills and experience are needed. During the past couple of weeks many visitors with inadequate skills, experience and equipment have been observed. Do not underestimate the severity of current conditions on Mount Whitney. Most fatalities on Whitney involve steep snow and ice. Don't get in over your head.

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#15301 - 06/19/11 01:52 AM Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date) [Re: Rodney51]
mmauer Offline


Registered: 02/07/10
Posts: 13
Loc: Alexandria, VA
Thanks for the update.

I'm in need of someone with a crystal ball, and the skills to read it. What's a reasonable guess as to when the switchbacks will be an option this summer? Two weeks from now? A month?

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#15331 - 06/20/11 08:06 AM Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date) [Re: Rodney51]
RockGirl Offline


Registered: 06/20/11
Posts: 1
Loc: Orange County, CA
I have 3 people going to do Whitney next weekend who have no Mt experience and I want your opinion on trail conditions for beginners? I feel it is to dangerous based on your post but they are not convinced, what do you think? eek

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#15341 - 06/20/11 11:11 AM Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date) [Re: RockGirl]
ejsurfs Offline


Registered: 03/31/11
Posts: 43
Loc: OC, CA
Hey Rock Girl,

I was a first timer on saturday 6/18 on the Whitney trail. My family wouldn't allow me to take an ice ax or crampons with me on my hike because I lacked the experience to use them safely. I was going it alone and didn't want to take chances. The trail was easy until after Lone Pine Lake. Above the lake is the beginning of the end. The trail disappears into the snow. Large cravasses have developed and add to the hazardous conditions. I ran into some other hikers and i borrowed an ice ax and practice glassading until I felt confident on it. It was a BLAST! Then I turned around and headed down. I wasn't tired at all but knew if i continued on I risked losing the trail and possibly falling with no way to stop myself. The snow was softer/slusher but it was very difficult to get traction in going up the incline. So I couldn't imagine coming down it.

Everyone on here always talks about the chute. Well after lone pine lake there are several chutes that have to be traversed. I was shocked at the steepness of these chutes and was surprised people weren't more acurately describing vastness of the snow fields.To me as a beginner these chutes made the trail impassable. Other fellow first timers I ran into on the trail agreed.

I still had a fabulous time and can't wait to tackle Whitney when snow is not a factor. The beauty on the hike was something to be experienced.
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