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Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date)
derryg #15365 06/20/11 05:11 PM
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one thing that I don't see on the conditions is the nighttime conditions.

I have a +32 and a +15 sleeping bag and a 3-season tent. How cool are the nights at LPL, outpost and trail camp? (I know that no one person will have the answer to all of those questions).

Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date)
tdtz #15368 06/20/11 06:47 PM
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tdtz, I don't have the answer to any of those questions, but the night at 10,000 ft at the Horseshoe Meadows was fine with a 20 degree bag. No thermals, beanie, anything else needed.

Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date)
RockGirl #15390 06/21/11 10:18 AM
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Hey RockGirl,

I just did my first trip up Whitney on Sunday 6/19/11 with my wife and our friend of ours who had not summited in over ten years. None of us are experienced with hiking and climbing in snow conditions so we decided not to bring crampons or ice axes. Figured it would just give us a false sense of security and possibly get us into trouble. So we went knowing that however far we got would be "our" summit.

Our goal was trail camp. Although we had heard mixed reviews on the trail conditions. Getting to the Lone Pine Lake junction was no problem at all. As we passed Lone Pine lake and walked though a flat area of snow we saw what looked like the only way to continue was straight up the snow. This is NOT correct!! As we looked at this vertical chute, with plenty of foot traffic on it, we were considering turning around until we saw what looked to be switchbacks to our right (north). These switchbacks lead you to a marsh/meadow just before Outpost camp. Hooray!!

eek !!!!! If you choose to take the chute up from Lone Pine Lake, you will be traversing snow the entire way up. You will miss Outpost Camp and Mirror Lake. You won't meet back up with the trail until just before Consultation Lake. !!!!! eek

From Outpost on up there was a fair amount of snow but we had few problems keeping an eye on the trail and trekking through it without crampons. If you lose it, be patient and observant. And if all else fails, follow your footsteps back the way you came. I would warn you though to be very careful that you do not cross over any of the streams that are covered in snow if you can avoid it. With how soft the snow was I could see just how easy it would be to fall through the snow and into the creek below.

Ultimately we were able to make it to a ridge overlooking the still frozen Consultation Lake and a great view of Trail Camp and "The Chute". I'm gonna try to put up a trip report tonight when I get home with some pics. The mountain was beautiful, the weather was amazing and everyone on trail was helpful and nice.

I cannot wait to come back when the snow has melted and stand on top of this inspiring Mountain!!!

-Sellers

Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date)
Sellers #15392 06/21/11 10:34 AM
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I have seen several people mention that mosquitoes (mossies) are out now. So people should include repellent or appropriate clothing for that condition -- probably from now until late August, depending on the elevation.

And a second note: I have seen second-hand info saying someone has successfully negotiated the switchbacks -- "a little hairy, but doable." I would assume that they were using crampons.

Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date)
Steve C #15400 06/21/11 01:10 PM
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Yow! Mossies and switchbacks and snowmelt, Oh My! Signs of summer all over the place. At last! You can see the snow melting off the web cam shot. Might make it over Kaweah Gap in 3 weeks after all.

Thank you, Sellers and Steve,

Last edited by saltydog; 06/21/11 04:06 PM.

Wherever you go, there you are.
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Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date)
Steve C #15414 06/21/11 05:18 PM
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With the amount of snowmelt coming this summer - and the extended "wet" season that can be expected from it, those damn skeeters are gonna breed like crazy - the black flies, and the no-see-ums as well. I wouldn't be surprised if Outpost Camp is insufferable the entire summer without netting.

Permethrin and Deet should be high on everyone's essentials list real soon.

Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date)
tdtz #15448 06/22/11 07:26 AM
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Here is a great weather conditions forecast for climbers. This is for the summit. Lower conditions are warmer. 12,000 seems to have little difference from the 14,505.

http://www.climbingweather.com/California/Mt.-Whitney


W. Stevens Barefoot
Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date)
Hislaw1st #15457 06/22/11 09:57 AM
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WSB, that looks like a good weather website. I'll bet they are pulling their information from the NOAA site we use on the Mt Whitney Weather page (link is in the Feature Topics box above on the left.)

The curious thing about the NOAA site, though: If you plug in the Lat/Lon coordinates for Mt. Whitney on the NOAA site, it returns with an elevation of 12162 ft, and temps that correspond closely with the temps on the "Climbing Weather" page. I have tried contacting NOAA people in regards to the elevation problem, but have never received even a single response.

We played with the NOAA site locations, and by changing the coordinates slightly, got it to give us an elevation of 13107 ft. Closer to the actual 14505, but still 1400 ft low!

Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date)
Steve C #15472 06/22/11 01:09 PM
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Hey everyone,

I posted a while ago looking for info on whether hikers with no experience of snow, like ourselves, would be able to tackle Mt Whitney. Thought I would share our experience for anyone in the same position.

We went up on Sun/Mon and it was a great experience. We made it to Trail Camp in good time on the first day. One of us was suffering a little from altitude. We had a restless night trying to sleep with the altitude. I slept for a while, but my two friends couldn't sleep at all. We started tackling the chute at 5am, after watching the sunrise (one of the most beautiful things I have seen, don't miss it!).

It was all going good on the chute until my friend got dizzy and sick near the top of the chute, altitude sickness. He couldn't go on so we decided we should all descend with him, he was really sick until we got back to Lone Pine. We were lucky it was a hot day and the snow was soft early so we glissaded down which was really cool! We were worried about it as we had not done it before (and people warn against it), but as long as you are careful and sensible you will be fine going down, it's a rush! Try to practice stopping a little and then go for it! We had ice axes and crampons (definitely necessary if you are going past trail camp and going up the chute). Snow is soft and slippery so expect a slip or two at some point and to posthole! You can go off trail sometimes as it is not always clear where to go, but not too difficult to get back on track!

All in all, it is a grand hike, as long as you are physically fit and sensible enough... If it wasn't for the altitude sickness we definitely would have made it to the top, so I am sure if you are inexperienced like us, you can make it too!

Thanks to the people who responded to our questions on this forum, it really helped us!

It was a great adventure, even if we didn't make it to the top!

Derry

Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date)
derryg #15481 06/22/11 03:37 PM
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Thanks for the good report, derryg! With the AMS trouble, can you tell us what your schedule was like:

When did you first arrive at significant altitude (example to Whitney Portal)?

When did you start hiking?

How long did it take to get to Trail Camp?

Just for others' reference, people have varying levels of AMS if they don't acclimate. Some are ok (~20%), some have mild symptoms (headache, can't eat) (~50%), and some really suffer (~30%). Two things help: #1, Best is acclimatization, such as sleeping TWO nights at Whitney Portal, or better at Horseshoe Meadows. And #2, taking a small dose of Diamox twice a day before and during the hike. I personally do both.

Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date)
Steve C #15485 06/22/11 04:46 PM
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Hi all
My husband and I will try Mt. Whitney this coming Fri (6/24). We do have crampons and ice axes, although not much experience with it. Pls let me know if the chute from Trail Camp is the only way to summit and down? Can we still use the switchback, or it's completely covered in snow and undoable? We were there last yr about the same time and tried to go up the switchback but I heard a lot of people turn back at the cable so we didn't go on. Also about glissade, is there an alternative when going down? And if we decide to glissade, where to find out more info in terms of techniques. I heard about it and kinda picture how it is from some You tube video but hasn't found a good description of how to do it correctly and safely. Thanks all.

Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date)
ann #15486 06/22/11 05:11 PM
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I just climbed Whitney yesterday June 21st. The only way to the top from the WT side is up the snow chute. The switch backs are not passable. The chute is over 30 degrees and crampons/ax with experience is certainly preferable.

Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date)
skicoach #15487 06/22/11 05:36 PM
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Thx skicoach. So, the chute it is. Now, how long, or I should say how high is that chute? I remember standing at Trail Camp looking at it and it's pretty GRAND. On average, how long does it take for a person to get to the top of the chute? 3, 4 hours? Thx

Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date)
ann #15493 06/22/11 07:37 PM
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Ann -

How long it will take depends upon your fitness and acclimatization level. I'm on the slow side, and figure about 1-1,200'/hour, so for me that slope takes about an hour, maybe a bit more.

Trail Camp is about 12.4', and Trail Crest is 13.6, or about 1,200' gain. You'll gain part of this more gradually (maybe 400') on the trudge from Trail Camp to the base of the steeper slope.

It's most a head game. One step at a time, remember to breathe, and don't look up - 3 things a friend used to recite frequently. Don't psych yourself out. It doesn't last forever.

Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date)
skicoach #15506 06/23/11 05:49 AM
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skicoach, any idea when the switchbacks might be accessible? We are schedule to come down them on July 17th.

P.S.
Does anyone else have to log in multiple times for it to stay logged in in a session?

Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date)
lesper4 #15514 06/23/11 07:47 AM
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lesper, the switchers should be in pretty decent shape by 7/17. The snow is melting fast and, barring a cold snap or more snow, the only sensitive area that might be iced would be the cables. There was a fair amount of concern in June last year regarding when the switchbacks would open up due to spring snow levels, but by early July they were mostly OK. The cables opened up the second week of July with a dry-footed path, narrow though it was, at the outside edge.

I was up the 14th/15th of July last year and trekked through only moderate snow in two sections (Trail Camp and near the summit), and expect conditions to be not that much worse this year for a 7/20 hike. I suspect the cables might still be packed, but I also expect a pretty solid path beaten through them by then. At the worst, micro-spikes and trekkiing poles should be all you'd need for this, and any other patchy areas.

As this unusually heavy snow melts away over the coming weeks, the North Fork crossing may actually be the worst part of the trek. Those rock-hops may be under water for quite a while. This can be bypassed by taking the old trail up, near the waterfall and wooden bridge, instead of starting at the trailhead near the store. It intersects the MMWT on the other side of the NF, at the JM Wilderness sign.

Keep watching the TRs, but I believe we'll see dramatic improvement over the next 4 weeks if the heat continues to be dialed up.

Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date)
Bulldog34 #15515 06/23/11 08:55 AM
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My son and I are going on Whitney Trail for a Day hike on July 12th and no one knows at this point if the cables will be dicey or if the rocks hops at the North Fork may be under water. I will be camping at Cottonwood the two nights previous to acclimate, so I am wondering what will be the best way to get up to date information as to the hike conditions, specifically in these two areas of concern, before we set out?

Is the best advise at this point to be prepared with Microspikes and Treking poles for the cables section and then ask around at the Whitney Portal Store if the alternate route of taking the old trail to bypass the high water levels that might be in place at that time over the North Fork Crossing.

As I am a first timer armed with the route tracks on GPS, it should not be much trouble to get back on the main Whitney trail after the bypass, should it?

Thanks

Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date)
DudimusMaximus #15519 06/23/11 10:26 AM
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The area you are acclimatizing is actually called Horseshoe Meadow. Cottonwood is the name of the creek on the way in.

Watch here for conditions... that is probably the best way to plan. We are all watching for the conditions at the cables.

The old trail is a nice shortcut. Finding its beginning past the Portal Store may be the most difficult part, but even that is not hard. If you go up, you cannot miss the main trail -- the old trail stops AT and ON the main trail.

Here's BobR's map of the old trail




It would sure be nice if someone going up in the next month would take a series of pictures showing the start of old the trail, and the end, too.

Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date)
Steve C #15527 06/23/11 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted By: Steve C
Thanks for the good report, derryg! With the AMS trouble, can you tell us what your schedule was like:

When did you first arrive at significant altitude (example to Whitney Portal)?

When did you start hiking?

How long did it take to get to Trail Camp?

We didn't camp at high altitude beforehand, Whitney Portal campsite was full so we stayed at a hostel in Lone Pine. This obviously didn't help with my friends acclimatizing. I was a little nauseous the next morning but nothing major, could carry on no problem, just a little slow to start in the morning.

We started at about 9.30 on the first day, took it fairly easy on the way to trail camp and arrived there around 3, maybe a bit later. We got up at 5 the next day and started tackling the chute. Most people we talked to said they were getting up at 3.30 and planned to start in darkness.

Hope this is useful,

Derry

Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011 (Out-of-Date)
ann #15530 06/23/11 02:39 PM
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My daughter and I went up the snow chute Tuesday(my third trip). First time with crampons and ice axes. We learned pretty fast as it was the only way up. Early morning with the crampons. Even at that, it took us and others we were watching and spoke to about 3 hours. But, what an adventure and sense of accomplishment. Have some really great photos that will show the conditions with perspective, but I can't figure out how to attach them. We came back down around 3 in the afternoon and the chute was like a big slurpy. We walked, if you can call it that, down in about 1 hour. Did some glissading, which was fun and using the axe really came in handy, but found we got soaked. The snow was still about 3 feet deep.
I could see signs of the switch backs especially when we able to look back at them from the Windows.
during the day, it warm and we noticed over 4 days that the rush of water from the melt got louder and louder. The second stream up from the Portal was noticeably more difficult to cross on our return. Freaked my daughter out.
Just make sure to start early and finish before the snow hardens in the chute.
She found the social aspect of the climb almost as enjoyable as the climb itself. So many nice people. Enjoy your trip.

Steve C edit: lynnbern's pictures are in the picture gallery

View of the snow slope west of the switchbacks.


Snow at the cables


Climbing the snow slope (the "chute")


Crossing to the west side at Trail Crest

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