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#17300 - 08/07/11 06:15 PM Help with Mt. Whitney conditions in April.
Mambwe Offline


Registered: 08/07/11
Posts: 8
Loc: New York, NY
I might get a chance to get to Whitney in April of next year and I'm trying to get some beta of how the routes will be. I'm looking at the main Whitney Trail not the Mountaineers Route. How well is this trail marked? Is it easy to lose the trail? I haven't found many trail reports for April attempts. What can I expect as far as trail conditions? This would most likely be a solo day hike attempt.

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#17302 - 08/07/11 06:27 PM Re: Help with Mt. Whitney conditions in April. [Re: Mambwe]
2600fromatari Offline


Registered: 10/18/10
Posts: 452
Loc: San Diego
Most of the trail will probably be under a ton of snow and folks just make their own trail. If you're not comfortable with going cross country, and using a map, compass, etc, I'd skip it.

This was from June. As you can see, signs and cairns are all buried.


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#17303 - 08/07/11 06:28 PM Re: Help with Mt. Whitney conditions in April. [Re: Mambwe]
quillansculpture Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 560
Loc: Murrieta, CA
April's kinda iffy..... If it's anything like this year, you'll probably have to start training your sled dogs.

Pretty sure you can expect snow, snow and more snow. The trail won't be marked as you won't be able to see it. There are a lot of hikers on this and other sites that can do it in April, but most have been on it so much, have extreme weather experience and can find the trail and shortcuts blindfolded. If your into an adventure and have crampons, ice axe, map the right clothing, gear and have experience in varied weather conditions and route finding, then please take a look at Whitney and have some fun.
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#17304 - 08/07/11 06:50 PM Re: Help with Mt. Whitney conditions in April. [Re: quillansculpture]
Mambwe Offline


Registered: 08/07/11
Posts: 8
Loc: New York, NY
From what I understand this past year has had an abnormally high amount of snow. How has it been in years past? or in an average year?

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#17305 - 08/07/11 07:43 PM Re: Help with Mt. Whitney conditions in April. [Re: Mambwe]
Bee Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1261
Loc: Northern California
Go Here and see that there is a list of photo sites. Take a look at the April collections of these people:

Bob R
Richard P
Moosetracks

They are all year round mountaineers, so if you check out the month of April through the years, you can see for yourself how much snow there still is.
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#17307 - 08/08/11 12:15 AM Re: Help with Mt. Whitney conditions in April. [Re: Mambwe]
QITNL Offline


Registered: 03/03/11
Posts: 25
Loc: CA
Trail? I don't see no trail. Trail who?

If you has to ask da price...

Fuggedaboutit.


Edited by QITNL (08/08/11 12:17 AM)

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#17316 - 08/08/11 10:33 AM Re: Help with Mt. Whitney conditions in April. [Re: QITNL]
Fishmonger Offline


Registered: 01/07/10
Posts: 1029
Loc: Madison, WI
get a GPS track and find your way up. There's no trail above the snow line.

Here's Mountaineer's Route stuff from April 1 2011 - second menu link in the drop down menu top left once the page loads:

http://didnt.doit.wisc.edu/outdoor/gallery/sierra_2011spring/index.html

Snow started below the Portal, about 3-4 feet at the store, a little less on the first part of the trail, but once on the North Fork, there was only snow. You're rarely alone on these trails and if the conditions are ok, you can follow tracks.

If you have never done it in summer and know the approximate route, it probably isn't a good idea to head up there in April.
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#17333 - 08/08/11 10:16 PM Re: Help with Mt. Whitney conditions in April. [Re: Fishmonger]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
It's a great trip on skis if the conditions are right. Remember, April is ski season in the mountains, you wouldn't go up to Mammoth, which is much lower, expecting to hike to the top, and not deal with snow.

So you can expect that this is a ski mountaineering trip. Hiking in the snow, camping in the snow, melting snow for water, digging snow for a sleeping platform, climbing snow ridges. You'll love the backside of trail crest this time of the year:



Don't fall, next stop is 2,000 feet........

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#17335 - 08/09/11 05:45 AM Re: Help with Mt. Whitney conditions in April. [Re: Ken]
Mambwe Offline


Registered: 08/07/11
Posts: 8
Loc: New York, NY
Hiking in snow is not something that is new to me. I prefer hiking in the snow. I'm just trying get an idea how difficult it will be to find my way up to the summit without get too lost. If there are a lot of fresh tracks coupled with a gps it does sounds doable. Are there any sections of the trail that have any significant exposure? Is the picture you posted part of the trail on the way to the summit. I know I'd be taking trail crest, but I'm not sure where that picture is taken.

Thanks.

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#17337 - 08/09/11 06:18 AM Re: Help with Mt. Whitney conditions in April. [Re: Mambwe]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: Mambwe
Hiking in snow is not something that is new to me. I prefer hiking in the snow. I'm just trying get an idea how difficult it will be to find my way up to the summit without get too lost. If there are a lot of fresh tracks coupled with a gps it does sounds doable. Are there any sections of the trail that have any significant exposure? Is the picture you posted part of the trail on the way to the summit. I know I'd be taking trail crest, but I'm not sure where that picture is taken.

Thanks.


That picture is taken from the trail crest sign (well, I guess actually about 6-10 feet directly above the sign), shooting right along the trail, as you would go along toward the summit.

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#17341 - 08/09/11 06:43 AM Re: Help with Mt. Whitney conditions in April. [Re: Ken]
Mambwe Offline


Registered: 08/07/11
Posts: 8
Loc: New York, NY
Is it exposed like that for the entire trail crest trail or only certain sections? I've done a lot in snow, but not on such an exposed ridge. I don't mind exposure. I just haven't combined snow with the exposure.

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#17347 - 08/09/11 09:33 AM Re: Help with Mt. Whitney conditions in April. [Re: Mambwe]
2600fromatari Offline


Registered: 10/18/10
Posts: 452
Loc: San Diego
Look at a map of the area. Once you get to Consultation Lake, it is almost impossible to get lost. The main chute you would be heading up is always in sight. From Trail Crest in April, the entire +2 mile traverse to Whitney's summit would probably look like the picture above. If you can't self arrest in time/at all, it's over a thousand feet to bottom of the West Side.

EDIT: I know you said you were looking at the main trail, but when most of the mountain is covered in snow, I'd take the MR. It's direct and shorter, you have good reference points always in view, and I'd rather skip the traverse on the West Side.


Edited by 2600fromatari (08/09/11 09:47 AM)

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#17352 - 08/09/11 11:13 AM Re: Help with Mt. Whitney conditions in April. [Re: 2600fromatari]
Mambwe Offline


Registered: 08/07/11
Posts: 8
Loc: New York, NY
Would you go up MR and come down the Whitney trail? Or do you go up & down the MR? How is the MR route in the winter? I know there is a lot of scrambling. Is it all class 3 scrambling or does it go beyond that? Any ice climbing?

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#17376 - 08/09/11 09:34 PM Re: Help with Mt. Whitney conditions in April. [Re: Mambwe]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7554
Loc: Fresno, CA
Due to snow being all over the place, the more direct Mountaineers Route is the route of choice in the spring. Most people go up and down the MR rather than go the longer Main Trail route. Plus, the exposure is not as great, even in the final 400' (above the notch), as it can be on the Main Trail just west of Trail Crest (that picture above).

As for scrambling... All rock is covered with snow, so no. But an ice axe and crampons are mandatory.

Check the first paragraph in the Orientation Notes for links to the Mountaineers Route info. It is sparse on winter/spring ascents, though.

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#17378 - 08/10/11 04:14 AM Re: Help with Mt. Whitney conditions in April. [Re: Steve C]
Mambwe Offline


Registered: 08/07/11
Posts: 8
Loc: New York, NY
I know how to use crampons and an ice ax for arresting. I'm assuming there is no technical ice climbing on this route during spring. Am I correct?

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#17384 - 08/10/11 06:24 AM Re: Help with Mt. Whitney conditions in April. [Re: Mambwe]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1251
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
I've been up the MMWT as far as Trail Camp more than a few times. Generally, there some kind of route beaten in. It basically follows the trail until just below Lone Pine Lake. From there, you wander through the Lone Pine Lake then climb directly into Bighorn Park rather than use the switchbacks...unless a trail has been established. We have followed the trail up to Mirror Lake then its a direct shot to the top of the rocks. The route to Trailside Meadows from there usually stays fairly close to the route of the trail. At Trailside Meadow, you climb directly up to the Consultation Lake area, the trail between TM and CL can be extremely dangerous when snow is about. Once your reach Trail Camp, it fairly easy to figure out how to reach Trail Crest.

Conditions depend on previous winter's weather.

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#17402 - 08/10/11 03:35 PM Re: Help with Mt. Whitney conditions in April. [Re: Mambwe]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7554
Loc: Fresno, CA
The route is not one used by the ice-climbing enthusiasts. Usually hikers just go only with the ice axe and crampons.

But then all the guided groups are roped up.

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#17411 - 08/10/11 06:19 PM Re: Help with Mt. Whitney conditions in April. [Re: Mambwe]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 1012
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
Originally Posted By: Mambwe
... I've done a lot in snow, but not on such an exposed ridge. I don't mind exposure. I just haven't combined snow with the exposure.


This suggests to me that you should go with a qualified guide

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#17414 - 08/10/11 07:07 PM Re: Help with Mt. Whitney conditions in April. [Re: Harvey Lankford]
Mambwe Offline


Registered: 08/07/11
Posts: 8
Loc: New York, NY
Are there guides that do a 1-day spring attempt on Mt. Whitney? Everything I have seen is multiple days.

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#17417 - 08/10/11 07:34 PM Re: Help with Mt. Whitney conditions in April. [Re: Mambwe]
Akichow Offline


Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 659
Loc: SF Bay Area
Yes, you can hire a private guide.

http://www.sierramountaineering.com/

Or these folks (I did a private 1-day mountaineering class with one of their guides that was terrific).

http://www.sierramtnguides.com/

Be warned: private guiding is expensive. Less so if you put together a group of 4 or so.

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