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#22882 - 04/15/12 11:58 AM Hiking Mt.Whitney in May (13th-16th)
MichaelRyanSD Offline


Registered: 04/15/12
Posts: 33
Loc: San Diego CA
Hi, I've been using the board for info for the past month or so, didn't get a spot when I originally wanted in July, ended up taking some time off in May.

I know we've had some unseasonably hot weather this winter, and likewise a lot of rain/snow storms recently, so its going to be hard to make a judgement call this early out, but what is typical conditions that time of year.

I've never done Whitney before, I've hiked San Jacinto without an ounce of altitude sickness. My plan was to hike up to base camp on Mon, hang out the night, summit the next day then head down the backside and spend the night, hike back up the third day and summit and depending on time either spend the night at base camp again, or time permitting, make it all the back to the portal and head home.

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#22890 - 04/15/12 06:20 PM Re: Hiking Mt.Whitney in May (13th-16th) [Re: MichaelRyanSD]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1253
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
You will need basic snow skills, ice axe, crampons and some additional warmies. Microspikes will help with the trailwalking parts if there any extended ice...I generally carry both crampons and Microspikes on winter trips.

The chances of the trail being open above cables is just above nil...which means there is a chance, but there is still the angled ice as you approach Mt. Whitney.

See my pictures of a May 2007 trip, which can be accessed through the links below. The conditions in 2007 are similar to this year.

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#22893 - 04/15/12 08:01 PM Re: Hiking Mt.Whitney in May (13th-16th) [Re: wbtravis]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7740
Loc: Fresno, CA
Here's the link to his May 12, 07, trip:

Spring on The Main Mt. Whitney Trail

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#22903 - 04/15/12 10:58 PM Re: Hiking Mt.Whitney in May (13th-16th) [Re: Steve C]
John Prietto Offline


Registered: 06/01/11
Posts: 56
Loc: Vista, ca , united states
Steve

it's a little early to tell probably but what is your prediction for the main trail in june? think snow shoes or crampons are needed? Will microspikes do for main trail? Yosemite has had the driest winter in their record books but alot of storms have been hitting now.by the way does bill have contact info. his website under mail doesnt pop up email address but it could be just my computer

Respectfully

john


Edited by John Prietto (04/15/12 10:58 PM)
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#22906 - 04/15/12 11:12 PM Re: Hiking Mt.Whitney in May (13th-16th) [Re: John Prietto]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7740
Loc: Fresno, CA
> ...what is your prediction for the main trail in june?

Here's what I wrote in this thread:

As for your mid June date, this year might be ok. The Sierra has had a near record dry winter this year, so the trail will clear much earlier than normal.

Last year, the switchbacks were finally usable July 11. In 2010 it was July 1. But those were heavy snowfall years. Looking back at snowfall records, 2007 is more representative of this year. Looking up a report on wpsmb, I found this posted 6-3-2007:


Originally Posted By: georem
I was up there on Saturday June 2 for a day hike and the conditions were excellent. It is hard to believe the difference a year makes in the snow pack. There is very little snow on the trail and that is only on the switchbacks and a few spots above trail crest. The only area of concern to proceed with caution is at the cables. There is still snow and just a small area of rock along the cables and early in the morning it is covered with ice. It was passable but required careful steps and holds. I would not consider taking an ice axe and crampon unless you are going to go up or down the chute. There is still snow there but it is melting fast. A good report to look at is Bob R's "Mt Whitney Trail 23-24 May" post. Click on the pictures link and find the photo on the first page of the cables, although more snow has melted it is still pretty representative of the cable section. Good luck and have fun, it was a beautiful Saturday on top and very few people on the trail.

And Bob R's pictures are here: 2007-05-23 Whitney, Muir, etc.   Look at the pictures starting especially at "38 Trail Camp", and remember that these are a few weeks before you are going, and this year is probably even less snow.

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#22913 - 04/16/12 07:59 AM Re: Hiking Mt.Whitney in May (13th-16th) [Re: Steve C]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1253
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
During our trip in May 2007, we decided snowshoes were 4 lbs. we could do without.

The reasoning was the trail gets so much use during the winter to Trail Camp that even if there was some depth to it, it would be compacted, which was the case.

If it's a day hike, carrying snowshoes in one more nail in the coffin of early season hopes and dreams. It's a couple of miles shorter to the summit during the spring because you go up the chute. However, these 20 miles are not the same as the 22 miles later in the quota season because of the climb to Trail Crest and the ice and snow on the west side. A lot of things have to go right for a day hike to be successful before the trail is completely open.

As a friend says...it's not the miles, it's the kind of miles.

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#23175 - 04/23/12 05:25 PM Re: Hiking Mt.Whitney in May (13th-16th) [Re: MichaelRyanSD]
MichaelRyanSD Offline


Registered: 04/15/12
Posts: 33
Loc: San Diego CA
Okay so I just purchased some crampons, 12 point crampons to be exact.

I've been looking for an ice axe as well.

I am wondering, what sort of down jacket is required. I've been thinking about getting a 800 down jacket to have for this and many other hikes I intend to make. But would that be overkill for this time of year?

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#23196 - 04/24/12 07:29 AM Re: Hiking Mt.Whitney in May (13th-16th) [Re: MichaelRyanSD]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1253
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
12 points? Most 12 points are used with mountaineering boots and clip in at least on the back of the boot. If they have a clip system, you will not be able to use them with most standard hiking boots.

Most folks use Black Diamond axes.

If this is one and done, I'd just make do with stuff around the homestead. However, if you are going expand your hiking horizons, I start looking at the various puffies offered by Patagonia, Montbell, Western Mountaineering and Feathered Friends. I own a 7 or 8 year old FF Hyperion Jacket that has been on the below freezing summit in the summer.

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#23217 - 04/24/12 06:47 PM Re: Hiking Mt.Whitney in May (13th-16th) [Re: wbtravis]
MooseTracks Offline


Registered: 11/02/09
Posts: 582
Loc: Bishop, CA, United States
Originally Posted By: wbtravis
12 points? Most 12 points are used with mountaineering boots and clip in at least on the back of the boot. If they have a clip system, you will not be able to use them with most standard hiking boots.


Not quite sure about this statement. I was able to find five different brands of 12-point crampons that come with strap bindings, useful on all types of boots.

Grivel

Black Diamond

Petzl

Stubai

CAMP

Just an odd comment, as I stated. I've used my strap crampons on my ski boots while in moderate terrain, mainly because they are lighter than my Sabretooths. But we're not getting into a deep conversation about 'pons here, except to emphasize that walking in crampons is indeed dangerous, not something to be taken lightly, and can lead to getting you to places off of which you may have trouble backing down. I've seen too many people crawling up and down the slope to Trail Crest to not realize that those unfamiliar with how to properly use the gear, of any type, can very easily get into troubling positions.

As for axes, there are many makes and models out there, so if you are investing, make sure you get a good all-purpose axe to start out. The length test is to hold the head of the axe, the tip of which should hit right around your ankle bone.

Again, as above, just having an axe is worthless without the skills to use it.

If you are dayhiking, you need to watch the weather reports. I just got an ultralight down sweater from Patagonia (on steepandcheap.com) and it is going to serve me very well and quite a bit this summer. You might consider (if the weather is forecast to be nice) taking a dry shirt/socks and a lighter jacket (like the Patagonia nanopuff) to change into once you reach the summit. Dry clothing can make all the difference, instead of relying on bigger, heftier jackets.

-Laura
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#23229 - 04/24/12 11:09 PM Re: Hiking Mt.Whitney in May (13th-16th) [Re: MooseTracks]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7740
Loc: Fresno, CA
Since we're talking ice axes and knowing how to use one,

Here are two videos to start with:

    How to ice-axe self arrest, from the British Mountaineering Council
    ...and this one: Ice Axe Technique

If you take the ice axe, find a snow slope and practice self arrest before getting into any dangerous situations.

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#23259 - 04/25/12 09:32 AM Re: Hiking Mt.Whitney in May (13th-16th) [Re: MooseTracks]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1253
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Laura,

I just haven't seen 12 points without some kind of heel clip. I must be leading a sheltered life...or doing all my crampon shopping at REI.

Thanks for the edumacation.

Bill

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#23397 - 04/29/12 01:22 PM Re: Hiking Mt.Whitney in May (13th-16th) [Re: MichaelRyanSD]
MichaelRyanSD Offline


Registered: 04/15/12
Posts: 33
Loc: San Diego CA
Thank you for pointing that out, I did purchase some 12 points that did require boots with a heel clip. (Which I do not own). I just bought some 10 point crampons that are universal fit.

I've been following the trip reports pretty closely and it looks like from the attire that I won't need some sort of 800-fill down jacket for this trip. I do plan on wearing an under armor shirt, flannel, then rain/wind proof jacket/fleece.

I should have mentioned in my original post, I'm planning on doing a 3-4 day hike. I plan on heading up there from San Diego on Sunday Night to Whitney Portal. Get my permit the next day around 8am, hike up to Trail camp (stay there the night). Leave around 7-8am and summit whitney via the chute, then head down the westward side and camp at crabtree. Head back up and over the next day, and depending on time. Either camp at Trail or Outpost camp. If I'm somehow extremely early, then just head back to the portal.

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#23399 - 04/29/12 01:33 PM Re: Hiking Mt.Whitney in May (13th-16th) [Re: MichaelRyanSD]
2600fromatari Offline


Registered: 10/18/10
Posts: 453
Loc: San Diego
Most recent pictures I've seen. Not quite May, but you get the idea. All that snow won't be gone in a month.
http://piotrowski.smugmug.com/Whats-New-...9&k=mjD5Qgj


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#23430 - 04/30/12 09:04 AM Re: Hiking Mt.Whitney in May (13th-16th) [Re: MichaelRyanSD]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1253
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
It is my belief you should have enough clothing with you to spend the night uncomfortably but safely at 14,500' for your summit attempt. If you get sick, conditions change or you get injure up high any less can put your life at risk.

When I did Mt. Whitney on about the same weekend in 2007. I took my 700 fill power 2 pound + down parka...and I was glad I did. The temperature at Trail Camp was low enough to put an inch of ice on our water bucket overnight. I don't remember if I took the -20* F or the 15* F sleeping bag.

My core clothing were...

Micro grid fleece top
Patagonia R2 vest
Arcteryx Power Shield Hoody
Marmot Sharp Point Gloves
The down parka was in the pack for the summit attempt.

You will need a wind protective layer. I used the Power Shield hoody and softshell pants.

Clothing wise this was like a winter trip.

Most of the trip to the peak were in the micro gird top. The temperature did not get over 40* F all day.

Do not under estimate your water needs because of the cooler temperatures. I went through ~5 liters that day...the last liter snow mixed with water.

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#23462 - 05/01/12 06:38 AM Re: Hiking Mt.Whitney in May (13th-16th) [Re: wbtravis]
KathyW Offline


Registered: 11/03/09
Posts: 40
Loc: Redlands, CA
Every year is different, but conditions tend to be icier on low snow years; so be careful out there.


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#23491 - 05/02/12 07:27 AM Re: Hiking Mt.Whitney in May (13th-16th) [Re: MichaelRyanSD]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1253
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Originally Posted By: MichaelRyanSD


I've been following the trip reports pretty closely and it looks like from the attire that I won't need some sort of 800-fill down jacket for this trip. I do plan on wearing an under armor shirt, flannel, then rain/wind proof jacket/fleece.


Do not judge what you need by what you see people wearing during a highly aerobic activity. You are going to need to be warm when the sun goes down at Trail Camp, where it gets awfully cold and windy...especially when the sun dips behind the Sierra Crest.

I was out this past winter in a blizzard where the temperature was 16* F and the wind was gust in the teens. The most clothing I had on while moving with softshell hoody and vest, I switch to a Gore-Tex shell and R2 vest after lunch.

I checked out last year's temperatures in the region for the period. Based on that you should plan on single digits temperatures at Trail Camp and to low 30s for the summit.

Just manipulate this url for past years info... http://1.usa.gov/Jp8X9Z

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#23590 - 05/06/12 01:48 PM Re: Hiking Mt.Whitney in May (13th-16th) [Re: wbtravis]
MichaelRyanSD Offline


Registered: 04/15/12
Posts: 33
Loc: San Diego CA
So here is what I am wearing as far as gear goes.

Upper Body
Windproof/Water Proof shell (Its a serious jacket I used when I did off shore sailboat racing)
North Face Windfall Fleece Jacket
Thermal Freeze Out Layer
Under Armour Shirt (I'll have a couple of these and wear a different once each day so I'm not wearing something with the funk)

Lower Body
Windproof/Rainproof Bib Pants (Used for sailing as well)
Thermal Freeze Out Layer
Under Armour Shorts(Again will have a couple pairs)
Knee High Gaiters.


Does this seem like it should be enough?

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#23946 - 05/14/12 01:36 PM Re: Hiking Mt.Whitney in May (13th-16th) [Re: MichaelRyanSD]
Dustin WeGoRTW Offline


Registered: 05/14/12
Posts: 10
Loc: Austin, TX
Hi Michael, we are going right after you this coming weekend and just curious to hear what you decided on based on the latest conditions?

We are curious to see how many people are using Crampons still versus microspikes or nothing at all (if that is even possible).

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#23951 - 05/14/12 05:14 PM Re: Hiking Mt.Whitney in May (13th-16th) [Re: Dustin WeGoRTW]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1253
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Microspikes are going to be needed at minimum, if you are going in the next week.

If you are unfamiliar with MMWT, the route of travel until the trail opens beyond the cables is up the chute, which requires crampons and axe to be done safely. If the trail has been force through the cable, you will still need Microspikes for a while. The 97 Switchbacks on a north wall, more or less and it take while for that to melt off. If you get a map, you'll see what I mean.

Although the 97 Switchbacks is the most fretted about area there are a could of other areas along the trail that will get you to pucker, if you are not properly prepared.

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