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#24879 - 06/10/12 12:06 PM mountaineer's route
scheiner Offline


Registered: 06/03/12
Posts: 3
Loc: LA
I just returned from a hike/climb up the Mountaineer's route on Whitney on June 9, 2012. We left the Whitney Portal trailhead at 4:45 and reached Iceberg Lake by 7:45. We then proceeded to the base of the scree slope (which leads to the notch). It was the worst hiking/climbing experience of my 16 year climbing life! I am a female rock climber, on-sighting 10a trad and 11a sport. I have never been so scared. The scree slope was steep enough that a fall could mean serious injury or death, and it was completely loose. It took 3 1/2 hours for me to get up this death defying slope (about 1800 feet?). We went up the right of the slush filled gully, maybe this was wrong? I wanted to go down after I was half way up, because I was tired of risking my life over this piece of poop climb, but it was impossible, it was simply too loose to down climb. Huge boulders were loose. I made it up this section, and did not get seriously injured, by pure luck. After we reached the notch, we had no choice but to summit by going up the class 3-4 wall to the left, because the traverse was slushy snow that looked like it was ready to blow. Once again, maybe we choose the wrong way up this face (this time up the right side), but I swear I was free soloing a fifth class climb, albeit a 5-6 or 5-7. The thing is, I hate free soloing, especially if a fall means certain death. We summited at 11:45, and I was just so happy to be alive. I recommend only people who enjoy free soloing fifth class climbs do this route, at least in the condition that it is right now. I jogged down the main trail and reached the Portal at around 4:45 PM. I was in a great mood after defying death!

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#24888 - 06/10/12 02:54 PM Re: mountaineer's route [Re: scheiner]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7908
Loc: Fresno, CA
Wow! So glad you made it! Too bad it was not such a great experience.

Most people climb the left side of the main gully up to the notch, but I am not sure it is that much different. There is a lot of bouldering and some loose rock to climb there as well.

It is interesting that, although you are a rock climber, you were pretty intimidated. Maybe the fact that you weren't connected to a rope made you feel so uncomfortable.

How does your route compare with the videos in this post?


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#24891 - 06/10/12 03:14 PM Re: mountaineer's route [Re: scheiner]
2600fromatari Offline


Registered: 10/18/10
Posts: 453
Loc: San Diego
No offense, but there's really nothing scary about that chute; annoying (actually extremely annoying), yes, dangerous, not really. I can see some injury from falling rock, but death slide/fall, no.

As Steve said, you should have gone up the left side. Look at the picture. Next time (if you come back), go where the dotted line is.
http://images.summitpost.org/original/193243.jpg

If your climbing skills are that advanced, you should have taken any of the solid routes directly to the summit and avoided the chute.

From the Notch, I'm shocked that you thought about doing the traverse as I always see that path as asking for it when there's any easy way up that wall most refer to as the Final 400. I'm also surprised you took the right side up as it's usually full of ice. The left side is chock full of SOLID hand and foot holds.

Either way, glad you made it back in one piece. For anyone who is contemplating doing this route, please keep in mind that this is one person's opinion. I'm not trivializing her opinion, but don't be deterred from a single person's experience. It's very doable without ropes as long as you're comfortable with the exposure.

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#24897 - 06/10/12 04:56 PM Re: mountaineer's route [Re: scheiner]
Akichow Offline


Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 659
Loc: SF Bay Area
Thank you for sharing your experience. I read these reports to assess whether, sometime in the future, a more technical route like mountaineer's route might appeal. I found your write-up informative and appreciated that you took the time to report your impressions. And glad that it had a happy ending!

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#24915 - 06/11/12 08:32 AM Re: mountaineer's route [Re: scheiner]
Burchey
Unregistered


Welcome to the Sierras!

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#24917 - 06/11/12 09:46 AM Re: mountaineer's route [Re: Steve C]
scheiner Offline


Registered: 06/03/12
Posts: 3
Loc: LA
Whoops, I am a typical left/right challenged girl, I guess. I did go up the left side of the slush filled gully. Yes, if I had been tied to a rope I would have been so much happier. I would rather try to on-sight a 12a then go up a loose gully, any time!

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#24921 - 06/11/12 10:13 AM Re: mountaineer's route [Re: scheiner]
Burchey
Unregistered


If it's one thing I've learned in them there mountains - there's a big difference between rock climbing/etc at altitude or with major exposure, and driving up to the crag at JT and doing a pitch or two. The scree in the chute up to the notch is a pain, but not that dangerous. The final 400 has plenty of reasonable options. I think, the more you get out up high, the less scary this will seem. That's how it went for me and my partners.

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#24927 - 06/11/12 10:46 AM Re: mountaineer's route [Re: scheiner]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7908
Loc: Fresno, CA
Maybe someone can explain what "on-sight 10a" (or 11a or 12a) means. I sure don't understand.

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#24932 - 06/11/12 11:44 AM Re: mountaineer's route [Re: Steve C]
2600fromatari Offline


Registered: 10/18/10
Posts: 453
Loc: San Diego
Steve,
She means that she'll go to a climbing route and climb it sight unseen. Doesn't ask anyone for conditions or study the climbing route. Basically, she's able to walk up to a wall, look up, and solve the puzzle of how climb up face/crack, whatever it is, on the spot.

Google 10a and you'll see what a route like that looks like. It's difficult to say the least and waaaaaaaaaay out of my capabilities. The fact that she's able to do it at all, nevermind not getting info ahead of time, makes me puzzled that she has such a hard time with the Mountaineer's Route. confused

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#24935 - 06/11/12 12:40 PM Re: mountaineer's route [Re: 2600fromatari]
MooseTracks Offline


Registered: 11/02/09
Posts: 582
Loc: Bishop, CA, United States
Sooooooo... you onsight 10a or 11 but you decide to slog up a giant scree chute instead of bringing some gear (or not) and climbing one of the classic routes in the Sierra (East Buttress, 5.7, but mostly 4th)? And then you kvetch angrily to the world?

Boy, I'm glad I'm just a hiker.
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#24936 - 06/11/12 12:42 PM Re: mountaineer's route [Re: MooseTracks]
Burchey
Unregistered


Originally Posted By: MooseTracks
Sooooooo... you onsight 10a or 11 but you decide to slog up a giant scree chute instead of bringing some gear (or not) and climbing one of the classic routes in the Sierra (East Buttress, 5.7, but mostly 4th)? And then you kvetch angrily to the world?

Boy, I'm glad I'm just a hiker.


You're mostly 4th. OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

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#24938 - 06/11/12 12:47 PM Re: mountaineer's route [Re: ]
MooseTracks Offline


Registered: 11/02/09
Posts: 582
Loc: Bishop, CA, United States
Adam, go take your drugs.
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#24943 - 06/11/12 02:55 PM Re: mountaineer's route [Re: 2600fromatari]
CaT Offline


Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 694
Loc: Blacklick, OH (formerly SoCal)
Quote:
Google 10a and you'll see what a route like that looks like. It's difficult to say the least and waaaaaaaaaay out of my capabilities. The fact that she's able to do it at all, nevermind not getting info ahead of time, makes me puzzled that she has such a hard time with the Mountaineer's Route.

That was my impression also.

CaT
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#24944 - 06/11/12 02:58 PM Re: mountaineer's route [Re: MooseTracks]
CaT Offline


Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 694
Loc: Blacklick, OH (formerly SoCal)
Quote:
Adam, go take your drugs.

I think he's waiting for you to bring them to him. wink

CaT
_________________________
If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them more than the miracle of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.
- Lyndon Johnson, on signing the Wilderness Act into law (1964)

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#24946 - 06/11/12 03:07 PM Re: mountaineer's route [Re: scheiner]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 1025
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
Originally Posted By: scheiner
I was in a great mood after defying death!


here are two quotes from the mountaineering literature:

In mountaineering one man's prudence is another man's poison.
HW Tilman, Two Mountains and a River, page 585

To incur danger deliberately and to wrestle with difficulties which have in them elements of danger are two entirely different things.
Frank Smythe, The Mountain Vision, page 45


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#24948 - 06/11/12 03:12 PM Re: mountaineer's route [Re: MooseTracks]
scheiner Offline


Registered: 06/03/12
Posts: 3
Loc: LA
I did not say I could on-sight a 12a. I said I would rather try on-sighting a 12a, sport of course, and probably fall all over the place and fail, then climb that loose gully. You guys are harsh! Anyway, I was just trying to warn any rock climbers how loose the gully was, just in case they hate loose rock as much as I hate loose rock. I wish I were as brave as you guys, but I definitely am not. One love, from a lover of climbing

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#24957 - 06/11/12 04:45 PM Re: mountaineer's route [Re: scheiner]
2600fromatari Offline


Registered: 10/18/10
Posts: 453
Loc: San Diego
Originally Posted By: scheiner
I did not say I could on-sight a 12a. I said I would rather try on-sighting a 12a, sport of course, and probably fall all over the place and fail, then climb that loose gully. You guys are harsh! Anyway, I was just trying to warn any rock climbers how loose the gully was, just in case they hate loose rock as much as I hate loose rock. I wish I were as brave as you guys, but I definately am not. One love, from a lover of climbing


Sorry if it came across wrong, not my intentions to give you a hard time. Written words have a way of being misinterpreted versus a face-to-face conversation.

I don't have the skills or bravado to do those 5.XX or equivalent climbs. If you can do 12a climbs then you're in a rarefied field that I usually only see on Youtube and read about, so it comes as a shock that you feel something like the Final 400 is dangerous when my clumsy amateurish butt can make it up there.

This board has plenty of reports and pictures from the MT, MR, and JMT, but rarely pictures from the technical climbs. Please stick around, and maybe next time you can bring the gear and head up one of these routes and share your experience with us.
http://www.summitpost.org/mount-whitney/150227


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#24959 - 06/11/12 05:07 PM Re: mountaineer's route [Re: scheiner]
KathyW Offline


Registered: 11/03/09
Posts: 40
Loc: Redlands, CA
Originally Posted By: scheiner
I just returned from a hike/climb up the Mountaineer's route on Whitney on June 9, 2012. We left the Whitney Portal trailhead at 4:45 and reached Iceberg Lake by 7:45. We then proceeded to the base of the scree slope (which leads to the notch). It was the worst hiking/climbing experience of my 16 year climbing life! I am a female rock climber, on-sighting 10a trad and 11a sport. I have never been so scared. The scree slope was steep enough that a fall could mean serious injury or death, and it was completely loose. It took 3 1/2 hours for me to get up this death defying slope (about 1800 feet?). We went up the right of the slush filled gully, maybe this was wrong? I wanted to go down after I was half way up, because I was tired of risking my life over this piece of poop climb, but it was impossible, it was simply too loose to down climb. Huge boulders were loose. I made it up this section, and did not get seriously injured, by pure luck. After we reached the notch, we had no choice but to summit by going up the class 3-4 wall to the left, because the traverse was slushy snow that looked like it was ready to blow. Once again, maybe we choose the wrong way up this face (this time up the right side), but I swear I was free soloing a fifth class climb, albeit a 5-6 or 5-7. The thing is, I hate free soloing, especially if a fall means certain death. We summited at 11:45, and I was just so happy to be alive. I recommend only people who enjoy free soloing fifth class climbs do this route, at least in the condition that it is right now. I jogged down the main trail and reached the Portal at around 4:45 PM. I was in a great mood after defying death!


Thanks for the report. Yes, that chute is loose and nasty. It's a good reminder that Class 2 doesn't mean easy and safe because there are many Class 2 routes that are loose, steep, and dangerous (not to mention exhausting) - that's why they call them Sierra Slogs. The final 400' after the notch is nice solid Class 3 if you stick to the left side. Those ratings are subjective though. I always think about Russell and that loose slope up to the plateau from Clyde Meadow on the way to the Russell-Carillon saddle - to me, that loose Class 2 slope is much harder than Russell's Class 3 East Ridge (that east ridge would definitely be Class 4 in Colorado).

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#24960 - 06/11/12 05:13 PM Re: mountaineer's route [Re: 2600fromatari]
Yury Offline


Registered: 06/11/11
Posts: 57
Loc: T.O.
I had a similar experience.
Once I backpacked with a guy with wall climbing credentials far above my skills.
However on a relatively easy ridge/slabs route I had to lead because this guy was not comfortable leading there.
It can be explained by the fact that he spent more time on rock walls and I spent more time on relatively easy mountaineering routes.

Vertical wall, moderately steep snow/ice, scree or steep grassy slope or bushwhack require different skills. These skills can be learned through experience or special mountaineering courses/schools.
Wall climbing "expert" without any mountaineering exposure may not have the broad enough skill set for a relatively easy mountaineering route with diverse conditions.

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#24964 - 06/11/12 06:58 PM Re: mountaineer's route [Re: 2600fromatari]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1566
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
There's a reason its called the "Mountaineer's Route".

Its not a sport climbing route, or a rock climbing route, or a speed climbing route. It's not a big wall, or any kind of a wall at all. It's just a way up the mountain. But it is at once both a very general and ordinary way up the mountain, and very special and particular way.

It is, and was, John Muir's way up this mountain. In its history and its character, it may be the most aptly named route in the Sierra, or anywhere.

Call me old fashioned, so last century, or just old (I prefer "Old School" or better, "Classicist"). But I have been having this conversation in one form or another with climbers for 50 years or so, and it is still interesting, if not gratifying, to see it playing out yet again, this time in perhaps the most appropriate context of all. Scheiner has brought this conversation full circle. Thank her for that.

When I was getting hooked on mountains, and especially this mountain, in the 1960's, my heroes included Muir, Mallory, Hillary, Sayre, and later Rebuffat and Chouinard. I only realized it years later, but this progression in historic heroes represents a regression in my relationship with mountains, from Muir, the quintessential man living in, with and on mountains, to the conquerors of particular mountains, to the masters of the particular techniques of ascending ever specialized portions of any mountains (Rebuffat), or no mountains at all (Chouinard).

Rock climbing, and ice climbing, and any number of forms of each, emerged as separate endeavors from what up until 1960 or so, had been known simply as mountain climbing, or mountaineering.

In order to feed my jones in the off-season, I would hook up with buddies who would go climbing all kinds of formations, mountains and not so much with me all over Connecticut. I did it to keep in shape, to hone the skills that I would use the following summers in Colorado and California. Little did I know that "rock climbing" was becoming an activity in itself, divorced from mountaineering.

The wake-up call came when somebody called me one day to ask me to "go rappelling" the following weekend. Now. For those of you who may be thinking, yeah? and? let me point out that in 1965 being asked to "go rappelling" by climbing friends struck me like being asked to "go mooring" by sailors, or "go cleaning" by fishing buddies. To go "dropping me off at my parents'" by a date.

Rappelling was now an activity of itself? The emergence of cheerleading, or spirit, whatever its called, as a competitive sport, from, well, leading cheers for competitors in competitive sports, suggests itself. One wonders: do competitive cheerleading teams have cheering sections at their competitions who are led by , uh . . . but that way lies madness, and I digress.

The emergence of rappelling from rock climbing as an activity got me thinking about the artificiality of separating rock climbing from mountain climbing.

Which of course brings us to Scheiner's experience. Scheiner, at 16 years in, was deprived of the dismay I enjoyed of watching rock climbing evolve as an activity separate from the greater endeavor that spawned it. We have no frame of reference any more for how Schneiners ratings in "trad" and "sport" emerged from the far more general experience of just getting up the mountain.

How are we to make sense of the simple fact that a barely 4.XX scramble scared the shit out of, and nearly stopped, a 5.10a/5.11a rock climber?

There's the reason its called the "Mountaineer's Route".










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