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#27994 - 09/24/12 10:25 PM October 10th overnighter
tr0mbley Offline


Registered: 09/24/12
Posts: 17
Loc: Atlanta
Planning a trip: October 10th overnighter via the main trail.

The trip is coming together, but it is certainly going to be a last minute excursion as we just stumbled upon a work trip to Utah - with a few vacation days to Whitney on the side. We cruised the recreation.gov site for a few days before two overnight passes became available on the 10th. Thanks to whoever cancelled the permits!

Should be the most challenging hike of my life, considering the altitude and weather possibilities. I've done lots of hiking in Zion and I imagine the extreme dropoffs of Whitney being similar to Angels Landing or Observation Point. So fear of heights/bears is taking a backseat to fear of AMS/pure physical exhaustion.

Due to travel requirements, I have to fly into Vegas and drive to Lone Pine. Assuming the flight and luggage goes smoothly, I plan on getting the permits at the visitor center by 2:00pm. Hope to be on the trail by 2:30pm and hit Trail Camp right at dusk @ 6:30pm. The trip has to go perfectly for us to hike by daylight, but as I am learning, headlamps and flashlights are par for the course at Whitney. So we'll pace ourselves and prepare for cold temps and dark campsite preparation.

Lots of questions are swirling as the date gets closer:

1. Hoping for no snow but if it is icy or snowy, can I rent crampons and ice axes in Lone Pine? Am I in over my head if I've never used these before?
2. Best map to purchase in preparation for the ascent?
3. I am guessing I need to prep for straight up winter temps at Trail Camp, is that right? Highs in the 30s and lows in the teens? To me this means hat, gloves, lighter winter jacket, poly long-sleeve layer, poly thermals, woolen socks?
4. How many people do you think will be up on the mountain? It would be cool to see a constant stream of headlamps milling about at all hours of the night.

Anyway, just pouring over the intel and trying to prepare as best we can.

Thanks for any input,
Bob

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#27995 - 09/24/12 10:59 PM Re: October 10th overnighter [Re: tr0mbley]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7133
Loc: Fresno, CA
Bob, I hope you don't mind I moved your post to its own thread. So many questions, so much we can share with you...
I've added your trip to the calendar. I see Brent N will be on the mountain. Hope the two of you cross paths.

> I've done lots of hiking in Zion and I imagine the extreme dropoffs of Whitney being similar to Angels Landing or Observation Point. So fear of heights/bears is taking a backseat to fear of AMS/pure physical exhaustion.

You won't be as close to dropoffs as Angels Landing. Bears are only an issue at Whitney Portal where day hikers might lose a day pack to a pre-dawn sneaky bear when they set it down and walk away.

With your aggressive schedule, AMS issue can be the biggest problem. Get a prescription for Diamox (Acetazolamide). Dosage is about 1/8 to 1/4 that of the old glaucoma Rx of 500 mg 2x per day. Try one or two doses at home before you come, to make sure you will be ok with it. At the low dose, there shouldn't be any side effects.

...Are you going to be at altitude in Utah in the few days before you come? That will definitely help the acclimatization!

If there is a foot of snow, crampons might help, but this early in the season, I'd skip the ice axe -- snow is just too soft for an ice axe. For that matter, if there is a foot of snow, unless you are a mountain locomotive, Trail Camp might be your turnarond point. If there is no snow, it will be a nice cruise to the summit, with maybe icy footing on the trail higher up.

You might consider overnighting at Outpost Camp -- lower elevation, more protected, so not as bone-chilling cold, AMS much less of a problem. The summit is quite reachable from there.

> 4. How many people do you think will be up on the mountain? It would be cool to see a constant stream of headlamps milling about at all hours of the night.

From last year's Unused Permits page, there were only 20 or so overnight permits given out mid-week in October. And in my experience, you may only see about half that number of actual hikers (not sure why that is). Although the reservations are all used up, the majority will be no-shows. So you're likely going to have one of those highly sought-after "outstanding opportunities for solitude" wink

...I'm sure others will help out with more of your questions.

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#28011 - 09/25/12 10:11 AM Re: October 10th overnighter [Re: Steve C]
Brent N Offline


Registered: 01/20/11
Posts: 277
Loc: Orange County, CA
I was able to change my reservations to the 10th as well. We'll be camping at Outpost the first night, Trail Camp the second and then summiting and descending on the third. Bob and I have already PM'd each other. We should be able to run into each other as he passes through Outpost.

Bob, to answer a few of the questions that haven't been addressed, I think you are planning for the right temp range. So far, the weather in the forseeable future looks like it might just favor us with no snow, but that could change in a day. I will bring microspikes which should be fine for the ice, but not for snow.

On additional item you might consider for the cold is wind protection. Trail Camp at night can be calm or it can deliver gale force winds. Lightweight wind resistant pants and jacket sure help.

Brent N

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#28017 - 09/25/12 11:36 AM Re: October 10th overnighter [Re: Brent N]
Bryan P Offline


Registered: 09/01/12
Posts: 34
Loc: Ventura County, CA
This is kind of on topic but I am going to overnight Oct. 1st at trail camp and then summit and descend the 2nd. I dont have my own pair of crampons/micro spikes but should I look into renting them?

The forecast looks good for now but I am watching every day.

How big of an issue will ice be up the trail?
_________________________
Come check out my weblog www.bryansoutdooradventures.blogspot.com and share your gear reviews, adventures, and trip reports!

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#28019 - 09/25/12 12:38 PM Re: October 10th overnighter [Re: Bryan P]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7133
Loc: Fresno, CA
Bryan, I was descending about 8 AM from the summit on Sept 8, and a layer of frost was on the rocks. At one point I slipped and hit a knuckle on some rocks -- made the knuckle a little messy. But I was being careless and kind of hurrying.

If you're careful, you should be fine. If you want to rent, call Sierra Elevation in Lone Pine.

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#28021 - 09/25/12 02:22 PM Re: October 10th overnighter [Re: Steve C]
Brent N Offline


Registered: 01/20/11
Posts: 277
Loc: Orange County, CA
I would pick up a pair. Steve is a very sure-footed hiker. (I hiked with him once and he would practically skate over loose scree over granite slabs while I slipped.) Steve's slip on ice could have been worse. I remember Richard P lamenting earlier this year that he really messed up his thumb trying to catch himself after a slip that he could have easily prevented with microspikes. At this time of the year, regardless of the forecasts, you will hike on ice somewhere above Outpost.

Microspikes don't weigh or cost much and can be worn over just about anything (including flip flops). They are tough enough to handle a mix of ice, rock and dirt so that you don't have to continually remove and put them back on again.

IMO.

Brent

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#28026 - 09/25/12 04:05 PM Re: October 10th overnighter [Re: tr0mbley]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
Bob, where exactly in Atlanta are you? I and a another board member live in metro Atlanta, and have multiple Whitney trips under our belts in a wide range of weather conditions. We'd be happy to help you plan ahead for this one if you wanted to hook up.

Like Steve said, the exposure is nil, the bears are tame, and AMS will be your biggest concern (unless weather hits). There's absolutely no comparison to the fin at Angels Landing


Gary

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#28032 - 09/25/12 10:21 PM Re: October 10th overnighter [Re: tr0mbley]
tr0mbley Offline


Registered: 09/24/12
Posts: 17
Loc: Atlanta
Awesome, glad to have so many replies on this. So...

1. I will look up Sierra Elevation in Lone Pine and ask about renting some micro spikes.

2. I need to pick up some new clothing. I am going to make sure everything is cotton-free and has some level of wind/rain resistance.

3. I considered staying at Outpost after reading Steve's comments and talking with Brent. But I can't bring myself to commit to it. Brent, I hope we can meet up but it sounds like you have a little more time to work with than I do. I need to crash in Vegas on Thursday night and I don't think I can make it all the way summit and back to Vegas on the second day if we stop at Outpost. Curse you, Work!

The highest I have ever been was at 10K ft in the Dixie National Forest on the way to Bryce Canyon. No effects there or at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon at nearly 9K. I am hoping to use adrenaline to knock out the first 6 miles and just get that much further to the summit... that much closer to 12K and a solid place to acclimate. I am hoping to sleep from 9pm to 5am and then get an early start on the switchbacks, summit before 11am, and then prep for the long walk back to the portal.

Hoping for good weather... will catch up here tomorrow.

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#28034 - 09/25/12 10:35 PM Re: October 10th overnighter [Re: Bulldog34]
tr0mbley Offline


Registered: 09/24/12
Posts: 17
Loc: Atlanta
Thanks, Gary. I need to take stock of my gear but might need your help in some areas. Did you and your buddy take Diamox before summiting? I am not exactly on a first name basis with any doctor and wondering if I could convince one to prescribe a medication intended for glaucoma to me for AMS? Sounds crazy, maybe it's common, who knows!

How long and where did you acclimate on the trail?
Have you encountered snow and if so, can you share a trip report on it?

Has anybody here hiked Observation Point in Zion? I am scared to ask how Whitney's switchbacks compare... but if you are familiar with both... please do tell.

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#28035 - 09/25/12 10:37 PM Re: October 10th overnighter [Re: tr0mbley]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7133
Loc: Fresno, CA
Bob, you are more time-challenged than even me!

You've never been above 10K? AMS doesn't hit most people until above 12. GET THAT DIAMOX! Hiking to 12k and sleeping a few hours there is not acclimating. It is more like bringing on the AMS symptoms, so when you wake up you feel like cr@p.

With your tight schedule, it may be dark by the time you reach Outpost Camp. Sleep there, get up a little earlier, and save your body the brutality of both hauling a heavy load the extra 1,700' elevation (and back down) and trying to sleep where many get AMS. (There are a few places between Outpost and Trail Camp where you can sleep, if you want to split the difference.)

You didn't say how much time you are spending in Utah at elevation.

I hope you and your partner can take turns driving back to Vegas after the hike!

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#28037 - 09/25/12 10:58 PM Re: October 10th overnighter [Re: tr0mbley]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7133
Loc: Fresno, CA
> Has anybody here hiked Observation Point in Zion? I am scared to ask how Whitney's switchbacks compare... but if you are familiar with both... please do tell.

I have hiked Angels Landing, but not OP. OP trail starts about 4400' elevation, and climbs over 4 miles to 6500', for 2100' gain. Whitney's 99 switchbacks section starts at 12,000 and climbs to Trail Crest at 13,600. Crazy as it seems, the last 900' over the 2 miles to the summit often takes people longer. The higher elevation makes quite a difference.

Just hike steady, don't push yourself beyond moderate aerobic levels, and you will make it.

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#28040 - 09/26/12 04:29 AM Re: October 10th overnighter [Re: tr0mbley]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
Bob, feel free to give me a shout at either gfh34@comcast.net or 678-772-3962. I live in Marietta and another board member, catpappy (John), lives a few miles away. We usually try to hook up on Saturday mornings for a 6-mile, 2000-ft hike at Kennesaw Mountain. We'll be happy to talk you through what to expect on a Whitney backpack in detail if you'd like.

FWIW from a training standpoint, altitude aside, hiking the Burnt-Hickory-to-Visitor-Center out-and-back at Kennesaw 3 times will come close to replicating a Whitney main trail hike. You'll get 18 miles and 6000 feet of gain (as compared to 22 miles and 6200 feet of gain on Whitney, round trip). There are also a couple of ass-kicker trails in the Georgia mountains that can help you prepare, most notably the Arkaquah Trail at Brasstown Bald. This is a 12-mile out-and-back that gets you 4000 feet of gain.

If you've not been above 12K' before, and your acclimation time is limited, Diamox would be strongly recommended. The AMS gorilla usually jumps on your back once above 12K'. I don't normally use it, but my wife and daughter do, and it's worked great for them. Getting a scrip is pretty easy once the doc understands the intended purpose - it's not at all uncommon.

There's nothing particularly difficult about the Whitney main trail - it's just a long hike with more than average elevation gain, so your legs need to be ready. Battling the altitude effects on your body is the biggest challenge for most. Fresh snow would make micro-spikes almost useless, and crampons not much better - spikes don't bite fresh powder very well. There needs to be some consolidation before any spike (or axe) will work properly. Fingers crossed for decent weather!

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#28044 - 09/26/12 09:21 AM Re: October 10th overnighter [Re: tr0mbley]
RenoFrank Offline


Registered: 08/06/11
Posts: 407
Loc: Reno, NV
I have hiked Observation Point and Angels Landing. I'm guessing you're concerned about the exposure on the Whitney Main Trail. I too was nervous about this but in my experience it wasn't a factor. I was able to enjoy all the views from the switchbacks and the windows. My joints, muscles, and toes were severely stressed after my Whitney hike. I advise preloading your body with 400 mg Ibuprofen twice a day starting two days before your hike. That worked great for me on my recent Half Dome hike.

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#28045 - 09/26/12 09:26 AM Re: October 10th overnighter [Re: Bulldog34]
Brent N Offline


Registered: 01/20/11
Posts: 277
Loc: Orange County, CA
Steve and Doug have both said there is ice accumulation on the trail. If there is no snow, the microspikes will help. Like Gary says, they will be worthless in fresh snow.

Brent N

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#28060 - 09/26/12 05:07 PM Re: October 10th overnighter [Re: Brent N]
catpappy Offline


Registered: 03/06/10
Posts: 120
Loc: acworth, ga
Hi Bob it's me John, the other Atlanta guy. Welcome to the board. You are going to love the Whitney area. You are welcome to borrow my microspikes if you like. Just give me a call 404-641-2822. Or better yet, meet with me and Gary at Kennesaw. My only recommendation would be to go out a day or two early and take in the sights and have a better chance at acclimating well.

There is a photo on page 7 of the picture gallery forum I took in Oct. 2009 below Consultation Lake of the seasons first big snow.

John

click me

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#28061 - 09/26/12 06:00 PM Re: October 10th overnighter [Re: Steve C]
tr0mbley Offline


Registered: 09/24/12
Posts: 17
Loc: Atlanta
Man, Steve. You are starting to make a lot of sense. I can see 40 lbs on my back really dragging on both the way up and back. So are you saying that I have a better chance of successfully acclimating at Outpost than Trail Camp? It defies logic in my head, but obviously I will take your guys' word for it.

I am looking into Diamox, we'll see what happens.

I am spending zero time in Utah prior to the hike. We fly from Atlanta to Vegas and then it's into the rental car and over to Whitney. And I can't leave any earlier than Wednesday so that's not really an option.

As I suspected, AMS is the major hurdle. Hope it doesn't bite me.

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#28062 - 09/26/12 06:09 PM Re: October 10th overnighter [Re: catpappy]
tr0mbley Offline


Registered: 09/24/12
Posts: 17
Loc: Atlanta
Gary and John. Thanks for the generosity. I will give you guys a call about heading over to Kennesaw Mountain. I have already loaded up the backpack with 35 pounds and hiked up and down the mountain a few times. Not the same but still a decent and steady climb. Are you guys available afternoons for a practice run? I'll get in touch.

I was fortunate enough to head over to Kings Canyon/Sequoia NP for 3 days this summer. It truly is like another world for someone from the Northeast (and now Southeast). I also drove up 395 into Owens Valley on my way back to Vegas after visiting the Sierras. I was literally 20 minutes from Lone Pine when I turned right and followed 190 through Death Valley. It's amazing.

I'll check out that photo from 09

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#28063 - 09/26/12 06:23 PM Re: October 10th overnighter [Re: Bulldog34]
tr0mbley Offline


Registered: 09/24/12
Posts: 17
Loc: Atlanta
It's funny, I am thinking about micro spikes, LED headlamps, and prescription drugs as I prepare for my hike. It always makes me laugh when I sit down to watch Ken Burns NP series and I see 65 year old men hiking in three-piece suits in the Grand Canyon. Or ladies in full ballroom regalia as they admire geysers in Yellowstone. Sometimes I think you just have to get out there. Lace up the wingtips, put a banana in my pocket, and throw on the sports jacket for a jaunt up Whitney. Then I read more forum posts and get pulled back to reality...

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#28064 - 09/26/12 06:27 PM Re: October 10th overnighter [Re: tr0mbley]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
Bob, it's football season in SEC country so Saturday afternoons are generally verboten for anything other than determining who the next national champion will be (Bama, UGA, LSU, South Carolina?)! Personally, I like to get an early start hiking (much to John's irritation at times: "Six o'clock? You mean six o'clock in the morning?!") and be done before the day heats up. Give me a shout and we'll arrange something. Sundays are do-able sometimes as well.

Here's a TR on our trip last year. Still a ton of snow and ice in the Sierra last summer. Somewhere in all the verbiage is a description of the route, as well as a few photos. Here's a link to the Flickr album of the trip. Mt. Whitney is near the end of the album.


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#28066 - 09/26/12 06:56 PM Re: October 10th overnighter [Re: tr0mbley]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1239
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Ah, opinions everyone has'em.

My opinions answers to your questions.

1. Fangs, Axe and Overhead...Elevations in Lone Pine is the place for rentals. Only you can answer the overhead question. 99% who rent tools come back unscathed. However, if fhit hits san, you can be in deep Bandini quickly. So, if it looks above you pay grade, don't do it.

2. Best map...Mt. Langley and Mt. Whitney 7.5' quads but they are not necessary to talk walk this peak. Pick the Whitney Portal Store's map. It is all you need.

3. Temperatures...it depends. It can be fine thank you very much or freezing stinking cold. If you do not bring the right warmies for conditions, your trip can be cut short. I have been on the summit when the temperature and been single digits...in August and September and have walked around the higher elevations in shorts during the month of October.

4. Crowds...Not as much as summer and if the weather turns to crap not many at all. The headlight conga line is usually seen on the lower part before dawn mid-summer when the 100 take off for their day hike.

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