Mt Whitney Webcam
Mt Williamson Webcam
Feature Topics
Who's Online
2 registered (Kascadia, dbd), 18 Guests and 6 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Stats
3952 Members
10 Forums
5759 Topics
52048 Posts

Max Online: 1443 @ 07/29/19 08:40 AM
Topic Options
#33282 - 09/16/13 01:09 PM "Typical" early November conditions?
cborigo Offline

Registered: 09/16/13
Posts: 6
Loc: PA
Hi all,

I will be in the Las Vegas area the first week of November and a buddy and I decided to take advantage of our proximity to Whitney and make an attempt on the MR. I'm just looking for a general feeling as to what the weather and route conditions may be like in early November. I understand that mountain weather is always unpredictable and conditions will vary year to year, but neither of us is from the area so we are totally unfamiliar with the typical weather patterns in the high Sierras. We have plenty of experience in nasty winter weather from dozens of trips in the White Mountains, so if it's going to be nasty that's not a problem per se, just hoping to make an informed decision for selecting gear.

In particular:
-general temp ranges (high and low) at Iceberg Lake and summit
-typical snow pack this time of year
-likelihood of severe storms


#33291 - 09/17/13 05:31 AM Re: "Typical" early November conditions? [Re: cborigo]
Bob West Offline

Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 828
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
You are asking a difficult question. Mt. Whitney conditions vary from year to year, but be prepared for almost anything - no snow or deep (several meters) snow, iced-up rock on the last 400 feet, avalanche danger in the MR and the approach, cold temps, very high winds...or no snow at all and completely calm and cold. We've had two low snow years in a row, but some previous years were record-breakers.

You ought to check the local weather and snow conditions about a week before your trip and then gear up accordingly. Remember that Mt. Whitney is a lot higher than the White Mtns. of New England. In any event, be prepared for cold and high winds.

Hear is the link to the USFS Mt. Whitney trail information. You might call that office for up-to-date beta before your trip.

Mt Whitney Trail

#33292 - 09/17/13 06:42 AM Re: "Typical" early November conditions? [Re: cborigo]
saltydog Offline

Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1566
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
cborigo: Your trips to the Whites ought to be all the indication you need of what you need to be prepared for -- everything and anything -- unless they have all been to the huts in late July. wink I wouldn't even think in terms of "average" or "typical". As far as weather related conditions, think of this as doing Mt. Wash up Tucks and the headwall, off trail, at about the same time of year. How would you prepare for that? When I do the Whites, I pretty much load everything I can think of in the truck and do my final packing at the trailhead.

Weather patterns in the Sierra are somewhat more predictable -- short term! -- than in the Whites, but that slight advantage is offset by the limitations on what you can bring from PA and Vegas.

I would be prepared for all of the above, take as much as you reasonably can to cover the range of possibilities, and make your final cut based on the absolute latest report from the above source. Depending on how you are traveling and whether and where you stay in Lone Pine, you may be able to stash extra gear in town. Many places -- Hostel, Dow Villa -- are very hiker/climber hip and I would be surprised if they could not accommodate some short term storage, especially if you are staying after the climb. Which BTW I [/i]highly[i]recommend.

BTW, as you also asked about route conditions, you should be aware that strictly speaking, the MR is only the Chute and the Final 400, and the usual approach is the North Fork etc to UBSL and Iceberg Lake. The point is that this is a route only, not a trail as such, and it takes some research to be able to find it in the best of conditions. Lots of info on this site about that, including video, so take advantage of that and be prepared for most of it to be under snow.

Or not.

Wherever you go, there you are.

#33296 - 09/17/13 10:57 AM Re: "Typical" early November conditions? [Re: cborigo]
cborigo Offline

Registered: 09/16/13
Posts: 6
Loc: PA
Thanks for the information guys. Sounds like standard shoulder-season mountain weather... could be like late summer or could be like mid-winter. I'll probably do what saltydog recommended and bring a wide range of gear then make selections at the trailhead. This is what we typically do for winter climbing in the Whites, where I would say the chances of any type of weather window are about 50% or less. We have always had much more luck with predictable weather climbing Rainier, at least in the spring and summer, so I was kind of hoping that the Sierras had similar predictable weather patterns and I could pack light for my flight.

No worries though. We will bring everything, check on conditions before we leave PA, and if weather/conditions are too sketchy we may just go for the Whitney Trail instead, or worst case, just do some roadside sightseeing like normal tourists.

#33297 - 09/17/13 11:00 AM Re: "Typical" early November conditions? [Re: cborigo]
cborigo Offline

Registered: 09/16/13
Posts: 6
Loc: PA
One more question... I understand that the permit quotas are only in effect up until November 1, but does this mean that we are not required to get a wilderness permit after that date or only that the number of available permits is no longer limited?

#33298 - 09/17/13 11:56 AM Re: "Typical" early November conditions? [Re: cborigo]
Steve C Offline

Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7872
Loc: Fresno, CA
The permit is still required, but you are guaranteed to get one. Just stop in at the Visitor Center one mile S of Lone Pine (on the hwy to Death Valley). They might even leave it in the outside drop box if you will be there after hours and call them.

Now... IF there has been a significant snowfall, the road to Whitney Portal will be closed about 3 miles before the Portal. It has always been a "Road Closed" sign that people often drive past. However, if there is snow and ice on the road, you will need the appropriate vehicle, or park and walk in. There is often significant rock debris on the road, too.

I think walking takes about 2 hours. I'd definitely park and walk if there is any storm activity predicted.

#33300 - 09/17/13 01:23 PM Re: "Typical" early November conditions? [Re: Steve C]
cborigo Offline

Registered: 09/16/13
Posts: 6
Loc: PA
Great thanks for the info!

Edited by cborigo (09/17/13 01:23 PM)