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#33854 - 10/21/13 02:30 PM Don't Underestimate Mt. Whitney with snowed in condition.
James S Offline


Registered: 10/21/13
Posts: 1
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
So I have finally made the Summit at Mt. Whitney last Saturday 19th. We slept at Lone Pine woke up 3AM went to Portal at 4AM and started climbing. 14 of us, all marathon runners. Only 8 made to the summit. By the time we came back down it was 2:30AM on Sunday.
Couple of us got lost at top coming down due to snow covering up the trail. There were two other guys who we met at summit, Jason, and one other( I am sorry for forgetting name but I was really out of it.) which we really owe our lives to led us back to the trail then gave us water and food to go back down. After coming back down 99 switch back at night which was very precarious at the least, we met them again at their trail camp and gave us water and food again!!!

Thank you so much!!! Please call me so I can properly thank you.

PLEASE DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE MT. WHITNEY AT SNOW CONDITION!!!
BRING ALL WINTER GEAR, CRAMPONS WITH 8 OR SPIKES IS A MUST!!!

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#33866 - 10/22/13 08:56 AM Re: Don't Underestimate Mt. Whitney with snowed in condition. [Re: James S]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1253
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Please elaborate for others. Like what gear you had, what you did not have, etc. Where you found the trail during your descent dangerous or above you skill level.

It would be instructive to those who are heading up this mountain between now and when the road "closes".

I wish the "Warning: People Die Here! was still up on the patio cover and just above the North Fork of Lone Pie Creek. At least it would people pause to think.

Knowing you limitations is the key to safe hiking this time of year.


Edited by wbtravis (10/22/13 08:58 AM)

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#33874 - 10/22/13 07:47 PM Re: Don't Underestimate Mt. Whitney with snowed in condition. [Re: James S]
seano Offline


Registered: 10/22/13
Posts: 1
Loc: Western, US
Originally Posted By: James S
14 of us, all marathon runners.

If you don't mind my asking, what do you mean by "marathon runners," i.e. time to the nearest hour? Had any of you had problems with altitude before?
Originally Posted By: James S
Couple of us got lost at top coming down due to snow covering up the trail.

Again, what do you mean by "lost"? Was it that the trail was covered by snow, that you didn't know where the trailhead was located, or that you weren't sure how to make it there from where you were?

Sorry to bother you, but I'm just a schlub with decent fitness and sense of direction, who finds your experience a bit surprising.

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#33875 - 10/22/13 07:52 PM Re: Don't Underestimate Mt. Whitney with snowed in condition. [Re: James S]
Akichow Offline


Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 659
Loc: SF Bay Area
Thank you for your post. People are often more likely to report on what went well then what went wrong or less well, but information on both are so helpful to others, which I suspect is what motivated your post. Great that you all made it down safely.

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#33876 - 10/22/13 10:26 PM Re: Don't Underestimate Mt. Whitney with snowed in condition. [Re: seano]
Chicagocwright Offline


Registered: 09/05/12
Posts: 172
Loc: Alaska
I am curious about the getting lost part between the Summit and the Switchbacks.

But as far as marathon runners: my best time is 3:40. And when I did Whitney I was in the best hiking shape of my life after being in Alaska for several months without my family doing frequent (sometimes twice a week) hikes with 3-4,000 foot elevation gains---but always at a maximum elevation of less than 5,000. The previous summer I had hiked Mt. Dana, Clouds Rest, Half Dome which was the highest elevation hikes I had ever done.

So I got to Whitney at the end of last Summer and promptly crashed just after the switchbacks. One month later I tried again and finished the hike with no problem. On both hikes I did not take time to acclimate and hiked a day after a red eye flight. On the second hike I did take Diamox and concentrated carefully on deep breathing.

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#33878 - 10/23/13 08:32 AM Re: Don't Underestimate Mt. Whitney with snowed in condition. [Re: Chicagocwright]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1253
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Lost because of the snow is not unusual. I see people who travel a trail 40 times a year every year get lost because there is snow. They have taken to painting rocks and trees as navigational aids along this trail.

My guess is the snow at the top end of the MMWT is beaten in and should not present very many problems for the prepared descending. However, unskilled and unprepared people have a tendency to go lower or higher than the slick beaten in trail and that is where they get into trouble. See the group of "experienced hikers", who dropped of the Sky High Trail after leaving Mt. San Gorgonio seeking safety this past spring and ended up being out two nights before they were rescued.

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#33881 - 10/23/13 06:20 PM Re: Don't Underestimate Mt. Whitney with snowed in condition. [Re: wbtravis]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 1023
Loc: Richmond, Virginia

Some of you know I like to show mountaineering quotes applicable to the post or situation. This comes to mind, from one of my favorite authors, and is not meant to be critical, just objective:

If mountains seem hostile, then it is the climber’s fault for venturing upon them. It is he who imposes danger upon himself, not the mountain, which is supremely indifferent as to whether he comes or goes, lives or dies.
Frank Smythe, The Mountain Vision, page 94

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#33883 - 10/23/13 07:16 PM Re: Don't Underestimate Mt. Whitney with snowed in condition. [Re: Harvey Lankford]
Bee Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1261
Loc: Northern California
I like the quotes; they tell the uncomplicated truth that most of our maladies are neither unforseen nor unpredictable, rather, just unprepared for.
_________________________
The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.

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