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#36485 - 05/14/14 10:29 AM Mt. Whitney Day Trip 5/10
LongBeachian Offline


Registered: 05/14/14
Posts: 5
Loc: California
I figure this forum gave a lot to me, I might as well give some back in the form of another trip report!

My friend invited me to join his crew climbing Mt. Whitney, and how could I say no. What a great opportunity!

So we started our hike at 3:30 AM because we knew it was going to be a long one. The first few hours flew by in the dark. We hit our first snow before the sun came up, but it was only patchy all the way to trail camp. It was beautiful hiking as the sun came up. Some of the switchbacks above mirror lake have snow on the corners, but people have either made trails through the snow, or just cut the corners (since it's mostly bare rock.. I didn't feel too guilty).

The last water we saw was the small pond at trail camp. Where we filled up. It looked like maybe people we're taking the switchbacks, but I didn't see anyone on them and they were still covered in snow. Everyone we saw was headed up the chute, so away we went. Besides being a tough slog, I never felt in danger, even with snowballs being sent down from people above me descending. The snow was soft and kick stepping was easy and effective.

The hike from trails crest to the summit definitely required crampons, I saw one group that didn't have them, that had made it, but I definitely wouldn't have wanted to do that. Most of the ridge trail is a small track in sloping snow. Not much ice at all, but still slick (without crampons), and some pretty hefty drop offs in places. About half way to the summit, two of our party were complaining of lacking concentration and light headedness and didn't want to risk a push to the summit, so 2 of us continued, with the agreement to meet them in trail camp. We made it to the summit around 3:30 PM (I know it was late, I guess I had a little summit fever), but besides a FIERCE wind that would not let up, we had no problems with the weather. The wind also blew into the mountain side (except for very brief periods at the windows), so I didn't really feel like it was a danger. We spent about 15 minutes on the summit, as it was getting kind of late, still enough time to see the hut, the plaque, and the USGS markers (and all the views).

Heading down was relatively easy (much easier than that last half mile...). We posthole stepped down the chute. What had taken almost 2 hours to get up, took us 25 minutes to get down. The snow was plenty soft and deep, and I never really felt in danger with my ice axe in one hand and hiking pole in the other.

After that we found the rest of the party and proceeded down the mountain, finishing at 9:30 PM. That is a beast of a day hike.

Notes:
-Wear Sunscreen (and lip balm), I had a large brimmed hat that protected my face/neck from the overhead sun, but I still got pretty burned from the snow reflections, though I maintain that it's partially burn, partially wind/cold chapped.
-It was below freezing from trail crest on, and we met a few people who's camelback tubes had frozen.
-Crampons and an ice axe are still a must have, and plan on using the chute for at least a few more weeks.
-We didn't have or use snow shoes, none of the snow we found was more than 3 feet deep.

Hope this helps anyone going up in the next few weeks.

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#36487 - 05/14/14 11:45 AM Re: Mt. Whitney Day Trip 5/10 [Re: LongBeachian]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7583
Loc: Fresno, CA
thanks

Thanks for the report. It will definitely help people.

Question:
-We didn't have or use snow shoes, none of the snow we found was more than 3 feet deep.
Did you mean 3 feet? or did your boots crunch down only 3 inches?

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#36488 - 05/14/14 12:15 PM Re: Mt. Whitney Day Trip 5/10 [Re: LongBeachian]
Gemini Offline


Registered: 05/14/14
Posts: 2
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Thanks for the post!

I am planning on going up with a group of some experienced and not so experienced hikers on Memorial Day weekend. The goal is for most of the group to make it to Trail Camp and the more experienced hikers to make it to the summit.

To reach Trail Camp would crampons/ice axe or microspikes be required?

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#36492 - 05/14/14 01:47 PM Re: Mt. Whitney Day Trip 5/10 [Re: LongBeachian]
stoked34 Offline


Registered: 05/14/14
Posts: 1
Loc: Murrieta
Hey thanks for the update, were heading up on the 18th, was a little worried about the conditions, I did it 2 yrs ago in late May and there was very little snow except at the cables, which was a bit sketchy.

We all have ice axes and micro spikes, I'm hoping the micro's are sufficient!

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#36554 - 05/17/14 05:27 PM Re: Mt. Whitney Day Trip 5/10 [Re: stoked34]
Photo joe Offline


Registered: 05/17/14
Posts: 2
Loc: California
Hoping to hear about the trail conditions. We are
Heading up on the 27th.

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#36558 - 05/18/14 12:54 AM Re: Mt. Whitney Day Trip 5/10 [Re: LongBeachian]
JPUtah Offline


Registered: 05/18/14
Posts: 3
Loc: Utah, USA
Thanks for the detailed trip post. I got a lottery permit for June 1-2 and will plan on overnighting right off the trail (where allowed, of course), then pushing towards the summit early on. I'm new to WhitneyZone, so pardon my ignorance if I'm missing any other reports that shed light into my questions.

However, I'm not sure--and I truly don't want to offend!!!--how to 'read' the snow reports.

I've seen the snow in some April/early May images and know that the upcoming week is to see more snow. I live in northern Utah and climb/back-country ski in significant amounts of snow. http://www.mountain-forecast.com/peaks/Mount-Whitney/forecasts/4418 is only really forecasting <6 inches of fresh snow at the upper altitudes. I'm not sure how much of the concern is due to ice as the freeze-thaw cycle wanes at higher altitudes, leaving just more ice.

Thus, I am not sure what to do re: crampons and axe. I am experienced with them, but my climbing/hiking partner isn't--and that can be treacherous...

Any wisdom you could share re: snow/ice, as well as the route up if the switchbacks are tricky?

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#36569 - 05/18/14 09:41 PM Re: Mt. Whitney Day Trip 5/10 [Re: LongBeachian]
jc9922 Offline


Registered: 04/25/14
Posts: 10
Loc: California
I am planning to hike Whitney on June 13....do you think there still be some snow left then....do you think we can just hike with hiking shoes...no crampons...no snow/ice gear ?

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#36581 - 05/19/14 08:07 AM Re: Mt. Whitney Day Trip 5/10 [Re: Steve C]
LongBeachian Offline


Registered: 05/14/14
Posts: 5
Loc: California
Most of the time we only sunk in 6-12 inches, but a couple post holes up to the knees. There was never any higher than that though. Also this was almost exclusively up from trail camp to trail crest. Trail crest to the summit was snowy, but not deep.

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#36582 - 05/19/14 08:10 AM Re: Mt. Whitney Day Trip 5/10 [Re: Gemini]
LongBeachian Offline


Registered: 05/14/14
Posts: 5
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Gemini
Thanks for the post!

I am planning on going up with a group of some experienced and not so experienced hikers on Memorial Day weekend. The goal is for most of the group to make it to Trail Camp and the more experienced hikers to make it to the summit.

To reach Trail Camp would crampons/ice axe or microspikes be required?


No, you will have no problems getting up to trail camp. There is some snow in the camp, but it's all pretty flat. There is a little snow on the trail on the way up, but I suspect most will be gone by then, and none of it was steep or exposed enough to make me feel nervous about putting on crampons/getting my ice axe.

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#36583 - 05/19/14 08:11 AM Re: Mt. Whitney Day Trip 5/10 [Re: jc9922]
LongBeachian Offline


Registered: 05/14/14
Posts: 5
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: jc9922
I am planning to hike Whitney on June 13....do you think there still be some snow left then....do you think we can just hike with hiking shoes...no crampons...no snow/ice gear ?


Speculative: There will likely be patches of snow but nothing requiring crampons.

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#36585 - 05/19/14 08:15 AM Re: Mt. Whitney Day Trip 5/10 [Re: JPUtah]
LongBeachian Offline


Registered: 05/14/14
Posts: 5
Loc: California
>>Thus, I am not sure what to do re: crampons and axe. I am experienced with them, but my climbing/hiking partner isn't--and that can be treacherous...

>>Any wisdom you could share re: snow/ice, as well as the route up if the switchbacks are tricky?

In all honesty, my experience was pretty limited before the trip (and really still is). There is really no ice on the trail, just slippery snow. The main thing I used my ice axe for was step cutting up the chute, and it wasn't necessary, I was just trying to make it easier for my slower companions.

The route, if the switchbacks are still closed, is straight up the chute just to the right of the switchbacks. You should be able to see where others are going to find the best way up. Good luck, be safe and have fun!

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#36762 - 05/25/14 09:24 PM Re: Mt. Whitney Day Trip 5/10 [Re: LongBeachian]
takeit2thetop Offline


Registered: 05/25/14
Posts: 2
Loc: CA,USA
Was on the mountain on the 24th. Made it to trail camp a bit late (noon). Tried to approach switchbacks but decided to turn back.

Chute was soft and although we did see some folks make it, most we talked to said they made it only a bit more than half way before turning back--snow very soft. One lady said that at one point on the chute she struck the snow with her ice axe and the entire area around her felt like it was going to come down (YIKES!). We also spoke to a group who scrambled the switchbacks then traversed to trail crest--only to find the trail crest too difficult because of snow. We did come across a pair of what looked like grizzled Whitney Vets who departed at 3am and made the summit. Said that the trail crest did have snow and a few parts where hairy. Said they would not bring novices up that day.

We have done both Half Dome and Grand Canyon rim-to-rim in one day. On the 24th the mountain completely kicked our butt. Physically and mentally--not being able to attempt a summit was very painful. It is impossible to compare these 3 hikes--especially if/when there is snow. One thing we underestimated was the track of the trail itself. There are a lot of rocks and boulders and while it is not technically a scramble, it is certainly not a smooth ascent. Thus, the way down is a pain and MUCH SLOWER than one might expect. Grand Canyon you can run to the river from either side. Half Dome you can run much of the trail back down as well. This is certainly not the case with Whitney.

As of the 24th there was quiet a bit snow left. I wouldn't bet on the switchbacks for another two weeks at least.

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#36764 - 05/25/14 10:22 PM Re: Mt. Whitney Day Trip 5/10 [Re: takeit2thetop]
Nick Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 26
Loc: Thousand Oaks, CA
Do you believe that if you arrived at the chute around daybreak it would have been doable with the firmer snow? It sounds like the snow conditions would have been good for descending the chute at that time, but as you said not ascending.

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#36767 - 05/26/14 09:15 AM Re: Mt. Whitney Day Trip 5/10 [Re: Nick]
takeit2thetop Offline


Registered: 05/25/14
Posts: 2
Loc: CA,USA
Absolutely. Needed to get to chute around 7/8am. A good number of people were returning after getting to the trail crest because of snow as well so not sure which would be the tougher part.

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#36768 - 05/26/14 09:29 AM Re: Mt. Whitney Day Trip 5/10 [Re: takeit2thetop]
Nick Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 26
Loc: Thousand Oaks, CA
Ok thank you. I'm planning on climbing on Saturday so I hope that by that time the chute will still be in good condition and trail crest will be much more clear of snow.

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#36770 - 05/26/14 11:52 AM Re: Mt. Whitney Day Trip 5/10 [Re: Nick]
63ChevyII.com Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 670
Loc: Colton, California
Originally Posted By: takeit2thetop
Tried to approach switchbacks but decided to turn back.


What made you decide to not take the switchbacks and try the chute instead? How far up did you make it?

It seems that this last snowstorm essential killed any chance of my father-in-law and I making a summit attempt (via the swtichbacks) on June 4.

Originally Posted By: Nick
I'm planning on climbing on Saturday so I hope that by that time the chute will still be in good condition and trail crest will be much more clear of snow.


Nick, I leave for my hike Sunday morning (we are headed to Mammoth before Lone Pine), if you could report back what you find as soon as possible, it would be extremely helpful. If there's no chance of us summiting, we will probably hike Mt. Dana Monday, then maybe up to trail camp Tues/Weds. If there's a chance of summiting, we'll do an easier hike Monday.

Good luck on your hike and stay safe!
_________________________
HikingGeek.com

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#36773 - 05/26/14 02:23 PM Re: Mt. Whitney Day Trip 5/10 [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
Nick Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 26
Loc: Thousand Oaks, CA
Of course! We should be down in the afternoon so I'll post something Saturday evening about what we saw and what its like up there. Hopefully we can get some more information from hikers from this weekend and throughout the coming week.

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#36774 - 05/26/14 03:43 PM Re: Mt. Whitney Day Trip 5/10 [Re: Nick]
jc9922 Offline


Registered: 04/25/14
Posts: 10
Loc: California
I am planning to climb Whitney on June 13.....will I need any snow/ice equipment for the climb ? or do you think the snow/ice will be gone by then ?

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#36777 - 05/26/14 04:54 PM Re: Mt. Whitney Day Trip 5/10 [Re: jc9922]
Nick Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 26
Loc: Thousand Oaks, CA
I would imagine there will be some snow and ice remaining, but a lot of it should be gone. However, you never know what will happen in a few weeks. I'll let you know what I see on the 31st.


Edited by Nick (05/26/14 04:54 PM)

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#36782 - 05/26/14 08:45 PM Re: Mt. Whitney Day Trip 5/10 [Re: Nick]
jc9922 Offline


Registered: 04/25/14
Posts: 10
Loc: California
Thank you ....that would be great....is there anywhere you can see current pictures of Whitney close to the top....just to get an idea of the condition up there ?

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