Mt Whitney Webcam
Mt Williamson Webcam
Feature Topics
Who's Online
1 registered (tif), 13 Guests and 53 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Stats
3243 Members
13 Forums
5321 Topics
49479 Posts

Max Online: 382 @ 11/07/12 05:45 AM
Topic Options
#37032 - 06/02/14 09:38 PM 6/1/2014 Dayhike Summit by beginner hikers
John Li Offline


Registered: 05/26/14
Posts: 16
Loc: CA
On 5/31 we camped at the Whitney Portal and did a mini 1-hr hike to the trail head. The next day we left camping site at 3:30 and started hiking at 4:15 AM. Trail condition was very nice. At 8:20 AM we reached the Trail Camp. During the rest at the Trail Camp, we watched the 99 switchbacks and the chute. There were a few guys on both. We were a group of 8.

Two of us chose to use the switchbacks and 6 (including me) chose the chute. All of us left the Trail Camp at 8:40 AM. I spent 2.5 hours on the chute, and saw several people sliding down   Video: Mt. Whitney Chute 6/1/2014.   The other two who chose the 99 switchbacks arrived at the trail crest 15 min earlier than me.

I heard that there were several parts of the switchbacks covered by snow but doable. After 20 min rest on the trail crest, we headed to the summit. The trail crest was almost clear of snow, however we felt the elevation and moved very slowly. We reached the summit at 2:10 PM and was the 39th group on 6/1. I guess there were 5 groups after us made the summit on that day. The weather was exceptionally well. There was no wind at the summit and we even had 20 min sunny nap outside the Smithsonian shelter.

We reached the trail crest sign again at 4:30 PM. The snow became hard especially on sliding tracks on the chute. Two person in our group, one with ice axe and crampons and another one with trekking poles and microspikes, got minor skin injury on leg. I slided down about half way and lost my trekking poles when I tried to decelerate. A kind guy helped me to get back my trekking poles. I decided to move back to switchbacks with two other persons in the group.

I met with other memebrs at the Trail Camp around 6:30 PM. It was a long way back to the Whitney Portal, but compared with the chute I was satisfied on solid trail.

Top
#37041 - 06/03/14 01:22 AM Re: 6/1/2014 Dayhike Summit by beginner hikers [Re: John Li]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7209
Loc: Fresno, CA
Thanks for the report, John. Glad you made it safely.

Edit: Glissading (sliding down the chute on your pants) is:

NOT a good idea without an ice axe for braking. Hiking poles break, and do cannot properly slow you.
NOT a good idea while wearing spikes -- broken legs result.
NOT a good idea late in the day since that slope gets shaded by the mountain early, cold sets in, the chute ices up and becomes extremely fast and dangerous. Note that shade hits the bottom first, so it can be more icy at the bottom.

Glissading should ONLY be attempted in the right conditions: Not icy, with an ice axe, no crampons etc.

The person glissading in the video above was using his hiking poles. That only worked because the snow was soft enough that he did not need any tools for braking and slowing his descent.


Edited by Steve C (10/30/15 10:42 AM)

Top
#37049 - 06/03/14 08:15 AM Re: 6/1/2014 Dayhike Summit by beginner hikers [Re: John Li]
Joe the Hiker Offline


Registered: 05/26/14
Posts: 31
Loc: Socal
Thanks for the trip report John! It will really help my planning! I have to ask, what camcorder was that to film the chute? The date on the lower right corner reminded me of a key chain camera I was going to buy.


Edited by Joe the Hiker (06/03/14 08:16 AM)

Top
#37052 - 06/03/14 09:23 AM Re: 6/1/2014 Dayhike Summit by beginner hikers [Re: John Li]
2Old4This Offline


Registered: 05/27/14
Posts: 51
Loc: Northern California
Thanks for the report. I have been wondering if I will need to use the chute or take the switchbacks on June 12th. It's looking more and more like the switchbacks. I also appreciate the video as it gives me something to compare on Whitney to my experience on Mt. Shasta in the past. The chute looks a lot less icy than what I experienced glissading down Avalanche Gulch on Mt. Shasta - really got flying compared to what that guy was doing even using my ice axe as a brake to keep the speed down - and the way the climber coming up the Chute was moving, it looks like the Chute may even be a little steeper than Avalanche Gulch. The only time I actually used my ice axe to help me climb up Shasta was when going up the very steep section to the left of the Heart (I wouldn't recommend this unless you like the adrenaline rush of fear as you cross the top of the Red Banks moving back towards Misery Hill, definitely go to the right). My buddy and I did find someone's ice axe and shades that day. Not a pleasant thought when climbing very steep ice, especially in retrospect when nobody ever contacts you to claim the gear.

And while I may not be a seasoned climber/hiker, I could not believe what I saw on Shasta that first time. People in tennis shoes carrying quart bottles of water trying to climb up the loose roock alongside the Red Banks. It made me feel a little less stupid about the chances I had taken. My friends generosity really affected us negatively, as he offered some of our water to a couple of these people who looked particularly ill. By the time we got back to Horse Camp, I practically buried my face in the spring as we had just over 1 qt between us for the trip back down from the summit, and it was long gone before Horse Camp. :-)


Edited by 2Old4This (06/03/14 09:29 AM)

Top
#37071 - 06/03/14 01:58 PM Re: 6/1/2014 Dayhike Summit by beginner hikers [Re: Joe the Hiker]
John Li Offline


Registered: 05/26/14
Posts: 16
Loc: CA
Originally Posted By: Joe the Hiker
Thanks for the trip report John! It will really help my planning! I have to ask, what camcorder was that to film the chute? The date on the lower right corner reminded me of a key chain camera I was going to buy.


Hi Joe, glad it will help your planning. I bought the camcorder from amazon. It has "M500" on packing box. It worked find during the trip. Totally I recorded about 1 hour of vedio at 720p.

Top
#37072 - 06/03/14 02:05 PM Re: 6/1/2014 Dayhike Summit by beginner hikers [Re: 2Old4This]
John Li Offline


Registered: 05/26/14
Posts: 16
Loc: CA
2Old4This, thanks for sharing your story. I think switchbacks would be a better choice. The chute is still doable in the morning, but I would not try it again in late afternoon. Hope you will have a safe and fun hike. After this trip to Mt. Whitney, I plan to learn extra skills:-)


Edited by John Li (06/03/14 02:15 PM)

Top
#37075 - 06/03/14 04:25 PM Re: 6/1/2014 Dayhike Summit by beginner hikers [Re: Steve C]
John Li Offline


Registered: 05/26/14
Posts: 16
Loc: CA
Thank you Steve. I learned a lot from this forum that helped me to summit with enough preparation.

Top
#37079 - 06/03/14 07:06 PM Re: 6/1/2014 Dayhike Summit by beginner hikers [Re: 2Old4This]
Akichow Offline


Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 659
Loc: SF Bay Area
The ice quotient is variable and dynamic on both Shasta and Whitney, varying with temperature, cloud cover, time of day, and other considerations.

That said, the Whitney chute is more east facing (Shasta's avy gulch is west facing), so it goes into shade earlier and can ice up faster. However, in the morning, snow conditions can fall apart earlier because it gets that strong morning sun. Last year when I climbed the chute with Richard P's encouragement/coaching, the conditions deteriorated so fast that there was almost nothing left to grip by 9 am.

I do think the top of the Whitney chute is a tad steeper than avy gulch at its steepest. The incline on the chute starts milder but increases as you climb.

Top
#37103 - 06/04/14 07:39 AM Re: 6/1/2014 Dayhike Summit by beginner hikers [Re: John Li]
seancully Offline


Registered: 06/02/14
Posts: 4
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Thanks guys for the info.

I'm heading up on Saturday (June 7). I'm most likely going to bring an ice axe and crampons regardless, but I'm wondering which way is less sketchy between the chute and the switchbacks.

It looks like there are parts of the switchbacks with a lot of snow that forces you to kind of put yourself outside the safety of the cables while there are huge dropoffs on your other side. John, did the people in your group that did the switchbacks feel safe? I know they're "doable" but I'm wondering if it would be better to take the chute.

I see the main risks of the chute being if the snow got too soft and you slid down. Perhaps the chute is overall just more unpredictable?

I understand that probably everyone and their mom has asked if they should take the chute or the switchbacks, and I know conditions can change rapidly. Just wondering what people think based on the latest trip reports/photos.

Thanks guys!

Top
#37142 - 06/05/14 12:05 AM Re: 6/1/2014 Dayhike Summit by beginner hikers [Re: seancully]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7209
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: seancully
I see the main risks of the chute being if the snow got too soft and you slid down. Perhaps the chute is overall just more unpredictable?

I understand that probably everyone and their mom has asked if they should take the chute or the switchbacks, and I know conditions can change rapidly. Just wondering what people think based on the latest trip reports/photos.

Sean, the main risks of the chute are it's freezing up and becoming icy slick! Softer snow does not slide well. Soft might be more difficult to climb due to your sinking in. But icy is dangerous.

As these sunny days go by, more and more will use the switchbacks, and fewer will be on the slope. I keep seeing reports from people saying the switchbacks aren't that tough.

Top
#37156 - 06/05/14 02:47 PM Re: 6/1/2014 Dayhike Summit by beginner hikers [Re: seancully]
John Li Offline


Registered: 05/26/14
Posts: 16
Loc: CA
Originally Posted By: seancully

John, did the people in your group that did the switchbacks feel safe? I know they're "doable" but I'm wondering if it would be better to take the chute.


Two guys in our group who chose the switchbacks felt safe most of the part, including the cables (because they had two cables to grab). However, depending on time there might be ice on switchbacks. The last switchback is adjacent to the chute and I would take extra care.

A good thing for switchbacks is that you are on solid trail and could have a rest. On the chute it's really hard and unsafe to unload your backpack.

Top