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Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2014 (Out-of-Date)
seancully #37050 06/03/14 07:21 AM
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Originally Posted By: seancully
Are crampons and ice axes still recommended for taking the switchbacks? Or does being "passable" mean that the snow has melted enough to do without them?

Questions like these are asked a lot, and there are plenty of things wrong with them. A few that aren't mentioned often enough come to mind:
  • We don't know you and your skill level, experience, judgement, etc., on the terrain you are inquiring about. We can guess, but if the guess is wrong, you could die.
  • When someone responds, you usually don't know the same about them. There are those whose advice I would take into consideration, and those I would not. The spectrum is wide.
  • The operational phrase is "take into consideration" not "take as gospel."
  • You ask questions on June 2 and plan to be there on June 7. Responses, even if accurate based on the conditions one day, can be worse than meaningless several days later. This is particularly true for terrain (like the switchbacks) in a season (like right now) where even a day can make a big difference.
  • Continuing on this theme, snow conditions can change drastically with the time of day, cloud cover, weather, etc. We don't know when you plan to be there on the ascent, nor when you plan to come down. Worse, time schedules often do not work out as planned on Mt. Whitney.
This absolutely isn't intended as a lecture. As I said at the start, questions like yours are asked all the time, and understandably so. They should continue to be asked, and people with pertinent information should continue to offer it. I'm just replying in a way you didn't expect.

Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2014 (Out-of-Date)
Steve C #37061 06/03/14 09:39 AM
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Looking at the above pictures through the eyes of someone who has only summited Whitney once, I would say that the report of the "Switchbacks being open and usable" is highly overrated (at the moment that the pix were taken) Not much room for error.


The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.
Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2014 (Out-of-Date)
Steve C #37078 06/03/14 05:06 PM
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Our group is tentatively planning a trip from Horseshoe Meadow to Whitney Portal starting June 22st, and have been grateful for everyone's posts regarding conditions on the Whitney Trail. Has anyone come up the JMT from Guitar Lake recently? How are the conditions on the way up to Trail Crest?

And more generally, does the JMT/west slope of Whitney typically thaw out a bit sooner than the east side/Whitney Trail? Seems like the JMT climbs a slope facing roughly west (as opposed to north-east for the Whitney Trail between Trail Camp and Trail Crest).

Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2014 (Out-of-Date)
Damian #37081 06/03/14 06:23 PM
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> Has anyone come up the JMT from Guitar Lake recently?
josen88 answered your question: Horseshoe Meadow to Whitney portal memorial day weekend.

Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2014 (Out-of-Date)
Steve C #37104 06/04/14 06:41 AM
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Steve, Bob, and Bee -

Thanks for the info. Super helpful!

Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2014 (Out-of-Date)
seancully #37109 06/04/14 08:26 AM
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Me and the wife encountered Dave at the switchbacks. Those pics look pretty spot on. Dave was actually removing some snow with his ice axe. Really nice guy.

Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2014 (Out-of-Date)
Steve C #37144 06/04/14 11:09 PM
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Robbo posted this in the Trip Reports forum: June 2nd. Only reached Trail Crest.
Originally Posted By: Robbo
Hey guys. I just wanted to provide some info about the trail conditions. From the portal to trail camp, everything is almost 100% clear from snow. A few patches here and there.

The infamous switchbacks. We did not see anybody going up the chute so we followed everyone on the switchbacks. When we reached the cables, we saw a lot of of people turn around. We decided to keep going and to be honest, the cables weren't that bad although the pictures on the "current conditions" post make it look scary as hell. But then again, being clumsy would prove fatal. To us, the 2 or 3 switchbacks after the cables felt way more sketchier. The last switchback, the one that leads to trail crest had a lot of snow and we had to do some bouldering. We saw a ton of people, even a kid, going down the switchbacks without any gear. Just poles and and a lot faith. Just like me.

We reached trail crest at 1:50 and figured that by the time we reached the summit and back, the conditions would be really bad so we decided to end our ascend there. We went down the chute and the snow was slushy. Hard to slide down at times. My wife got small cuts on her arm from a few icy spots.

So what's the verdict? The switchbacks are doable without any gear but it's REALLY dangerous.

***Also, Dave from the Lone Pine hostel was clearing a bit of the snow from the cables with his ice axe. Good guy Dave. Go visit his store and give him a high five.***

Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2014 (Out-of-Date)
Steve C #37149 06/05/14 09:35 AM
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I am working of a full trip report, but here are the conditions we found on 6/3 - 6/4:

The trail was mostly clear of snow from Whitney Portal to Trail Camp. There were a few snowy/icy patches, but it easy to walk around these.

It was very warm on 6/4. When I checked the temperature @ Outpost Camp around 2:00 AM it was 40°. As a result, the snow was soft we easily hiked the bottom 1/3 of the chute with crampons and hiking poles. After that point, an ice ax is recommended/needed. I didn't check the temperature again until we were leaving the summit around 9 am. It was 50°.

There were a few snowy/icy patches between Trail Crest and the summit. They didn't bug me much on the ascent, but on the way down, when I was tired, they made me a little nervous. We ran into people convincing others in their groups that it was ok to proceed.

@ 11:00 am, the chute was very soft overall, but there were some hard icy patches. I had to self arrest twice to slow down. There is no way I could have done this with hiking poles. My 'butt-speedometer' says my speed increased by 50% or more in a matter of seconds. The snow in these sections was hard enough to rip a hole in my waterproof pants. At the bottom we were post-holing... so just because the snow is soft and slushy where you're standing, it doesn't mean that's the case for the entire chute.

We probably talked to 15-20 people between the summit and Trail Camp. We were the only ones that went up the chute, but others were talking about going down the chute with hiking poles to self-arrest. I did what I could to convince them otherwise, but I doubt they considered anything I said.


Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2014 (Out-of-Date)
63ChevyII.com #37157 06/05/14 02:48 PM
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Congrats! And great photo.

Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2014 (Out-of-Date)
Akichow #37158 06/05/14 03:25 PM
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Appreciate the updates everyone. we have a group of 12 heading up this Sunday morning on the 6/8...hoping that warm weather continues to melt those switchbacks.

After making it past those, I haven't seen any recent photos from there to the summit...that section pretty clear considering it's the other side and more exposed to the sun?

Hopefully we'll see some more trip reports from today and tomorrow that will be a good sign before we head out!

Tried to pick up a pair of microspikes at REI here in San Diego, they were sold out because it's not that season really now for them.

Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2014 (Out-of-Date)
Travis A. #37159 06/05/14 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted By: Travis A.


After making it past those, I haven't seen any recent photos from there to the summit...that section pretty clear considering it's the other side and more exposed to the sun?


There are a couple of sketchy sections, but I'd imagine they'll clear up a bit by Sunday. Most everyone going through them did so without microspikes. I think I have some photos, just need to go through them all.


Originally Posted By: Akichow
Congrats! And great photo.


Thanks grin

Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2014 (Out-of-Date)
63ChevyII.com #37184 06/06/14 08:13 AM
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I think I might go in from Onion on Monday (6/9) and come over from the backside to Whitney on Wednesday (6/11).

The weather is supposed to be 5-10 degrees above normal from Sunday until Thursday. With this kind of weather bringing out lots of weekenders, and the expected bulk of PCTers coming through the region, I'm guessing the north side of Forester, the JMT up from Guitar, and the switchbacks/chute will have well established boot tracks.

I did the this hike 2 years ago during the same first/second week period of June and it worked out fine. Like last time, I'll just have my micro-spikes & poles. My timing to hit the chute will be around 1pm, so it should be nice and slushy if the switchbacks are too sketch.

Still, with this weather and volume of foot traffic, I'd be surprised if the trail hasn't been cleared - especially with guys like Davey up there chipping away.

NWS http://forecast.weather.gov/showsigwx.ph...00#.U5HolfldWSo

TEMPERATURES WILL REMAIN ABOVE NORMAL THROUGH THE PERIOD...BUT WILL
INCREASE ON SUNDAY AND MONDAY...WHEN AN EXCESSIVE HEAT WATCH IS IN
EFFECT FOR ELEVATIONS BELOW 4000 FEET IN THE MOJAVE DESERT.

Last edited by Hobbes; 06/06/14 08:16 AM.
Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2014 (Out-of-Date)
Steve C #37190 06/06/14 10:26 AM
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We made the trip 6/4-6/5. No issues Portal to Trail Camp.
Switchbacks: we did not use microspikes or ice axes. We don't even use hiking poles.
Some snow on switchbacks which did make it tricky but totally doable. We never felt in danger even at the cables. However, the last switchback to Trail Crest was blocked so we had to take a small detour to the left.
Trail crest to summit: not much snow but a couple of areas where we had to cross snow patches.
A side note: as we were coming down by Outpost Camp it started to snow lightly and we heard thunder.
I'll post pictures later today.

Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2014 (Out-of-Date)
Steve C #37202 06/06/14 04:03 PM
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I've been at the cables / switchbacks when they looked like this. It was very scary to be honest with you. I've never used micro spikes but did buy a pair of Yack Tracks which do not have spikes. Which is the better to use in conditions like the pictures? Thanks, these posts are very helpful!

Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2014 (Out-of-Date)
Steve C #37203 06/06/14 04:43 PM
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Uhm... How do you post photos from my computer? I have some interesting ones but I am unable to figure it out...chalk it up to altitude after-effects frown

Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2014 (Out-of-Date)
CaroMP #37207 06/06/14 06:11 PM
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Originally Posted By: CaroMP
Uhm... How do you post photos from my computer? I have some interesting ones but I am unable to figure it out...chalk it up to altitude after-effects frown


Go to "Picture Gallery", from the "Forums" tab. Toward the top of that page there is a link to instructions for uploading pictures to this site. After you have uploaded your pictures you can copy the link from the Picture Gallery into your post, and your pictures will magically appear. The aforementioned instructions assume the reader is suffering the lingering effects so oxygen deprivation, so are fairly detailed:-)

Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2014 (Out-of-Date)
Steve C #37209 06/06/14 07:32 PM
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Ok, let me try. Here are some photos of the trickier parts.








Last edited by wazzu; 06/06/14 08:10 PM.
Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2014 (Out-of-Date)
John Sims #37211 06/06/14 07:33 PM
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I guess you can still click on the link. Too tired to try anything else. Hope it helps this weekend's climbers. Good night everyone! thanks

Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2014 (Out-of-Date)
Steve C #37212 06/06/14 07:33 PM
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Re: Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2014 (Out-of-Date)
CaroMP #37213 06/06/14 08:11 PM
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CaroMP - I fixed the links to display your photos. Thanks for posting them.

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