Mt Whitney Webcam
Mt Williamson Webcam
Feature Topics
Who's Online
0 registered (), 10 Guests and 38 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Stats
3270 Members
13 Forums
5344 Topics
49604 Posts

Max Online: 382 @ 11/07/12 05:45 AM
Page 1 of 2 1 2 >
Topic Options
#43017 - 06/08/15 08:08 PM Onion Valley to Whitney Portal via JMT
WHBackpacker Offline


Registered: 06/08/15
Posts: 8
Loc: Woodland Hills, CA
Hello friends... thanks to all who have taken the time to post here. I've been reading this in preparation for an upcoming trip of my own, and the information is fantastic, especially so for the timeliness. I'll be sure to return the favor once I get up there myself.

We have a multi-day backpack trip planned from Onion Valley to Whitney, via Kearsarge, Forester, etc... thinking of camping at Guitar Lake, and then an attempt at a Whitney summit before proceeding down the Main Trail to Whitney Portal. Our planned itinerary, if feasible with conditions, is to be at Forester on June 13th, and make the approach to Whitney on the 15th.

Do any of you have any information about trail conditions on that last leg of the JMT?

I'm most interested in the conditions at Forester Pass, and the part of the trail that ascends from Guitar Lake up to Trail Crest.

Top
#43018 - 06/08/15 09:54 PM Re: Onion Valley to Whitney Portal via JMT [Re: WHBackpacker]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7235
Loc: Fresno, CA
Welcome WH. I read that some PCT thru-hikers climbed Forester Pass from the south heading north late in may, and they had some pretty bad snow conditions. But by mid-June, it should be quite different, and I would expect you will find a much more useable trail by then.

The bad part of Forester is on the south-facing slope, so it gets lots of direct sun. Snow won't last long there.

Top
#43022 - 06/09/15 10:45 AM Re: Onion Valley to Whitney Portal via JMT [Re: WHBackpacker]
Grady Offline


Registered: 06/09/15
Posts: 5
Loc: san diego, ca
Hello WHBackpacker,

Would you be able to share your itinerary for your trip. We have permits for the same trip towards the end of August.

Top
#43025 - 06/09/15 11:54 AM Re: Onion Valley to Whitney Portal via JMT [Re: Grady]
WHBackpacker Offline


Registered: 06/08/15
Posts: 8
Loc: Woodland Hills, CA
Thanks, Steve C, for the Forester insight.

Grady, here are our planned waypoints for the trip:
Arrive and camp at Onion Valley
1) From Onion Valley, Kearsarge trail over Kearsarge Pass, down to Vidette Meadow and camping at Center Basin Creek.
2) Center Basin Creek, over Forester Pass, camp at Tyndall Frog Ponds.
3) Tyndall Frog Ponds to the PCT/JMT junction above Crabtree, heading eastward on the JMT to Guitar Lake.
4) Guitar Lake, up to Trail Crest, to Whitney summit, back down to Trail Crest, head east on the Whitney main trail and camp at Trail Camp.
5) Trail Camp to Whitney Portal.

Top
#43026 - 06/09/15 02:44 PM Re: Onion Valley to Whitney Portal via JMT [Re: WHBackpacker]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1549
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
Originally Posted By: WHBackpacker
Thanks, Steve C, for the Forester insight.

Grady, here are our planned waypoints for the trip:
Arrive and camp at Onion Valley
1) From Onion Valley, Kearsarge trail over Kearsarge Pass, down to Vidette Meadow and camping at Center Basin Creek.
2) Center Basin Creek, over Forester Pass, camp at Tyndall Frog Ponds.
3) Tyndall Frog Ponds to the PCT/JMT junction above Crabtree, heading eastward on the JMT to Guitar Lake.
4) Guitar Lake, up to Trail Crest, to Whitney summit, back down to Trail Crest, head east on the Whitney main trail and camp at Trail Camp.
5) Trail Camp to Whitney Portal.


Great route. If I were doing it, I would spend the first trail night a mile or so above Center Basin Creek. Spectacular High Sierra views, which you don't get at Center Basin Creek. Then Bighorn Plateau (crowds and no view at Tyndall) and then the tarns above Guitar.

I would also pass up Trail Camp in favor of Consultation Lake.
_________________________
Wherever you go, there you are.
SPOTMe!

Top
#43027 - 06/09/15 02:47 PM Re: Onion Valley to Whitney Portal via JMT [Re: WHBackpacker]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7235
Loc: Fresno, CA
When I did that section, here's our itinerary:

Overnight at Onion Valley trail head.
1. Long day to Center Basin creek
2. Center Basin creek to Wallace Creek
3. Wallace Creek to Whitney Summit
    Ate a big meal, swam and loafed at Guitar Lk several hours.
    (spent the night on top)
4. Out to Whitney Portal.

Day 1 and 2 were long, and I suffered from AMS (appetite loss) at the end of both days. By day 3, I was better.

Top
#43028 - 06/09/15 04:05 PM Re: Onion Valley to Whitney Portal via JMT [Re: WHBackpacker]
Hobbes Offline


Registered: 03/28/14
Posts: 109
Loc: The OC
I've been that way a couple of times, and Saltydog is correct. You should consider heading to what I refer to as the 11.2k meadow @ 36.713730,-118.368608. It's approx 2 more miles past the Center basin drainage - this is what it looks like:



11.2k is 14 miles from the Onion TH, so rather than spend the night by your car, you might consider either hiking the 2.5 miles to Flower, or if you're feeling good, go over the pass to the Kearsarge lakes. Not only is 11.2k a great view location, but it puts you 2.6 miles under Forester. If you start around 6am, you will be able to hit the first snow patches before 7-8am the next day, so you can skedaddle over any remaining snow before postholing hell begins. Most of the snow will be gone on the north side, but there probably will still be small sections like this from early June a few years ago:



Tyndall is 7.5 miles from the 11.2k meadow, or 9.5 miles from Center basin. If you did spend the night @ 11.2, you could continue on for another 4 more miles to the PCT @ Wright creek. This is what the Wright creek meadow looks like just 400-800 yards north of the PCT @ 36.603977,-118.369552



One last thing: like Anvil camp on the Shepherd pass trail, no one stays @ Trail camp on the descent (ie way out) if they've got any energy left. Including the r/t to the peak, TC is 9 miles from Guitar. All you gotta do is suck it up and march the last 6.1 miles to the Portal to get a cold beer & luscious hamburger.

Say you leave Guitar by 6am - even going slow & accounting for hanging out at the summit, you'd be @ TC by 2pm. Now, imagine hiking fast (aka 'jogging') @ around 3mph to get down the trail and out; the hunger becomes strong.

PS Be sure to take extra water from Guitar, drop your pack @ the junction, take a day back (a sleeping bag stuff sack with sewn on single strap to sling across your shoulder/back works great - just shove your loose bag into your main pack until you get back) with food*, water & fleece and you're golden.

*Unless you have a bear can, don't leave food in your main pack. The marmots will drill a hole right through it to get at any tasty salty snacks. Upon second thought, you of course will have a can because the Rae lakes area (Forester to Kearsarge to Woods crk) is a *must carry* zone:

http://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/canister-areas.htm

No wiggling out of that language. As an aside, one of the reasons Shepherd is a favorite of mine & others as a fast-track way into SEKI is because it falls within the 'highly recommended' zone. In other words, you can get away with an S29:

http://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/bear_bc.htm

Top
#43029 - 06/09/15 05:10 PM Re: Onion Valley to Whitney Portal via JMT [Re: Hobbes]
WHBackpacker Offline


Registered: 06/08/15
Posts: 8
Loc: Woodland Hills, CA
Thanks for the feedback...

Excellent suggestion to push past Center Basin Creek. We wanted to get as close to Forester as possible that day, so that if we ran into any snowdrift issues on Forester, we could tackle them as early in the day as possible. Hearing there is a suitable camping spot there, and that the area is pleasing on the eye is icing on the cake.

I'd love to leave OV a half day earlier to make it a more leisurely day, but our permits to depart OV won't allow for it. I THINK. 14 miles is a long day but it might be worth it given the situation.

The other options, like Wright Creek sound appealing as well, especially if we do stretch out that first leg.. thanks very much!

The last night on Trail Camp was scheduled because we need to be back to Whitney Portal by mid day on that date due to our personal schedules... so, it was just a way of enjoying one last night in the mountains before returning to human civilization, after putting a serious dent in the food inventory of one of the eating establishments in Lone Pine. Given that, Consultation Lake sounds like a very attractive option to avoid the zoo at Trail Camp. We'll play this by ear, see how we feel...

And, yes, we were intending to drop the pack off at the Muir Trail junction before heading up to Whitney, taking only a summit pack and whatever gear we think we will need for the snow/trail conditions at that time. Oh, and yes, I always carry a bear can! Not only for bears in the mountains, but to fend off varmints wherever I may be!

Thanks again!


Edited by WHBackpacker (06/09/15 05:20 PM)

Top
#43030 - 06/09/15 05:18 PM Re: Onion Valley to Whitney Portal via JMT [Re: Hobbes]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1549
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
Yes, the meadow at 11.2 is the spot. And if you are prepared do the 16 mi from Guitar (15 from the tarns) and skip Trail Camp, you have an extra day to stop at Kearsarge Lakes your first day, making it much easier to get to 11.2 the second, and Wright the third.

As for your last day, a very popular itinerary is an alpine start to get you on top around sunrise, very easy to get down the last 11 to the Portal for that burger same day.
_________________________
Wherever you go, there you are.
SPOTMe!

Top
#43031 - 06/09/15 05:21 PM Re: Onion Valley to Whitney Portal via JMT [Re: saltydog]
WHBackpacker Offline


Registered: 06/08/15
Posts: 8
Loc: Woodland Hills, CA
Thanks, Saltydog... I appreciate your suggestions! I'm gonna discuss with my trekking partner, we might re-juggle our itinerary.

Our planned wake up time at Guitar Lake is 3am. We want to avoid as many of the slippery conditions as possible.


Edited by WHBackpacker (06/09/15 05:24 PM)

Top
#43032 - 06/09/15 06:36 PM Re: Onion Valley to Whitney Portal via JMT [Re: WHBackpacker]
Hobbes Offline


Registered: 03/28/14
Posts: 109
Loc: The OC
I'd love to leave OV a half day earlier to make it a more leisurely day, but our permits to depart OV won't allow for it.

I'd be utterly astounded if you couldn't pull a same day entry permit for OV. That is, you cruise in to pick-up your reserved permit for the next day, and you casually ask if anything is available for that day. Unless it's a major weekend with perfect weather, the answer is going to be: how many in your party?

Secondly, unless you're physically incapacitated, I'd lay on 25+:1 odds that you won't spend another night on the trail after summitting. There's going to be (a lot of) people everywhere, including Consultation, and you're going to be starved for beer, fresh meat & vegetables.

Besides, if you have an extra day, and you haven't had enough, you can always satisfy your hiking jones with a nice dayhike up to Meysan, Cottonwoods (Horseshoe), Bishop pass, etc.

All of my longest hiking days, typically 20-25+ (including a 32 miler back in April), came on the last day. Your pack is light, your hunger is high, the drive is there, and well, you pop a vitamin I and hike till dark if need be.


Edited by Hobbes (06/09/15 06:44 PM)

Top
#43035 - 06/09/15 09:41 PM Re: Onion Valley to Whitney Portal via JMT [Re: Hobbes]
publius Offline


Registered: 06/09/15
Posts: 3
Loc: California
We are doing this exact same route, leaving morning of 6/17 from Onion.

Would be awesome if you can post any update on conditions when you get back on 6/16.

qq: is it worth it to carry both crampons and snowshoes this time of year to be prepared for hard ice and postholing conditions? Or do you just figure it's not worth the weight for the shoes? It's seems to be the time of year with both kinds on the same day, I'm especially worried about coming down from Whitney Summit in the late morning / early afternoon.

Top
#43036 - 06/09/15 09:56 PM Re: Onion Valley to Whitney Portal via JMT [Re: publius]
WHBackpacker Offline


Registered: 06/08/15
Posts: 8
Loc: Woodland Hills, CA
Publius, I have the same concern... I am bringing crampons/gaiters/ice axe unless I hear solid, first hand information before I depart the trailhead saying that they are absolutely not needed. Especially given the unstable weather in So Cal and all of the humidity in the air.

Sounds like this weather pattern will taper off over the next few days, which, I think, would reduce the probability of unpredictable severe weather bursts.

I'll post something ASAP upon return.


Edited by WHBackpacker (06/09/15 09:57 PM)

Top
#43037 - 06/09/15 10:03 PM Re: Onion Valley to Whitney Portal via JMT [Re: publius]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7235
Loc: Fresno, CA
First: I hope everyone knows that they need two permits for the Onion Valley to Whitney Portal hike: The Onion Valley entry, and the Trail Crest Exit permit. Not fun, but those are the regs.

As for carrying stuff, I personally would leave both the snowshoes and crampons at home. That's a lot of miles to carry the extra weight, and people area already posting that they are doing the Main Whitney Trail with shoes alone. Definitely leave the snow shoes at home.

I would be more worried hiking the trail in icy conditions than late morning when the ice is more slushy. Dig in your heels and hike on. Ice is less forgiving.

Top
#43038 - 06/09/15 10:10 PM Re: Onion Valley to Whitney Portal via JMT [Re: Steve C]
WHBackpacker Offline


Registered: 06/08/15
Posts: 8
Loc: Woodland Hills, CA
The reason why I am bringing the crampons up to OV is not so much for Whitney, but the JMT. My trek colleague called the Inyo center today and they were recommending crampons, and NOT micro spikes, for the south side of Forester, and the route up from Guitar Lake to the Muir Junction.

We'll check again when we're up there... worst comes to worse, we just leave the gear in the car.

Yeah, we have two permits for the trip... from what I recall the Whitney entry permit was a "Kearsarge Pass JM31 overnight", and the exit was "Whitney Trail JM35".


Edited by WHBackpacker (06/09/15 10:25 PM)

Top
#43040 - 06/09/15 10:24 PM Re: Onion Valley to Whitney Portal via JMT [Re: WHBackpacker]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7235
Loc: Fresno, CA
Yes, I understand. Along that line, Yosemite advises people to stay away from Half Dome when the cables "are down", and all agencies always tell people to treat or filter their water. Agencies always need to aim for the lowest common denominator, and "cover all the bases". So I usually take their recommendations with some additional consideration.

Of course I don't know your experience level, so they may be right on the mark with their recommendations.

...just my 2 cents. Please take it as such.

Top
#43046 - 06/10/15 07:05 AM Re: Onion Valley to Whitney Portal via JMT [Re: WHBackpacker]
Hobbes Offline


Registered: 03/28/14
Posts: 109
Loc: The OC
I hope you know that the IAVC is also staffed by non-fulltime forest service personal, some of whom have other "regular" jobs and are filling in. (Guess who answers the phone?) IOW, crampons for the south side of Forester?

If you really, really want to know the very latest, first-hand reports on JMT trail conditions, then simply follow the #pct hashtag on Instagram:

https://instagram.com/explore/tags/pct/
https://instagram.com/explore/tags/pct2015/
https://instagram.com/explore/tags/pacificcresttrail/

You don't even need to find a direct shot of Forester/Whitney in the current page. Just follow someone who is north of Forester, since they will almost certainly have a shot of Forester/Whitney in their portfolio. For added information, a lot of time they will have a link to a blog where they describe summitting Whitney and/or crossing Forester. Can't get any better information than that.

If you're hiking in boots, then even spikes (if they fit) could be overkill. If you're wearing trail runners (which I do), and you feel like you must carry something - and at this point the snow is rapidly melting - then take spikes. Really, the one essential tool are your poles.

Edit: here's a few - note the time stamps:
https://instagram.com/p/3uwRL7R8Es/?tagged=pct2015
https://instagram.com/p/3nCFvYGPAD/?taken-by=bobby_pct


Edited by Hobbes (06/10/15 07:16 AM)

Top
#43048 - 06/10/15 07:24 AM Re: Onion Valley to Whitney Portal via JMT [Re: Hobbes]
publius Offline


Registered: 06/09/15
Posts: 3
Loc: California
excellent advice. here's forester yesterday

https://instagram.com/p/3uwRL7R8Es/?tagged=pct2015

Top
#43051 - 06/10/15 08:28 AM Re: Onion Valley to Whitney Portal via JMT [Re: Hobbes]
WHBackpacker Offline


Registered: 06/08/15
Posts: 8
Loc: Woodland Hills, CA
Awesome. Great to see.

Thanks!

Top
#43132 - 06/14/15 08:59 AM Re: Onion Valley to Whitney Portal via JMT [Re: Grady]
Krishna Offline


Registered: 04/15/11
Posts: 101
Loc: Woodridge, IL, USA
Hi Grady!

What date are you starting from OV. I am doing SB JMT and am looking for some help with my food delivery at Kearsarge First lake camp ground where I plan to be on August 18th pm and can wait one more day if that coincides with your permit days.

If the dates agree we can discuss further. My food bag weight will be under 10 lbs.

Hope to hear from you,

Happy Trails!

Top
Page 1 of 2 1 2 >