Mt Whitney Webcam
Mt Williamson Webcam
Feature Topics
Who's Online
0 registered (), 9 Guests and 43 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Stats
3268 Members
13 Forums
5341 Topics
49597 Posts

Max Online: 382 @ 11/07/12 05:45 AM
Topic Options
#43437 - 07/07/15 08:19 PM Main Mt. Whitney Trail, 7/7/15 day hike
eje67 Offline


Registered: 07/09/14
Posts: 68
Loc: Los Angeles County
This was my second time hiking the main Mt. Whitney trail. Made it to just above 13,800' feet then turned back due to uncertainty about the weather. Here is a recap of the trip:

Day one: Sun. July 5th

Left LA at 5:30 a.m., drove to Lone Pine and picked up my permit at the visitor's center. Had breakfast at Alabama Hills Cafe and then drove to Mosquito Flat trailhead and hiked to Mono Pass. Checked in at Rock Creek Lodge.

Day two: Mon. July 6th

Hung out on the porch of my cabin at Rock Creek Lodge and read a book. Checked out at noon, then drove to Mosquito Flat again, found a shady spot near the creek and read some more. Left mid-afternoon when it started hailing, dropped by Rock Creek Lodge to take a shower, drove to Whitney Portal family campground (with a stop in Bishop for dinner).

Day three: Tues. July 7th

Was planning to wake up at 2:00 a.m. and start the hike at 3:00 a.m., but I was up at 1:00 and on the trail at 2:00. Used the headlamp as little as possible; no headlamp necessary by Trail Camp.

There was a hail storm the previous day and the switchbacks were covered in what looked like hail pellets frozen together. I didn't have any traction devices so while ascending the switchbacks wasn't a problem, I was a little worried about coming down. I assumed that it would melt as the temps warmed up but wasn't sure. At one point on the switchbacks I turned around to go down, then changed my mind and headed back up to Trail Crest.

The trail on the back side of the mountain was covered with snow. It was a little more grippy than the switch backs but dicey in spots and I was trying to be really careful; I was concerned about the trail becoming icy. The temps were cool along the back side with light wind. About 8:00 am some darker clouds rolled in from the south, brushing across and over the summit. I made it to about a mile from the summit and was already thinking should I or shouldn't I proceed when another hiker turned around and said he wasn't going to risk it. This made a lot of sense to me...given the information (including yesterday's flash flood warnings, reports of the hail storm from Trail Camp campers, the condition of the trail, and the iffy weather forecasts I had seen), I didn't want to be caught in a hail or snow storm. For a while the summit was in and out of the clouds and didn't look too appetizing. So I decided to turn around.

I think this was a good decision at the time, but within a couple hours it was sunny with light white puffy clouds and probably would have been great at the summit! About halfway down the switchbacks I considered turning around again and heading for the summit but that thought didn't last long haha. I enjoyed the hike back to the Portal and farted around taking pictures of marmots, talking to other hikers, etc. When all was said and done I hiked about 19-20 miles and was on the mountain for just under 11 hours.

No problems with altitude...I felt really comfortable on the back side of the mountain after Trail Crest. The warm up hike at Mono Pass was great: not strenuous, about 7 1/2 miles from 10K to 12K. I think Rock Creek Lodge is about 9400 feet and I would definitely stay there again.

The trail was really wet all the way to trail camp. On the way down the switchbacks were slushy and sloppy, but the rest of the trail had dried out for the most part.

Top
#43438 - 07/07/15 08:26 PM Re: Main Mt. Whitney Trail, 7/7/15 day hike [Re: eje67]
63ChevyII.com Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 670
Loc: Colton, California
Good on you for turning around. It's not easy to do.
_________________________
HikingGeek.com

Top
#43447 - 07/08/15 04:47 AM Re: Main Mt. Whitney Trail, 7/7/15 day hike [Re: eje67]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
Discretion being the better part of valor, you did the right thing. I've had to make that exact same call - turn around a mile from Whitney's summit - due to conditions that I didn't think were safe for my wife and daughter. It's a tough, tough thing to do, especially when you're feeling fine. As the saying goes, the summit is optional but the parking lot is mandatory. Good job!

Top
#43448 - 07/08/15 07:37 AM Re: Main Mt. Whitney Trail, 7/7/15 day hike [Re: Bulldog34]
eje67 Offline


Registered: 07/09/14
Posts: 68
Loc: Los Angeles County
The summit was sooo close! But I knew that even though it was a mile or so away it's a long, slow mile. I wish I had better weather reading skills, but the thing that did it for me was how rapidly the clouds appeared. Another factor was the IT band issues I've been having, with acute pain on several recent training hikes while descending. I didn't want to be in a position where I had to get off the mountain fast, on a sloppy trail, in bad weather, in pain.

But, it's still hard to avoid second guessing haha. The main one is, if I had started the hike at 3:00 like I had originally planned, it would have been clear by the time I reached the turn around spot that the weather would not be an issue. Another one is, why didn't I just wait at the turn around spot to see what the weather was going to do? grin

Top
#43449 - 07/08/15 08:15 AM Re: Main Mt. Whitney Trail, 7/7/15 day hike [Re: eje67]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
I feel your pain. The year I had to turn my wife and daughter around at about 14K', we had originally planned to leave Consultation Lake at 5:00 am. My daughter, 11 at the time, was knackered from the backpack up the day before and we let her sleep in. Didn't hit the trail till 6:30 the next morning and that made all the difference in the world. If we had left at 5:00 as planned the icing issues above the chute wouldn't have been a factor. Everyone was well-acclimated and feeling strong, but the footing was getting treacherous.

I deeply regret starting late, but never the decision to do a one-eighty when safety became an issue for my girls. When I told them we had to turn back my wife completely understood, but my daughter just dropped down and started sobbing. That was tough - she was SO determined to summit. They tried again in 2013 but were monsooned off the mountain at Trail Crest.

Live and learn. From that point on start time was never again negotiable.

Top
#43450 - 07/08/15 09:20 AM Re: Main Mt. Whitney Trail, 7/7/15 day hike [Re: Bulldog34]
63ChevyII.com Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 670
Loc: Colton, California
He finally summitted on our HST Hike, but the first two times he attempted (I was with him both times), my buddy had to turn around.

Our first trip confirmed my feeling that I had found a great hiking partner. He trusted my decision to turn around and/or had the discretion to realize it himself.
_________________________
HikingGeek.com

Top