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#49012 - 12/20/16 11:33 AM Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year
WanderingJim Offline


Registered: 02/09/15
Posts: 114
Loc: California
So my goal next year for the Whitney area is to do Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney in one hike. Have other hikes planned for other areas (including a big Salkantay to Machu Picchu trek in Peru), but wanted to do some planning on this one now (since I'll have to get the permits soon).

So my first possible starting point is at the Shephard's Pass Trailhead (naturally).

Alternately, I was thinking of going in via Onion Valley. A little longer (okay, a lot longer since I'll have to pop over to Mt Williamson and back to the JMT), but would give me more time to acclimatize before trying to summit Williamson.

I rushed my acclimatization this year when I did Mt Langley first and it cost me my 2nd Whitney attempt. This would force me to spend some time at lower altitudes on the way to Williamson.

Looks like Kearsarge Pass is the entry point.

Any thoughts on which is the better hike? (scenery and hiking difficulty).

Anyone have rough mileage for the two hikes.

I'm planning on a full 9 days (Sat to Sun) to do either of these hikes, but what are the likely number of days for each starting point, summitting both peaks, and exiting via the Portal?

July or August would be the timeframe.


Thanks.

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#49013 - 12/20/16 12:10 PM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: WanderingJim]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 6884
Loc: Fresno, CA
The Onion Valley / Kearsarge entry is definitely an easier hike, since you start at 9k elevation rather than 6.3k. It is an easy cross-country walk (~2.5 miles) east-south-east off the JMT to join the trail from Shepherd Pass. (But then with the Kearsarge and Forrester passes, it's about the same elevation gain as Shepherd Pass alone.)

The Shepherd Pass trailhead requires a high-clearance (if not 4wd) vehicle.

As for AMS, when I hiked from Onion Valley to Whitney, I had AMS until the third day, and we even spent the night before at OV. Climbing the Shepherd Pass route is just a suffer-fest that will certainly get you into AMS-ville sooner.

The most difficult part of this trip would be getting the Trail Crest Exit permit along with the entry permit. Alternately, you could exit via the Mountaineer's Route on Whitney, or via Horseshoe Meadows.

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#49015 - 12/20/16 12:28 PM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: Steve C]
WanderingJim Offline


Registered: 02/09/15
Posts: 114
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Steve C
Alternately, you could exit via the Mountaineer's Route on Whitney, or via Horseshoe Meadows.


I actually have a Horseshoe Meadow exit in mind depending on how I feel at that point. It would let me go down via Crabtree pass which I missed going through since I aborted my Mt Whitney approach this year.

The portal would be my planned exit point.

Descending via MR... that would probably depend on how I feel at that point.

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#49016 - 12/20/16 05:44 PM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: WanderingJim]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 6884
Loc: Fresno, CA
Crabtree pass west side is about as gnarly as the "easy walk-off" route on the MR. If you can do one, you can do the other.

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#49018 - 12/20/16 11:37 PM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: Steve C]
psykokid Offline


Registered: 07/28/15
Posts: 38
Loc: Pasadena, CA
Originally Posted By: Steve C

The Shepherd Pass trailhead requires a high-clearance (if not 4wd) vehicle.


When I was up there in September the road to the hiker TH was in good shape. No high clearance needed. There were many small subcompact cars with about as much ground clearance as a skateboard parked. There were a few bigger rocks here and there but if you go slow and know how to drive around the rocks you'll have no problem.

Originally Posted By: Steve C

Climbing the Shepherd Pass route is just a suffer-fest that will certainly get you into AMS-ville sooner.


Shepherds Pass, while not my favorite trail by any means (it is a big suck fest with the elevation gain and then loss only to have to regain it) is the quickest way up the Tyndall-Willi area. I broke it up by starting later in the afternoon when things had cooled down and hiking up to Mahogany Flat and camping there for the first night. Second day was up to the pass and saddle between Tyndall and Polychrome. My hiking partner and myself had no AMS related woes on this trip.

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#49019 - 12/21/16 01:32 PM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: WanderingJim]
Glenn Offline


Registered: 09/16/11
Posts: 103
Loc: Oklahoma
Hey WanderingJim,

I've taken the Shepherd Pass Trail a few times and I really enjoy it for the experience of climbing out of the desert right up into the alpine environment. Starting as low as it does and with a first night at just 10,000' (Anvil Camp) I think helped me a lot with acclimatizing. The times I've done it have been in September when all that was needed to beat the heat was an early start.

I did have car trouble one time but that was my fault. I ran over a large loose rock. That road should normally be passable for any kind of car with appropriate care.

By-the-way, the Salkantay trek is amazing.

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#49078 - 01/15/17 01:11 PM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: WanderingJim]
WanderingJim Offline


Registered: 02/09/15
Posts: 114
Loc: California
With permit dates coming up for late July/August, I'm narrowing down my plans.


I'll probably spend a night or two at the Onion Valley campground.

Then two days from Onion Valley to Shepherd Pass.

A day to summit Mt Williamson and maybe make my way towards Whitney in the afternoon.

Two days to Whitney (last night before submitting spent at the bivy sites or the summit if possible).

A day for the Sunrise there and to get back to the Portal and an extra day in the schedule just in case.

So 6-7 days on the trail and looks like 60 miles. Sound reasonable?

Is there hiker parking at the Onion Valley trailhead? Figure leaving my car there would be best, then arrange to get back to pickup my car after my hike. That also leaves my car available for an abort back to Onion Valley if needed.

About how long from Shepherd Pass to the summit of Mt Williamson and is the path navigable in the dark? Trying to figure if a pre-dawn hike to see the sunrise from the top is possible.


Edited by WanderingJim (01/15/17 01:12 PM)

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#49080 - 01/15/17 08:37 PM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: WanderingJim]
RenoFrank Offline


Registered: 08/06/11
Posts: 394
Loc: Reno, NV
Originally Posted By: WanderingJim


Is there hiker parking at the Onion Valley trailhead? Figure leaving my car there would be best, then arrange to get back to pickup my car after my hike. That also leaves my car available for an abort back to Onion Valley if needed.




I left my car at the Onion Valley trailhead for 5 nights. I started there, went over Kearsarge Pass, took JMT to Whitney, and exited at Whitney Portal. Lots of parking, water faucets, bear lockers, and a campground that you can not only reserve sites but they keep several for walk-in hikers.

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#49106 - 01/18/17 03:47 PM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: WanderingJim]
Hobbes Offline


Registered: 03/28/14
Posts: 106
Loc: The OC
Do I understand correctly that you're going to start @ Onion, go over Kearsarge/Forester, then divert from the JMT in order to summit Williamson? And then you're going to backtrack/return to the trail in order to hit Whitney on the way out?

Have you considered just going up Shepherd, summit Willy, traverse the ridge-line down to Wallace, then go up over Russell-Carillon, down to Iceberg and then up the MR and out? If it sounds ambitious, it is. However, anyone who can solo Williamson should be able to deal with the cross-country challenges as well.

I've been up/down both Shepherd, Kearsarge & Forester a number of times. While I haven't done Williamson, I've been off-trail throughout the region.

Having done the Onion to Whitney hike myself, I think you'll find yourself deciding to skip Williamson. It's both out-of-the way and adds an unnecessary fatigue element to the equation.

If you don't want to traverse x-country from Williamson, then a much more straightforward & logical hike would to still go in @ Shepherd. Williamson (or Tyndall) are right there. Thereafter, the Shepherd trails joins the JMT @ Tyndall creek, making it a more logical continuation on the way to Whitney.

PS I've driven my Sienna mini-van 3 times to the Shepherd hikers' TH without any problems. Just watch out for rocks.


Edited by Hobbes (01/18/17 03:49 PM)

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#49129 - 01/24/17 12:26 AM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: Hobbes]
Hillbasher Offline


Registered: 11/21/16
Posts: 4
Loc: San Dimas, California
Originally Posted By: Hobbes
Having done the Onion to Whitney hike myself, I think you'll find yourself deciding to skip Williamson. It's both out-of-the way and adds an unnecessary fatigue element to the equation.

If you don't want to traverse x-country from Williamson, then a much more straightforward & logical hike would to still go in @ Shepherd. Williamson (or Tyndall) are right there. Thereafter, the Shepherd trails joins the JMT @ Tyndall creek, making it a more logical continuation on the way to Whitney.

PS I've driven my Sienna mini-van 3 times to the Shepherd hikers' TH without any problems. Just watch out for rocks.


Am in complete agreement with "Hobbes" on this. If you want to do Williamson, then do Tyndall also seeing how you are there and it is the more enjoyable climb of the two. If your goal is to do Williamson no matter what, then I would also recommend coming into the area over Shepherd Pass. But if you do start at Onion Valley and want to get over to the Williamson/Tyndall options,once you are a mile or two south of Forester, LEAVE the JMT right as you get to the south face of Diamond Mesa at the 11,800 elevation. Cut under DMesa and head XC to the tarn North of Tyndall. In doing this you save 3 miles or so, which you will appreciate latter on in your trip. Once you head back to the JMT, take Wallace Creek up to Tulainyo Lake and get over to Upper Boy Scout Lake via Russell -Carillon pass. This gives you the choice of doing Rusell instead of Whitney, which I would suggest 95 out of 100 times. I have been to the Williamson Bowl area multiple times via both Shepherd Pass and starting at Onion Valley, and have to say Shepherd gets my vote. Williamson,Tyndall, and Russell would be three 14,000 foot peaks, and an epic trip. I have climbed all three, trips starting both at OV and up Shepherd, and no matter which starting point and peaks you end up doing, you will have the time of your life. Good Luck.
P.S. Another thing Hobbes is right about is that getting to the TH for Shepherd should be doable in just about any car as long as you drive smart. 4WD and high clearance is not mandatory.

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#49148 - 01/30/17 09:27 PM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: Hillbasher]
WanderingJim Offline


Registered: 02/09/15
Posts: 114
Loc: California
Okay, so would this be the possible route:

Day 1: Shepherd Pass
Camp near the lake near the pass

Day 2: Mt Williamson
Return to same camp

Day 3: Mt Tyndall
Return to same camp. Depending on time and body condition smile break camp and head towards JMT and camp when I feel like it.

Day 4-5?: Hike towards and along Wallace Creek.
Camp near Tulalnyo Lake

Day 6?: Climb Mt Carlillon and Mt Russell (not sure of the approach to Russell, this seems like a natural path looking at the map)

Day 7?: Is it possible to traverse the ridge from Russell to Whitney? This may be a long shot by this point in the trip anyway.

Day 7-8?: Return to portal (by MR or Whitney Trail).

Not too sure of the approach to Russel and if going over to Whitney is possible.

Do you have any GPX tracks for some of these routes you're suggesting?


Edited by WanderingJim (01/30/17 09:35 PM)

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#49149 - 01/31/17 08:44 AM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: WanderingJim]
Paul Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 164
Loc: Santa Clarita, CA
After descending Tyndall, consider heading toward Rockwell Pass. The pass is an easy hike and allows you to drop down into Wright Lakes. from there you follow Wright Creek down toward the JMT. This saves miles and time. Rockwell pass is just west of Tyndall, actually it is the ridge from Tyndall. The pass is just a low saddle, class 2.

Camp at Wright Lakes.

This next suggestion requires you to feel comfortable with some cross country hiking. As you descend Wright Creek, maybe a half mile, off to your left, you will see trees and level hiking, just head through the trees and in about a mile, you come to the Wallace creek drainage and use trail. This saves about 2 plus miles.

Only do this if you feel comfortable in route finding and reading maps.

I take this route frequently to Wallace and Wales lake.

paul

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#49151 - 01/31/17 09:54 AM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: Paul]
psykokid Offline


Registered: 07/28/15
Posts: 38
Loc: Pasadena, CA
I'll second going over Rockwell Pass. Pretty mellow hike from the Tyndall Creek drainage down into the Wright Lakes Basin. Wright Lakes is pretty wide open and easy to navigate. My hiking buddy and I didn't see another soul when we cut through there last year after coming down the backside of Tyndall.

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#49153 - 01/31/17 05:42 PM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: WanderingJim]
Hobbes Offline


Registered: 03/28/14
Posts: 106
Loc: The OC
My hiking buddy Andy did the SoSHR last summer. Here's his TR:

http://www.highsierratopix.com/community/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=15001

He also has a personal blog linked from above, so if you have any questions, you could contact him directly.

He went over Rockwell from Shepherd, then up R-C, down to UBSL, up the MR, down Discovery to Crabtree, through Miter, up to Langley and out to Horseshoe.

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#49155 - 01/31/17 09:54 PM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: Hobbes]
WanderingJim Offline


Registered: 02/09/15
Posts: 114
Loc: California
Okay, after reading your suggestions and digging up some gps tracks from various sources (the blue section) and eyeballing a satellite picture between what I think is Rockwell Pass (it's not named on any of my maps) and Mt Russell (red section), I've put together a possible route.

Exit via the MR or WT.

The trail between Mt Russell and Mt Whitney (green section) I didn't have a GPS track, but some maps showing people going between there in that rough track.

Is that a possibly good route? (particularly the red and green sections since I couldn't find any GPS downloads that corresponded to those hikes)


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#49156 - 01/31/17 10:06 PM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: WanderingJim]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 6884
Loc: Fresno, CA
Jim, in your first post you wrote:
"I rushed my acclimatization this year when I did Mt Langley first and it cost me my 2nd Whitney attempt."

Shepherd Pass is 12,000' elevation. First, you aren't going to want to haul a pack with 7 days' food from the trail head at 6,300' up to 12k in one day. Second, you are setting yourself up for a repeat of last year's AMS, but this time ruining a 7-day trip!


Last summer, I took the route up Wallace Creek and the use trail to Wallace Lake. It was sometimes difficult to follow and I lost it several times. I used my gps unit and paper map to find my way each time, and was successful following it most of the time. If I ever go that way again, it will be much easier due to being familiar with the area.

I camped at Wallace Lake, and then hiked out next day to Whitney Portal over Carillon/Russell Pass. I could have and should have climbed Russell.

Getting to Whitney from Russell: Carefully study the descent route off Russell, down-climb into the Arctic Lk drainage, then over Russell-Whitney pass descend to Iceberg Lk. You can climb the Mountaineers Route to Whitney. I have only seen anyone successfully climb the north slope of Whitney when there was a good snow/ice blanket so crampons could be used.

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#49159 - 02/01/17 08:24 PM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: Steve C]
WanderingJim Offline


Registered: 02/09/15
Posts: 114
Loc: California
Steve, yeah... I keep vacillating between Onion and Shepherd.

I guess I could do something like this:



Two Days from Onion Valley to the tarn near Tyndall seems doable.

Is Williamson and Tyndall doable in a single day? Or maybe do Tyndall as a pre-dawn hike for sunrise from the top?

The Russell vs Whitney vs both decision could be made on the trail I guess. If I had managed Whitney last year I probably could forgo it this year, but really want to hit it again.

If anyone has actual GPS tracks for some of the sections, I'd appreciate it.

Particularly the bit between Russell and Whitney. That seems like the only way I'd do both at that point in the trip. Dropping down to Lower Boy Scout Lake and back up doesn't seem likely to work well.

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#49160 - 02/01/17 10:49 PM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: WanderingJim]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 6884
Loc: Fresno, CA
About 12 years ago, I did OV to Wallace Cr in 2 long days, with 3 other hikers. Center Basin first night, Wallace Cr. the second. I did your Shepherd Pass route, starting about dark and hiking for hours by headlamp first night. Second night at Shepherd Pass. Did Tyndall and Willi next day. But I was like 35 then.

Take 2 days to get to Shepherd Pass. Do Willi on one day. Next day, do Tyndall in the morning, then take the pack over Rockwell Pass.

Regarding Russell, remember, you are carrying a full backpack. I climbed Russell-Carrillon pass with my pack. It was class 3 in some places. Secor book says the North Arete is class 3. I think I would prefer my route, then climb the east ridge. If you are still feeling strong, you would descend the south face talus. (Read Secor's description carefully -- I'd worry about getting into a Class 4 situation.

You don't have to descend to upper Boy Scout. Above I wrote that you would descend to Iceberg.

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#49168 - 02/02/17 09:45 AM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: Steve C]
Snacking Bear Offline


Registered: 08/09/11
Posts: 409
Loc: Saugus, CA
Great Trip plan WJ!! I'm actually really jealous, I love the idea of a x-country trip like this.

Shepherds Pass -or- Onion Valley

I think Shepherds Pass gets a bad rap, I would say that you should do it!

I would also agree with Steve; I think you should take two days to get up it. I might also add, that depending on the time of year there is a sizable if not shallow tarn at the Tyndall-Polychrome Saddle. Camping at TPS would put you even closer to Tyndall and Willi, AND the TPS is an easy if not sandy walk from the SP Lake. You are also less likely to see people, and you get better views of both Tyndall and the Williamson Bowl that you'd miss from the Pass.

Williamson:

As per Willi: You are right to take a full day, and to answer your earlier question about reaching the top for sunrise... I would say no. Getting across the Bowl is physically, mentally, and spiritually draining and you need to be able to see the black stain on Willi's crude w face. The ascent chute is not apparent until you're right under it. Additionally, unless you are familiar with the terrain or really comfortable on steep class 3, the 80ft w face chimney demands some daylight attention.

Russell-Whitney:

As it pertains to the S Face of Russell I can send you pics of the S. Face descent as I had to do it when hit by a July snow flurry. It was fun and doable, but just about the airiest class 3 I've done.

Once at the Whitney Russell Col descending to Iceberg, camping, and up the MR is your best bet. But you CAN climb Whitney's N. face directly. but I can't promise that it will be easy.

For the whole section from Whitney to Russell I'd most recommend dropping your pack at the Russell Carillon Col, climbing the E. Ridge of Russell, returning, and then take the easy sand slope to UBSL. You can get from the 13,200 to the 11,200 UBSL in 1-2 hours. The sand makes the descent quick, easy, and fun.

From UBSL, dayhike up the MR and then pack out.


Edited by Snacking Bear (02/02/17 09:54 AM)
Edit Reason: More info/ format
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#49173 - 02/02/17 10:15 PM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: Snacking Bear]
RenoFrank Offline


Registered: 08/06/11
Posts: 394
Loc: Reno, NV
Originally Posted By: Snacking Bear
But you CAN climb Whitney's N. face directly. but I can't promise that it will be easy.


I enjoyed this trip report. That ridge to Russell looks a little too scary for me. Am I correct that this was a day hike?

Joseph your goal for MWMT is 10 hours car to car, does that also include some jogging? (I do understand this is not your trip report)


Edited by RenoFrank (02/02/17 10:17 PM)

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#49174 - 02/02/17 10:35 PM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: Snacking Bear]
psykokid Offline


Registered: 07/28/15
Posts: 38
Loc: Pasadena, CA
Originally Posted By: Snacking Bear


For the whole section from Whitney to Russell I'd most recommend dropping your pack at the Russell Carillon Col, climbing the E. Ridge of Russell, returning, and then take the easy sand slope to UBSL. You can get from the 13,200 to the 11,200 UBSL in 1-2 hours. The sand makes the descent quick, easy, and fun.

From UBSL, dayhike up the MR and then pack out.


That's more or less how I was going to handle that section between Russell and Whitney this past September.

I had planned to go with the same high points plus a few others and come up Shepherds Pass. The route was to be Shepherds, Tyndall, Willi, then go XC south from Willi and tag Trojan and Barnard, into the Wallace/Wales/Tulainyo area, and finally up the Russell-Carillion Col and then going on as stated above. My hiking buddy decided he had bitten off more than he could chew when we camped the first evening at Mahogany Flat so we ended up base camping next to the big rocks near the Tyndall Polychrome Saddle and hiking Polycrome the second day after making the pass and heading up the north rib of Tyndall and down the south side to the Wright Lakes Basin. Not a decent I'd recommend btw - nasty, steep, nasty, loose talus and scree; then it gets cliffy about 500' from the bottom.

here's my TR over on HST: http://www.highsierratopix.com/community/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=15119


Edited by psykokid (02/02/17 11:01 PM)

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#49178 - 02/03/17 10:27 AM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: Snacking Bear]
Snacking Bear Offline


Registered: 08/09/11
Posts: 409
Loc: Saugus, CA
Reading psykokid's great TR, he has this photo descending from Polychrome looking at Tyndall. Even at a low-snow year you can see the tarn at the TP Col is there.

Big. Flat. Sandy.

As long as it ain't too windy it could make for some good camping RIGHT at the foot of the North Rib no less!



Thanks psyko!
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#49293 - 02/26/17 03:13 PM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: WanderingJim]
WanderingJim Offline


Registered: 02/09/15
Posts: 114
Loc: California
Okay, so I've been having fun trying to line up permits and have a couple quick questions:

What is the possibility of the reverse direction working out? So I'd start with Whitney, get it out of the way then head north to Russel and Williamson. Have the option to exit via Shepherds Pass as well.
While the Whitney to Russel trek looks a bit more daunting in that direction, the rest seems pretty similar to coming down from the north.

Granted, I'd have to get lucky with the lottery, but trying to get entry and exit permits available at the same time has been fun. smile Did snag a 7 day permit in mid August, but might be useful to have a backup plan.

What is the difference between and "Overnight Permit" and a "Cross Country Permit"?
Rec.gov mentions "Cross Country permit type for Sphinx Creek and Brewer Range, Sixty Lakes and Gardner Basin areas)".
But as far as I can see, the availability for the two types is the same and my route doesn't hit those areas anyway.


Edited by WanderingJim (02/26/17 03:15 PM)

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#49294 - 02/26/17 06:11 PM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: WanderingJim]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 6884
Loc: Fresno, CA
Overnight permit: Up to 15 people. Cross Country: National Parks only allow group size of 8. That's the only difference.

Are you trying to get a Trail Crest exit permit? They disappear in seconds every morning at 7 AM.

But... If you're doing Whitney from the north, you can exit via the MR, and you don't need the TC exit permit.

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#49295 - 02/26/17 09:39 PM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: Steve C]
WanderingJim Offline


Registered: 02/09/15
Posts: 114
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Steve C

But... If you're doing Whitney from the north, you can exit via the MR, and you don't need the TC exit permit.


Interesting, I didn't really consider a difference between the MR and Whitney Trail exits as far as the permit goes.

But looking closer, it does have a 'visiting Whitney' item.

That could simplify things. smile

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#49296 - 02/27/17 08:41 AM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: WanderingJim]
Snacking Bear Offline


Registered: 08/09/11
Posts: 409
Loc: Saugus, CA
Cross Country
I think in terms of restrictions, Steve is right, the only restrictive diff is the number of people allowed in a single party.

Well, to state what is probably already apparent to you, in terms of SAR info, since you will be heading off-trail for significant stretches, having every bit of info as accurate as possible on your permit would be advisable in case of emergency. Therefore I would select cross-country so SAR personnel would know (with out too much mental footwork needed) to look for you in non-trailed areas first.

Visiting Whitney
As far as "visiting Whitney" that permit designation is only for people who aren't entering/exiting via the Portal and by extent the Whitney Zone.

Namely, that designation is primarily for people hiking CP to OV, or PCT hikers who will just tag Whitney's summit and return to Guitar Lake. Those hikers technically only pass into the WZ for a cumulative 0.25-0.5 miles of trail length.

So... If you wanted to start your trek from Cottonwood, Meysan Lakes, or Cleaver Col, you could theoretically use a permit as such without fear of repercussions.
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#49297 - 02/27/17 10:32 AM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: Snacking Bear]
WanderingJim Offline


Registered: 02/09/15
Posts: 114
Loc: California
Okay... now I'm confused again. Steve was saying that exiting via the MR wouldn't need the exiting via Whitney permit (via Trail Crest), but you seem to be saying exiting via the Portal would require that (and of course the MR exits via the Portal).

So who's right?

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#49298 - 02/27/17 01:05 PM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: WanderingJim]
Snacking Bear Offline


Registered: 08/09/11
Posts: 409
Loc: Saugus, CA
To my knowledge, (and I will state my case, but defer to Steve absolutely), the issue with exiting the Whitney region isn't specifically travelling over TC, but passing through the WZ to the Portal.

Both the MWMT and MR pass, inescapably, through the WZ. Further complicating factor: IIRC the N. Fork of Lone Pine Creek (MR) has an even tighter limit on permits (day and overnight).

Although the number of people hoping to exit via the MR is low... but IIRC the same TC Exit Quota applies to anyone exiting through the WZ to the Portal.

Though I might be wrong, here is what doesn't make sense to me: The whole purpose with the quota system is to minimize adverse affect of too many people passing through the WZ. It doesn't make sense (IMHO) that simply opting to exit via a rougher route. in the same zone would escape the stringent quotas.

Again, Steve will probably know better but I had to push back a little if something didn't seem to match up with the 13+ different times I've gotten permits in/out/passing through the Whitney Zone.


Edited by Snacking Bear (02/27/17 01:11 PM)
Edit Reason: spellign
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#49299 - 02/27/17 03:04 PM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: Snacking Bear]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1474
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
I have to call this one for Steve.

The MR and all of North Fork route is indeed in the Whitney Zone, so you are still in the Whitney Zone most of the way down North Fork. But"Exiting" means "Exiting wilderness", and that happens on the North Fork well before you reach the Main Trail, and on the Main Trail just before you reach the North Fork. SO the question becomes whether the so called "Whitney Exit" applies to the Whitney Zone or only to the Main Trail. It has long been referrred to as the "Trail Crest" quota, and genreally referred to as "Exiting Whitney" or Exiting WHitney Portal. But by any definition, "exiting WHitney Portal" doesn'e mean anything, because at Whitney Portal you are not exiting anything. ANyone ending at the Portal has already exited both Wilderness and the Zone by a mile or more.

SO you would have to look at exactly how the quota is described. IF it says exiting through WHitney Zone, then yes, that would apply to the MR and North Fork. IF it says Exiting by MW Main Trail, or trail Crest then no.

So guess what. Here is what the INyo web site actually says:

"Look for a permit type with “Visiting Mt. Whitney” if you will visit the Mt. Whitney Zone, but are not exiting via the Mt Whitney trail to Whitney Portal.
Look for a permit type with “Exit Mt. Whitney” for trips that will finish at Whitney Portal via Mt. Whitney (Trail Crest Exit).* An additional quota will apply for your exit date."


Based on this, I would say that it is crystal clear that the quota does not apply to the MR/North Fork route, becuse it does not exit Wilderness, or anything else, by Trail Crest or the Main Trail. QED.

Note, however, that you still need the "Visiting Mt Whitney" permit, but there is only an extra charge for this, not a quota.


Edited by saltydog (02/27/17 03:19 PM)
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#49300 - 02/27/17 03:15 PM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: saltydog]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1474
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
OK, for bonus points and your graduate degree in MT Whitney permitting issues, here's the kicker. You do not need the Visiting Whitney permit to summit from the west under any circumstances, only to descend east of the Crest, as at Trail Crest or the MR notch, or to fling yourself off the summit to the east.

The simple reason for this - pay attention; this will be on the final - is that Mt. Whitney summit is not in the Whitney Zone. That's right, Mt WHitney is not in the Whitney Zone, nor is any of the trail between Trail Crest and the Summit. And yes, I know what the maps look like, and yes I know what some rangers at the Visitors Center will say (until pressed) but the Summit and the entire trail from trail Crest and from Guitar Lake, to the Summit, are in SEKI and under their jurisdiction. Even on an Inyo Wilderness permit, you do not need the VW permit to, well VW.

Truth.

Trail Crest Exit Quota


Edited by saltydog (02/27/17 04:06 PM)
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#49301 - 02/27/17 03:18 PM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: saltydog]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1474
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
PS, the only thing on this site more fun than saying Whitney is not in the Whitney zone is saying that use of WagBags is not required. But I digress.
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#49302 - 02/27/17 03:54 PM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: saltydog]
WanderingJim Offline


Registered: 02/09/15
Posts: 114
Loc: California
Didn't know there was going to be a test on all this. smile

So by the letter of the rules, it looks like I'd be okay with just a "Visiting Mt Whitney" permit.

But ironically when I did my first summit of Whitney, the only time I got asked for my permit was just when I was reaching the end of the trail at the Whitney Portal. smile If that happens this time, I'd probably have to show the ranger pictures of me on the MR to prove I didn't come down the Whitney trail. smile

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#49303 - 02/27/17 03:54 PM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: saltydog]
Snacking Bear Offline


Registered: 08/09/11
Posts: 409
Loc: Saugus, CA
Originally Posted By: saltydog
That's right, Mt WHitney is not in the Whitney Zone, nor is any of the trail between Trail Crest and the Summit. And yes, I know what the maps look like, and yes I know what some rangers at the Visitors Center will say (until pressed) but the Summit and the entire trail from trail Crest and from Guitar Lake, to the Summit, are in SEKI and under their jurisdiction.


Well isn't that confusing (I've only looked at the maps)!!

Haha. Fair enough, thanks for clarifying!

Of all the times I've been stopped for a permit check, I've never been checked when on the MR (I haven't seen the ranger).
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#49305 - 02/27/17 04:20 PM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: WanderingJim]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1474
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
Yeah there's a test, where do you think you are some FB page?

Not just the letter of the rules: a lot of explanation, elaboration and 8x10 color glossy photagraphs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back explainin what each one was.

And actually yeah it would not hurt to have a couple of color glossies of your own.


Edited by saltydog (02/27/17 04:21 PM)
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#49306 - 02/27/17 10:36 PM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: saltydog]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 6884
Loc: Fresno, CA
SaltyDog is right on just about everything in this thread. There have been long discussions regarding the "visiting Mt Whitney" rules. I think Inyo N.F. has finally stopped hinting that people coming up from the west side need to have that designation. Inga Aksamit on the JMT and Altitude Acclimatization FB pages made some inquiries and discussions with Inyo staff, and pretty well cleared things up.

As for showing your permit to an Inyo ranger... I would think that if you were to be asked to show your permit once you were on the trail below the North Fork Lone Pine Creek (where the MR joins the main trail), your permit's itinerary would make it pretty obvious that you weren't exiting via Trail Crest.

On another topic: I was away today, looking for a backpack with camera that fell of a snowmobile Sunday. Unfortunately NOAA's predicted 1" of snow was actually almost a foot. So there's a nice old Panasonic Lumix buried somewhere in the snow northwest of Huntington Lk. That's what I get for entrusting someone else with my pack and camera.

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#49307 - 02/28/17 05:58 AM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: Steve C]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 926
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
Originally Posted By: Steve C
I think Inyo N.F. has finally stopped hinting that people coming up from the west side need to have that designation.

I talked to Lone Pine station yesterday and specifically asked if I needed a Whitney Zone permit to "visit" Whitney if approaching from the west and returning to the west. They said yes I do.

Maybe I should call back today and ask a different person.

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#49309 - 02/28/17 07:42 AM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: Steve C]
RenoFrank Offline


Registered: 08/06/11
Posts: 394
Loc: Reno, NV
Originally Posted By: Steve C


On another topic: I was away today, looking for a backpack with camera that fell of a snowmobile Sunday. Unfortunately NOAA's predicted 1" of snow was actually almost a foot. So there's a nice old Panasonic Lumix buried somewhere in the snow northwest of Huntington Lk. That's what I get for entrusting someone else with my pack and camera.


Steve, you are generous to a fault.At the very least I would replace any gear lost that you loaned me.

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#49310 - 02/28/17 08:17 AM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: Harvey Lankford]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 6884
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: Harvey Lankford
Originally Posted By: Steve C
I think Inyo N.F. has finally stopped hinting that people coming up from the west side need to have that designation.

I talked to Lone Pine station yesterday and specifically asked if I needed a Whitney Zone permit to "visit" Whitney if approaching from the west and returning to the west. They said yes I do.

Maybe I should call back today and ask a different person.

If you called the Interagency Visitor Center in Lone Pine, that would explain it. People there don't have the last word. Call the Wilderness Permit office in Bishop. Cindy there is the authority.

...reading the quote below again, I can see that they still prefer that you select the VMW option -- for the waste management issues.

Here is the Jan 19, 2017, post from Inga Aksamit in the JMT facebook group:
Quote:
Inyo Permit: Overnight vs Overnight Visiting Whitney. There have been a number of threads discussing the type of permit you need if approaching from the west (e.g. Crabtree/Guitar Lake) and returning to the trail (e.g. to exit at Horseshoe Meadows or Kearsarge Pass). Jennifer Swann was given info from an Inyo NF representative that didn't sound right so she kept pursuing it, finally getting a call back from a ranger who provided a lengthy explanation. I'm not sure it's that satisfying but Jennifer and I thought this should be shared. Bottom line, either type of permit is OK.

"Had a great conversation with Cindy Gervasoni at Inyo NF today. She explained everything beautifully. She said that there are actually two different Whitney zones. There is a Whitney Waste Management Zone and a Whitney Permit Management Zone. The Whitney Permit Management Zone does not include the summit when accessed from the west. The Whitney Waste Management Zone includes the summit and all of the mountain, plus adjacent areas (including Guitar Lake, but not Crabtree). So, if you summit from the West, you could legitimately argue that you are not in the Whitney Permit Management Zone...but you are in the the Whitney Waste Management Zone. The whole purpose of the extra $10 is waste management, therefore, the ethical thing to do would be to select Overnight Visiting Whitney for your permit, since you are indeed visiting the Whitney Waste Management Zone. Also, (as you and I already know) they provide the waste disposal kits and suggest you carry one (regardless of how you get to the top), since you may need to use it between Guitar Lake and the summit. She also made it clear that you do not have to select Overnight Visiting Whitney, as they cannot, by law, force you to pack out your waste. She compared the concept to LNT practices. Not enforceable, but hopefully practiced. She also said that by selecting Overnight Visiting Whitney, it is a method of education and outreach. When a person picks up an Overnight Visiting Whitney permit, they are issued a different set of rules and recommendations regarding waste management procedures in the Whitney Zone. You do not receive this if you do not select Visiting Whitney, as a different set of rules/recommendations apply. So, if an uninformed JMT hiker does not select Visiting Whitney, and summits Whitney, they may be unaware of the waste management expectations/recommendations should they need to "go" between Guitar Lake and the Summit. Cindy was clear that ultimately, either permit option is acceptable, however, they encourage Overnight Visiting Whitney, as it allows them to continue to educate, manage, and enhance the waste management program. So, this simply means that it is up to each of us as an individual to select the option that feels right to us."


The above quote in the JMT group was followed by a number of posts and discussion. Unfortunately, you have to be a FB member, and then request acceptance to the JMT (closed) group to be able to read what is written there.

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#49311 - 02/28/17 09:23 AM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: Harvey Lankford]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1474
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
Originally Posted By: Harvey Lankford
Originally Posted By: Steve C
I think Inyo N.F. has finally stopped hinting that people coming up from the west side need to have that designation.

I talked to Lone Pine station yesterday and specifically asked if I needed a Whitney Zone permit to "visit" Whitney if approaching from the west and returning to the west. They said yes I do.

Maybe I should call back today and ask a different person.


As I said: I know what some rangers at the Visitors Center will tell you.

cool
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#49312 - 02/28/17 10:40 AM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: saltydog]
Hobbes Offline


Registered: 03/28/14
Posts: 106
Loc: The OC
Ow, my head hurts. But yes, if only visiting/returning from the west, you neither enter the WZ, nor do you need a wag bag.

As for the original hike being planned, IMO the n->s route is preferable. Going down Carillon, up MR and down Discovery is better than the reverse.

Also, taking your time going up Shepherd helps acclimatize for the rest of the trip. It's also one of the more scenic trails - the canyon is immense.

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#49313 - 02/28/17 11:18 AM Re: Mt Williamson and Mt Whitney hike next year [Re: Hobbes]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1474
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
Originally Posted By: Hobbes
Ow, my head hurts. But yes, if only visiting/returning from the west, you neither enter the WZ, nor do you need a wag bag.

As for the original hike being planned, IMO the n->s route is preferable. Going down Carillon, up MR and down Discovery is better than the reverse.

Also, taking your time going up Shepherd helps acclimatize for the rest of the trip. It's also one of the more scenic trails - the canyon is immense.


Note: Have another aspirin: "From the west" means the JMT, not the Carillon approach and MR. To do this, you definitely cross the Crest (over Whitney/Russell or Russell/Carillon) and enter the Whitney Zone, which you are in until you cross back over the Crest at the Notch at the top of the MR chute. You need the Visiting Whitney permit for this route. You also cross back into the zone to take that top section to Switcher 99 for the use trail to Discovery.


Edited by saltydog (02/28/17 11:20 AM)
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